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Travel pass options 3 days pre tour in Zermatt and 4 days post Wengen.

I’m trying to understand the best travel pass options for our July 2022 trip to Switzerland.

We will be arriving in Zurich in the morning and rail travel to Zermatt for 2 nights, then rail travel to Luzern to start our RS tour that evening. Considering purchasing a 3 day travel pass for this pre tour time.

We finish our RS tour in Bern and travel to Wengen for 3 nights, then back to Zurich for 1 night before we fly back home. We are considering buying a 4 day travel pass for this post tour time.

Question for others who have done the RS tour…will we need to purchase our own travel passes for “free time” travel while on RS Tour Best of Switzerland in 12 days. If so, maybe we need …
15 day flex passes to cover the entire trip? Or…
3 day pass for pre tour travel and regional BO pass for post tour travel and maybe a half fare card?

We hope to be actively traveling, hiking, discovering, want ease of hop on / off transportation. What worked best for you? I appreciate your suggestions.

Posted by
511 posts

I thoroughly enjoyed the RS Switzerland tour. A multi day travel pass may be of very little to no value during your free time on the tour itself. I did take a train from Lauterbrunnen to Interlaken during my free time but that’s because I had already experienced on previous RS trips the recommended activities in the Lauterbrunnen Valley, in/from Murren, in/from Wengen, the Männlichen-Kleine Scheidegg Hike, the Schilthorn visit, the falls in the valley, viewing the Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau peaks, etc. Pre tour and post tour passes may certainly prove more beneficial.

Posted by
15114 posts

I haven’t been on the RS tour but we have been to Switzerland several times (5 hiking trips, 2 weeks each). I don’t think you would make much use of the 15-day pass. Have you looked at what is included in the tour price? It looks like several boat trips and a trip op the Schilthorn.

So that leaves your free time on the tour—and there isn’t much of that. You do have a full day free in Lugano, and the tour description suggests you ride the funicular up Monte San Salvador. The current cost of that ride is 30 CHF round-trip, or 23 CHF one-way. If you have a pass, it would reduce that by 50%. So you could save, at most, 15 francs. What else would you use it for during the tour? I don’t see that you have time to hop on a train and go to another village that is not on the tour.

The 15-day pass, with the current discount, is 385 francs. This is the same as the combined cost of the 3-day and 4-day passes you are considering for before and after the tour (174 and 211 CHF respectively). But the 15-day pass will only cover your pre-tour days, not both your pre-and post-tour days. So you are better off spending your 385 CHF on the two passes for pre-trip and post-trip travel.

But depending on the number of lifts and trains you will use during your time at Zermatt (1 full day) and Wengen (2 full day), you could save by buying a 4-day Flex Pass for 243 Fr instead of the 2 consecutive-day passes.. You can use the Flex Pass to cover the full fare from Zurich Airport to Zermatt on Day 1 (regular fare 106 CHF), then Zermatt to Luzern on Day 3 (fare 106 CHF), then after the trip from Bern to Wengen (this is only 39 CHF so I have an alternative suggestion below) and finally Wengen to Zurich at the end (fare for this is 76 to 880 CHF depending on the specific trains used).

The Flex Pass will not give you a discount on any of the lifts you ride while at Zermatt and Wengen, unless you ride them on your travel day (which is an option if you are just sightseeing). But a consecutive-day Swiss Pass will only cover 50% of the lift cost, so you would need to look up each one to decide if it is worth the extra cost for a consecutive day pass for these excursions. Wengen to Maennlichen, for example, is 52 CHF for the round trip, whether you use the cablecar up to Wengen or the train between Kleine Scheidegg and Wengen. The pass would bring this down to 26 CHF. Or you would decide to walk down to Wengen from Kleine Scheidegg and save the 26 CHF that way. That is what we do.

The most expensive lift or train you might consider, I am thinking, would be the Gornergrat train at Zermatt. You might want to take this up to the top on your one full day at Zermatt (great view over the glacier), and then walk back down—-it is a beautiful hike with the Matterhorn in your face most of the way (if it is clear). The full price of a Gornergrat train ride is 88 CHF round-trip, or 44 CHF one way if you ride up and walk back. If it is a good day when you are there and want to do this, you could use a day on your Flex Pass to cover 50%, and then you are free to ride both ways, or walk partway down and ride the rest. You could board the train at any of several stopping places on the way down, showing your activated pass for that day. (This is what we did).

If you choose to use a day on your Flex pass for this—-and it is only worth it if the day is nice——then you would pay the 39 CHF for the train from Bern to Wengen after the tour.

You mentioned you want “ease of hop on/hop off travel” but remember that if you are riding a lift or mountain train, you only get a discount with your pass, not a free ride, so you still have to buy a ticket at the window or kiosk before you can board. So It’s not really hop on/hop off ease like it is for trains between towns.

