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Swiss Travel Pass vs Eurorail Select Pass

We are travelling to Switzerland on the 25th of this month. We begin in Zurich, head to Lake Como for 2 days, back to Zurich, day trips to Luzern and Germany. We have 2 nights in Murren and plan to take the cable car to Schilthornbahn before heading back to Zurich for our return. I am looking at the Swiss Travel Pass, but understand I would need to buy extensions for the travel into Italy and Germany. The other option is the Eurorail Select pass with 3 country travel. I should mention the Eurorail Select pass is 1st class and about $100-$150 more for two senior tickets. The Swiss Rail pass is 2nd class. All total, we will have 8 train travel days. Anyone have experience with these options? Thank you in advance.

Posted by
20296 posts

Eurail is not a good deal for a number of reasons. For one thing, it only gives you 25% off of the trains and lifts in the Berner Oberland region, anything beyond Interlaken. If you use regional trains in Italy, likely as you are only going as far as Lake Como, they are very cheap. Germany can be cheap as well using Laender tickets. I am assuming these are just short trips to locations near to Switzerland.

So that leaves Switzerland. The biggest savings will probably be with a Half Fare Card, but you still have to buy tickets for each trip. Passes are more expensive, but they satisfy the fantasy of carefree hop-on hop-off travel. Even with a pass, you only get 50% off of the Schilthorn trip, same as the Half Fare Card.

Posted by
14580 posts

Hi,

I always use a Pass but only for Germany and Austria, the 10 day in 2 months, since I don't go to Switzerland, not interested. That the Pass is for only eight days of travel, I wouldn't recommend that unless you want it just for flexibility without concerns for expenses, not bothering with tickets. Maybe the Ger-Swiss Pass is adequate for you instead of a Select Pass.

Depending on your travel style and priorities, ie, are you taking mainly IC or ICE trains, you should factor that in among your calculations. In Germany I try to avoid RB trains, unless I'm connecting to one after transferring from the ICE or IC.

Posted by
11294 posts

I agree that for your itinerary, either a Swiss Travel Pass or a Half Fare Card makes the most sense. Remember that either one covers you to the Swiss border, so if you're going to Italy or Germany, show the pass (or indicate it on the Swiss Rail website) to get a discount on the Swiss portion of the trip.

As for which one is better, you have to do the math on the trips you are definitely taking and possibly taking. Also, Sam's point is a good one. With the Half Fare Card, you have to buy tickets every time (not hard - ticket machines all have a half fare option, or you can buy at a ticket window). With the Swiss Travel Pass, you only have to buy tickets for travel not fully covered (Schilthornbahn and trips to Germany or Italy). For everything else, you just hop on, and show your pass when tickets are checked. This is a nice convenience that I appreciated.

Posted by
7209 posts

A Eurail Pass is not valid beyond Interlaken Ost when venture up into the Lauterbrunnen Valley and surrounding alpine villages Eurail Passes are rip offs in so many ways.

Posted by
20296 posts

It is valid to the extent that they give you a 25% discount off the full fare when you show your pass.

Posted by
219 posts

When I was in Switzerland in July, there was a large sign on the Interlaken Ost Platform 2 (where you get on the Lauterbrunnen/Grindelwald train) that says, "Eurail Pass Not Valid."

Posted by
998 posts

We brought the Swiss rail pass and loved the convenience of it. Just hop on the train (2nd class carriages are just fine) and show your rail pass when the conductor comes through. Make sure you have a valid ID with you (Passport) as it is required, However, we only were asked once to show passports on the train in all of the 15 days we travelled in Switzerland. The pass will cover you to Murren. If you plan on taking the cable car up the Schilthorn, just walk through the village to the cable car station, show you pass and pay the difference. (I can't remember exactly how much it was discounted). We also waited and purchased our Swiss rail passes at Zurich airport. There was no line. Just walked right up to the counter. The Swiss pass will take you to the Border. So at Tirano you will need to purchase your Italian tickets for your journey. to Lake Como. These are much less expensive and easy to obtain from a ticket counter or kiosk. BTW, Are you taking the Bernina Express? or regional train on the same line? (The Swiss pass will cover the regional trains and its the same scenery!) If you are going from Zurich to Lake Como, I would recommend this route - It is breathtaking scenery not to be missed.

Posted by
1 posts

My question is, we will be in Italy --if we buy a Swiss Rail Pass, when we buy our ticket from Milan and start travelling in Switzerland, how does that work? Do we just buy a ticket from Milan to the Swiss border? Or do we buy a ticket from Milan to ZERMATT, and somehow they don't charge for the part when we are in Switzerland? Thanks to anyone who can shed light on this!

Posted by
8889 posts

Joann, The Swiss pass is, as you guessed, valid from the first Swiss Railway station. So you need to buy a ticket from Milan (or wherever) to the first Swiss station. Thereafter your pass covers you.
See the map here: which is the map you will get with the pass: https://www.sbb.ch/content/dam/infrastruktur/trafimage/karten/karte-sts-pass-gueltigkeit.pdf
A Swiss pass is valid on all the lines shown in red. Coming from Italy, the border station is (from west to east, depending on which route you take): Domodossola, Luino, Chiasso or Tirano.