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Please help public transit ?s -- Leaving July 4th!

Hello! We depart July 4th from D.C. to Geneva, with 2 days of private local tours of Geneva, MontBlanc/Chamonix and Annescey France, then we embark on a 10day group tour from Lausanne to Matterhorn, Zermatt (2 nights), Lakes Maggiore & Lugano (2 nights), St.Moritz, Jungfraujoch, Interlaken (2 nights), Bern & Lucerne (ALL transportation included in tour pkg).

Then on July 17th, we're going ON OUR OWN by train to Grindelwald for 3 days, then fly home from Zurich on 20th. In Grindelwald, we stay at Hotel Kreuz & Post and we want to see/do Glacier Canyon, Mannlichen & hike down to Kleine Scheidegg, a SCENIC RAILWAY (NO IDEA which one??) from Grindelwald to Lauterbrunnen, then see Wengen, (maybe Murren), First Grindelwald (do the cliff walk, Flyer, Mtn Carts, hike to Lake Bachalpsee), and (if time permits, go to Pfingstegg). The evening of July 19th, we'll take the train to Zurich for a one night stay at an airport hotel and fly home on the 20th!

Internet info is SOOO confusing about what public transport to use between sights and WHERE TO CATCH these gondolas, cablecars, funicular, train, bus, etc! (and when it says "train" is that the BOB, WAB, BLM, ??) Do you recommend we purchase the Berna Oberland Pass AND the Half Fare Pass? (I'm thinking ONLY the OBP since we'll only be traveling in Grindelwald & surrounding area for 3 days, other than getting there from Lucerne and getting back to Zurich to fly home).

End of trip 3 Day Plan: Arrive in Grindelwald by train from Lucerne about 11am on 17th and walk to our hotel to checkin/dropoff luggage, then catch Bus#122 (where?) and go to Gletscherschlucht for the cliff walk and net over the canyon river. Then WHERE do we walk to catch the GGM Gondola from Grindelwald to Mannlichen (is that the same as the Eiger Express?), then we'll hike 90min down to Kleine Scheidegg ... but HOW to get from there BACK to Grindelwald?? Then our 2nd day in Grindelwald, we want to take a SCENIC railway (which one/from what terminal?) from Grindelwald to Lauterbrunnen (& walk the valley floor promennade & do Trummelbach Falls). Then, WHAT TRANSPORT do we take to Wengen (& Murren, if time), and HOW do we get back to Grindelwald for dinner/night? Our last day (the 19th), we catch the (Early!) cablecar to First Grindelwald, to do the cliff walk, Flyer, Mtn Carts, hike to Lake Bachalpsee, and (if time permits, go to Pfingstegg), then back to Hotel Kreuz to collect our stored luggage and take a train (WHICH Train?) to Zurich for a short one night stay at Movenpick Hotel Zurich Airport and fly home to D.C. on the 20th! (Yes, I know that's a LOT to see/do, but we're Young, Active & will Go!Go!GO! from sunup til sundown and we want to see as much of this area that was not included in our 10-day group tour as possible!)

We've NEVER traveled internationally & I'm so afraid I won't be able to figure out train schedules & unmanned tix kiosks! Please, oh PLEASE, help us (Me!) figure out how to get between these sights and (very specifically WHERE to get on these transports! -- it seems that many of the gondola and train terminals have the same/similar names but in different locations!) As you can see, we won't have time (or energy!) to walk to the wrong terminal or departure point! And please advise on Berna Oberland Pass and whether we also need the Half Fare pass.

The more prepared/organized we are, the more relaxed we can be and the more we can see! THANK YOU for your prompt reply in helping us plan the public transit portion of our exciting Switzerland trip!

- David & LouAnn

Posted by
5151 posts

Well, don't plan things too precisely because mountain weather has a way of interfering with the best laid plans. You will need some flexibility. But even with cloudy weather, there will be several hiking options that are still beautiful.

Those areas are small and once you're there, you'll see the connections are fairly easy, as there aren't a lot of other options. Usually just follow the rest of the folks. Also, many railway employees have a great command of English. And- your hotel can help you out. You might feel better if you check out u-tube videos on the areas you're worried about.
Also, download the SBB app for tickets and routes. The app is very easy to use.
Join the related Facebook groups for on- the- ground, real- time info.
For most folks , they break about even with the half-fare card and BO pass. However, there is no substitute for penciling out each route and adding up the costs. Note that the SBB app assumes that you have at least a half- fare card, when checking prices.
Not sure what scenic trains to which you're referring.
Have a great trip right in this beautiful country. Safe travels!

