I will be in the Berner Overland region for 3 days in July and will be staying in Gimmelwald to sleep. Our plan is to spend one full day exploring the Schilthorn side and the other the Jungfrau side, with the 3rd day for weather wiggle room. We are a family of 4 (2 adults and 2 children) and weather permitting would like to visit both peaks and do a little hiking. I am utterly confused by all the fare card options and could use a recommendation as to what makes the most economical sense.
Are you driving to this area or arriving and departing by train? If so, those train rides would be part of the equation, covered by a Swiss Travel Pass or discounted with a Half-Fare Travel Card. (Or if you already have a rail pass for multiple countries, then it offers 25% discounts in this region without buying any additional product.) See some costs for comparison at http://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/transportation/trains/switzerland-rail-passes. There are various ways to take your kids for free, depending on age.
Yes, the passes are very confusing. I'd love to help, but I was there in September 2014, and they've completely revamped the passes for 2015, so it's totally different now!
Will you be anywhere else in Switzerland? This definitely factors into the calculations.
If you are still unsure after doing your best to figure it out, remember that it's hard to go wrong with a Half Fare Card. You get 50% off everything that moves in the entire country, including the very expensive Jungfraujoch (25% off with most other passes). So, as long as your travel comes to double the price of the Card, you win. However, you still have to buy tickets every time.
I used a Swiss Pass (I was there 10 nights, and used a 15 day pass), and one great feature was that for anything 100% covered, I just flashed the pass. So, I only had to buy tickets for the Allmendhubel, the Schilthornbahn, and the Jungfraujoch. Otherwise, whether it was trains, buses, boats, or lifts, I just got on, and showed the pass when tickets were checked. I never did figure out if I got the best financial deal, but the added convenience was worth the money even if I didn't. But again, I was there 10 nights, and seeing several cities (Luzern with daytrips, Berner Oberland, and Lausanne with daytrips), so I got a lot of use out of it.
You're not alone in being confused by the many Swiss Pass options. I spent a lot of time and effort (including a Spreadsheet) trying to figure out the best option for my last trip there. I finally just made an "educated guess" based on the touring I'd be doing and bought a Jungfrau VIP pass. Overall, the Half Fare card is a good option to consider, since you'll be touring both sides of the valley.
Thanks for your input. We do have a car which we will have used to get between areas in Switzerland so will only be using trains & cable cars, etc. in the Berner Overland region. The spreadsheet may be a good idea!
I too am doing that exact same trip with our tow kids. With the VIP Jungfrau pass is the lifts included?
This indicates what the Jungfrau VIP Pass includes.....
There's also a Berner Oberland Regional Pass.......
And of course the Half Fare Card and the other Swiss Passes.....