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Swiss Half Fare Card or Swiss Pass

by Janice
(London)

I am planning a trip to Switzerland with my family (2 seniors, 2 adults, 1 youth) this June!

As I'm utterly confused by the different types of passes/cards available for rail travel, it would be great if you could advise me on the best and cheapest way to get around the cities.

I will be reaching Switzerland by train at Lausanne, and my itinerary is as follows:

Lausanne -> Interlaken
Interlaken -> Jungfrau and back (day trip up)
Interlaken -> Lucerne
Lucerne -> Zurich
Zurich -> Rhine Falls and back, then to the airport

The total length of the trip is 6 days, and I'm wondering if the Half Fare Card is a better deal than the Swiss Pass - if I'm not mistaken, the former includes 50% off the ride up to Jungfrau (which is the most costly train ride of all) instead of 25% on the Swiss Pass?

I also saw several other options such as the Supersaver tickets, 1-day travel pass and 9 o'clock travel pass - would you recommend them? For Jungfrau, I came across several cheaper options like the Good Morning and Good Afternoon tickets. As they only allow a limited time up Jungfrau, would you advice taking that option, or will it be better to spend a whole day for the trip up Jungfrau?

Also, regarding the Rhine Falls, as it is a distance from Zurich, is it worth a visit?

Thanks so much for your help in advance; it will be highly appreciated!!


Answer


Hello Janice,

It can be overwhelming to find the best solution. After evaluating all options I believe Half Fare Card and point-to-point tickets are the way to go:

  • It would cost you approximately CHF 270 per person (depending on the routes), whereas the cheapest Swiss Flexi Saver Pass option would cost you at least CHF 369 per person (youth CHF 321) for 3 day pass including Good Morning or Afternoon Ticket to Jungfraujoch (CHF 140 from Interlaken; Normal return ticket CHF 142.65 after discount of 25%) plus two tickets with 50% discount (most likely Lucerne - Zürich HB and Zürich HB - Zürich Airport).

  • Morning or Afternoon Ticket to Jungfrau?

    The weather is usually better earlier in the day. But keep an eye on the weather forecast. It would be a pity to arrive on top and not being able to see anything, especially considering the price of the trip.

    Prepare for an alternative: You could take the train back to Lucerne via Bern and spend part of the day "under the arcades" in Bern. The train ticket is a little more expensive (CHF 28 plus city surcharge) than if you would travel via Thun - Konolfingen (through the Emmental) or Brünigpass, though it takes about the same time to reach Lucerne.

    In good weather, I recommend to take the train from Interlaken via Brünig to Lucerne - CH 15 plus CHF 5.40 if you choose the city ticket.

    You could buy all tickets while in Lausanne, though I’d recommend to buy them day-to-day in case you change your plans. And I would buy the ticket up to the Jungraujoch definitely not before you know how the weather will be.

    City transportation: To take advantage of unlimited city transport, purchase so-called City Tickets. It's an all-in-one ticket (train and city transport combined). The surcharge on normal point-to-point tickets is CHF 5.50 for Zürich and CHF5.40 for Lucerne. It’s worthwhile if you spend a whole day exploring a city. They are available for Lausanne, Luzern and Zürich. Also available for Schaffhausen, though I don’t think it’s really necessary. You can take the train back from the falls to Schaffhausen. The city is easily explored on foot, if walking is not an issue.

    Alternative to city ticket Zürich:

    Zürich offers a CityCard. More expensive than if you would buy a train ticket from Lucerne with city transportation included, but offers more for the price too: for example free museum entrance, free city tours, even a samll boat tour on Lake Zürich.

    Supersaver tickets: Offers change on a daily basis and are only available online. You would have to check your routes daily to see if there’s an offer that suits you. The more popular the route, the smaller the chance to get a discount. Prices depend also on the time of day you travel, and they are not yet listed for June.

    One Day Travel Pass and 9 o’clock tickets don’t make the cut in your case. Both are not valid for the Jungfraubahn (50% discount), and so the total price would be higher than the Good Morning ticket. Normal tickets for the rest of the trip are lower than any of them, even if you would buy a discounted package for 5 days.

    If your youth is not yet 16 get a free Family Card that allows for free travel for children 6 to 16.

    Rhine Falls or not?