Posted by
2550 posts

Just adding the link to the details on the current discount for the Swiss Travel Pass that Lola mentioned. If you purchase the pass from now to Dec. 11th, you will get 25% off.

One thing that I really liked about using the pass this past Sept. was not having to buy tickets for any of the trains, buses, and trams. We did a lot of traveling and certainly got our money’s worth out of the pass. But I probably would have purchased the pass even if all the single tickets added up to less. The ease of travel was a huge factor for us as first time travelers to Europe. But I know the more experienced travelers say it’s no big deal to buy all the individual tickets. Do what makes the most sense for you.

Have a great trip!! Switzerland is fabulous!!! I loved it so much I’m going back in June. And will buy the pass of course. 😊

Posted by
6 posts

Thank you for your replies! I am still rereading and understanding your suggestions.
Do you recommend the BO regional pass or the 4 day travel pass for the days we will be in the BO…Bern to Wengen, lots of travel in the area, then back out to Zurich. I think I understand that the BO regional pass will give us a discount to Jungfraujoch, maybe not so with travel pass.

Posted by
94 posts

We did this tour in 2019. The order of the itinerary has changed a bit from 2019. We did not need any travel passes during the tour. Group travel to locations was covered in the tour. Your free time travel is on you. Unless you are planning on doing a lot of independent stuff involving many cable cars, trains, etc. during the tour, a travel pass will probably not be beneficial or necessary. We did visit the Schilthorn independently with many tour members on our free day in Murren. This we paid for on our own.

Our tour also ended in Bern. Like you are planning, we returned to the Berner Oberland for 5 more nights. This was a great decision as there is so much beauty and things to see and explore in the area. The short time we had there on the tour was not enough.

We purchased the "Berner Oberland Pass" for our end of tour travel. We purchased it at the Bern train station and it covered our trains/cable cars from Bern to Interlaken East to Lauterbrunnen. From there we could use the pass to travel to Murren, Wengen, Kleine Schedigg, Grindelwald, Schnige Platte, and the Allmendhubel funicular above Murren. It covered almost all of our transportation while in the BO. There were a few things that we did that were not covered, but we still got more than our money's worth out of the pass. You can check their website to see what all is currently covered. We did not go to the Jungfraujoch, which was not covered by the pass in 2019.

On our return to Zurich, the BO Pass also covered our train from Lauterbrunnen via Interlaken to Lucerne. In Lucerne, we purchased tickets just from Lucerne to Zurich, which were inexpensive. The train ride from Interlaken to Lucerne was very picturesque.

Posted by
15114 posts

The Berner Oberland Pass can be a good buy, but maybe not here.

The 4-day BO pass costs 270 CHF—-it is not on sale like the Swiss Pass. It will cover travel from Bern to Wengen, and from Wengen to Luzern on your way home, but you would need to pay the extra 20 CHF to go to Zurich (and more to get to the airport). For the 2 full days you have in Wengen after the tour and before heading to Zurich, the BO Pass would cover train rides from Wengen to other villages, and also some of the lifts in the area, such as the .Mannlichen cablecar from Wengen, and the gondola down to Grindelwald, as well as the First lift from Grindelwald. It will not cover the train to the Top of Europe (Jungfraujoch; it will take you as far as Eigletscher station (just above Kleine Scheidegg) and then you would pay 99 CHF for the rest of the way (and back) to Eigergletscher.

You can see a map of the validity here:

I just question how many of these free rides you would be able to use in the 2 full days you have there. If just one or two, you should check the regular price of the lifts to see if they are worth covering with the BO Pass. Remember that if you have a Swiss Pass, you will pay only 50% of the full price; also 50 % if you use a Flex Pass on a day you have activated the pass for train travel (that is, on the day you take the train from Bern to Wengen, and the day you take the train from Wengen to Zurich). Once you have activated the Flex Pass for travel on a given day, you can use it all day for discounts on lifts.

To put it another way: if you use a BO Pass to travel by train from Bern to Wengen, and Wengen to Luzern, on days 1 and 4 of your post-tour excursion, you have received 80 CHF of value (the 39 CHF fare from Bern to Wengen, plus the 41 CHF fare from Wengen to Luzern). You have paid 270 for that pass. Will you be able to get 190 CHF of value on the two full days you have between days 1 and 4? If you spend a lot of time riding trains and lifts on those days, when will you have time for hiking?

Posted by
6399 posts

For the pre-tour days, I would consider getting a Saver Day Pass (available up to 60 days in advance) to cover the Zürich-Zermatt journey for 52 CHF (weekday) or 61 CHF (weekend) minimum. Buy exactly 60 days ahead for best prices!
Because once in Zermatt, since you describe yourselves as hikers, you might find that you will not use that many lifts. Klein Matterhorn isn't worth it in my opinion (Gornergrat has better views of the Matterhorn), Sunnegga is relatively cheap to start with, and Gornergrat is only 50% off with a pass so you only save 44 CHF maximum.