I’m anxious

Flexibility of Eurail Pass vs Swiss Pass

We are currently debating about renting a car vs using rail passes on a vacation in the next couple weeks.We are going to be in Switzerland, Interlaken for 5 days, then spend 2 days in southern Germany (Garmisch or Fussen if we can get there), 3 in Salzburg, and 2 in Munich before heading back to Switzerland. We don't know exactly what we plan to do each day, we want to go to Gruyeres, Lucerne, Lauterbrunnen, etc. But when and where will depend a little on the weather and advice we get, etc. We like to be a little flexible in where we go and what we do. This worked great with the rail passes in Japan where we'd decide a day or two before, check the schedules, show up at the station and jump on. However, deciding on Eurail vs swiss pass vs also incorporating Germany and Salzburg has become a giant headache! We don't have a good idea of what is covered in swisspass which isn't in the Eurail and the possibility of Eurail for everything vs a swisspass + a shorter duration eurail is frustrating. Any advice? We might just give up and get a car, it most likely will be cheaper but I don't think it will be as relaxing and fun.Thanks for any, all advice. I keep reading posts on other websites which end up being 10 years old.
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  • Hi Hans,

    Your best option really depends on the specifics of what you intend to do. However, since your itinerary includes Germany, you probably will want to include Germany on your rail pass as well. That would mean purchasing the 2 country option of the Eurail Select Pass to include Switzerland and Germany. Any pass that includes Germany also covers travel to Salzburg via the rail line from Munich.

    For the 2 country Eurail Select Pass, you would click here: https://www.raileurope.com/pass/eurail-select-pass-2-countries-8039.

    Multi-country 'Eurail' Passes that include Switzerland will still provide for discounts on the various mountain railways in and around Interlaken and Lucerne, which I'll outline below.
    • Popular for any stay in Interlaken are the nearby ‘Mountaintop’ excursions to Jungfraujoch, Mount Schilthorn, Harder Kulm, Grindelwald-First, and the Schynige Platte.

      Jungfraujoch Top of Europe

      The gateway to Jungfraujoch is Interlaken. With a Eurail Select Pass (that includes Switzerland), you would be eligible to receive a discount of about 25% on the excursion from Interlaken to Jungfraujoch.To receive this discount, you would purchase the 'JUNGFRAUJOCH/TOP OF EUROPE Interlaken to Jungfraujoch Eurail Pass Holder' (Low season, Mid-season, or High-season depending on when you'll be taking the trip) option of a pass called the 'Jungfraujoch Top of Europe'. For this pass, you would click here: http://www.raileurope.com/pass/jungfraujoch-top-of-europe-8315.

      This pass covers the 2 routes up to Jungfraujoch. These routes are as follows:

      The Grindelwald route would look like this:

      -Train from Interlaken to Grindelwald on the ‘Bernese Oberland Railway’
      -Train from Grindelwald to Kleine Scheidegg on the ‘Wengernalp Railway’
      -Train from Kleine Scheidegg to Jungfraujoch on the ‘Jungfrau Railway’ (the highest railway in Europe)

      The Lauterbrunnen/Wengen route would look like this:

      -Train from Interlaken to Lauterbrunnen on the ‘Bernese Oberland Railway’
      -Train from Lauterbrunnen to Kleine Scheidegg on the ‘Wengernalp Railway’ (Wengen is a stop along this rail line)
      -Train from Kleine Scheidegg to Jungfraujoch on the ‘Jungfrau Railway’ (the highest railway in Europe)

      On the 'Jungfrau Railway' between Kleine Scheidegg and Jungfraujoch, reservations are highly recommended for travel between the months of May and October. The reservations are a small cost in addition to the 'Jungfraujoch Top of Europe' and have to be made locally at the stations in either Interlaken (Interlaken Ost), Grindelwald, Lauterbrunnen, and Wengen.

      Expect stunning views throughout the entire trek between Interlaken and Jungfraujoch, whether you take the route via Grindelwald or the one via Lauterbrunnen/Wengen. To get the most of your Jungfraujoch experience, you might want to consider making your ascent one way and your descent the other. The ‘Jungfrau Railway’ itself runs mostly through a tunnel (the ‘Jungfrau Tunnel’), but there are two ‘sightseeing stops’ in the tunnel (‘Eigerwand’ and ‘Eismeer’) where passengers can exit their train and take in the views through windows built into the side of the mountain.

