I want to travel from Florence or Pisa to Interlaken Switzerland. I'm totally confused by the Eurorail website. Has anyone done this?
Laureen, I'd suggest using one of the other rail sites and not the "Eurorail" website. One of the best websites to use for trips all over Europe is the German Rail site. The trip from Florence or Pisa to Interlaken is relatively easy. There are numerous departures each day, with varying travel times and number of changes. Using Florence as an example, one of the shortest trips is a departure from Firenze SMN at 08:55, arriving Interlaken Ost at 14:28 (time 5H:33M, 2 changes at Milano Centrale & Spiez, reservations compulsory on the first two legs). If you buy the ticket in Florence, they may only be able to provide a ticket as far as Spiez (the first stop inside Switzerland). It's very easy to buy a ticket in Spiez for the last part of the trip. I travelled a similar route about a month ago, and no problems at all. Note that there are two stations in Interlaken, East (Ost) and West. If you're travelling onward to the Berner Oberland, Interlaken Ost is the correct destination. If that's the case, be sure to specify your end destination when you buy your ticket in Spiez. Happy travels!
Ken THANK YOU! Your response was incredibly helpful. I followed your suggested route through the German and Swiss rail sites and think we have it figured out now. I am very grateful to you.
If you do separate bookings well in advance (up to 120 days) on trenitalia.com, you can get a Super Economy fare of €19.00 for Florence-Milan and a Smart fare of €19.00 for Milan-Spiez. While it's possible to book tickets on the site without registering, things go more smoothly if you do. There is frequent regional train service from Spiez to Interlaken Ost. Buy your ticket when you get to Spiez and jump on the next train.
Glad you found a connection. I'm confused about what you mean by "the Eurorail website". Eurail (www.eurail.com) just promotes and sells rail passes. They don't have schedules. They do have a rail map on their site, but it is very incomplete. People often say Eurorail when they really mean RailEurope, but RailEurope should not be use as a planning guide. They act as a travel agency, selling rail passes and profit added tickets for a small number of rail segments. You are much better off using something like the Bahn website or the Swiss Rail website for trips all over Europe, or single country websites like French Rail or Austrian Rail.
Adding to my previous post. Discount fare tickets are for a specific departure date and time and they are non-exchangeable and non-refundable. Be sure you can commit before booking. If you wait and buy your tickets in Florence, you will pay full fare: €50.00 for Florence-Milan and €59.50 for Milan-Spiez. The fare for Spiez-Interlaken Ost is 10.40 CHF.
Thank you to all of you...extremely helpful!!
Laureen, Just to clarify, is Interlaken your final destination or are you heading elsewhere in the Berner Oberland? Outside of Interlaken, there are several different transportation options.