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Rail Options-Varenna to Lauterbrunnen and Lauterbrunnen to Munich

Hi all,

Trying to figure out my options for the above route. We will leave Varenna on July 4 to Lauterbrunnen and leave Lauterbrunnen to Munich on July 8.

For the inbound, trying to figure out routing options. I see we can go from Varenna to Milan, then from there to Spiez/Interlaken/Lauterbrunnen. When I price that on Trenitalia it comes up as 126E for the 11:23 departure (was much cheaper for the evening and early morning, but not sure those times will work.) When I look on the SBB site it shows as 86CHF for a decent routing. Option two would be to go a more scenic route through Tirano, but I'm having trouble figuring that routing out as I get a route with 8-10 connections. So haven't been able to price that out.

While in Lauterbrunnen we do plan to use the various rail and lift options to explore and hike (though not sure we'll go up to Jungfraujoch as we've already visited there).

Departing out of Lauterbrunnen to Munich, I found on DB 49E (total for 2) fares and on SBB 169 CHF fares.

I guess my first decision is which route I want to take into Lauterbrunnen. The more direct, or more scenic route. Then I can compare the prices of the tickets. If I go most direct I can book on SBB for 86 CHF on Milan to Lauterbrunnen (not sure if I can print these?) , and then 25E (1/2 of the above) for Lauterbrunnen to Munich that's approximately 110E per person ($115).

I see the Swiss Transfer Ticket + Half Fare Card is $214 p/p. So, if my thinking is correct, then I'd need to spend about $200 in lifts/rail tickets in the valley for the Transfer Ticket/Half Fare Card to work out?

So, wrestling with best way to proceed. Help! :-)

Posted by
2830 posts

Jed, did you look at the other option for travel from Varenna to Lauterbrunnen that I mentioned on two other threads of yours? Via Zurich? There is only one more train change involved than the Spiez route, and it is much more scenic than the Spiez route which goes through two long tunnels. Trenitalia is still offering Smart Fares of 22€ per person from Milan to Zurich on your day of travel, for both the 10:25 and 12:25 departures from Milano Centrale. You would have time to travel to Milan from Varenna on the 8:37 or 10:37 regional train.

From Zurich you would use your Swiss pass of whatever type ( like Transfer Ticket, etc.) to go Zurich---Bern---Interlaken Ost---Lauterbrunnen. There used to be direct trains from Zurich to Interlaken every hour or so, but I could not find one now.

Posted by
479 posts

Hi Sasha,

Sorry, I think I was mis-understanding, I thought the route you were talking through Zurich was through Tirano. I plugged in Milan to Zurich and see the 22E fare. It looks like though it's about 3 hours longer to go that way than Spiez. I'll have to talk to my wife about it and see what she thinks. Do you know the routing from Varenna through Tirano? Was trying to find that but couldn't find much besides ones with 7-10 connections. Feel I'm missing something.

If I did the Milan/Zurich/Lauterbrunnen route it comes out to about 32E to Zurich (I entered 2 people so the price went up) and 36E from there to Lauterbrunnen, so 68E total. Then if I did the 25E from Lauterbrunnen to Munich that would be 93E or $100USD. So definitely a bit cheaper than what I looked at above. If I did the Transfer Ticket + Half Fare Card from Zurich to Lauterbrunnen I'd pay the 32E ($34) to Zurich and then the $214 for the fare card, for a total of $248. So, for that option I'd need to spend about $300 in rail and lifts in the valley to break even.

I guess I could just do the 1/2 fare card for $128? Then I'd pay $34 to Zurich from Milan, 1/2 fare ($20) Zurich to Lauterbrunnen, and $27 from Lauterbrunnen to Munich. Total would be $84 plus the $128 for the 1/2 fare card, so $212. With saving $20 from Zurich to Lauterbrunnen, then I'd have to buy $208 worth of rail/lift tickets for the cost to even out. I'll check these out next.

Am I on the right path with this? Sorry if it seems so convoluted! I'm just trying to process all the options. Thanks!

EDIT: Looking if I did Lauterbrunnen to Mannlichen (hike to Kleine Scheidegg), up to Schilthorn, and Lauterbrunnen/Murren then it would be about $215. I know we'll do those trips for sure. Maybe others as well. So, if my thinking above is correct maybe the 1/2 fare card would be the best option?

Jed

Posted by
2830 posts

My head is spinning with all those prices!

