Choosing the Best Swiss Travel Pass can be daunting when planning a trip to Switzerland.
When vacationing in Switzerland, one of our major decisions was making travel arrangements within the country. Unlike most other counties, most villages in the Alp’s, where we were staying are car free. If driving, parking comes at a steep cost. Also depending on the time of year you travel, the weather can also become a factor.
Deciding on which pass to purchase
In planning our trip to Switzerland, I found the web site My Swiss Alps, which was a wealth of information. We were able to ask questions, and read information about the area, find out about the train schedules, etc . I spent hours on this site narrowing down my choices before handing it over to J to figure out which pass to buy.
It came down to three options. First option was to purchase tickets as we went and pay full fare. Second was to purchase a ½ fare Travel card which you pay a fee, then you pay ½ price for every ticket. The third, which we opted to use, was to purchase the Swiss Travel Pass good for 3, 4, 8 or 15 days. We choose the 8 day pass and purchased it at a discount thru the RAIL EUROPE website.
TIP: Check for discounts before purchasing your pass. When we purchased the Swiss Travel Pass, I had to sign for it when it was delivered. Luckily I was home that day.
Figuring Out the Costs
We tried to figure out the cost of each trip we would take while staying in Wengen. We ended up taking the train, boats, buses and gondolas more than we planned as we wanted to see as much of the area as we could, knowing we probably would not return.
Just to give you an example, we rented a Chalet in Wengen, which is a car free village located in the heart of the Alps, at the foot of the Jungrau mountain range. If you had a car, you would most likely park at the train station in Lauterbrunnen which is below in the valley. Parking costs 14 CHF per day.
The costs for travel up and down the mountain
Taking the train from Lauterbrunnen to Wengen cost 6.80 CHF per person. A round trip ticket from Wengen to Lauterbrunnen and back is CHF 13.60 per person or 27.20 CHF total. That is the cost we would have paid every day to leave the Wengen area if we did not buy a pass. Little did we know when we made the reservations to stay in Wengen, that we would be traveling every day up and down the mountain.
There are other places like Murren and Grindelwald, which would cost even more to travel to. Cable cars/gondolas also dot the landscape and can be used with the Swiss Travel Pass at a reduced rate and some were included for free.
An Example of our Day Using the Swiss Travel Pass
An example of traveling to the village of Murren can be done with several options. We took the train from Wengen to Lauterbrunnen. From there we walked to Trümmelbachfäll. From the falls we took the bus to the end of the valley. From the end of the valley we took the bus back to the cable car up to Gimmelwald than another cable car to Murren. We explored Murren and had lunch there. We then took the train to the next cable car which dropped us off at the Lauterbrunnen train station and took the train back Wengen.
Cost is as follows in CHF for two:
Wengen to Lauterbrunnen round trip (Train) 27.20
Walked to Trümmelbachfälle (admission Fee, cash only) 22.00
Trümmelbachfälle to Stechelberg, Hotel (Bus) 7.20
Stechelberg, Hotel to Stechelberg (Schilthornbahn) (Bus) 6.00
Stechelberg (Schilthornbahn) to Murren (Schilthornbahn) Cable Car 22.00
Mürren BLM to Lauterbrunnen (Train and Cable Car) 22.00
Everything was covered by the Swiss Pass except the admission to Trümmelbachfälle.
As you can see, we would have spent 84.40 CHF for two if we would not have had the Swiss Travel Pass to spend the day in a nearby village.
Traveling to destinations takes time
Every day we took the train down to Lauterbrunnen and then another train to Interlaken or another destination. This alone is a 50 minute ride one way. Besides what we did above, we visited Grindelwald, First, Interlaken, Bern, Lucerne, Mt Rigi, Zurich and Rhine Falls all using our Swiss Travel Pass.
Boats are covered using the Swiss Travel Pass
The boats were also covered using the Swiss Travel Pass. From Interlaken, we took the boat to Brienz and then took the train back to Interlaken. We saw a lot in our 8 days. The weather for the most part was cloudy and cool, with rain part of the day. With the Swiss Travel Pass, we could go anywhere we wanted. If they were calling for rain where we were, we looked at the weather to see where it was supposed to be sunny. We would hop on the train and spend the day before returning back to Wengen. Most of our trips were unplanned due to the weather.
Our Costs for Swiss Travel Pass
I thought the Swiss Travel Pass was expensive when we purchased it at $642.91 for two people. But when we returned from our trip, J did the calculations to see what it would have costs us if we would have paid as we went and we would have spent 1576.80 CHF ($1624.10). If we would have went with the half pass card, we would have never seen all the places that we saw because I would have been more aware of what each trip costs because I was paying as I went.
The convenience of being able to get on the train, bus, or boat without worrying about the cost was worth it. Also it saved us time, not having to buy a ticket every day. The trains were always on time and a conductor would be on the train checking tickets 98% of the time.
Do the calculations, but add extra trips
If you are going to Switzerland, do the calculations of your costs, but know that you might want to see other things once you get there, especially if the weather is bad. For us when we planned this trip the costs for the Swiss Travel Pass was a little more than the half price card, but J wanted the convenience of not having to worry about purchasing tickets. Little did we know that we would use the Swiss Travel Pass as much as we did. Now that we are back from our trip, J made the right decision. Purchasing the Swiss Travel Pass saved us a lot of money. Sometimes he is right 😆
Our next decision is deciding where to stay in the Bernese Oberland region.