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trains and lifts in the Berner Oberland

Brand new to the site...Next June we will spend 3 full days in the Jungfrau region. Per ricks suggestion we are staying in Gimmelwald at Esthers Guesthouse. We have 5 people in out family My wife and I plus an 18 (Adult), 15, and 13 year old. I would like to do the Jungfraujoch and Schilthorn, but the prices that I can understand seem very high. My questions are... 1)Is there a family pass where we can save a bit, or is it simply 3 adults and 2 children purchased individually?
2) With a BO pass can we somehow combine the Jungfrau and BO to save money? Thank you for your responces Dan

Posted by
2818 posts

No family pass per se, but your two younger kids are FREE on all lifts and trains IF you get a free Family Card when you buy a Swiss Pass, Flex Pass, or Half-Fare Card (or Swiss Card). (I don't know if one comes with a Berner Oberland Pass but I don't think so). The Half-Fare Card (and Its cousin the Swiss card) are the only ones that that give you a full 50% off the expensive Jungfrau trip, so that is usually the best choice. (Maybe the Berner Oberland pass is 50% off the Jungfrau too but unless you can get a Family Card with it for free it won't be useful anyway).

Posted by
2818 posts

Forgot to say that the Swiss Card gives you you rinbound and outbound trips for free, plus half off everything else. So it would take you to Gimmelwald from your airport for free, and from Gimmelwald to wherever you exit Switzerland for free. If your first and last day of travel are fairly long, it is usually cost-effective.

Posted by
11 posts

Sasha
Thank you and good thoughts! We are doing a big trip (for us) 25 year anniversary. We will be in Germany and then into Switzerland. So we are renting a car from Frankfurt and dropping in Geneva after Gimmelwald. I should probably look at dropping the car at the Swiss border and taking trains 100% for Switzerland???? Thanks again Dan

Posted by
6898 posts

Dan, you are correct about the fares to the Jungfraujoch and the Schilthorn. The typical round trip fare to the Jungfraujoch from Lauterbrunnen is about $185 (2hr trip each way). The round trop fare from Gimmelwald to the Schilthorn is about $85. As Sasha has noted, there is no family pass but there is some good news for you. The 15 and 13 year olds will ride for free as long as you have the free family card and at least one parent is in possession of a valid ticket. A Swiss pass or card is not required - just a valid ticket. But, since you are going to the two mountain tops, the Swiss half-fare card could be of use. It costs 120CHF and its good for 30 days. You get 1/2-fare credit on all tickets on the trains, buses, boats and gondolas. You don't indicate how you will arrive or depart from Switzerland so I'll provide an example. You are either arriving via Geneva or Zurich. Train fares from Geneva to Gimmelwald is about 85CHF. Zurich to Gimmelwald is also about 85CHF. Should you be departing to Italy, it's about 60CHF to the Italian border. Plus, in the Berner Oberland, you will be on the trains, bus and gondolas. You could be looking at total overall fares of about 460 CHF. With the purchase of the 1/2 fare card, your fares will be 120CHF + 230 CHF or 350CHF. You're 110 CHF ahead with the card. You can buy the half-fare card at the first staffed Swiss train station you come across. Or, you should be able to buy it online. Don't forget to get the free Family card.

Posted by
31435 posts

Dan, I'd probably ditch the car before Gimmelwald, as it will be parked and gathering dust in Stechelberg during your stay, which you'll be paying for. The Swiss trains are VERY efficient, so that's usually the easiest way to get around. One point to note is the Swiss have apparently now started fining passengers that have any "irregularities" with their tickets. I can provide a link to an article on that if you're interested. Given your location, you might find it helpful to attend the next meeting of the RS group that meets in Denver. You'll be able to work out all the "fine details" of your trip with the knowledgeable group there. The meetings are held the third Saturday of the month at a local Panera Bread. They're announced in advance on the HelpLine in the "General Europe" section. Regarding the Passes, Sasha provided lots of great advice! I was in that area last September, and spent a lot of time trying to figure out the best Passes. I'd have to spend some time looking at them again, which I'll try and do a bit later (have to attend a travel event on River Cruises in a few minutes). The Jungfrau trip IS expensive, so one of the half-fare cards is likely the best bet. The other expensive trip is from Gimmelwald to the Schilthorn and back. That's where the James Bond movie On Her Majesty's Secret Service was filmed a number of years ago. Despite the cost, it's an awesome trip and dining in the revolving restaurant while watching the Eiger, Monch & Jungfrau pass by the windows is great! You may even want a "Martini, shaken not stirred" in the James Bond Bar below the restaurant. Esther added a nice garden at the front last year, which can be seen in THIS photo. Happy travels!

