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10 replies
Excursions from Interlaken and Gimmelwald
desilva
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Hi,

We are trying to plan the Switzerland leg of our trip. My wife and I’ll be staying at Interlaken for 2 days and then in Gimmelwald for 2 days. We’ll be buying the Swiss Saver Pass for 4 days and wanted to know what’s the best bang for the buck using this pass. For now, we are planning to take the Interlaken to Jungfrajoch trip on the first day and then the Golden Pass Express from Interlaken -> Luzern -> Montreux -> Interlaken on the second day (I understand this is just a return trip on the same train). On the third and fourth days, we’d like to do multiple hikes around Gimmelwald.

So, is there anything specific that we could do and not spend too much money since we already will have spent for the swiss pass? Can we do a hike to schilthorn and avoid the costs on the cable cars? What other trails would you recommend for those two days? Also, on the second day we are in interlaken, can we try another scenic train ride rather than taking the golden pass train back and forth? I guess the Bernina Express route is too far a stretch, right?

Also, we’d like to NOT USE the pass on one of the days when we are in Gimmelwald since we are leaving for Fussen after these four days and would like to use the swiss pass for part of the train ride towards Fussen. So, can we hike around Gimmelwald without using the swiss pass on one of these days?

Thanks.

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oldlady
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The Swiss pass is 4 consecutive days (right??) so you’ll want to plan your non-rail/hiking days for the beginning of your trip, if you want to use the last day at the end. Have you priced the Swiss portion of the Gimmelwald-Fussen ticket? Have you looked at the routing?? That looks like 6 to 9 connections — is this what you really want to do?

desilva
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Thanks OL.
Ah yes, I just noticed that. I guess I could go for the Swiss Saver Flexi Pass which would give us some flexibility. Yes, I saw that Gimmelwald to Fussen trip has a lot of connections. But I also noticed that most of those connections are in getting from Gimmelwald to Interlaken (according to sbb.ch). From there, it seems there are like 3 connections from Interlaken to Fussen and the section from Gimmelwald to Zurich costs about 152CHF (the total trip from Gimmelwald to Fussen costs 304CHF for two people).

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clevelandbrown
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My initial impression is that you will be spending all your time on trains and leaving no time to see the places you go.

Years ago I spent a lot of time looking into the question of the best Swiss pass. It is a very complicated subject, and I no longer want to spend much time on it. Note that there are also regional passes, such as one for the Bernese Oberland, that you might look into. Now I just get a half fare card, which I have found gives a lot of flexibility and holds down costs.

Passes cover trains, boats, buses (many small towns are served by postal buses) and cable cars. The caveat is that some private rail lines and cable cars are not fully covered (but often give a discount for your pass).

I think the Bernina express, while a wonderful ride, is too out of the way for where you will be staying. You could possibly squeeze it in on your way from Venice to Interlaken (via Lucerne), but that is a very very long trip for a day, and you don’t see the scenery once it gets dark.

Your trip from Interlaken to Lucerne, then to Montreaux, is, I think, too long and would give you little time to see either city. I would go to Lucerne and take a boat ride on one of their sidewheel steamers, all on your pass.

I think the cable car up to Murren and Gimmelwald is covered by your pass, but the cable car up to Schilthorn is, depending on the pass, only partly covered. The good news is that you can, if you are fit, walk it; many do.

We really enjoyed the cable car down to Stechelsburg, as did the other riders, judging from the oohs and aahs when we went over the cliff edge. From there you can use your pass to catch a bus to Lauterbrunnen, or you can walk down the very scenic valley.

Enjoy your trip.

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oldlady
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Quote:
that some private rail lines and cable cars are not fully covered (but often give a discount for your pass).
, I thought the advantage of a Swiss pass (compared to a Eurail pass that covers Switzerland) was that all the private rail lines were covered?????

desilva
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Thanks Clevelandbrown,

Yes, I’m giving up hopes of Bernina Express or any other scenic trains. I’m hoping that the two days I’m spending in Gimmelwald would cover up any heartaches of missing other places (Gimmelwald is the place I’m looking forward to most in this trip). I also understand that going from Interlaken to Lucerne and then to Montreux and back doesn’t leave us much time to explore the places. But the schedule I got from sbb.ch leaves me more than 3 hours in Lucerne if I want to try out any activities (may be a boat ride as you suggested) before heading back to Montreux. We’ll have to catch the first train in the morning from Interlaken to Lucerne, spend a few hours in Lucerne, take a train to Montreux around 1pm and back to Interlaken before nightfall.

I assume I don’t have to take the ‘golden pass’ train necessarily, right? I’m assuming that any trains that take the same route should be scenic enough and from what I gathered, it’s better to ride in a second class coach with windows opened rather than sitting in a panoramic view coach???

Also, for the issue regarding swiss passes…yes, it’s too much overkill to study about these passes. I’ve been finding new information for the past two months whenever I search about these passes. So, we’ve decided to take a 5 day Swiss Saver Flexi Pass (so that we don’t have to worry about which days we should use the pass) and take care of any other costs as an when we encounter them. Hopefully, this additional cost won’t be too overwhelming.

