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Another rail pass question... Switzerland

Ok so planning my trip, going to Switzerland in May.

First wondering if it is true that rail pass prices are going up in January so I should try and buy before then?

Not sure if I should get a pass, I'm doing the following journeys:

Zurich airport - Lauterbrunnen (5 nights)
Lauterbrunnen - Basel

And also planning to take cable cars, travling to murren, gimelwald, ect.. from Lauterbrunnen and maybe a day trip to a lake (still researching)

Should I get a pass? I do qualify for the youth pass

I am concerned about reservations. Do I need reservations for these routes? Also how do I know what seats on the train are not reserved?

I have also read that many of the trains past interlaken are private I think i read in Rick's book that rail passes can not be used, such as the interlaken to lauterbrunnen route, can anyone confirm this?

Thank you everyone for your help in planning my trip!

Posted by
15084 posts

The prediction that railpases will go up in price Jan. 1 is based on the fact that right now the price in US $$$ is very favorable---it was set when the exchange rate was better. Right now, a 4-day pass in 2d class is $194 if you buy in the US and 255 CHF if you buy in Swiss francs---that converts to $225 so the purchase in dollars is a better deal. People are predicting that the exchange rate will be adjusted Jan. 1 but that is not certain.

Since you are Canadian the prices are even better for you!

You do not need train reservations to travel around Switzerland. We travel around with a group of 4 to 8 people and have never needed them, even at high season. May is not high season.

A Swiss train pass will cover the routes beyond Interlaken and past Lauterbrunnen too, up to either Gimmelwald or Mürren. It is Eurail passes (multi-country) that may not cover this section.

Posted by
9077 posts

I think you should get the pass; it will save you money and time. You don't have to worry about train reservations in Switzerland, you just hop on and off the trains as you please. None of the seats will be reserved by other passengers. Sometimes entire cars on the train will be reserved for Japanese tour groups; you will see signs with Japanese writing on the windows. If you are using the Swiss Pass you will be able use it for all routes; including Interlaken to Lauterbrunnen. The only exception would be for high mountain trains/cable cars like Jungfrau and Schiltorn; the Swiss Pass gets you a 25-50% discount.
For more details check out Rick's Swiss Pass guide:

Posted by
6898 posts

It's debatable as to whether or not a Swiss pass will save you money over a 5-night stay vesus buying point-to-point tickets. However, I'm betting it's close and buying the Swiss pass would be a good investment. The Swiss pass will get you to Lauterbrunnen, on the cog train/gondola to Murren, the cog train to Wengen and the gondola to Gimmelwald. It will also get you on the gondola from Interlaken to Grindelwald. If you wish to go to the top of the Jungfrau, Shilthorn or from Wengen to Grindelwald on the cog train, it will only cover 50% going higher than Murren or Wengen. Hope this makes sense. The Swiss pass will also cover buses one of which you will need to get to Gimmelwald (bus from Lauterbrunnen train station to the Stechelberg gondola station).

Posted by
191 posts

Thanks Larry, I didn't realised it covered most of the trips to murren and gimmelwald I just thought there may be a discount. Because I want to use Lauterbrunnen as a base, aand travel around I think the pass will be a good bet.

I want to thank everyone for you help!

Also someone mentioned to me that I should consider visiting Lake Thun near interlaken does anyone know about this region? or maybe a beautiful lake easy to reach from Lauterbrunnen.

Posted by
32101 posts

Cora, Interlaken lies between Lakes Thun & Brienz, so if you're interested in seeing lakes, it's a good location. You could easily base in Lauterbrunnen and travel to Interlaken for a day trip on the small local train, as it's not far.

I can't recall if the rail pass covers the trip from Lauterbrunnen to Murren & Gimmelwald? I believe it provides a discount on the fares? If you buy tickets at the local stations, these include all modes of transportation (cable car, Bus, etc.).

The trip from Lauterbrunnen to Gimmelwald or the Schilthorn is very easy, using the yellow Post Bus. The Bus runs to Stechelberg, which is the base station for the Schilthornbahn. The trip to the Shilthorn & Piz Gloria involves four cable car trips. It's a bit pricey but it's an awesome trip, and having lunch in the revolving restaurant was wonderful! For the adventurous, there were Paragliding trips from Piz Gloria (10K feet!) to to Stechelberg (about a one hour ride).

Hope this helps.

Posted by
7209 posts

Yes, you should buy the Swiss Pass (SP). I've done your exact itinerary at least 5 times, and the pass will cover all forms of transport to Muerren (toward Schilthorn) and all the way to Wengen (toward Jungfrau). Yes, you can go on all the boat rides you want from Interlaken on either lake Brienz or Lake Thun. The boats are just another part of the seamless Swiss Transport system. With your pass you will just walk onto the boat and disembark at any of the stops. Interlaken and the lakes are only a short 20 minute train ride from Lauterbrunnen.

It will also save you 50% from Wengen to Jungfrau which is a big chunk of change...also 50% from Muerren to Schilthorn...not quite as expensive but still several CHFs.

You have 6 months from the purchase date of the SP to validate and starting using it. I just purchased 20 for a group trip in May 2008. Have fun in Switzerland!

Posted by
95 posts

Be sure to check out all the different types of passes and discounts that are out there, there are just a few of them :). Without knowing every single train trip, cable ride and boat trip you are planning and on what days I can't say which is best. You can get the pricings you need though as the sbb and other swiss sites are pretty thorough.

I think based on my own May itenary next year we'll actually be using the 1/2 fare card instead of one of the passes. I've still got a few #'s to crunch though.