Please sign in to post.

so confused on Swiss pass options

Hello anybody! Switzerland in September for 5 days (4 people -- two over 60, two kids 8 & 10). Which pass is best??
Train travel days:
1) Zurich > Lucerne
2) Lucerne >Interlaken Ost > Luaterbrunnen > Murren
3) No trains ... just mountain lifts exploring Lauterbrunnen, Wengen, etc
4) Same as above
5) Murren > Lauterbrunnen > Interlaken Ost > Montreux and on to Florence Italy
Seems a Swiss pass is more than we need, correct? Half-fare pass better? And if so, does this mean we have to still buy tickets for every train? I'm assuming if you have a Swiss pass you don't need to stand in line to buy individual tickets, which sounds nice ... but don't want to buy a full Swiss pass if that doesn't make sense money-wise.
Thank you for any help!

Posted by
20296 posts

You can get a 5-day Swiss Travel Pass now for the price of a 4-day pass. You must buy by May 14 to get this special offer.

One issue I see is that to get the free Family Card for the kids, at least one parent must be accompanying them. Are you the parents or grandparents? Technically, grandparents don't count, in which case their passes are half price.

Another option appears to be Childrens Co-Travel Card which costs 30 CHF per child, and grandparents count as the partner.

https://www.sbb.ch/en/leisure-holidays/inspiration/international-guests/swiss-travel-pass.html
https://www.sbb.ch/en/travelcards-and-tickets/railpasses/children-co-travelcard.html

Posted by
6 posts

Thank you Sam, for the info -- we are grandparents, so thank you for catching that! Even with the "free day" from the Swiss Pass sale, it looks like $1500 which is a crazy price. If we get two Swiss Passes and then two co-travel passes for the kids, is that still better than a half-fare card for all? And are the kids co-travel passes only available for purchase in Switzerland? Because it says in one place that they take 10 days to send them to you, and in another place it says you buy them at Swiss train stations. You need to provide passport photos, etc. I'm so frustrated trying to understand all this ... just want to buy the best pass that's appropriate for what we're doing but also not a ton of money.
Also, am I correct that if you have a Swiss pass you don't need to buy individual tickets, but can just hop on a train and show your pass when they come around to check?

Posted by
20296 posts

Even with the "free day" from the Swiss Pass sale, it looks like $1500 which is a crazy price

The pass is 281 CH per adult and half price for children, that comes to 843 CHF, about $950 US.

If you bought 4 Half Fare Cards at 120 CHF, that is 480 CHF, about $540 US. To make that pay, you would need another $540 US worth of full fare tickets.

Also, am I correct that if you have a Swiss pass you don't need to buy individual tickets, but can just hop on a train and show your pass when they come around to check?

Correct. You will have to buy tickets for lifts above Muerren, but you get a 50% discount with the Swiss Travel Pass. Also, above Wengen you get a 25% discount.

Posted by
6 posts

I was looking at 1st class, which is why it came up as $1500.

It seems we can only get the child co-traveler passes once we're in Switzerland, which would mean we couldn't take advantage of the current sale by buying the Swiss pass now.

I guess we now just need to weigh whether or not we want to pay the cost of the Swiss pass for the convenience of hopping on a train and showing the pass vs. paying less overall but needing to take time and buy tickets for every ride.

Thank you for your help Sam -- it's made things a lot clearer for me!

Posted by
20296 posts

Why 1st class? Like you say, its a crazy price.

Posted by
6 posts

I'd read tourism in Switzerland was going to be way up this year and there was always more seat availability in 1st. With 4 of us, didn't want to risk not getting to sit by our grandkids. Not worth it?

Posted by
20296 posts

Not much you can do about trains from Zurich airport to Luzern, which originate elsewhere before they get to Zurich airport but it is only an hour ride and you can split up 2 and 2 if you have too. Luzern to Interlaken Ost, just show up early so you will be the first onboard and get your choice of seats, as the train originates in Luzern. Lauterbrunnen is a quick change, so maybe you can wait for the next train 30 minutes later and be the first on board.

