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Milan to Interlaken with BO pass?

Hello,
I am so confused with Swiss train passes. We will be starting in Milan, and going to Interlaken for 2 nights. The BO pass is 3 days minimum, but without it, I see travel within BO region is very expensive. Even a short ride from Interlaken to Grindelwald.

Can I buy BO pass and use it (buy a ticket from Milan to Domodossola and then Domodossola to Interlaken will be covered with BO pass)? Is that correct?

Here's our trip, in case anyone can help with recommended passes please!

Milan (4 nights)
Milan to Interlaken (2 nights)
Interlaken to Lucerne (2 nights)
Train Lucerne to Zurich for departure

Note- I have 2 kids ages 9 and 12, total 3 adults and 2 kids. I don't think I need half fare card as it's covered with BO pass?

Posted by
20309 posts

That will get to Interlaken. From Domodossola you might time it so you get the direct Domodossola-Spiez train that will go over the mountains and through the old Loetschberg Tunnel. The pass is not valid on the new Loetschberg Base Tunnel route. Otherwise, just connect at Brig the the BLS train to Spiez. It is on the same platform as the BLS train from Domodossola.

You may still want to look at the Half Fare Card, as you may want to use it for trips while in Luzern and to get to Zurich airport. You get a 72 CHF on the 3-day BORP with a Half Fare Card, so essentially you are getting the HFC for 48 CHF. If you have more than 96 CHF of full fare tickets, then it will pay to get the HFC. Plus, with the HFC you can get the free Family Card, and you then do not have to buy 30 CHF BORP's for the 2 kids, saving you another 60 CHF.

When is this trip planned for? The rail line between Arona and Stresa will be shut down beginning June 9 for the rest of the summer. There should be a rail replacement bus instituted to cover the gap, so it is really just a minor inconvenience.

Posted by
8 posts

Thank you for your reply.

The trip is April 21-29. April 25-29 in Switzerland.

April 25, we will take a train from Milan to Domodossola, then Domodossola to Interlaken, depart Interlaken for Lucerne April 27.

What is the most scenic route from Domodossola to Interlaken? The direct train you mentioned? Do you know which train number exactly - I cannot use Gotthard Express right? But perhaps that route? Sorry for all the questions, the Swiss rail system has completely confused me!

In regards to HFC, I do not think in 1.5 days in Lucerne, we will be using public transport. I will only need to buy from Lucerne to Zurich airport...

Lastly, advice on which town to stay to maximize 2 days in BO region? Grindelwald looks beaituful...

Posted by
20309 posts

Your best bet is to take either the the 7:25 am or 9:25 am regional train from Milano Centrale to Domodossola which connects (after 48 minutes) to the BLS train to Spiez, which is quite scenic. Italian regional trains are cheap, like 10.80 EUR per adult.

Look at doing a half day boat and mountain rail trip to Vitznau and Mt Rigi. That is 160 CHF r/t pp full fare, in which case the Half Fare Card will do you good. You could save even more by buying Saver Day Passes now for 49 CHF per adult with the HFC. Even if you just did a boat ride the length of the lake from Luzern to Fluelen and back, it is still 44 CHF r/t pp. If you don't do any of these trips, Luzern is just a pretty (and pretty busy) town.

Posted by
8 posts

Thank you for the insight on Italian Regional trains.

To confirm, the BLS train to Spiez would be covered with BO pass?

If I do buy the BO pass, I thought to do a boat trip in Interlaken area as it will be covered?

Posted by
20309 posts

If I do buy the BO pass, I thought to do a boat trip in Interlaken area as it will be covered?

Yep. You could even do that in conjunction with travel to Luzern. Take the boat to Brienz, then switch to the train there. You could even take a quick side trip there to the Brienzer Rothorn and back. That is covered by the BORP.

In Luzern, you will get a guest card from your hotel. besides free local transport within the city, it gives discounts on boat rides and other activities.

Posted by
8 posts

One more question as i'm trying to figure out the best route from Milan to Interlaken. I see from Milano Central, I can get a train to Spienz on EC50 with no changes at 7am (it goes via Domodossola). I read that the tunnel will be closed, so does that mean the entire route is above ground and therefore, a scenic one?

If I buy a BO pass, is the part from Domodossola covered (meaning I buy an Italian pass from Milan to Domodossola and then use my BO pass Domo-Spiez)?

Or can I buy STP, and it will be used on the same train Domo-Spiez? I hope my question is making sense. Also concerned whether or not we'll be in a tunnel or not?

Lastly, I know BO pass covers most of BO region, STP less so. With only 2 days, does STP cover enough of the BO region? We won't be going to the top...

Posted by
20309 posts

No the EC train to Spiez uses the Loetschberg Base Tunnel, so you will have to pay for that and the BORP will be effective from Spiez to Interlaken. You must have read about the Gotthard Base Tunnnel, which is currently closed. That tunnel is on the rail line from Milan to Zurich.

The route that is valid uses two tunnels, the Simplon Tunnel between Domodossola and Brig, which is 12 1/2 miles long, and the old Loetschberg Tunnel, which is 9 miles long. There is no way to avoid the Simplon Tunnel as all the rail lines use it between Italy and western Switzerland. The Loetschberg Base Tunnel, which is not valid with the BORP, is 22 1/2 miles long.

You can take the EC train, but you must get off at Brig and change to the BLS train using the old scenic route to be valid with the BORP. In that case, just buy a ticket to Domodossola and stay on the train until Brig as the BORP is valid for that section.

Your original plan makes the most sense. Least expensive and makes best use of the BORP.

Posted by
8 posts

Yes I must have read about the Gotthard tunnel. So the EC train I’m referring to, it’s not scenic then? Most of it is through a tunnel until Spiez? Is there any scenic way to get from Milan to Spiez/Interlaken? The Gotthard Panorama express doesn’t make sense as it goes to Lucerne and then back down to Interlaken. Any suggestions?

Is there any way to use an STP for this journey? Taking perhaps any train to the first entry for Switzerland from Milan?

Posted by
20309 posts

The scenic way is to use the BORP route via Kandersteg and the old Loetschberg Tunnel. See my report.
https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/switzerland/ride-the-bls

I don't see how an STP helps you. You need 5 days, but the STP only comes in 4-day or 6-day varieties for your purposes. It does not have as good coverage for mountain railways in the Berner Oberland and is a bit more expensive.

meaning I buy an Italian pass from Milan to Domodossola and then use my BO pass Domo-Spiez)?

You don't buy a "pass", you just buy a ticket.

Posted by
8 posts

Is there luggage space on the regional trains? I’m sorry, I know I sound repetitive. So I can buy a ticket from Milan to Domo, and then RE1 from Domo to Spiez which would be covered with BO pass? And then finally on the 3rd day, BO pass can be used from Interlaken to Lucern on Interlaken Express (is the the golden pass line)?

Posted by
20309 posts

Yes, there is the same room for luggage as any other train.
You can take the EC train to Domodossola. It costs 25 EUR and comes with a seat reservation. Just stay on until Brig as you are covered by the BORP for that leg.
Yes, the rail line from Interlaken to Luzern is a leg of the "Golden Pass" route and is quite scenic.

Posted by
8 posts

One more thought- seeing as a 3 day BORP is 240CH, and my 2 kids will be 30CH each, that is 300CH. If I buy half fare pass for myself, it’s 120CH plus 168CH reduced fare BORP, total 288CH and children are covered with swiss family pass? Will their Swiss family card cover BO region, hence saving their 30CH each?

Posted by
20309 posts

They are your kids, so as long as they are traveling with you, yes.