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Switzerland train from Gimmelwlad to Milano

I am traveling to Switzerland in September 2014. Staying in Lucerne - 2 nights, Lausanne - 3 nights and Gimmelwald - 5 nights. My question is about train travel from Gimmelwald to Cinque Terre in Italy.

Has anyone done it? Looks like Gimmelwald to Interlaken to Spiez to Brig to Milano to Monterossa via Genoa. Looks about 5-6 hours Gummelwald to Milano and 3 hours Milano to Monterossa.

I'm hoping that there is a shorter train path.

Any help would be appreciated.

Dot

Posted by
2778 posts

That is the route and you actually have several changes between Gimmelwald and Interlaken to figure in. You go either Gimmelwald down to Stechelberg by cablecar and then bus to Lauterbrunnen,,or Gimmelwald up to Mürren by cablecar, train to Grutschalp, and another cablecar down to Lauterbrunnen. From Lauterbrunnen to Interlaken you take a train ( 25 minutes). All the conveyances connect so it works smoothly.

If you can get to either Stechelberg or Mürren by 6:30 am the journey to Milan only takes 4 hours.

Posted by
19 posts

Thank you Thank you for the tip of getting to Murren by 6:30am. Why does that make a difference? Any more tips regarding the trip from Interlaken to Milano? Does anyone know if this leg is covered by the Swiss Pass?

Posted by
31288 posts

dedellac,

I've travelled that route several times. The information posted by Sasha is spot-on regarding the first part of the journey out of Gimmelwald. My suggestion would be to use the Cable Car to Stechelberg, Post Bus to Lauterbrunnen and then the Berner Oberland train to Interlaken Ost. It sounds like a lot, but it's actually very simple. You can buy your ticket at the Cable Car station in Gimmelwald for the entire trip to Interlaken, which covers all modes of transport.

There are numerous choices for the journey from Interlaken to Milano in terms of travel time and number of changes. You can check either the bahn.de or sbb.ch websites to determine which one will work best for you. The trip I'd take in the same situation is a departure from Interlaken Ost at 08:00, arriving Milano Centrale at 11:35 (time 3H:35M, 2 changes). Except for a departure at 13:29 (arriving at 16:35), the subsequent trains from Interlaken have much longer travel times. A departure at 08:00 should still provide time to get a quick breakfast at your B&B in Gimmelwald (or ask your host to make a bag lunch for the trip), and you won't have to get up too early.

Happy travels!

Posted by
6898 posts

There is no shorter path. The shortest journey time is 8hr02min with 6 transportation changes. Half the transportation changes will take place to get you down from Gimmelwald and out to Spiez. Here's a link to what I see on the Swiss train website. The difference in journey times are mostly train transfer times. I've opened up the 7:00am departure time to show you where you will change transportation. I say "transportation" because a gondola and a bus are involved. Sounds complicated but it really not. The bus will be waiting for you at the Stechelberg gondola station. It will take you right to the Lauterbrunnen train station.

http://gyazo.com/266c17ff83f67c49254a2ef622dcd1fb

Posted by
19 posts

Thank you so much to everyone. I was having a hard time with the train web site trying to figure out the best route. You make it sound very doable. One more question. Should I buy tickets ahead of time? As you can tell I'm not a seasoned train traveler.

Thanks again to all.

Dot

Posted by
2778 posts

The 8:00 departure from Interlaken mentioned by Ken has you leave from Stechelberg at 7:12, so you would have to leave Gimmelwald before that. This route has a change at Brig and 30 minutes of waiting time.

The earlier departure from Stechelberg ( actually 6:42, not 6:30) gets you to Interlaken in time for the 7:29 train to Spiez. That one connects to the direct Spiez to Milan train--- no change at Brig. That is why I suggested this one, but it's up to you. You also have to look at the Schedules for the Milan to Monterosso leg; there are a few that go direct with no change at Genoa and those are nice.

You can see the schedules on the Swiss rail site, SBB.ch (?shows Italy too).

You can save quite a bit of money by buying the Spiez to Milan train and the Milan to Monterosso trains well in advance, like 3 months. That is what I would do. Then you can buy a ticket from Gimmelwald to Spiez the day before you travel. There is no advance purchase discount for that part.

Posted by
25712 posts

Dot,

Having just seen the last post in this thread, I re-read your OP. Looks like the trains are getting explained in a way to help you.