To answer your question about the Tirano route: that is indeed very different from the route through Zurich. From Varenna! you do not return to Milan but head north and east to Tirano, 1.5 hours by train. There you pick up the Bernina Express or one of the regional trains that uses the same tracks in regular cars. The BE goes to St. Moritz but to get to Lauterbrunnen you would go to Chur, transfer there for either Luzern or Zurich, and continue to Lauterbrunnen from there.

It is the longest but most scenic route. It is hard to get any of the usual websites (SBB.ch, bahn.de) to show the whole route because the train from Varenna to Tirano is on a small line, TreNord. You can see the schedules (and even buy tickets) here:

http://www.trenord.it/it/home.aspx?ssoToken=

Use Varenna-Esino for your station. Buying the online tickets is a good idea as Varenna does not have a ticket office and the ticket machine is either broken or non-existent. At least it was that way when we were there. People buy their tickets from a travel agency near the station. This applies whether you are going to Tirano or Milan.

I did not realize the Zurich route is three hours longer than the Spiez route. I will re-check that. It is unfortunate that the smart fares are gone on the Spiez train you want. But SBB has it for less? Is that from Milan to Spiez?

I see you have listed $20 as the price from Zurich to Lauterbrunnen, using a Half-fare card. Be careful with SBB pricing for trains within Switzerland, the price shown on the first page---the one showing several train options, with a "price from" figure above each one, assumes you have a half fare card. So that 38.30 CHF is the price per person WITH a Half-Fare card.

So that trip costs more than you think, but it is more reason to get the Half-Fare card.

As for the Transfer Ticket, it is complicated. It costs $150 to cover your trip in and out, or $75 per trip. Lauterbrunnen to Zurich is 76,60 CHF full price, but you will have a Half Fare card, so 38,30 CHF --cheaper than the fare with a Transfer ticket. However, if you buy a transfer ticket the cost of the half fare card goes down by half with the "combi" deal. (They used to sell this as one product called a Swiss Card, but now it is the Combi. Probably saves confusion with Swiss Pass vs. Swiss Card.

So it looks like the TT+ HFC is still a bit more than just the HFC. But the TT offers a bit of convenience, saving you a trip to the ticket office in Switzerland on your way to Lauterbrunnen. (Or maybe they have online sales for Swiss regional tickets like Spiez to Lauterbrunnen? If so that is new).

Posted by
2830 posts

Ok, I just checked Milan to Lauterbrunnen via Spiez on SBB. That 86 CHF is all the way, not just to Spiez so if you did that you would not want a Transfer Ticket at all. In fact if you run the query again and check the box to say you have the card, it may come out even less. These are print at home tickets and you do not need the half fare card in hand to buy the ticket. You just show it to the conductor when asked, so make sure you buy it before you get to Switzerland.

Posted by
479 posts

Thanks Sasha! I went ahead and booked the outbound from Lauterbrunnen to Munich. Got it for 39E each, so that's good! I was going to book the Milan-Lauterbrunnen leg on SBB, but wanted to make sure of the 1/2 price portion. When I click on the "Reduction For" portion it says "half fare travel card 1/2/3-year". Can I click that if I have the 1 month 1/2 Fare Card? Don't want to run into any problems when we're on the train!

Jed

Posted by
2830 posts

I actually sent an inquiry to SBB by email about that. They won't answer until Monday. I don't see why the tourist (30-day) Half Fare Card wouldn't work, but it is worth confirming. So now you absolutely do not want a Transfer Ticket and are good to go with the 120 CHF Half Fare Card (You need one for each person).

Posted by
2830 posts

Well it is still Sunday here but they already replied. The 30-day Half fare card is fine for claiming the half-fare discount. Here is the answer:

"Dear Ms. _____ ,

Thank you for your query.

Your Swiss Half Fare Card (Swiss Travel System) is also valid on the EC-train from Milan to Switzerland.

Have a nice day.

Kind regards
Alma Treyer Lehner

SBB AG
Contact Center
Half-Fare Card Service Center
Postoffice box 176
CH – 3900 Brig
Phone: 0848 33 55 77 – Fax: 051 225 70 92
halbtax@sbb.ch - www.sbb.ch/en/half-fare

----------------------------------- CC7158019 / -----------------------------------


Your message

May I use a 30-day Half Fare Card for tourists (Swiss Travel System product) to get the Halbtax discount when purchasing online tickets? We will be traveling from Milano Centrale to Lauterbrunnen.

Thank you."

Posted by
479 posts

Thanks Sasha! I'm guessing Halbtax means the half fare card choice on the website? Will look to book tonight so we can wrap this piece up.

Appreciate all your advice and help!