    I definitely recommend a day trip to the Rhine Falls. Include either Stein am Rhein or Schaffhausen (Munot). Both lovely, well maintained medieval cities. There is a direct train between Zürich HB and Schaffhausen, but take the train from Zürich HB (main station) via Winterthur to Schloss Laufen am Rheinfall (most likely you will have to change the train in Winterthur). That way you arrive practically at the Rhine Falls doorstep.

    On your way back to Zürich take the direct train from Schaffhausen. Let the ticket clerk know about this before you buy.

    The Video shows you a little about the Rhine Fall and Schaffhausen, while Dieter Wiesmann, a Swiss troubadour, sings a love song to his hometown Schaffhausen.





    Wishing you a wonderful time in Switzerland,
    Fida

Comments for Swiss Half Fare Card or Swiss Pass

Click here to add your own comments

Points of Sale
by: Anonymous

Thanks for your detailed reply! It certainly helped lots. I'd just like to ask one follow up question - will I be able to buy the Swiss half fare card at the Lausanne railway station? This is as I will be arriving there first.

Thanks so much!

Regards,
Janice

Point of Sale
by: Fida

Hello Janice,

You are welcome!

Yes, you can buy the Half Fare Card in Lausanne for CHF 110 or EURO 92.

Enjoy your vacation!
Fida

Price quotes 2012


Stein am Rhein
by: Susan

Hi Fida

If one were to include a trip from the falls to Stein-am-Rhein, what are the public transport options to get there and then back to Zurich.

Regards
Susan

Rhine Falls to Stein am Rhein
by: Fida

Hello Susan,

The quickest way would be taking the train.

It takes 54 minutes from "Schloss Laufen am Rheinfall" (train station right beneath Castle Laufen) via Schaffhausen to Stein am Rhein.

From there continue to Zürich (takes just a little over an hour). Make sure you board a train from Stein am Rhein to Zürich where you only have to change trains in Winterthur.

Use the SBB timetable to check departures/arrivals and prices.

Enjoy the ride,
Fida

Please help
by: Anonymous

We are planning a family holiday. 4 adults, in July 2013. Fly into Zurich from London and spend one night in Zurich.

We plan to go to Luzern next day and stay there for 4 days. We wish to cover Rigi and Pilatus.

We plan to spend one night in Interlaken and visit Jungfrau in a day trip. Thereafter go back to Zurich on next day, to the airport.

Can you please suggest which pass should we be going for?

Swiss Pass Options
by: Fida

Hello Anonymous,

Do check out the Tell Pass. This pass covers a large area around Luzern and is valid between Baar and Interlaken. You would need a regular ticket from Zürich to Baar or Luzern, depending on when you will activate the Tell Pass. To profit from the Tell Pass on your return to Zürich you would have to travel the same route via Brünig-Hasliberg and Luzern to Zürich Airport twice (again, buying a full fare connecting ticket from Baar to the Airport).

Depending on how many trips you will take outside the area of application - for example returning to Zürich Airport via Bern and profiting from a half fare return ticket to Jungfraujoch, a Half Fare Card only or in combination with the 2-day Tell Pass could be the right option for you.

Here's an example that will help you figure out the most economical rail pass option.

Enjoy your journey,
Fida

Still indecisive over Swiss Pass vs Half Fare Card
by: Kay

Hi I'm planning a short trip to Switzerland in July 2013. Still indecisive whether to get a Swiss Pass or Half Fare Card, despite reading previous advice.

My plan is somehow similar with the case above, but with 2 adults and 2 youths:

1st day
arriving Lausanne train station 11:30
(stroll around Lausanne/Montreux if time allows), then take the golden pass train to Interlaken. Hotel might be at Lauterbrunnen area.

2nd day
Jungfraujoch or Schilthorn roundtrip.

3rd day
Single trip to Lucerne (can be morning/evening) and overnight in Lucerne. If arriving in Lucerne early in the morning, I might consider a trip to Mt. Titlis/Rigi/Pilatus.

4th day
Stroll around Lucerne before taking a train to Zurich airport (flight departure 1620)

It sounds pretty rush but we just want to see as much as possible (not interested in museums anyway) in the short duration.

My problem now is basically deciding on the train pass that works best for this plan. Hope someone can help me with this, thank you!

Half Fare Card or Swiss Pass
by: Fida

Hello Kay,

There are too many "maybe's" to advice you properly. It really all depends on how many mountain trips you take. Use this as a template to figure out the best option.