Thanks again for replying.

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oldlady
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Quote:
I’m assuming that any trains that take the same route should be scenic enough and from what I gathered, it’s better to ride in a second class coach with windows opened rather than sitting in a panoramic view coach???
IMO, panoramic view coaches don’t offer that much better view, so are generally not worth extra money or inconvenience. I wouldn’t count on open windows, however.

Cleveland’s suggestion of a Swiss card (1/2 off any fare) might work for you. It’s a good enough deal that well over half the Swiss population uses it.

clevelandbrown
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From the Jungfraujoch site:

Was bedeuten die Ermässigungen?
Child (6-16 Years without Junior Card)
Children under the age of 6 travelling with an adult always travel free. Children aged 6 to 16 with a Junior Card travel free when accompanied by a parent. The Junior Card is valid for 1 year and costs CHF 30.- per child. The accompanying parent must have a valid ticket. Each child must have an own Junior Card. The card is valid wherever the Half-Fare Card can be used.
Half-Fare Card
The Half-Fare Card entitles the holder to purchase 1st and 2nd-class tickets at half price. It may be used on sections within its area of validity. The Half-Fare Card is valid for 1, 2 or 3 years and is a personal pass.
Eurail
The Eurail Pass entitles the holder to unlimited travel within the area covered by the pass (1st or 2nd class), for the chosen period of validity. The Eurail Pass is available only to people with a permanent place of residence outside Europe. A 25% reduction will be given on the entire Jungfrau Railways network.
Swiss Pass
The Swiss Pass entitles the holder to unlimited travel within the chosen valid period in the area covered by the Swiss Pass (1st or 2nd class). The Swiss Pass is available only to people with a permanent place of residence outside Switzerland and the Principality of Liechtenstein. The Swiss Pass is valid for the Interlaken–Grindelwald/Wengen/Mürren sections. A 25% reduction is granted on tickets from Grindelwald and Wengen to the Jungfraujoch and a 50% reduction given on the remaining route network. The Swiss Travel System Family Card entitles children from age 6 to 16 to travel free when accompanied by at least one parent.

As I said, railpasses in Switzerland is a very complicated subject, so you have to carefully check every aspect.

One aspect of train travel in Switzerland is that the scenic trains are trains, not track and not routes, so you can save quite a bit by taking a non-scenic train over the same route. We have ridden the route of the Bernina express twice, once on the Bernina express, and once on a regular train. I would not again pay extra for the panoramic view coaches, as the windows were sealed, making it hard to take pictures. On the regular train, the cars were older, but the windows opened, and many riders were standing by an open window taking pictures.

The ride from Interlaken to Montreux passes through hilly, rather than mountainous terrain, but is a pleasant ride. One caveat, if they route you through Bern, you miss all the scenery; buy a ticket that passes through Zweissimen (spelling not guaranteed).

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desilva
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Thanks oldlady and clevelandbrown,

Well, our trip went through a major change. We talked to some people and did some researching. In the end we decided not to cover the romantic road and to finish our trip from Geneva. One reason is that the airfare (Salt Lake City to Paris and from [???] to Salt Lake City) in August is cheapest ($914 per person) if we select Geneva as our departing airport. Also, several people suggested us that romantic road should not be rushed in two days but should at least take a week (most people suggested a two week bike ride along that road). Anyway, these reasons led us to change our itinerary so now we’ll be heading home from Geneva, after our stay in the swiss alps. We’ve cancelled our hotel reservations in Germany and hopefully we can do that trip sometime later. I guess this would also leave us with more money to be spent on our trip and hopefully, this would be advantageous for us in many ways.

clevelandbrown wrote:
The ride from Interlaken to Montreux passes through hilly, rather than mountainous terrain, but is a pleasant ride. One caveat, if they route you through Bern, you miss all the scenery; buy a ticket that passes through Zweissimen (spelling not guaranteed).

Thanks for the tip. I’ll keep that in mind when I’m reserving the tickets. We were thinking about doing the last part of this route (Interlaken -> Lucerne -> Montreux -> Interlaken) on a boat. I’ve read that the boat ride from Thun to Interlaken West is a great experience so I’m searching for information on that. So, I guess we can take a train from Lucerne to Thun (not going as far as Montreux) and take a boat ride back to Interlaken.

Also, thanks for all the hints about the swiss passes and swiss cards. But I’ve decided to go ahead with the 5 day swiss saver flexi pass.

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clevelandbrown
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Montreux has its attractions, primarily the train ride zig zagging down to town through the vinyards, and the initial view of the lake, and a promenade along the lakefront, and of course the castle at Chillon. But I prefer Thun. The train station there is right in the well preserved old town, and there is a castle that is interesting. I’ve not ridden the boat from Thun to Interlaken, but I’m sure it is a pleasant ride.

In view of your changed plans, I would suggest taking a train from Interlaken to Spies to Zweissimen and Montreux on your way to Geneva. Perhaps staying a few hours in Montreux to walk the promenade and visit Chillon, a very popular tourist site.

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desilva
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Thanks clevelandbrown, I’ll make those points in my itinerary. Will update here if I need more info. Thanks again.

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