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Swiss Pass or Swiss Card

by Blanka Kralova

We will travel by car from Prague via Austria to Cannobio, Italy, and explore the Ticino from there.

Generally we will travel around by car but our son loves trains and boats and so we would like to take the train from Locarno to Domodossola and back as a one day trip.

Then we would like to take some cable cars and boats on the Lago Maggiore.

We will be staying in this area from July 28 to August 4.

I would like to ask you if we should buy the Swiss Pass or Swiss Card with the free family card for two adults and two children (4 and 9 years).

I will be very happy if you can give me advice because I am a little bit confused :-)

Thank you very much for your answer.

Answer for

Swiss Pass or Swiss Card

Dear Blanka,

The Swiss Card would only be an option if you arrive by train or fly to Switzerland; it's practically a half fare card that includes the train ticket from any border to your final destination.

The cheapest pass - in your case Swiss Saver Flexi Pass for 3 days - would be an option if you plan 3 travel days that cost at least CHF 72 each per person.

The Swiss Half Fare Card would allow for 50% discounted tickets on all modes of transportation, and the Family Card is free as well.

It really depends on how much you plan to use trains, cable cars and boat rides to really save money.

Price examples:

  • The Centovalli Express return ticket from Locarno to Domodossola would be CHF 82 per adult (full price), free for your 4 year old and half price for your 9 year old.

  • Cable Car to Monte Lema (probably the best view point in the Ticino and really worth the trip), CHF 24 return, CHF 18 one way, and for your 9 year old CHF 15 respectively CHF 13 and free for your 4 year old.
As you can see, only the Centovalli day would fit this price category. So, before you decide to buy a Swiss Pass or Half Fare Card, I'd recommend to put together an itinerary and see what the trips really would cost you.

There's a great and lesser expensive option for the Centovalli Express: The Lago Maggiore Express. It is a roundtrip that you could start right in Cannobio. It's offered as a 1-day or 2-day excursion and includes the boat on Lago Maggiore, the Centovalli Express and the connecting Italian train ride. The one-day journey would cost CHF 48 per adult and CHF 24 per child.

Also, you may want to check out the Ticino Discovery Card (trains not included). This card is interesting if you plan to take a lot of cable cars. Monte Lema is included and so are Swissminiatur (great for children and gown-ups), the Falconeria in Locarno, the Lido in Locarno as well as some public transportation.

Unfortunately, the free Holiday Card (for free city transport, museum entrances and more) is only available if you would stay on the Swiss side for more than 3 nights.

By the way, if you don't mind the crowd, there's a huge market in Luino (practically across the lake from Cannobio) each Wednesday 9am to 4pm.

Also, the International Film Festival in Locarno, that takes place while you are there, is worth checking out.

Enjoy your holiday and travel well.

For more on Swiss Passes and Half Fare Card click hereā€¦

Prices subject to change (valid at the time of posting this)

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Date: 22.04.13
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