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!!
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.
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