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Travel Questions

Hi all and lovely to meet you :)

I'm hoping you can please help me with the below.

Travel from:

Zurich airport > Lucerne
Lucerne > Mt Pilatus (Golden Round Trip)
Lucerne > Stans > (then bus to) Ennetburgen (return, will be making this trip at least 4x)
Lucerne > Lauterbrunnen
Travel around Bernese Oberland (not Jungfrau) for 3 days e.g. Lauterbrunnen to Wengen, Murren, Gimmelwald, Grindelwald etc).
Lauterbrunnen > Munich

From the above and my research, the 8 day Swiss Travel Pass will cover all of the above (except Pilatus - I'll get 50% off). However, for my trip to Munich:

  • Do I have to book ahead (I have read that these trips need to be pre-booked)?
  • If so, how do I do this, could I do it the day before (I want to keep my plans flexible), and can I use my Swiss Travel Pass to get to the border?
  • Should I calculate costs of the above and see if the STP is worth it? Are the costs on SBB accurate? On the Rail Europe Australia site, it will be around $680 for a 2nd class ticket for 8 days). Please note I don't want to take buses between Lauterbrunnen and Munich, trains only.

Thank you so much in advance!

Posted by
20461 posts

Ooh, don't use Rail Europe for any research.
Yes, prices are accurate at www.sbb.ch/en. They run the trains. Just be aware that the first price you see assumes you have a Half Fare card, so Zurich airport to Luzern is 30 CHF, not the 15 CHF you first see.

You can buy a Sparpreis, train specific ticket. There are several routes. A random day in August shows Lauterbrunnen to Munich is 39.90 EUR. Buy it at www.bahn.com for a print-at-home ticket. Buy as soon as you know your exact date, as prices go up, or rather discounts evaporate, as time goes by.

Edit - Now if you want to maintain flexibility,(bit of chimera that) you can use the STP to travel to Lindau, Germany. You will have to pay for the short stretch between the Swiss border and Lindau. In Lindau, you can travel with a Bayern Ticket on regional trains to Munich for 25 EUR, and I see there are some trains operated by ALX where you can use a Regio-Allgaeu-Schwaben Ticket for 22 EUR. The Bayern Ticket is priced at 25 EUR for the 1st person and 6 EUR for each additional person up to 5 traveling together. No EC, IC or ICE trains. Regio ticket has a similar pricing structure.

Re prices, a Swiss Travel Pass, 8-day 2nd class is 398 CHF. At today's exchange, that comes to $533 AU, so $680 AU seems a bit steep. You do not have to buy from Rail Europe. You can just buy at Zurich airport train station when you arrive.

Posted by
8 posts

Ooh, don't use Rail Europe for any research.
Yes, prices are accurate at www.sbb.ch/en. They run the trains. Just be aware that the first price you see assumes you have a Half Fare card, so Zurich airport to Luzern is 30 CHF, not the 15 CHF you first see.

Thanks so much Sam! I'll calculate now and double it to get my approx fare. Much appreciated.
Also, where would I find the costs for the STP? FYI I'm Australian so that might be why the prices look high.

Ok, so the trip I'm looking at is:

Lauterbrunnen > Munich
(Lauterbrunnen > Interlaken, Interlaken > Mannheim, Mannheim > Munich)

OR

Lauterbrunnen > Munich
(Lauterbrunnen > Interlaken, Interlaken > Bern, Bern > Zurich, Zurich > Munich)

How would I purchase tickets for either of these trips (on the day of or day before we go)? As I mentioned I want to be flexible in case we get crap weather in the mountains, so that we can stay an extra day if needed.

Thank you again!!!!

Posted by
20461 posts

Here is the price list for STP in CHF. Last I looked 1 CHF = 1.37 AUD. Atm and credit card transactions, depending on your bank's fees, could end up as high as 1.40 AUD.
https://www.sbb.ch/en/leisure-holidays/travel-in-switzerland/international-guests/swiss-travel-pass.html

You might also consider the 30-day Half Fare card. Cost is 120 CHF, then everything, trains, buses, mountain lifts, city transit, boat trips are half price. You still have to buy individual tickets for each trip.

All Swiss trains are unreserved except a few "tourist" trains like the Glacier Express and Bernina Express where panorama cars and extra services are provided. So buying on day of travel is the norm.

German trains provide discounts for advance purchase, and Swiss connecting trains are included in the price. But these are sold like airline tickets, they are for a particular train on a particular day and that is the only one they are valid on. I also gave you a "flexible" solution which would require several changes in order to get to Lindau, Germany to continue on to Munich.

