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Austria/Germany/Switzerland Trip- Rail Passes

Rail pass - again…All the forum advice is great - just need a bit of clarification. Using your map to compare costs it seems the Swiss pass would be best. There are four of us traveling and we think car travel is too “hairy” in Switzerland. Here is our itinerary For May 8-24, 2016… Do we get point to point tickets for Austria and Germany (or rent a car for that portion) and then get a Swiss pass? And would the continuous 15 day be better than the flex? Which do you use to go from Munich to Zurich (then pass takes over and gets us to Luzern). Hoping I can purchase it and get the Swiss pass discount available until Nov 17! Thank you! Thank you!

  1. Vienna 3 days
  2. Salzburg 2 days
  3. Munich 3 days Day trip to Neuschwanstein Castle
  4. Luzern 2 days
  5. Lauterbrunnen 3 days Day trip to Murren and Shilthorn Possible day trip to Jungfrau
  6. Lausanne 2 days Day trip to Montreux
  7. Geneva 1 day
Posted by
4698 posts

Don't use the map to calculate costs - it is inflated and out of date. Go to the man in seat 61 website for the best rail travel info. Rail passes are a waste of money, especially for your Austria and Germany legs. Read this first:

http://www.seat61.com/Railpass-and-Eurail-pass-guide.htm#Should you buy a railpass or pay-as-you-go

Vienna to Salzburg will cost you 19 Euro on OeBB or 24.90 Euro on Westbahn (purchased on the train). The railpass will cost you way more.

Posted by
5697 posts

And Salzburg to Munich is cheap using a Bayern ticket (buy from DB machines at the station, not Oebb machines -- it's a German ticket, even includes local transport in Munich)

Posted by
11292 posts

For Switzerland, some kind of pass or half-fare card is often a good deal. Unfortunately, you have to crunch the numbers to see which one is the best for your needs.

Use the Swiss rail site to get prices for point-to-point tickets, but be careful - the first price displayed is with a half-fare card, so you need to be sure you are looking at the price without the card (choose a train, then select "No Reduction"): http://www.sbb.ch/en/home.html

About the half-fare card, one great advantage is you can't go wrong. It gets you 50% off everything that moves in the entire country (even city buses). If you add up the transit you know you are taking and it comes to more than twice the cost of the card, you will not lose money on it. It also gives 50% off the expensive Jungfraujoch trip (most other passes give only 25% off).

On the other hand, one advantage of the Swiss Pass over the half-fare card is that, for covered days and fully covered transit, you don't need to buy tickets; just board, and show your pass when the ticket-checker comes around. You only need to buy tickets for things that are not 100% covered (like the Schilthornbahn and Jungfraujoch). With the half fare card, you need to buy tickets each time.

Posted by
2 posts

Thank you all, I will look at all of these suggestions - I may be back with a few specific questions. So appreciate the time everyone takes to help all of us who are new to traveling in Europe!

Posted by
2754 posts

curious, how does one use the half price pass in CH? Especially on a bus or tram?

Posted by
11292 posts

"how does one use the half price pass in CH? Especially on a bus or tram?"

Whenever you buy a ticket from a person, you show them the pass, and they sell you the half-price ticket. When you buy from a machine (such as bus or tram tickets), you choose the half-price ticket. When your tickets are checked, you show both the tickets and the half-fare card.

Posted by
2754 posts

Ah, thanks. I had a railpass so had minimal contact with ticket sales, except when we went up to the Schilthorn