Posted by
11 posts

Wow! Great Larry! Thank you for that... We were driving from Germany and flying home out of GVA. The car rental cost is not that much more for an additional 5 days in Switzerland. About $150 extra to keep the car. But with the lifts and trains that we will use I will have to do some math to see the difference if we drop the car in Germany and use the trains/lift exclusively in Switzerland. In my research I could not see how it would be cheaper to do trains but with you input it may very well be close. Plus we will be paying to park the car for three days w/o using it in Lautrebrunen or Interlaken Thanks again
Dan

Posted by
11 posts

Thanks Ken I will look up the RS (Rick Steves) group in Denver. Sounds very helpful.
We rented in her majesty's secret service last week. Very nostalgic and my kids made fun of it. But none the less we got some good visions of the Schilthorn!

Posted by
12932 posts

Dan, you have gotten some very good information from Sasha, Ken, and Larry. I don't have much to add except that I am surprised it is only $150 extra to keep the car for 5 days in Switzerland. Are you certain that includes the drop fee for taking it from Germany into Switzerland, and the extra cost for the sticket (vignette) you will need to drive in Switzerland? I ask because when my son met me in Switzerland a few years ago, he had been touring Germany and he made sure to drop the car in Germany (Freiburg) before entering Switzerland. He said it made a huge difference in the cost of renting the car. If you get a Swiss Card as mentioned, it would cover the cost of travel from the border where you drop the car to Gimmelwald, and from Gimmelwald to Geneva (assuming youdo the latter trip in a single day). You and your family will have a great time there. Our extended family as been 4 times now, starting when some of the kids (cousins) were the age of yours. There are lots of great hikes and other activities, in addition to riding the lifts. When you go up the Jungfrau, consider returning via Grindelwald, and maybe spend a few hours riding the Trotti-Bikes or the zipline fat the First lift. You can return to Gimmelwald by a valley route (via Wilderswil); you don't have to go back up and over Kleine Scheidegg.

Posted by
11 posts

Thanks Lola You too have great advice! This stuff really gets me excited even though we wont be there till early June. The car I have reserved is for 11 days picking up in Franfurt and dropping off in Geneva. The total including drop fee in Switzerland is a little over $1400 USD. Almost $1300 to drop it in Fussen Germany 4-1/2 days earlier. Thanks for the advice on Grindelwald as well. Sounds fun! Dan

Posted by
6898 posts

Dan, early June you say. You have some extra treats in store if you are there in early June. First, the farmers are still walking their cows with their melodic bells through Lauterbrunnen and Muerren up to higher pasture. Second, the wildflowers are in bloom. Been there done that. If you have the time, take the gondola up to Muerren and walk back down to Gimmelwald on a paved road that begins in the middle of Muerren. Wildflowers everywhere. Spectacular.

Posted by
31435 posts

Dan, One final point to add to what Larry mentioned about the Cows....... I just happened to be in Lauterbrunnen last September on a day when the Farmers brought their Cows down from the high meadows. It was a grand performance and very entertaining! During the march through town, a couple of the animals got a bit "frisky" and I happened to get that on video (but unfortunately can't post that here). The Cows were all adorned with elaborate floral head gear and large bells.. I was told that the most valuable, award winning Cow had the largest bell and best decorations. The Cows were eventually corralled at the end of town near the Church, where they "posed" for photos from the many tourists that were watching. That was a special and memorable travel experience for me. Cheers!