You should buy seat reservations for Interlaken Ost to Montreux from https://www.gpx.swiss/en/

You should buy seat reservations for Montreux to Milano Centrale for 5 CHF per seat from https://www.sbb.ch/en/travelcards-and-tickets/tickets-for-switzerland/seat-reservations.html

Posted by
1831 posts

Don't worry about not being able to sit together. On average Swiss trains are about 25% full. Of course, during rush hour they may be fuller, but trains stop often, and just keep an eye open for people getting off. For example, when getting on the train for Luzern at the Airport, if that train is full just stand on the platform for the short trip to the main station. At the main station a lot of people will get off, and you will almost certainly be able to get 4 seats together.

One last note: You are probably best off with the Swiss Half Fare Card, with the Family Pass, so the kids go free, also on the mountain railways and cable cars. Then you indeed need to buy tickets. However you do not buy tickets for every train, as train tickets technically don't even exist here. You buy a ticket for every trip, and it does not matter how many trains or other conveyances are involved in the trip. Eg. You would buy one ticket Luzern - Murren.

Posted by
4919 posts

There are other things to consider with the various passes. For instance, in Lucerne, will you be going on the boat to the cogwheel train to Mt Rigi, perhaps? This entire journey entirely covered by the STP. Or Chateau Chillon in Montreux, also covered? Or a boat on Lake Thun?
Have a wonderful family trip!

Posted by
11400 posts

just mountain lifts exploring Lauterbrunnen, Wengen, etc

Look at the Berner Oberland Reguonal Pass plus a Half Fare Card. The HFC gives an additional discount. On the BORP and the HFC will apply to travel from Zurich to Luzern and around Luzern. From Luzern to Mürren, the BORP covers all but the lifts above Mürren and to the Schilthorn. When you depart, the BORP covers much of your journey to Montreux.

Posted by
6 posts

Thank you all for adding to this conversation. It’s so helpful to know what I need to consider. Appreciate it!

Posted by
23 posts

We are in Switzerland right now. If you can afford to go to Switzerland, you can afford the Swiss Travel Pass! It is so nice to be able to hop on a train or boat and not have to think about scheduling everything the night before. And, you can change your mind at the last minute. I can’t imagine sitting at my iPad each night booking the next day, I would rather spend the time with my grandchildren.

Posted by
6 posts

Yes, we have come to the same conclusion after looking at all the options. Thank you!

Posted by
2733 posts

I can’t imagine sitting at my iPad each night booking the next day,

I’m a big fan of the Swiss Travel Pass, but I did want to mention that if you don’t have the Pass, there’s no need to book anything in advance. If you have the SBB app on your phone you can easily buy whatever tickets you need. Or get the tickets at the train station. That being said, I do love the Pass and will continue to get it for my trips. 😊

Posted by
1831 posts

Most Swiss have the half fare card, and will just buy tickets the moment they travel. I usually buy tickets using my SBB app, and that only moments before getting on the train. It works very well. Before the SBB launched their great app I would just get tickets from the ticket machine.

Trains are mass transit. You do not book trips on the New York Subway or Chicago's Metra days in advance. You just go to the station, buy a ticket, and go. That is how it works here. And because you usually only need one ticket, regardless how complicated your trip is you do not have to deal with getting tickets that often.

Posted by
1831 posts

Regarding getting the Swiss Family Card for your grandchildren:

  • The conditions for the Swiss Travel Pass (and the Swiss Half Fare Card) indicate that they are also available for foster children. And the rules define "foster children" as children who's living expenses you are bearing. So you could argue that your grandchildren are in your care and thus should be considered as foster children. When we travel with children that are not our own we usually get a letter from their parents that makes us their legal guardians for the duration of the trip, which is something that you might want to do anyway, as that can avoid all kinds of issues.

  • If the person at the ticket desk doesn't buy your argument you can still just buy the children co-travel card at 30,- each.