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Switzerland -> Austria ->Italy | Train Passes and Car

I need advise for a trip to Europe and the trip details are as follows: I will be landing in Zurich and will proceed to Lucerne Lucerne 2 nights Interlaken 1 night Salzburg 2 nights innsbruck 1 night Venice 1 night Rome 3 nights My wife is 4 months pregnant and 1&half year old kid will be traveling with me. I am slightly confused as to get a eurail pass or rent a car. As with train i am afraid it could be bit difficult with kid and wife might get uncomfortable(sorry i am not aware of Europe's transportation system). I was thinking to buy 4 days Swiss saver pass with in Switzerland and then rent a car from interlaken to Austria(salzburg & innsbruck). Then later may be drop off the car in innsbruck or venice(which ever will save cost)
Then with in italy i am thinking to buy italian rail pass as my majority of time will be with in Rome. I would like to hear your valuable advise as well in this regards and your thoughts about this trip? My second option could be to rent a car for the full trip. Please advise. Thanks

Posted by
6898 posts

Abdul, I would suggest that you will do fine on the trains within Switzerland. There is a train station beneath the Zurich airport. This is a 1-hour train journey. Half the runs have no train changes. Half the runs have one train change. When you buy your ticket, you can either a no-train change run or if you buy from the agent, you can ask for one as well. Your child will travel free in Swizterland and Italy. From Lucerne to Interlaken, this is a 2hr20min journey. You can take the Golden Pass train on these tracks as well if you wish. Again, carefully choose the run. Some runs have no train changes. Other runs have either 1 or two train changes. All of these runs can be seen on www.rail.ch Interlaken to Salzburg is a 9.0hr-10-hr journey by train. Most runs have 3-6 train changes. Some runs have changes to and from a bus. Two afternoon runs have only two changes - one at Bern and one at Zurich. You will change train platforms at these two stations. Salzburg to Venice is a 7.0hr-8.0hr journey by train. Some runs have only one change. Others have more. You'll have to decide if a rental car is more valuable to you and your family than travel by train. You will pay a very large turn-in fee if you turn the car in in another country. Venice to Rome is a 4.5hr. train journey on the high-speed train. Some runs have no train changes. Nice trains.

Posted by
6 posts

Larry thanks for your reply. I guess instead of taking a train from interlaken to Austria (salzbrug and interlaken) a rental car will be a better choice so i don't have to change 3-6 trains. With the car i will just keep my bags in the car and can reach by road to salzburg in 5 & half hours( as per google maps) instead of 10 hours by train...

Posted by
25713 posts

I have more basic worries about that trip than if the choice is train or car. But before I get there, remember that if in the car and either the pregnant wife needs facilities or a stretch, or the small child needs facilities or a stretch, you will need to stop the car at a suitable place. This will take time. You will also need to stop for food. If you use the trains there will be toilets and aisles on board. The double decker trains in Switzerland even have a family car at one end of the train with a playroom and even a slide! Food is available on board or you can visit the supermarket prior to departure and use the convenient tables on board - all the while both being able to entertain the child. Nobody's eyes need to be on the road. Also, when you change trains you may be able to restock, and have a stroll. Do you have clear ideas of how long, via either mode, the trip is from Interlaken to Salzburg? Because you will have to leave so early what will you see in your one night in Interlaken? Its a long way to go to say, "Oh look, there are the mountains" and move on. BTW - Interlaken isn't in the mountains. Two nights in Salzburg equals one day. Its a shame to go so far just to say, "Oh look - we're in Salzburg". You don't come close to giving it time to explore. I take it that the Innsbruck night is just to make the Salzburg - Venice trip a little shorter? With just a few hours in Venice, probably arriving late afternoon and away in the morning you won't have time to do more than say, "Oh look, we're in Venice". That's a shame. If you rent a car in one country and return it in another expect high costs. If you return it in Italy expect even higher ones. ... continued

Posted by
25713 posts

... more Read Ken's primer on driving if you haven't already. Given a 4 months pregnant wife (4 months now or during the trip?) and a young toddler have you considered pulling in your horns and staying fewer places longer? I'd advise it. Are you aware of all the tunnels in Austria which are not too easy and cost additional tolls beyond the mandatory Vignette which you will need to buy for the hire car? You will also need a mandatory Vignette for Switzerland. There will be tolls in Italy, and the Europe Bridge just south of Innsbruck has a very high toll. Beware ZTLs. You will require a mandatory IDP.