Note:
  • Seat reservation for Golden Line obligatory.
  • Neither Jungfraujoch nor Schilthorn are included in any pass. See options for Jungfraujoch here: Click on "Tickets"
  • From Mürren/Stechelberg to Schilthorn you receive a 50% discount (with any pass or Half Fare Card)
  • Engelberg up to Titlis is not included in any pass, but you receive a discount.
  • Pilatus: connecting ticket for Pass Holders between Kriens and Alpnachstad
  • Rigi: included in all passes; 50% with Half Fare Card

If your children are between 16 and 26 they are eligible for the Youth Pass, if they are younger than 16 they will travel for free with the Family Card. All prices for trail pass options see here.

I hope that helps,
Fida

Decision made for Swiss Pass
by: Kay

Hi Fida,

Thanks for your information. The template really helps a lot. After all I found that both Half Fare Card and Swiss Saver Pass (2 Adults + 2 Youths) cost about the same eventually.

Half Fare Card for 4 of us works out just slightly cheaper than the combination of Swiss Saver Pass. However I realize that the Swiss Pass turns out to be a lot cheaper if we don't do Jungfraujoch trip. Considering that we might anticipate bad weather on the day planned for Jungfraujoch, I think it's better off for the Swiss Saver Pass which gives us lots more flexibility.

So do I need to buy the Swiss Pass in advance or I can just get it from Lausanne train station?

Swiss Pass or Half Fare Card
by: Fida

Hi Kay,

Glad it helped. Yes, it makes a big difference depending on how many mountain trips you include.

With the Swiss Pass, you also have the advantage that all public city transportation is included too.

And if you catch bad weather - which I certainly hope you don't - then you might want to visit the Open Air Museum Ballenberg while in Interlaken, and the admission would be included as well.

You can buy any pass online or at Lausanne's train station - what ever suits you best.

Enjoy your holiday!
Fida

Swiss Half fare Card or Swiss flexi pass
by: Louis

Dear Fida

I am following the discussion above with great interest as I will be visiting Switzerland in September.

My schedule is below:
Day 1: Zurich airport to Geneva
Day 2-5: Geneva to Madrid - back to Geneva
Day 5: Geneva airport to Luzern
Day 6: Mt Pilatus (silver pass)
day 7: Luzern - Interlaken - Luzern
Day 8: Luzern - Zurich airport.

I will use Luzern as my base for Day 5-8.
I calculate that if I buy the 3 day Swiss Flexi pass to use on Day 1, 5, 7, the total transport I paid (incl. 50% off Mt Pilatus silver pass- does the Swiss Flexi pass entitles me to get the 50% silver pass?) is CHF 221 (15% disc as we are 2 adults) + CHF 38 silver pass + CHF 28 for one way Luzern - Zurich = CHF 287.

If I buy the Half fare card and point to point :
CHF 120 (half day card) + CHF 46 Zurich to Geneva + 40 Geneva Luzern + 38 silver pass + 31 Luzern to Interlaken round trip + 14 Luzern to Zurich = CHF 289.

If I buy Swiss Pass, it will cost me: CHF 231 (from Day 5 to 8) + 92 Zurich to Geneva + 38 silver pass = 361

So it will be much cheaper if I buy Swiss flexi pass in this case, isn't it? But I am wondering if I would like to spend one full day in Luzern on day 8, is it more convenient to buy the Half day card? Do you know how much is the one day pass in Luzern city?
Wondering if I do the right calculation?

Thanks for your advice.

Louis
Singapore

Swiss Half Fare Card or Swiss Pass
by: Fida

Hello Louis,

I am not aware of a silver pass. I suppose you mean to take the "Silver Round Trip" to Pilatus? By the way, the Golden Round trip would include a scenic boat ride instead of taking the train to Alpnachstad.

If you use the Flexi Pass as a half fare card on the "Silver Round Trip", you would pay CHF 39.40 from Luzern, the same amount as if you would purchase the ticket with a Half Fare Card.

If you use a Swiss Pass Day it would cost you CHF 34.00 (free between Alpnachstad and Kriens, but half fare for the mountain round-trip.) Plus, you get free entrance to museums, free city transport in Luzern and more.

