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Bernese Oberland Itinerary and Rail Pass Question

Hi all,

I am currently in the researching-narrowing it down stage of vacation planning. We are a late 50s, active, fit couple from the US. Into hiking, kayaking, good food, wine, beer, chocolate, not much into night life (except for local music). We are sadly limited to July for our travels which I know is the height of tourist season. That aside, I have decided on the Bernese Oberland Region as I think it suits us perfectly. We are staying in Wengen as our base and daytripping from there. So at this point, we have our dates, flights, and lodging reservations. I haven’t yet filled in the daily excursions but I have the amazing 50 page document from KimSanJose and have spent quite a bit of time on the forum as well as Lonely Planet, MySwissAlps, etc. so have many ideas.

So I am keenly aware that I am about to ask an annoying question about yet again, which railway pass and I apologize ahead of time and thank you for your patience! I have narrowed it down to these 2 options (or perhaps both of them?) after finding this excellent comparison table and looking at the BO Regional info- The HFC and the Regional Pass


Our Rough Outline Itinerary is as follows:

July 13th- Arriving via flight from London to Zurich (at 3PM) and then train to Wengen. We will arrive in Wengen early evening. We already will have spent 2 nights in London so no jet lag.

July 13th through 19th- Staying at the Alpenrose Wengen

July 19-21st- Staying at the Hotel Alpina in Murren

July 22nd-train to Luzern early and spend the day/night in Luzerne- Hotel Des Alpes

July 23-Train to Zurich and then flying back to London to leave the following day in the afternoon

SO…I believe that the only train travel we will be doing outside the BO Regional validity would be the trains back and forth from Zurich to Wengen. And also, it appears up to Luzern is covered so it would just be Luzern to Zurich we would need to pay extra for? Am I correct in this? We will certainly be using all the transport locally.

Please and thank you for all your information and input and any suggestions, things not to miss that I might not find in all my various research!

Posted by
265 posts

Just wondering if a Swiss Rail Pass (Swiss Travel Card) for 15 days which would seem to cover all of your travel be better than the BO pass and then buying having to buy your connecting trains. Travel Card also includes trams and museum entrance fees and a free trip up to top of the Schilthorn. Do the math and consider the easy of having it all taken care of in one pass. But your plan may be the best....just saying might be worth considering.

I am doing a week in Lauterbrunen this summer and for me and my plans the Travel Card will work best for me.

Posted by
11451 posts

I agree with RJean: Berner Oberland Regional Pass. You will get the most use out of a ten day pass. The other trips are incidental, i.e., between Zurich and Luzern twice. If you buy the pass online, you are valid from Luzern to Wengen so only buy the Zurich to Luzern portion at the airport.

Editing to add that having the BO Pass is kind of freeing. No need to dig for money every time you want to joyride a mountain train or most of the lifts. You can pop into Interlaken for groceries, ride the boats on the lakes, and make endless use of most of the PostBus routes.

Posted by
16715 posts

I would say this is a case where the Berner Oberland Pass is a pretty clear winner. The 10-day Pass for 390 CHF will cover all their travel in the BO region (starting at Lucern or Bern) through July 22. They would pay 30 CHF each to get to Luzern onnthe 13th and from Luzern to Zurich on the 23rd. Even with the extra 60 CHF, it is less than the other possible options, such as an 8-day Flez Pass for 467 CHF, or a 15- day consecutive day pass for 513 CHF.

And the coverage with the BO Pass is better for hikers. It fully covers the cablecar up to Männlichen, the train above Wengen to Kleine Scheidegg, and the All,endhubel funicular at Mürren. These are only 50% covered with a Swiss Pass ( and actually 25% in the case of the train to Kleine Scheidegg.

Posted by
11294 posts

The Swiss Travel Pass covers museums, which is great. But with this itinerary, you won't be near many, so you won't be getting that benefit. Therefore, I agree that the Berner Oberland Pass, with its better coverage in the BO itself, makes the most sense. It does get a discount at the Ballenberg Open Air Museum (the Swiss Travel Pass gives full coverage), so be sure to show it at the ticket booth if you go there.

This looks like a great trip - have a great time!

Posted by
11451 posts

I am glad Harold brought up the Ballenberg Open Air Museum. We had been in the region 4 times before we got around to Ballenberg on our 5th visit. Do arrive a bit before opening as it gets very busy!

Posted by
8 posts

Thanks so much for all your replies! I do believe I will get the Bernese Oberland Pass as recommended by most of you. We probably won't be doing too many museums as we will be in London prior to this and will do more of that type of thing there. We are really looking at Switzerland for the outdoors hiking and Alpine village experience as well as the food of course! Generally, we look to visit one city for a short time and then spend the rest of our vacations in the countryside. Really appreciate all the input! Happy travels

Posted by
7209 posts

Museums in Switzerland aren’t high on my priority list either. But I was surprised last year when we visited Gruyere and went on the cheese tour and it was free because of our Swiss Pass. Just saying because sometimes museums pop up where you least expect it.

BTW: the castle entrance was also free as was the Giger Museum there and also the Tibet museum. It was all free with our Swiss Pass.

