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Rail pass or point to point???

Based on the below itinerary do you think that this all warrants a rail pass or point to point? What would out best options be?

Itinerary:
-Zurich to Mt. Pilatus (just for day - recommended hike???)
-Mt. Pilatus to Bern (two nights): Sightsee Bern & Thun (maybe Brienz or Beatus caves) or possibly Zermatt (do you recommend trying to get to top or just enjoy view from a hike / etc)
-Bern to Interlakken (4 nights):
Interlakken is being used as our hub (don't judge) - Know we'd like to try and see / do:
-Tremmelbach Falls
-Kleine Scheidegg
-Gimmelwald
-Maybe Oeschinensee

Any and all insight welcome!

Posted by
5697 posts

One of the things that makes a big difference is the (expensive) lifts you will take -- for instance, Schilthorn or Jungfrauoch. Half Fare Card may (or may not) be a better deal than point-to-point. Only way to be sure is add up the full-fare costs for each versus (half-fare plus CHF 120 each for HFC) versus pass cost.

Posted by
6081 posts

I haven't done Mt. Pilatus so I have no idea how it compares to Mt. Rigi, but Mt. Rigi is completely covered by the Swiss Travel Pass

Posted by
267 posts

I would head straight to Lauterbrunnen (have stayed there and Interlaken) and
no comparison...most of your sights listed are around Lauterbrunnen...go into
Interlaken for boat rides...plenty of more sights and great hikes in Lauterbrunnen
area...spend your last two nights in Luzern and do Mt Pilatus-way better than Rigi
...one hour from Luzern to Zurich airport...doing this next summer and have been
in the area three times before-my fav place in Europe.

Posted by
16894 posts

I'm sure that the Half-Fare Card will save money over regular tickets. A Swiss Travel Pass for 8 consecutive days may also be worthwhile for $420 per adult. But you can't make a very accurate comparison without a bit more info.

  • Are the trips to and from Mt. Pilatus on the same day? Calendar days is what counts for rail passes.
  • The decision to go from Bern to Zermatt roundtrip is a significant expense that should be counted into the decision. It costs 90 CHF each way, not including the value of lift discounts once you get there.
  • What, no Mt. Schilthorn? It's very worthwhile and fully covered by the Swiss Travel Pass or of course the Half-Fare Card also works there.
  • Where do you go after Interlaken - back to Zurich or another border?
  • The STP could also cover some museum visits in Bern.

See also https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/transportation/trains/switzerland-rail-passes.

Posted by
20 posts

Thank you all for your helpful insight! :)

@ Laura
We will leave Zurich and go straight to Mt. Pilatus )or whatever the changeovers are that would get us there. Stay the night and then board train next day to Bern (so, TECHNICALLY two calendar days are here).

Hmmmm....Zermatt may prove problematic. Though I'm probably only ever going to be in Switzerland once that's a significant cost...
If we were to see Schilthorn would you suggest we do that while based in Interlakken? I'm not sure we'll go...COLD!!! HAHAHAHA!!! Unfortunately I didn't have say in the hotel booking so Interlakken is where we'll be. Though I KNOW the villages are recommended highly...I don't think I can change the accommodations ;)

After Interlakken we will go back to Zurich for the night as we need to be at airport 6:30 AM

I will be looking at some of the other links people sent for fare info but THANK YOU for any guidance!!!

Posted by
20 posts

Also...can we get rail passes etc at the airport or do we need to definitely determine before arrival?

Posted by
61 posts

Depending on how active you want your trip to be, you could do Schilthorn/Gimmelwald/Trummelbach in a day. I've done it before-- it was a long day but full of absolutely gorgeous scenery-- and luckily I had a day of clear and beautiful weather. I started really early with Schilthorn (you can make a reservation to be on the first one or two cable cars up in the AM if you're able to get there that early from Interlaken--I had an advantage since I stayed in Murren and the lift was thus very close), spent a few hours up there, came back down to Murren for an early lunch, walked down to Gimmelwald (~30 min walk, steep downhills), took the lift one more level down to Stechelberg, and caught the bus (about 10 mins, you can also walk for ~30) to Trummelbach Falls. Whew, busy day-- but I figured I might as well pack my days since who knows when I'll be back?! :)

And, since you originally asked about rail passes, I liked the flexibility that the rail pass gave me -- if it was bad weather, I could hop a train or head to a museum. To me, the up front cost was worthwhile since I always had lots of backup options if my plans went awry.

Posted by
16894 posts

Yes, you can definitely buy passes from staffed windows at Zurich airport train station. Have your passports handy. It still sounds like your travel fits into 8 consecutive days and think the pass will be a good value and convenience. It won't be the final price you pay, but there will be fewer times when you pay extra, and it would of course cover that 180 chf for a roundtrip ride to Zermatt.

Posted by
131 posts

We just returned home from Europe including 8 days in Switzerland with a Swiss Rail Pass. It was a break even for us once we calculated the point-to-point costs, so we bought the pass (ahead of time online, had the passes printed plus on the phone) for the main reason of the ease. Go to the station, find your track, get on the train. No messing with ticket machines. Plus, the added bonuses of the pass, such as city buses and trams, Lake Geneva boats, and the free lifts to Schilthorn, made it the best bet for us.

Zurich-Interlaken-Lauterbrunnen-Schilthorn-Bern-Golden Pass train-Montreux-Lake Geneva boats-Lausanne-Bern-Luzern-Glacier Express train-Chur-Buchs, then on to Innsbruck (with lots of little day trips in between).

We made no reservation for any train, nor did we make any for the first lifts up to Schilthorn. If you go early (7:16 am earliest lift out of Lauterbrunnen where we stayed), no one is even on the way up yet. We got to Murren at 7:30 and the entire town was still sleeping!