My husband and I are traveling in june with our college-aged daughter. After a week in Italy (ending in Rome) we have 3 days and want to see Switzerland (heading to Paris for 3 days after Switzerland). We want to see the Alps, maybe do some hiking or see a lake but just want quintessential Switzerland. Thought about the Bernese Oberland area of Wengen to see the Jungfrau, Top of Europe but wondered if that is too isolated and expensive and too hard and pricey to reach via train. Also thought about Lucerne to incorporate Mt. Pilatus. I need suggestions. I know Switzerland is expensive but I want to see alot on a somewhat frugal budget. Also do we buy the 3 or 4 day Swiss Travel Pass or half fare card? We will travel from Rome to Milan and from Milan into Switzerland. Spend 3 nights TBD and then head to Bern/Basel where will take the fast train to Paris. If we get the travel pass, is our train free or included from Milan to our Swiss destination or at what point does the pass begin? Please advise!
You are right, Switzerland is expensive but you get what you paid for. Yes, go for Swiss Travel Pass. With it you can use all trains (with certain exceptions) and buses with no additional paying, some cable cars. Boats, other cable cars, Jungfraujoch train are discounted with the pass. In Berner Oberland our base was in Lauterbrunnen. From there it is easy to reach several other destination including Jungraujoch. Our second destination this year was Zermatt - to see Matterhorn. Last year it was Lucerne. Indeed pretty town on the beautiful lake. With Swiss Travel Pass your train is free only inside Switzerland. From Milan to Swiss border you have to pay.
You say you are ending your trip to Italy in Rome, where are you starting the trip in Italy South, or East of Rome?
We are beginning in Venice then Florence then Rome. Sounds like I need to take a train from Rome to Milan to just over the Swiss border (where?) then begin my 4 day Swiss pass? I have actually tentatively booked 3 nights in wengen but am second guessing that. Stick w wengen or choose Lucerne? And do I pre buy the Swiss pass? How much savings on the jungfrau w a pass?
If you want "quintessential Switzerland" then Berner Oberland is what you want. Wengen is fine, but Lauterbrunnen is even better because it is a transportation hub.
Top of Europe is pricey, and it is expensive and takes much of the day, but mostly paid for if you get a travel pass (depends on which one you get). But I wouldn't fret about that yet because you should decide on that day whether to go up there or not. If the top is covered in clouds, why go? There are LOTS of other fantastic sights. Click on my name and there's a link to our dozen favorite hikes in the area, with pics and maps.
Some of the higher trails (around First, for example) may be closed due to snow in June. Just check with Tourist Info in town and they'll know.
One money saver is to get an apartment so you can cook your own food, because restaurants are pricey, but stores are reasonable. You should also check out renting a trailer (with kitchen) at www.campingjungfrau.swiss because that is a cheaper option than hotels. CampingJungfrau likes to rent for a week, but are more likely to waive that rule in June.
Sounds like I need to take a train from Rome to Milan to just over the Swiss border (where?) then begin my 4 day Swiss pass?
Depends which route you take across the border. The answer could be Domodossola, Chiaso or Tirano.
If you look at the Swiss Pass validity map (here: https://www.sbb.ch/content/dam/sbb/de/infotexte/uebersichtskarte-sts.pdf ), all rail lines covered by the Swiss Pass are in red, and you can see these three stations. If you are heading for Wengen, it is Domodossola. For Luzern, probably Chiasso.
And do I pre buy the Swiss pass?
Yes, same price pre-buy or at a Swiss station, but saves time as you then do not have to get off the train at Domodossola (or wherever).
You can buy on the SBB website here: https://www.sbb.ch/en/leisure-holidays/travel-in-switzerland/international-guests/swiss-travel-pass.html
How much savings on the jungfrau w a pass?
If you look at the map linked to above, it says 25%.
From Milan, you can take the regional train to Tirano (along Lake Como), then the Bernina Express to Chur (or somewhere along the way). It can be done quite cheaply by following the advice of The Man in Seat 61, here:
1) three days goes by quickly (2 nights?) - I'd stay in one spot. AGES ago, I stayed in Grindelwald, in a valley that offers views of the Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau. There are hiking trails and one day I walked over rough, moss covered boulders, off the beaten path, to the base of the Eiger. Here's a youtube of the region: https://youtu.be/icjeoRYSGFo
2) a rail pass doesn't necessarily work on all rail systems
3) If you stay in one area and hike a lot, a rail pass may not save you anything. I think they are better for those that make multiple trips in one day, every day that the pass is valid.