Lucerne is small and the inner city can easily be explored on foot, for example on Day 6 when you return from Mt. Pilatus. This way you could add another trip, for example to Rigi Kulm - by boat to Vitznau and then by cogwheel. From Rigi Kulm you could take another cogwheel train down to Goldau and return by train to Luzern (all included in the Swiss Pass).

Day 7: The Luzern - Interlaken Express takes 2 hours to Interlaken. You could add a bit more excitement by leaving the train in Brienz for a stroll through the lovely lakeside town and a visit to Ballenberg.

Or travel all the way to Interlaken West (change of trains in Interlaken Ost), then board a cruise to Thun and explore this beautiful medieval city before you return to Luzern either via Bern (faster) or "Langnau in the Emmental" (more scenic). All passes and tickets are valid on the entire route.

Buying pass or half fare card really depends on what else you are going to do. This template will help you figure out the best option.

If you choose to buy a half fare card, here's information on city-to-city tickets.

Luzern offers two kinds of cards: There's the Visitors Card that offers discounts on many attractions.

And then there is (was) the LucerneCard that one can purchase for 1 day (CHF 19), 2 days (CHF 27) or 3 days (CHF 33) days, though I only find Pdf files on their website to which I can't link. Use the above link and search for it. I sent them an email but haven't gotten an answer yet.

Enjoy your Swiss Journey!
Fida

Swiss Half Fare Card or Swiss Flexi Pass
by: Louis

Dear Fida

Thank you very much for your detailed answer and additional info.

Yes, I mean "Silver Round Trip" to Pilatus.

You mentioned "Swiss Pass Day". Is it the same as the 4-5 days Swiss Pass?

How many hours needed to do Rigi Kulm? Would I have enough time after the Pilatus? If I include Rigi Kulm in my itinerary on Day 6, I guess it would be more beneficial to buy the 4 day Swiss Pass, am I right?

For Day 7 I will definitely take your suggestion to explore more, for example Ballenberg. Is the cruise to Thun also included in the Swiss Pass or Swiss Flexi Pass?

Thanks so much for your time taken to answer my queries.

Cheers
Louis

Swiss Pass or Flexi Pass
by: Fida

You are welcome Louis :)

Yes, with a "Swiss Pass Day" I meant using the Swiss Pass. However, if you use up a "Flexi Pass Day" instead of using the "Flexi Pass as a Half Fare Card" on that day, then you would pay the same as with the "Swiss Pass" (CH 34). Does that make sense?

Not sure what you mean with "4-5 days Swiss Pass". Swiss Passes are for 4, 8, 15, 22 days or one month and Flexi Passes can be purchased for 3, 4, 5 or 6 Days within a month and you can use this pass as a Half Fare Card between "Flexi Pass Days" (between the first and last activated travel day).

The whole round-trip to Rigi Kulm is included in any pass whereas the trip to Pilatus is not. There you have to buy an additional ticket for the mountain ride portion. Will you be able to do both in one day? I'd say that depends on your travel style. If you want to see as much as possible and don't mind to do it all in a hurry, then technically you could do both. Check the boat time table (Luzern - Weggis - Vitznau) and the Rigi-Kulm schedule for connections.

Lake Cruises (Brienz and Thun) are included in all train passes. Again, if you use the "Swiss Pass" or a "Flexi Pass Day" it's free; if you use the Flexi Pass as a Half Fare Card on that day then you'd receive a 50% discount. The same applies to the Ballenberg admission fee: free on a pass day.

I am not sure which train pass would be best for you because I don't have the time to make the calculation. But it sure wouldn't be a "4 day Swiss Pass" (you'd have to buy an 8-day pass to be covered for your entire stay in Switzerland, even though you take a side-trip to Madrid.) Maybe a 4-day Flexi Pass could make the cut. But again, use the link I provided in the first post to calculate the best rate and the Swiss Pass page (links above) to learn about the difference between these two passes.

Hope that helps,
Fida

Swiss Pass or Swiss Flexi Pass
by: Louis

Thanks so much for your advice, Fida.

It helps me a lot to decide which pass I should take.

After carefully reading your suggestion and checking the website, I think I would go for the 4 day Flexi Pass (for day 1, 5, 6, 7) as it would give me more freedom to explore more excitement trip beyond my original plan. And just buy the one day pass Luzern for day 8.

Can't wait to explore Switzerland.