Posted by
11491 posts

You will probably benefit from a Swiss Half Fare Card and maybe a Berner Oberland Regional Pass, but first, get the Rick Steves guide for Switzerland and study the chapter on the Berner Oberland, which encompasses the area for your time in Grindelwald. Rick is excellent on logistics and lays out the area and many activities brilliantly. Great reference for planning and while on your trip.

As Pat said, you also need to have the SBB app on your phone. Establish as account at https://www.sbb.ch/en, that is create a login. Then on the app on your phone sign in. Buy a Half Fare Card (HFC) here https://www.sbb.ch/en/tickets-offers/tickets/guests-abroad/swiss-halffare-card.html when you are logged in and it will appear in the app. Be sure to select a start date, which might as well be the day you arrive in Switzerland as the card is good for 30 days.

You can take a look at the Berner Oberland Regional Pass (BORP) here https://www.berneroberlandpass.ch/de/all-in-1-ticket/ but the top line on it is that it covers almost all of your fares from Luzern through your time in Grindelwald. The only up charge would be to go to the Jungfraujoch or Schilthorn. With the HFC you get a significant discount on the BORP. On the site, there is a downloadable map that will be helpful in understanding how all the forms of transport connect.

Armed with these resources, you can get further help at your hotel, the Tourist Info office, train stations, or come back here for refinement!

Posted by
16914 posts

It will all become clear when you get there, but maybe this Grindelwald map will help:

https://grindelwald.swiss/en/operating-status/mountain-railways/overview-map-summer.html

Do not worry about the various train company names. They are all connected and you just deal with SBB or the app to book tickets and see schedules.

Your train from Luzern will arrive at the Grindelwald main station. Between Luzern and Grindelwald, you will change trains at Interlaken Ost. Make sure you board the correct section of that train—-the train splits at Zweilütschinen and the front half goes to Lauterbrunnen and the back half to Grindelwald. The correct platform location will show on your ticket (probably platform 2B but confirm that).

There is a separate smaller train station named Grindelwald Grund. It is a 10-minute walk from the main station (or a train ride, but we always walk). This is where the Jungfrau train stops on its way up to Kleine Scheidegg. It is also the starting point for the gondola up to Männlichen for your walk to Kleine Scheidegg. When you get to Kleine Scheidegg, you can either take the train from there down to Grindelwald, or walk 1 km up to the Eigergletscher station and ride the Eigergletscher Espress (a fast gondola) down to Grindelwald Grund.

More later.

Posted by
842 posts

I have found the confusion associated with transport to be a huge deal, until you get there. Then all seems apparent and you may wonder what all the fuss was about.
Manned ticket kiosks are just fine, easier and less confusing than ticket machines.
Google maps does a good job of telling you most everything you need to know. Down to the platform you should use for certain trains.
You are going on a 10 day tour before on your own. Surely you will learn something on that tour about how things work. Make a point of it.

Posted by
3 posts

It's me again! (sorry) Was trying to set up SBB accounts for myself & husband but the SBB new account data will not permit his birthday to be entered correctly!! MMDDYYYY: I entered the 2-digit month, but his DAY of birth is the 30th and when I get to the day portion of the DOB, it takes the "3" that I enter and makes it '03', then I enter the 4-digit year! I've tried to change the '03' to a '30' but it won't permit it! (I even tried copy & paste from Clipboard on my phone, and it still converts 07.30.1968 to 07.03.1968!!) I tried on my desktop computer -- same issue!) It's clearly a glitch in the SBB entry system. And I tried on multiple days, thinking it was a temporary snag, but still can't enter 2-digits DAYS!

My question: Does it matter? Is there any occasion where he would have to show his Identification and the DOB not matching be a problem?? (MY DOB is easily enter-able, but it's 10.05.1966, so no issue with the first digit of 2 being entered as a single digit) I looked for a way to email the SBB about the issue, but couldn't find a contact email address.

Should I just not worry about it and enter his birthday as 07.03.1968? Do you think there would be any problem with his DOB on his SBB identity NOT matching his ID while we're traveling in Switzerland??

Posted by
5151 posts

Are You aware that the European system is different- day first and then month then year? There obviously is no 30th month.
Also, make sure you're not in the system that's only for Swiss residents.
Good luck!

Posted by
16914 posts

What Pat said. The date should be DD.MM.YYYY. So his July 30 birthday would be 30.07.1968. And if your birthdate is October 5, you enter 05.10.1966.

Posted by
2131 posts

2Pat: If this is all a bit overwhelming, know than that there is nothing you need to buy or book in advance. You can completely stop worrying about public transit till you are here. Then just go to the ticket office in Luzern (That is where your tour ends, right?) and get what you need there.

Note that your tour appears to stay in Interlaken, and visit the Jungfraujoch, which means that you will already have seen some of the public transit infrastructure around Grindelwald. It will no longer be all new to you.