Posted by
8 posts

One further point needed for advise please. When first making plans, I had a chance to add 2 extra days on to our trip which then caused a domino effect in all our plans (I know-good problem to have!) This is why we are moving from Wengen to Murren for the 2 nights. As we couldn't stay in the hotel we had booked for Wengen and are making the move to Murren for 2 nights and then heading to Lucerne for one night, I am wondering if I should make Murren one night and Lucerne 2 nights? We are typically happier in the small towns on vacation but after doing some research on Lucerne, it seems there is a nice mix of thngs to do there as well such as Mt. Pilatus, Lake cruises, Altstadt, etc. As we already will have spent a week in Wengen, would you think it would be better to move to Murren for 2 nights and spend the one in Lucerne or vise versa (1 in Murren and 2 in Lucerne)? I realize this is a village/city discussion and somewhat subjective but I am not sure because of the amount of time already spent in Wengen. If there are any other suggestions besides Murren/Lucerne for those 2 nights,please let me know as well! Hope this is clear!
Thanks so much as always!

Posted by
33131 posts

A week is getting to be a long time, and almost certainly you will have been across the valley by then.

And I'm heading back there next week.

Two days and a week is more than I would want, I really think you will find different beautiful and fun things in and around Luzern.

Posted by
16715 posts

Instead of those two nights in Muerren, consider taking the train to Kandersteg and stay in the mountain inn by the lake above town (Oeschinensee):

This is our favorite hike there:

Or head to Luzern and stay up on Rigi (the nearby mountain) with views over the lake and access to great walking paths. You would take the boat to either Weggis or Vitznau and ascend by either train or cablecar to Rigi Kaltbad. Here is a hotel we liked there:

But next time I might like this one which is a bit higher, at Rigi Staffelhohe, served by cogwheel train:

Their restaurant has a Michelin star.

Posted by
8 posts

Okay so here is the revision and I am newly confused now about the best Rail Pass. We will be coming from Zurich to Wengen and then staying in Wengen July 13th-19th. Then we will be taking the train to Lucerne and staying there through the 22nd (so a total of 3 nights). Our trip will consist mostly of hiking in the BO and then the mountain daytrips and the Lake in Lucerne. Possibly a museum or 2 but not high as a priority. So that being said, am I right to think that we should get both the Regional Passes for BO and the Tell Pass? That would cover everything with the exception of Zurich to Luzern portion? This seems better to me than the HFC but I am unsure still. And how many days would I need for each? I am thinking 8 Days for the BO and 3 for the Tell. I know the recommendation is to total up everything but I am not sure I would need to do this based on my itinerary and our priorities. Also, I am not sure I even can do it as I am horrible at that sort of thing so I am at this point willing to sacrifice hours of math headaches for some money! Please and thank you all for your input!

Posted by
16715 posts

Adding a 3-day Tell Pass adds 210 CHF to the 390 you would pay for the BO Pass, for a total of 600 CHF. And if I am reading the validity map correctly, the Tell Pass does not include all of the lake boats at Luzern; notably it does not show boats to Weggis nor Vitznau for Rigi access. It does cover the boat to Alpnachstad for Pilatus, but that mountain is not as good for hiking as Rigi ( in my opinion). And you still will not have coverage from Zurich airport to Luzern or Bern on your way to Wengen the first day.

We used the 8-day Flex Pass for our two-week hiking trip with family last summer, and that worked well for us. It might work for you too; just choose your 8 covered travel days wisely.

It would take you right from the Zurich airport all the way to Wengen on Day 1. It fully covers the Schilthornbahn, so you could head to Muerren and hike partway up, or ride up to the top and hike down. And/ or hike the North Face trail as a loop from Muerren.

On another day, you can use it for a 50% discount on the cablecar up to Mannlichen, hike the ridge top trail to Kleine Scheidegg ( an easy stroll, not a long hike), then ride the train up one stop to Eigergletscher and pick up the Eiger Northface Trail down to Alpiglen ( there will be a pass discount on this train but not full coverage). At Alpiglen you take the train down to Grindelwald Grund and walk to the main station in Grindelwald. You could have dinner in this town if you like; there are a number of good restaurants. The train back to Wengen from Grindelwald would be fully covered.

Also covered are the lake boats on Thunersee and Brienzersee. Use Days 2-5 on the Flex Pass for your time at Wengen. Skip the pass if you are doing a short journey, like down to Lauterbrunnen to walk the valley and visit the waterfall, or a hike to Oberhornsee from Stechelberg.

You could then use the pass for free travel to Luzern ( Day 6/of the Pass), and maybe a lake boat ride in the afternoon. Another pass day will take you to Rigi by boat, train, and cablecar for a great day of hiking, fully covered. Maybe head to Engelberg and Mt. Titlis for your eighth covered day. You do not need to save a day on the pass for the trip from Luzern to Zurich, as that is inexpensive.

The 8-day Flex Pass costs 467 CHF; add 30 for the last day’s trip back to Zurich and you are still under 500 CHF, versus 600 for the two passes you are considering.