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to buy swiss pass or not

Hi All,

My husband and I are going to switzerland for 4 nights, 3 days. I am debating whether we should buy a swiss pass or not.
We would like to explore the local culture of switzerland, walk around the cities, small villages etc.

Here is our itinerary:
Day 1: Reach Zurich at around 6:00pm. Roam aorund Zurich for a while.
Day2: Train/bus from zurich to Luzern. Roam around the lake, in the city, and nearby attractions(what would you recommend). I know there is mount Rigi there, but we would like to explore the local culture first, local city, and would go to Rigi, only if there is nothing else .
Day 3: Train/bus from Luzern to Interlaken. Go to Interlaken. Walk around the city. Explore the local culture(and not just go for scenic beauty to mountains). Would like to go to nearby villages, and explore local culture.
Day 4: Train/bus from Interlaken to Geneva in the evening sometime. Again walk around geneva.
Day 5: Take morning train to home.

Questions are:
1) Should I buy swiss pass for this itinerary or not?
2) How can I go to Gimmerwald. If I buy swiss pass, is it covered in it. I would like to take a bike and explore Bern Oberlan area. But is the cable car/train/bus taking the bike up the mountains(so that I can come down on the bike) covered under swiss pass.I watched Rick steves do it in one of his travel stuff.

Please suggest.

Posted by
16169 posts

1)You are probably good candidates for the 4-day Swiss travel pass with all that travel in 4 days. Assume "train home" on day 5 is back to Zurich.
2) Everything shown on this map with a solid line is covered by the Swiss Travel Pass, including to Gimmelwald.
Bikes are allowed on the Schilthornbahn between Steckelberg, Gimmelwald, and Muerren. There may be an additional charge. So yes, it can be done. Inquire at bike rental shops.
I would suggest that you go directly to Lauterbrunnen, or even Muerren if you are interested in this sort of activity. Interlaken is for the less active. Muerren will show off the "Swiss culture" in fine fashion.
Also assume this trip will be late summer or early fall. After October 10, snow is a possibility in Muerren and Gimmelwald.

Posted by
4 posts

Thank you Sam.
Sorry, back to home meant, I have a flight from Geneva to California(home).

Thanks for the link. yes I have this pdf, but I dont see Gimmerwald anywhere here, so assumed that it's not covered by swiss pass.
I am travelling around 10th september. Can I see fall colors during that time? Does it rain during that time?
Should I be dressed in layers during that time.

Also, any recommendation for bike rental shops around Murren. How much does it cost per person?

Also, when I looking at sbb website to book tickets(for example Bernina express), it no longer shows Swiss pass in reduction drop down menu. Am I missing something here?

Thank you,

Posted by
16169 posts

In that case you would only need a 3 day Swiss Travel Pass, as the from central Geneva to the airport is pocket change. OK, Swiss pocket change.
Gimmelwald is not shown on the map specifically. Beneath Muerren, you will see Stechelberg and a gray "V".
This represents the Schilthornbahn. Gimmelwald is the corner of the "V", while the top of the left arm represents Muerren. From Muerren you will see a dotted gray line to Schilthorn. That is the continuation of the Schilthornbahn for which the Swiss Travel pass only gives a 50% discount.
I am not familiar with bike shops in the area. a bit of googling might help. Also, there is an RS correspondent, Chris, who spends a lot of time there. You might contact him at his Twitter:

Also, when I looking at sbb website to book tickets(for example Bernina express), it no longer shows Swiss pass in reduction drop down menu. Am I missing something here?

Because if you have a Swiss Travel Pass, there is no ticket to buy. In the case of the actual Bernina Express, there is a "reservation" fee of 14 chf payable to Rhaetischebahn, the operator. Their website

Posted by
3645 posts

You are going to have very little time to do much wandering and interacting with this type of schedule. You will be spending most of your time traveling from place to place. If you want to explore up in the mountains/bike ride, don't stay in Interlakken, stay up in the mountain village itself.

Any chance you could go to Luzern the first night instead of Zurich?

Posted by
7205 posts

Yes, don't waste your time in Interlaken - it's not in the alps and offers no natural scenic beauty. It's best used for a transport hub. Bypass Interlaken and continue on the train for 20 additional minutes to Lauterbrunnen. THERE you will find what you're looking for.

Your itinerary is actually too short to "stroll" around in Zurich. Get out of Zurich asap because there is much much better awaiting you either in Lucern or in Lauterbrunnen. Unfortunately you don't have the luxury of time to stroll around and perhaps stumbling upon something nice in Zurich. Just move on into Lucerne.

Yes, Gimmelwald is most definitely covered by your Swiss Pass.

Posted by
4 posts

I really feel good to be a part of this forum. :)

Thank you @Sam for detailed explanation. I really appreciate it.
I googled what pocket change is, and couldn't find anything. I saw the sbb pdf map, and fund that the bus or train can drop us to Geneva airport. Using your explanation I know now where Gimmerwald is, Thank you

I googled for bike rental places in muerren , but couldn't find useful results of websites in English. :(

Thanks @Carol and @Tim I will now stay in Lauterbrennen and get out of Zurich asap.

I have few more questions:
1) As I would be come to switzerland from Italy(Milan area), I have three options:
a)Take Bernina from Tirano to Chur to Zurich(reach aroud 6:00pm). covered under swiss pass
b) Take train (I guess Glacier express) from Tirano to St moritz to Lucerne. covered under swiss pass
c) Take train from Milano to Brig to Spiez. Not sure if its covered under swiss pass.
Which one would be the best, offers best views and most reasonably priced and covered under swiss pass. :)

2) Whatever I opt from above, can I get swiss pass in TIrano or Milano? I am in the US, so shouls I order it beforehand? Price difference?

Thank you

Posted by
3645 posts

Bike rental in Murren will be easy to find once you get there. It is near coop grocery store as is the ATM for Murren

Posted by
16169 posts

Sorry, by "pocket change" I only meant that is was a small amount which I could not recall offhand. Looks like it is 3 chf.
For transport routes, a) and b) are essentially the same. It depends on where you are going first.
The route Milan-Tirano-Chur-Zurich-Luzern is the longest, but perhaps the most scenic going over the Bernina Pass. you buy a ticket for about 10 euro to Tirano, cross the street to the RHB station where you can buy a Swiss Travel Pass and go from there.
The route Milan-Arth Goldau-Luzern is the fastest and most direct. You would need your Swiss Pass in hand and only pay for the section in Italy.
The route Milan-Brig-Spiez-Interlaken-Lauterbrunnen is the most direct if you were going to Lauterbrunnen/Muerren first. It is perhaps the least scenic of the 3 routes simply because there are two very long tunnels that cut straight through the mountains. Again, have Swiss Pass in hand so you only pay the Italian section.
You can buy the Swiss Pass from the Rick Steves site and have it sent to you before travel. Price is about the same given changes in the currency.

Posted by
798 posts

Hi Megha,

Can I ask you what do you mean by 'explore local culture'? Your post is peppered with this phrase and after 25 years I have some doubts about us living up to your expectations....