I just have one question - I just realized you said 5 nights in Gimmelwald. 5!! I've been to Gimmelwald. Despite Rick's several pages about Gimmelwald, you do realize that it is basically the a wide point in a trail crossing and a cable car change station. It is lovely and we love it there - but it isn't exactly hopping. 5 nights might be a touch long. Personally I'd rely on the nearby village (much larger, with 2 actual lanes) of Muerren for a stay that long.

Posted by
12040 posts

Ditto what Nigel wrote about Gimmelwald. When I first saw it, my reaction was "Why did that small collection of barns and chalets merit an entire chapter?"

Posted by
31288 posts

Although I agree there's not much in Gimmelwald, I've enjoyed staying there in the past. It's a relaxing place to "recharge batteries" after stressful travels elsewhere, and provides a reasonably good base for hikes on that side of the valley. I very much enjoyed having a cool beverage on the patio of the Pensione in the afternoons and visiting with other travellers, stopping by the Mountain Hostel in the evenings to chat with the group there, having another cold beverage at Walter's Hotel Mittaghorn up the hill or making the short hike up to Mürren. Getting back and forth to Mürren is easy with the Cable Car, although there is a cost for that.

Five nights would probably be a bit too long for me, but may be fine for the OP depending on what the plans are while there.

Posted by
19 posts

Thank you for your thoughts on 5 nights in Gimmelwald. Thinking of it as a vacation from our vacation. We are staying with Olle and Maria in their apartment. Thinking a day of hiking in the area with a visit to the Schilthorn, a day to visit Wengen and Jungfraujoch,, a day roaming around Lake Brienz, and another day. There looks like a lot of interesting hikes and villages in the area. It always so hard to fire how long to stay anyplace.

From Gimmelwald we are off to Vernazza in the Cinque Terre for 3 nights, onto Orvieto for 1 night, Positano for3 nights, and Roma for 4 nights.

Any other suggestions for the area would be appreciated.

Thanks again to everyone for making the trains more understandable. Still trying to figure if the Swiss Pass is worth the cost.

Posted by
6898 posts

A Swiss pass of some type will be useful if you are going up to the Jungfraujoch and the Schilthorn. The regular round-trip fare from Lauterbrunnen to the Jungfraujoch is about $190. It's about $110 for the round-trip fare to/from the Schilthorn. Plus, you are traveling from somewhere to Lucerne, then to Lauannne and then onto Gimmelwald (about $90). Then, you will be departing Gimmelwald for Italy. This is about $75 to get you to the Swiss/Italian border. Then, you have your daily travel for 10 days while in Switzerland. Another $100. You are easily close to 600CHF (Swiss Francs) in Swiss transportation costs.

One option is the Swiss 1/2 fare card. It costs 120CHF in Switzerland or you can buy it online for 135CHF with free shipment. It's good for 30 days. It does what the name implies. 1/2 fare on all Swiss transportation. This includes trains, buses, boats, gondolas, etc. You can buy the 1/2 fare card at any staffed Swiss train station when you first arrive in Switzerland. Your estimated fares of 600CHF would be 300CHF plus the 120CHF cost of the 1/2 fare card or 420CHF.

Note that no Swiss pass or card will cover the full fare of getting you to the tops of the Jungfrau or the Schilthorn. Swiss passes and cards only cover 50% of the fare from Wengen to the Jungfraujoch and from Muerren to the Shilthorn. The 1/2 fare card will cover the first 50%. Note also that when departing Gimmelwald for Italy, the Swiss 1/2 fare card will cover you to the Swiss border or perhaps even Dommodosola, Italy which is just inside Italy. When buying your tickets to Monterosso, just show your card to the agent and he or she will make the fare adjustment.

Posted by
2778 posts

OK, Swiss Passes. If you are definitely going up the Jungfraujoch you will,want some kind of pass to help reduce the cost.

The simplest "pass""is a Half Fare Card, which you buy for around 110 CHF ( I didn't check the 2014 price). It gives you no free travel days but everything, including the Jungfraujoch, is 50% off. You show it when you buy your tickets, which you will have to do for each trip.

TheSwiss Pass and Flex Pass include some free travel days, and a discount on the Jungfraujoch. For that, you could travel for free from Gimmelwald to Wengen, and it would discount the rest of the way 25%.