      At the Jungfraujoch Top of Europe station, you have access to the Sphinx Observation Terrace and the Aletsch Glacier (Great Aletsch Glacier). The Jungfraujoch station (Top of Europe) is the highest rail station in Europe, the Sphinx Observation Terrace is one of the highest astronomical observatories in the world, and the Aletsch Glacier (Great Aletsch Glacier) is the longest glacier in Europe.

      Mount Schilthorn

      There are 2 different routes you can take to get from Interlaken to Mount Schilthorn; one via Grütschalp and the other via Stechelberg.

      The Grütschalp route would look like this:

      -Train from Interlaken to Lauterbrunnen on the ‘Bernese Oberland Railway’
      -'Grütschalpbahn' cable car from Lauterbrunnen to Grütschalp
      -'Mürrenbahn' train from Grütschalp to Mürren
      -‘Schilthornbahn' cable cars from Mürren to Birg and Birg to Schilthorn

      The Stechelberg route would look like this:

      -Train from Interlaken to Lauterbrunnen on the ‘Bernese Oberland Railway’
      -Bus from Lauterbrunnen to Stechelberg
      -'Schilthornbahn’ cable cars from Stechelberg to Gimmelwald, Gimmelwald to Mürren, Mürren to Birg, and Birg to Schilthorn

      With the Eurail Select Pass, you would be able to receive a discount of about 25% on both of these routes. To receive this discount, you would purchase the 'Mountain Tops: Schilthorn Interlaken to Schilthorn Eurail Pass Holder' option of the pass for ‘Mount Schilthorn’ here: http://www.raileurope.com/pass/mount-schithorn.


      Harder Kulm (Harderbahn)

      A Eurail Select Pass would also enable you to receive a 25% discount on the Harderbahn funicular in Interlaken. The Harderbahn takes you to a viewing platform at the ‘Two Lakes Bridge’ (Zweiseensteg) for spectacular views of Lake Thun and Lake Brienz below, as well as incredible panoramas of the surrounding Alps; including Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau. There is also the Harder Kulm Panorama restaurant offering more stunning views.

      To receive the 25% discount, you would purchase the ‘Mountain Tops: Harder Kulm Interlaken to Harder Kulm for Eurail Pass Holder’ option (Low season, Mid-season, or High-season depending on when you'll be taking the trip) of the pass for ‘Harder Kulm’ here: http://www.raileurope.com/pass/harder-kulm-8178.

      Grindelwald-First (Firstbahn)

      The Firstbahn departs from its base station in the nearby village of Grindelwald. To reach Grindelwald, you would have to take a train along the famed ‘Bernese Oberland Railway’ from Interlaken. The ascent consists of a cable car from the base station in Grindelwald to Bort, another cable car from Bort to Schreckfeld, and then another cable car from Schreckfeld to the summit station of First. Once you’ve ascended to the First summit station, you would have access to the 'First Cliff Walk (by Tissot)', a 131 ft long suspension bridge leading to an observation platform that offers spectacular panoramic views of the valley below and the surrounding mountains.

      The Eurail Select Pass would enable you to receive a 25% discount on the ‘Bernese Oberland Railway’ (Interlaken-Grindelwald) and the Firstbahn cable cars. To receive this discount, you would purchase the ‘Mountain Tops: Grindelwald-First Interlaken to First for Eurail Pass Holder’ option of the pass for ‘Grindelwald-First’ here: http://www.raileurope.com/pass/grindelwald-first.

      Schynige Platte

      The nostalgic ‘Schynige Platte Railway’ operates until October 28th of 2018 and runs from the nearby village of Wilderswil to the Schynige Platte station (Wilderswil is only a 4-minute train ride from Interlaken on the ‘Bernese Oberland Railway’).

      The Eurail Select Pass enables you to receive a discount of about 25% to take this excursion. To receive this 25% discount, you would purchase the ‘Mountain Tops: Schynige Platte Interlaken to Schynige Platte for Eurail Pass Holder’ option of the pass for ‘Schynige Platte’ here: http://www.raileurope.com/pass/schynige-platte-8312.

      From Schynige Platte, you’ll have more amazing views of Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau, as well as Niesen, Stockhorn and Jura. By the station is also Switzerland’s only Alpine Botanical Garden and the Schynige Platte Panorama Restaurant.
    • For time in Lucerne, the nearby ‘Mountaintop’ excursions include Mount Pilatus, Mount Titlis, Stanserhorn, and Mount Rigi.