Cheers
Louis

Swiss Pass or Flexi Pass
by: Fida

Hello Louis,

I am glad I could be of assistance.

I just got word from Lucerne Tourism that they stopped selling the LucerneCard in March 2013. But you can buy a normal "All-day Travel Card" (Tageskarte) for Public Transport that is valid within city limits for CHF 6.40 at the ticket machines.

There's now a Museum Card available for CHF 32. It's probably worth to look into it if you want to visit more than two.

You still can get the free Visitor Card at the tourist office (directly in the train station). It will give you a discount on museums entrances.

Note: Since your last Flexi-Pass Day will end on Day 7 you will have to purchase a normal one-way ticket from Lucerne to Zürich Airport which costs CHF 28 per person. Choose a direct train to the airport so you won't have to change in Zürich main station.

Louis, I wish you a wonderful trip!

Warm regards,
Fida

Swiss half fare card worth or not ?
by: Kuntal

Hi Fida,
I saw your previous posts and it really helped me to understand a few things. But still need to clarify some things more from you to determine which will be better option to buy.

My itinerary:
1. Reach Basel Airport from Amsterdam
2. Will hire a car and go to Täsch
3. Train to Zermatt and then Matterhorn peak
4. Interlaken Ost --> Jungfrau
5. Interlaken --> Engelberg (by car) --> Mt. Titlis

Will it be worthy to use the "Swiss half fare card" for No. 3, 4 & 5. Will I get 50% on the mentioned points ??




Hello Kuntal,

Yes, you receive 50% discount with the half fare card. The validity map on the same page shows you where you receive the discount.

To see if a half fare card is worth buying, add up all full fare price tickets than divide them into two and add the price for the half fare card.

Travel safely,
Fida

Swiss Half Fare Card or Swiss Pass
by: Joseph Law

I am planning a trip to Switzerland with my wife and sister in law this early November!

As I'm utterly confused by the different types of passes/cards available for rail travel, it would be great if you could advise me on the best and cheapest way to get around the cities.

I will be reaching Switzerland by shuttle bus at Lugano, and my itinerary is as follows:

Lugano -> Lucerne
Lucerne -> Interlaken
Interlaken -> Jungfrau and back (day trip up)
Interlaken -> Bern
Bern -> Lausanne
Lausanne -> Geneva then to the airport

The total length of the trip is 5 days, and I'm wondering if the Half Fare Card is a better deal than the Swiss Pass - if I'm not mistaken, the former includes 50% off the ride up to Jungfrau (which is the most costly train ride of all) instead of 25% on the Swiss Pass?

I also saw several other options such as the Supersaver tickets, 1-day travel pass and 9 o'clock travel pass - would you recommend them? For Jungfrau, I came across several cheaper options like the Good Morning and Good Afternoon tickets. As they only allow a limited time up Jungfrau, would you advice taking that option, or will it be better to spend a whole day for the trip up Jungfrau?

Thanks so much for your help in advance; it will be highly appreciated!





Hello Joseph,

It takes a bit of work to figure out the best rail pass options:

- This page explains you how to do it;

- You don't need a whole day on the Jungfraujoch - two to three hours are plenty of time to spend up there. However, Good Morning and Good Afternoon tickets are only valid until end of October - so no option for November;

- If you decide to buy 1-day or 9 0'clock travel passes you will also need a Half Fare Card;

- If you decide to buy a Half Fare Card then I would recommend to buy city-to-city tickets, this way public transport within cities are included (though Lucerne is small and easily explored on foot). But it would be worth for Bern and Lausanne. (City transport is included in Swiss and Flexi Passes);

- SuperSaver tickets are not available for the Jungfraujoch but you certainly can check for other destinations.

Enjoy your trip,
Fida


Swiss Half Fare Card or Swiss Travel Pass
by: chhara

Hi,

I will be grateful if someone can advice me which pass would be beneficial for me. I am travelling to Zurich in July for 5 days. From Zurich airport , we will go to Lucerne and stay there. We will take the train fromLucerne to Zurich airport on day 5. I am intending to visit mount rigi and take the train to Interlaken and see the surroundings of Lucerne. Which one would be better, swiss pass, flexi pass or any other pass? Thanks.





Hello chhara,

Your question is already answered in this thread. First, figure out the correct itinerary and then follow the links in the answer I gave Joseph.

Best,
Fida

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