The Swiss Pass is for consecutive days and you would need six to cover your time in Switzerland. That means you would have to buy the 8-day Swiss Pass as there isn't one for 6. For two of you, that would be $377 each.

A better deal for the type of trip you are doing doing is the 3-day Flex Pass for $249 each. That would give you 3 fully-covered days ( travel to and from Gimmelwald on days 1 and 6, plus one other free day( but not the Jungfrau). Maybe use it for your Brienz day as it will cover the lake boats too. You can travel as far as you like on that one day. All you other trips will be 50% off, including lifts like Mannlichen, but again it will only discount the Jungfrau trip 25% once you pass Wengen.

Hope this helps.

Edit: if you do have a Flex Pass you will need to figure out your last day of travel differently. It will cover your travel from Gimmelwald as far as Domodossola in Italy. You would just need to pay for a ticket from there to Milan before you board the trains. No need to buy way in advance to get a discount price on Spiez to Milan as I suggested above. You will still want to buy Milan to Monterosso in advance on Trenitalia to get a Super Economy fare ( sometimes as low as €9).

Posted by
19 posts

Thanks again to everyone.. I'll let you all know if 5 nights in Gimmelwald turns out to be too much.

The Swiss Pass sounds like the way to go. Do you know if I can still make reservations on line and use the swiss pass? Meaning if I want to reserve Interlaken to Spiez and Spiez to Milano (crossing the border).?? Do you normally just walk onto the train and show the pass when the conductor comes around?

Posted by
2778 posts

Read my post carefully. i am advocating for a Flex Pass, not a Swiss Pass which specifically and only refers to a consecutive-day pass. The flex Pass is a type of Swiss Pass but the different name is important.

OK, now, to use it. With a consecutive-day Swiss Pass you get it validated and the start day stamped by a Swiss train agent before you board your first train. You can do this at the Zurich airport. Same is true with a Flex Pass--they will validate it and stamp or indicate the start date. ( The 3-day Flex Pass is good for any three days of your choice within a 30-day period).

With a Swiss Pass,once validated, you just board the train and show it to the conductor when he or she comes around. With a Flex Pass, it will have three little boxes where you enter each date as you use it for fully covered travel. Write the date in the box in European numbers (I.e., September 7 is 7/9/14, not 9/7/14). Write it before you take your first train of the day or they can accuse you of trying to slip in an extra free day. Then just show the pass to the conductor. BTW, with a Saver Pass (15% discount off the pass price) you and your travel companion will be on the same pass and must travel together when using it.

If using the Flex Passmon a "non-covered" day to get the 50% discount, whether on a train, boat, or cablecars, just show it and ask for the discount when you buy your tickets. Do NOT write the date in one of the boxes to use it this way.

To use either pass for mountain lifts that offer the 50% discount, just show it when you buy the tickets. Most of these lifts have gates or turnstiles that you cannot pass without a ticket.

You can make reservations for seats when using a pass but it costs extra, about 4 CHF when I last did it. You do not need them at all for Interlaken to Spiez, no point. They may be mandatory for the train that crosses the border, whether that is Spiez-Milan or Brig-Milan. If not required, I wouldn't make them, but that's just me. Your Milan to Monterosso ticket for the IC train will include a seat reservation at no extra cost.

Posted by
6898 posts

Yes you can make the Swiss reservations online at www.sbb.ch and you can tell the system that you have a Swiss pass or card. You just have to have and present this particular Swiss pass or card when you pick up your tickets. As for boarding the trains, you must purchase the tickets first if you have the Swiss 1/2 fare card. You have to pay for the other 50% first. If you have a valid consecutive or flex pass, you can board as long as you are on a valid travel day. For the flex pass, you will have to make sure you have the travel date written on the pass before you board. Not nice to do it in front of the conductor. If you are on a non-travel day on the flex pass, you still normally get a discount but once again, you will have to show your pass to the train station agent and pay for the remainder of that particular ticket before boardng. In other words, you can board if you 1) have a valid consecutive pass or 2) you are using one of your travel days and you have properly written the date on your card. All other times, you don't yet have a fully paid ticket and must fully purchase before boarding.

Posted by
31288 posts

dedellac,

Just to muddy the waters a bit, a couple of other Swiss Passes you could look at are the Jungfrau VIP Pass which provides free transport on many of the local railways in that area, as well as one "free" trip to the Jungfraujoch. Another pass to look at is the Berner Oberland Pass which also provides "free" transport on many of the rail systems in that area for whatever term is purchased (ie: four days), and I believe a discounted fare to the Schilthorn. Check their respective websites for all the details.

