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car, Half Price Fare or combo Flex?

My husband and I have a 2 month house exchange in Switzerland, including car exchange. As we are on a budget, we plan to travel as much as possible by car, but have been advised to use public transit in big cities. In addition to travel, hiking, etc in Switzerland, we plan to bike in Germany and maybe Austria (travelling by car). Since we have almost 2 months for Switzerland, we're wondering if we should buy the Swiss Travel Pass Flex for 3 or 4 days, and if so, perhaps the combi pass (which includes the Half Fare Pass for half the price if bought at the same time). I'm not sure if the Half fares would last a whole month, if we used the 3 days up at the first of a month. Maybe one needs to save one day for the end of the month period in order to be able to use the Half Fare tickets for the whole month? Or maybe we should just buy two Half Fare Passes?
We haven't an itinerary yet, but if we wanted to see the Matterhorn, or Jungfrau, I think perhaps the Swiss Travel Pass might be useful? Also for various cog railways and cablecars, etc. Any suggestions, advice welcome.
We would arrive in Zurich and travel from there about 1/2 hr by train ---which could be half fare, if we had the pass. Return would involve the same train.

Posted by
7209 posts

Well if you do the Jungfrau trip you can only drive as far as Lauterbrunnen then you MUST get on the train for a rather expensive train ride to the top (and back down). If you choose to do this trip then the Half Fare Card will cut the cost by 50% and practically pay for the initial cost of the HFC...so that's a no-brainer type decision. Honestly trains, buses, boats, gondolas, funiculars - are half the fun of a Swiss Vacation. It's an incredible transport system. No, you do not want to drive into the crowded cities.

Posted by
16894 posts

Although other passes do not work this way, the Swiss Travel Pass Flexi with Half-Fare Combo is interpreted (by most railway personnel) to mean that the discounts only extend through your last counted day of full travel coverage.

The Swiss Half Fare Card Combi entitles the owner to the purchase of an unlimited number of tickets at the Swiss Half Fare Card terms, between the first and last day of the associated valid Swiss Travel Pass Flex/Swiss Transfer Ticket (max. 1 month) only.

A regular, one-month Half Fare Card does last a whole month from the activation date that you specify, such as June 5 - July 4.

Posted by
3 posts

Yes, the Half Fare Pass does seem a no-brainer! Now I just have to decide whether to get it alone, or in combination with a Swiss Travel Flex Pass. I guess that would depend on whether we plan to take one of the panoramic trains, such as the Glacier Express. . . .

Posted by
33335 posts

But while you have the car it can be very valuable. I take my car to Switzerland most years and find it helpful.

Parking at Lauterbrunnen is very easy, Interlaken less so. Zug is easy, Lugano much less. Zurich has a lot of slightly confusing main roads. Basel is not too bad (and lovely), or park across the river at Kleinbasel. Parking can be difficult in Bern, in Luzern parking can be available along the lake by the Transport Museum (which should be visited IMHO) but is tight in the centre.

Remember that if the car hasn't got an Austrian Vignette you will need one for trips into Austria.

If you are near the Austrian border fuel will be cheaper on the Austrian side. German fuel is cheaper than Swiss, but not as cheap as Austrian, usually. Italian fuel is some of the most expensive in Europe and not far off Swiss prices.

If you will be there in the summer you may enjoy driving the passes. Being on high mountain roads in summer can be a lot of fun.

And then there are the trains and boats for all the other times.

It isn't clear where your house will be. Even though I (through work) get free Swiss train travel and my wife gets half off, we generally find driving moderate distances in Switzerland to parking areas and then taking short distance trains is faster and cheaper than the train - for example Luzern to Lauterbrunnen. The Brunig Pass is fabulous by train but no slouch by car.

Posted by
3 posts

Thanks, Nigel--and others ----very helpful indeed! As we don't like long train rides, I'm inclining towards the Half Fare Cards and car travel. Your hints are invaluable. I'll make sure they are accessible to me while we're there.
I have a few 'musts' on my list so far: Salzburg and Vienna (friend near there), wondering about the cycling beween those two cities . . . .in Switzerland, Brienz, the Matterhorn, Engadine region, lots of hiking and small villages. Budget is definitely a issue, so we will be looking for cheap B&B or possibly hostels (do they have elderhostels?) We are both over 60. I wonder if they have such things as the "Y"s that Canada has?

Posted by
7209 posts

Located on the edge of the massive alp overshadowing Lauterbrunnen is the tiny alpine hamlet of Murren. Denise runs the Chalet Fontana and rents rooms for about 45chf per person per night. She also has a self catering apartment to rent. By all means if you're on a budget get in contact with Denise.

Posted by
33335 posts

Salzburg and Vienna (friend near there), wondering about the cycling beween those two cities

It is a long way to Vienna. You may find parking in Vienna extremely difficult, although if you are in the suburbs it may be easier.

Driving would be a long way, train from Switzerland will be much easier.

If you want to cycle between Salzburg and Vienna do you know how far that is?