Posted by
8889 posts

"Also, where would I find the costs for the STP?" - On the SBB website, here: https://www.sbb.ch/en/leisure-holidays/travel-in-switzerland/international-guests.html
"Are the costs on SBB accurate?" - Yes, they are the only accurate prices, in Swiss Franks. Anywhere else is a reseller. SBB runs (most of) the trains, and the prices on their website are the same as at the stations. But, as Sam says, the "from" price assumes you have a Half Price Card, so double it.
For Swiss border to Munich, there will be a discount for advance purchase. Best to buy early, NOT on the day.

"Also... how do I $ differences between 1st class vs 2nd class?" -If you want to do Frank differences. you can get this from the SBB website. Pick a route, then click on the "from" price and it will give you options for 1st and 2nd class. For example:
Zürich Flughafen (airport) to Luzern, 2nd class, no discounts: CHF 30, 1st class. CHF 53
Trains and cable cars going up mountains some local trains, and buses do not have 1st class.

Posted by
8 posts

Great, thank you. I'll have to do the math and see which is worth it.

Just to confirm, for the trip to Munich, I would buy my ticket from the station on the day of travel? And only the leg up to the border would be half price (with the half fare card)?

How annoying is it to buy individual tickets for each train journey?

And lastly, do both the half fare card and STP cover Bernese Oberland at all?

Thanks!

Posted by
20461 posts

Yes, both STP and Half Fare Card cover the Bernese Oberland. Half Fare Card covers everything without exception, but there is a little hitch with the STP. It only gives a 25% discount for trains between Wengen and Kleine Scheidegg and Grindelwald and the Jungfraujoch train to the Top of Europe. But it now covers the cable car from Muerren to Piz Gloria at 100%.

Like I said about the "flexible" route via Lindau, Lindau is in Bavaria, so you can travel with a Bayern Ticket to Munich and this can be bought at Lindau station. Just not on the EC train, regional trains only that are a bit slower because they stop at more stations than express trains.

Posted by
8889 posts

"for the trip to Munich, I would buy my ticket from the station on the day of travel?" - No! That is the one ticket you need to buy in advance, because German long-distance trains are cheaper if bought in advance.

"And only the leg up to the border would be half price (with the half fare card)?" - correct.

"How annoying is it to buy individual tickets for each train journey?" - not very. It is quick once you master the ticket machines. This is what most people do (or use the SBB app on their phone). You can buy post-dated tickets on the machine, so if you are passing through the station the day before, you can buy your tickets for "tomorrow".

"And lastly, do both the half fare card and STP cover Bernese Oberland at all?" - mostly, except for some mountain lines where you get a discount for the STP. See the validity map here, which is the map you will get when you buy your pass: https://www.sbb.ch/content/dam/infrastruktur/trafimage/karten/karte-sts-pass-gueltigkeit.pdf

Posted by
8889 posts

This is to clarify the apparent contradiction between Sam's and my advice for Switzerland to Munich.

1) There are irregular EC trains between Zürich and Munich. These run Zürich HB - St. Margrethen (last station in Switzerland) - Bregenz (Austria) - Lindau (first station in Germany) - Munich Hbf (plus other intermediate stops). If you take one of these trains your Half Price Card is valid Lauterbrunnen - Zürich - St. Margrethen, and you need to buy another ticket from St. Margrethen to Munich. This ticket is cheaper if bought in advance.

2) The alternative is local trains. Again your Half Price Card is valid Lauterbrunnen - Zürich - St. Margrethen. You buy a ticket St. Margrethen -Bregenz, - Lindau, possibly buy this at St. Margrethen station. You then buy a Bayern ticket (day pass) from Lindau to Munich and travel by regional trains. This is cheaper than the EC fare, especially if there is more than one of you, but takes longer and you need to change trains. You can buy the Bayern ticket on the day at the ticket machine at Lindau, or in advance on the DB website, but there is no discount for advance purchase.

Complicated, but I hope it helps.

Posted by
20461 posts

There is a direct ALX trains from Lindau to Munich, at 15:57 taking 2 hour and 44 minutes, 10 minutes slower than the EC trains. Earlier in the day than that, there may be a train replacement bus from Lindau to Hergatz, depending on the date of track work. You can use a Regio-Ticket Allgaeu-Schwaben of 28 EUR for 2, but a 31 EUR Bayern Ticket will also give free public transit in Munich until 3 am the next day.