I used the equivalent of the Jungfrau VIP Pass when I was last in that area and it worked well. A few caveats to mention though....

  • Be sure that you're aware of which rail lines are covered by the Pass. If there's a segment not covered and you get caught without a valid tickets, it's possible you'll be fined (the Swiss seem to be copying the Italian model lately).
  • For the visit to the Jungfraujoch, it's important to consider the weather when planning which day you'll be visiting there. During my last trip (which was also in September), it was sunny in Lauterbrunnen, Wengen and Kleine Scheidegg, but when I reached the top I found there was a fierce blizzard raging with gale force winds, which made it impossible to venture outside. That didn't prevent touring of the Ice Palace and the other indoor areas and I did venture outside the Sphinx Observatory but couldn't stay out there too long. Be sure to take a reasonably good coat as it will be chilly there. It's a good thing that I went that day as the following day, rail service was suspended between Wengen and Kleine Scheidegg due to high winds. If the wind is strong enough to knock a train off the tracks, that's definitely severe!
  • One other point to note about the Jungfraujoch and especially the Sphinx Observatory is that it's at about 12,000 feet, so if you have any altitude issues that may be a problem. I found that I was moving much more slowly up there, and even climbing stairs was a big effort.

I spent many hours analyzing the various Swiss Rail Passes to determine which one would be most cost effective for the particular places I'd be visiting on my last trip. That included a spreadsheet to compare the costs of using P-P tickets and to compare the costs of using the various Passes. I finally just made an "educated guess" and went with the Jungfrau Pass.

Posted by
2778 posts

Good point, Ken. I forget about those regional passes because we always travel other places in Switzerland as well. Each one has an online map of the validity area. The Berner Oberland Pass includes train as far as Lucerne, but I don't think it includes Lausanne ( didn't check on that though).

Posted by
6898 posts

Here's a link to a map of the area covered by the Berner Oberland Regional pass. It has been extended to Lucerne and Bern. It doesn't quite reach Lausanne. There appears to be some 1/2 fare segments that can get you from Gstaad to Montreux which is very close to Lausanne.

http://gyazo.com/a79f57d164ec122fb3a659caf8bd9818

It appears that this pass has switched from a flexi-pass arrangement to 4, 6, 8 and 10-day consecutive day passes. The 8-day pass costs 330CHF. This pass does not provide full fare to the Jungfraujoch, Schilthorn, Glacier3000 or the Titlis. Again, just a 50% discount. Interestingly however, you can get 50% off the cost of the Berner Oberland Regional pass for you dog. Says so on the http://www.myswissalps.com website. The main website for this pass is http://www.regiopass-berneroberland.ch/ticket-en/

Posted by
2778 posts

Note that the BO Pass covers the train to Lucerne but NOT the boats on Lake Lucerne.

Posted by
7 posts

All of your questions and replies are helpful for me. My husband and I will be in Switzerland 8/25-9/16. Just Switzerland. Flying in and out of Zurich. Our focus: hiking and wandering ... It is good to know there is a forum for questions once I have read RS' Switzerland book.

My response to you, Dot, is not about Switzerland but about Rome. We were there for two of RS' tours. On our second trip, Rome and the South of Italy, we stayed at Casa San Giuseppe in the Trastevere section of Rome. Amazing small town feel in a big city. Yet, very walkable to everything. Have recommended it to others; their sentiments, too.

Posted by
31 posts

Dot,
If you are still checking the posts, I might suggest the following: since there are so many options with all of the rail passes, including the various Swiss Passes, you might want to consider spending the money to talk to one of the Rick Steves travel consultants. I had similar questions concerning a two-month trip last fall. There were so many choices to make, I went ahead and spent the $50 for a consultation. The bottom line is that he found our group the best passes for our situation, and saved me much more than the cost of the consultation. (And many hours of computer time.) I do not work for Rick Steves, but if his employees get free trips, I might consider putting in an application!
Have a great trip.

Posted by
114 posts

I am now booking the train from Spiez, Switzerland to Milano Central through Trenitalia on the web My question is it says to pick up tickets from the station machine. Has anyone done this and how does it work?