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Buying Swiss Pass

I think I am best purchasing the 15 day swiss pass saver. What would be the most cost effective way of purchasing The Swiss Pass from the states? Travel in September 2014.

2 adults flying to Zurich and train to Luzern (staying 3 nights visiting Mt Pilatus), train Luzern to Lausanne (staying 3 nights, boat and trains to Montreux, Gruyeres, and towns in Lavaux area, Golden Pass Montreux to Interlaken staying 5 nights in Gimmelwald visiting The Shilthorn, Jungfraujoch, and boat on Lake Thun and Lake Brienz. Train travel Interlaken to Milano then onto Monterosso. 11 nights in Switzerland.

I have worked the numbers and am close in cost by either buying swiss saver pass and paying as I go. I would like the convenience of the pass and it will also include some museums along the way.

How far in advance do I need to buy the pass and from whom?

Thanks for your help.


Posted by
7205 posts

Rarely does it ever come out better financially to purchase a Swiss Pass. But if you're going to do things like Pilatus, Jungfrau, Schilthorn you'll get a hefty discount with the SP. You'll also have the benefit of extreme flexibility. You can purchase a SP from a number of different places including the airport in Zurich when you land. If you purchase there you won't pay a shipping fee and you can validate it on the spot.

By the way, the Swiss Half Fare Card will get you a bigger discount on the expensive Jungfrau trip. However, the HFC doesn't come with the extreme flexibility of the SP. You just have to decide what is more important for you.

Posted by
6898 posts

Dot, you really might want to consider the Swiss 1/2 fare card. It costs 120CHF and is good every day every time on all Swiss transportation for 30 days. According to your post, you going to some expensive places by Swiss transportation. The round-trip train fare from Lauterbrunnen to/from the Jungfraujoch is 180CHF. With a 1/2 fare card, you pay 90CHF. Viola, you've saved enough to pay for 75% of your 1/2 fare card. The roundtrip to/from the Schilthorn from Muerren is 77CHF. From Stechelberg or Lauterbrunnen, it's 98CHF (I looked up the fares). The 1/2 fare savings on this gondola ride will now completely cover your purchase of the 1/2 fare card. You're even Steven at this point. The 1/2 fare savings on the remainder of your Swiss transportation journeys are just that - savings. Overall, you are easily looking at 800CHF-1,000CHF for the Swiss transportation you are describing over the 11 days. 1/2 fare is 400CHF-500CHF. The 1/2 fare card is 120CHF. Estimated net savings is 280CHF-380CHF ($300-$400) over paying as you go.

When you arrive in Zurich, just go down to the train station below the airport facilities and purchase your 1/2 fare cards before you purchase any other Swiss transportation tickets. A Swiss saver pass will cost more and you only get a 25% discount to the nice higher mountain tops you want to visit (Pilatus, Jungfrau & Schilthorn).

Posted by
114 posts

Thanks Tim and Larry. It gets harder the more I think about it.

What is the difference in flexibility between the swiss pass and half fare card? And does the half fare card cover boats in Luzern and Lausanne?

I know with a swiss pass I can get on board trains without purchasing anything after I have validated it once. I also think since we are staying in Gimmelwald for 5 nights that we will be traveling via gondola etc. beneath Murren a lot.

What is the best site to see what is actually covered by each card?

Thanks for starting the wheels turning again. I will rethink it.

Posted by
177 posts

When I calculated my costs I group everything into these categories.

  1. SuperSaver tickets + regular mountain lifts + boats + museums

  2. Half Fare Card + Museums + All Half fare transports + time worth to buy tickets

  3. Swiss Pass Saver (2 people) + 50% Mountain lifts + some 25% mountain lifts

  4. Swiss Pass Flexi Saver + 50% Mountain lifts + some 25% mountain lifts + museums on the inactive days

They all pretty much comes out to be around the same price always for me with Half fare card usually being about $20-30 dollars cheaper, which I always end up choosing the Pass since i just don't want to deal with spending 15+ minutes each time trying to buy some train tickets at the train station.

I also always find Rick Steve's rail pass link to be the cheapest with "Free" shipping in USD while the official Pass site is more expensive in CHF and charge for shipping.

Just my thoughts.

Posted by
177 posts

Also for those who cares:

SuperSaver tickets link:

Lifts link:

Schilthorn ticket link:

Jungfraujoch Price link:

Golden Pass Ticket Link:

Lake Luzerne Cruise prices:

Lake Thun and Brienz prices:

I think that's it.

Also since SuperSaver tickets usually are not available until 30 days in advance. I wouldn't buy the pass until about that time. Shipping only takes like 4 days for the pass anyways.

Posted by
7205 posts

Swiss Pass = more flexible.
Half Fare Card = buy your ticket before each ride

If it's just too much for you to bear to think about it then just buy the Swiss Pass and be done with it. They both cover the same things...trains, buses, boats, gondolas, cogwheel, etc.

Posted by
114 posts

Thanks Frank for all the links.

Tim, I think you are right I have reworked the numbers and it looks like the Swiss Saver Pass is the way to go for me and it will also allow additional poking around beneath Wengen and Murren for free.

It looks like buying the pass from Rick's site is the best bet.