Posted by
31435 posts

Dan, One wonderful aspect of hiking / walking around in that area, is listening to the "clanking" of the cow bells. It's not always possible to actually see the cows, but one can certainly hear them. Cheers!

Posted by
807 posts

Hi Dan, In addition to the information others have posted, I can tell you that there is a discounted early morning and late afternoon ticket for the Jungfraujoch. The information seems to be only available in German and is a bit vague! I have to go to the train station on Monday and I'll try to get more information on it. I would also recommend returning the car before entering Switzerland as it is not just the extra rental costs you will be saving, but also parking fees and the motorway toll. In addition we tend to favor public transport over the car and deliberately do things like ensure there are insufficient parking places available etc. so there will also be an element of inconvenience to having the car around. Jim

Posted by
11 posts

Thank you to all, Jim let me know what you find...we may very well change to the public transit for Switzerland... the advice has been great. And the added comments regarding the cows and wildflowers are encouraging as well, Best
Dan

Posted by
12932 posts

Dan, be sure to distinguish between a Swiss Pass and a Swiss Card. They are different. A 4-day Swiss Pass covers 4 days of travel. If you travel from the border to Lauterbrunnen on Day 1, spend 3 days in the Berner Oberland (Days 2, 3, and 4), a Swiss pass will not cover your journey to Geneva on Day 5. What it will cover is rides on boats, trains, and lift up as far as Wengen, Gimmelwald, and Mürren, but not beyond. It will cover the Schilthorn above Mürren at 50%. It will cover the Jungfraujoch above Wengen only at 25%. Your two yonger children go everywhere for free with the Family Card (do not include them when you buy passes, you only need 3 and can use the Saver Pass option). The Swiss Card, by contrast, is a Half-Fare Card plus two free journeys, which must be to and from a border (not necessarily the same one). In between the two free journeys, everything, including the JUndgraujoch, is 50% off. There is no limit on the number of days of use within the 30-day period of validity. Your two younger children still ride everything for free with a Family Card. Three Swiss Cards would be $663 on this website. Here is a link to the synoptic map of the transport system that shows what is fully covered, what is 50%, and what is 25% with a Swiss Pass: http://www.swissrailways.com/download_sts/uebersichtskarte_en.pdf

Posted by
11 posts

Hello All Ok Back to transportation...Over the weekend I looked into a 4 day Swiss Pass. $755 for the 5 of us. The savings by dropping the car in Germany is actually $330. My understanding is that from the border on our fist day, and to our exit city (Geneva) on our last day is included. Then durring the time in the Berner Oberland we can ride any of the "low altitude" trains, gondolas and boats included. IS THAT CORRECT? Secondly the free family pass included with the Swiss pass is separate from the 1/2 Fare card correct? Will the 2 younger boys ride the Jungfraujoch for free with us with a family card?

Posted by
11 posts

Lola,
Once again...THANK YOU!!! If I get the Swiss Card....are the 2 younger kinds automatically included or do I need to buy an additional "Family card"? The Swiss Pass has a line item that says "Family Card included Free" But with the Swiss Card there is no mention of a family pass. Thanks in advance...I really do need to go the RS meeting here in Denevr in a couple weeks! Dan

Posted by
12932 posts

Hi Dan-the Family Card is free with a Swiss Card as well. Where are you looking to buy? If you go on the Railpass section of this website, under Switzerland, you will see the Swiss Card. Choose that and fill out the form. It will have a box to check if you have children and want a free Family Card. The Swiss Cards will be issued in the names of the 3 adults only. The Family Card will be included in the package with the Swiss Cards, but without the names entered. If I remember correctly (we haven't had kids young enough for that since 2007), we filled in their names and birthdates, and then the station agent confirmed that with their passports when we had the adult passes validated. In any case, instructions for filling in th eFamily Card will be be supplied with the cards. You do not need to put their names on the form to book the Swiss Cards.

Posted by
11 posts

And Again Lola.....Thanks you You are right on the Swiss card section it does not specify the family card but on the Swiss Pass it does. From everything I can tell we are best (money wise) dropping the car and getting the Swiss card for all of Switzerland. Cheers Dan