      Mount Pilatus

      The excursion to the Mount Pilatus summit starts with a steamer across Lake Lucerne from Lucerne to Alpnachstad. Once you get to Alpnachstad, you would make your ascent by taking the cog railway up to Mount Pilatus itself (Pilatus Kulm). After reaching Pilatus Kulm, you would descend via a cable car to Fräkmüntegg and a gondola from Fräkmüntegg to Kriens. To get back to Lucerne, you would take a bus from Kriens.

      With the Eurail Select Pass, you would be able to receive a 50% discount between Lucerne and Mount Pilatus (Pilatus Kulm). To receive this discount, you would purchase the ‘Mountain Tops: Pilatus Alpnachstad or Kriens-Mt Pilatus/Eurail Pass’ option of the pass for 'Mount Pilatus' here: http://www.raileurope.com/pass/mount-pilatus.

      Mount Titlis

      The ascent to Mount Titlis starts in Engelberg (43 minute train ride from Lucerne). It starts with a cable car from Engelberg to Trübsee, a second cable car from Trübsee to Stand, and then the famous 'Titlis Rotair' gondola from Stand to Klein Titlis. The 'Titlis Rotair' is the world's first 360 degree revolving gondola, offering spectacular panoramic views. Off the Klein Titlis station, you have access to the 'Titlis Cliff Walk', the 'Ice Flyer' chairlift, the Titlis Glacier Park, and a wondrous illuminated cave known as the 'Glacier Grotto'. The 'Titlis Cliff Walk' is a pedestrian suspension bridge (the highest suspension bridge in Europe) from where you can enjoy more incredible views. There is also a panorama restaurant.

      The train between Lucerne and Engelberg is covered by the Eurail Select Pass. For the cable cars between Engelberg and Titlis, the Eurail Select Pass would enable you to receive a discount of about 20-25%. To receive this discount, you would purchase the ‘Mountain Tops: Titlis Engelberg-Mt Titlis/Eurail Pass’ option of the pass for 'Mount Titlis' here: http://www.raileurope.com/pass/mount-titlis-8165 .

      This pass covers the round-trip between Engelberg and Klein Titlis, as well as a ride on the 'Ice Flyer' chairlift and entrance to the 'Glacier Grotto'.

      Stanserhorn

      Until November 18th of 2018, you would also have the option of making the ascent to nearby (Mount) Stanserhorn. From Lucerne, you would take a short train to the nearby village of Stans. In Stans, you would board an 1893 vintage funicular to the intermediate station of Kälti. In Kälti, you would board the CabriO cable car to the Stanserhorn summit. The CabriO cable car is the world’s first double decker open-air cable car. From the summit, you would experience incredible views of the surrounding Alps and 10 different lakes. There is also a revolving restaurant called the Rondorama and a marmot park.

      The Eurail Select Pass is valid on the train between Lucerne and Stans. For the remaining part of the excursion (funicular from Stans to Kälti and the CabriO cable car from Kälti to Stanserhorn), however, the Eurail Select Pass would enable you to receive a discount of about 25%. To receive this discount, you would purchase the ‘Mountain Tops: Stanserhorn Stans – Stanserhorn for Eurail Pass Holder’ option of the pass for 'Mount Stanserhorn' here: http://www.raileurope.com/pass/mount-stanserhorn.

      Mount Rigi

      Between Lucerne and nearby Mount Rigi, there are 2 different routes you can take.

      The route via Arth Goldau involves taking a train from Lucerne to Arth Goldau and the 'Arth-Rigi Bahn' cog railway from Arth Goldau to Rigi Kulm. For this first route, the Eurail Select Pass is only valid to cover you on the train from Lucerne to Arth Goldau, but it would enable you to receive a 50% discount on the 'Arth-Rigi Bahn' cog railway from Arth Goldau to Rigi Kulm. Tickets for the 'Arth-Rigi Bahn' can only be purchased locally. Just be sure to mention the Eurail Select Pass, so you can receive the 50% discount.

      The route via Vitznau involves taking a boat on Lake Lucerne from Lucerne to Vitznau, and the 'Vitznau-Rigi Bahn' cog railway from Vitznau to Rigi Kulm. The Eurail Select Pass would enable you to receive a 50% discount on both the Lake Lucerne boat and the 'Vitznau-Rigi Bahn' cog railway from Vitznau to Rigi Kulm. Tickets for the Lake Lucerne boat and the 'Vitznau-Rigi Bahn' both can only be purchased locally. Just be sure to mention the Eurail Select Pass, so you can receive the 50% discount. The boats on Lake Lucerne are operated by SGV.
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  • We are traveling in the last two weeks of Sept (so soon!) and will be in Switzerland, Austria, and Germany. Sorry for not being more clear!
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