Posted by
2700 posts

Hi, I really can't help with your car or train question, but you should really re-think your itinerary. Even a solo traveler wouldn't get to see much of any place you plan on visiting. You are traveling good distances to stay for very brief times in most places. By the time you drive or train from say Innsbruck to Venice, find your lodging, get settled, what will you be able to see? You're leaving the very next morning. I'll repeat what the other poster stated... Interlaken is not in the mountains. Even if it was, look at the time you have to spend here, less than 24 hours total? This includes finding your hotel, getting situated, having dinner, sleeping, etc. My only advice would be that with 10 nights, look at a Swiss trip, a Bavaria/Austria trip or an Italy trip. You'll actually get the chance to see a few sights that way. Paul

Posted by
6 posts

Nigel and Paul, Thanks for your kind suggestion. I had already reserved the hotels in advance so i don't have to search for them. Regarding trip to Austria i didn't knew it will take whole good day to salzburg. Regarding Interlaken i know that it's not in the mountains and the primary reason was to visit Jungfraujoch. Nigel she will be 4 months pregnant during the time of travel (21st aug to 31st aug). It seems i need to reconsider my trip schedule and spend time in Switzerland and Italy only instead.

Posted by
2700 posts

Hi AHK, I figured that you may have booked hotels in advance. Remember, you still need to find them/get to them, etc. Just some advice, although it wasn't aked for: Skip staying in Interlaken (if it's possible) and stay in either Lauterbrunnen or Wengen. Both are on the train line that goes to the Jungfraujoch and are "in" the mountains jsyt a short distance from Interlaken. Wengen sits on a plateau surrounded by peaks with the valley way below and Lauterbrunnen sits in the valley with a gorgeous waterfall. We spent 4 nights in Wengen and wish we had stayed longer. This area was the highlight of our Swiss trip. No contest. Again, just some more unsolicited advice, in places such as Interlaken where you want to do the Jungfrau trip, the weather doesn't always cooperate. With just 24 hours, there's always a chance it will be for nothing. With 10 nights and a child in tow, I'd be picking 3, MAYBE 4 places to stay in this timeframe, with no more than a few hours travel time between locations. Paul

Posted by
6 posts

Hi Paul, If making Lauterbrunnen the base for 2 or 3 nights then other then those Jungfrau and Wengen surrounding areas what else could be explored? I had dropped the plan for Austria already.

Posted by
6898 posts

AHK, I agree with Paul about staying inside the Lauterbrunnen Valley instead of Interlaken. From Lauterbrunnen, you see the alps on steroids. You don't see them anywhere as well from nearby Interlaken. It's an easy agenda change. From the Interlaken Ost train station, you take the Jungfraubahn train to Lauterbrunnen. It's a 22-minute ride and very scenic. The train to the Jungfraujoch will originate in Lauterbrunnen. For hotels, I would recommend the Hotel Silberhorn which is about 400' from the train station (slightly uphill). We've stayed there and it's wonderful. You could also stay in Muerren at 5,200'. It's on the opposite side of the valley from the Jungfrau but the views of the Jungfrau are spectacular. You would need to take a gondola and short-distance train to get to Muerren but you would enjoy it. The Hotel Fontana has a family room but there are other very nice hotels up there. I suggest that you would like the valley better than staying in Interlaken. The train up to the Jungfraujoch will take two hours with a train change at Kleine Scheidegg. It will take two hours to come back down as well.