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What to purchase for Paris to Jungfrau (Grindelwald & Lauterbrunnen), the Glacier Express, & then Milan?

Paris to Grindelwald - Using Eurail Select or Individual Tickets?

I plan on travelling from Paris, France and want to go to Grindelwald/Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland specifically for the Tobbagon Run and Glacier Palace respectively, from there I plan to continue on my way to Milan, Italy. Is it more cost efficient to purchase a Eurail Select Pass or Regional Pass and then the Glacier Express for Swizterland, or to just purchase and reserve any seats separately from point to point?

In addition, which Glacier Express selection do I need to visit the aforementioned sites?

Thanks so much
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  • Jeff (Official Rep) January 05, 2015 16:04
    Thank you for your question, Andy.

    I'm very sorry for the delay getting back to you.

    If you only intend on doing the travel you mentioned in your post, there would be no need to purchase a rail pass, and I would just recommend purchasing regular point-to-point tickets.

    A connection from Paris to Grindelwald or Lauterbrunnen would take about 5.5 to 6 hours in duration and involves 2 train changes en route; once in Basel and then once in Interlaken. Grindelwald and Lauterbrunnen are located along 2 different routes between Interlaken and Jungfraujoch. Therefore, if you'll just making one trip to the peak, you might want to take one route on your way up and then the other route on your way back down. For instance, if you ascend via Grindelwald, you might want to descend via Lauterbrunnen or Wengen.

    You would purchase tickets from Paris to Interlaken by clicking on 'Find Fares & Schedules' on our homepage. The trains from Paris to Basel are high-speed 'TGV Lyria' trains.

    For your actual trek up to Jungfraujoch, you would have a couple different options: You could purchase the 'Jungfraujoch Top of Europe' mountaintop excursion or the 'Jungfrau VIP Pass'.

    The 'Jungfraujoch Top of Europe' would cover a roundtrip between Interlaken and Jungfraujoch (via Grindelwald or Lauterbrunnen/Wengen), although with this pass, the roundtrip would just have to be completed within a 24 hour time period once the journey has begun. This pass is an open voucher that you would be able to use to hop on any of the trains between Interlaken and Jungfraujoch within the 24 hours. You can purchase the 'Jungfraujoch Top of Europe' here: http://www.raileurope.com/activities/jungfraujoch/index.html. Since you'd just be traveling with regular point-to-point tickets for the rest of your travels, you would purchase the '1 Day Round-Trip from Interlaken' version of the 'Jungfraujoch Top of Europe'. 

    Your other option, the 'Jungfrau VIP Pass', would be valid to cover any travel in the Jungfraujoch region over the course of 3 days. This includes travel on the routes between Interlaken and Jungfraujoch via Grindelwald or via Lauterbrunnen/Wengen. You can purchase the 'Jungfrau VIP Pass' here: http://www.raileurope.com/activities/jungfrau-vip-pass/index.html.

    The full route of the Glacier Express runs between Zermatt and St Moritz. From the Jungfraujoch/Interlaken region, your best option would be to connect up with the Glacier Express in Brig. A connection from Interlaken to Brig, for instance, only takes about 1 hour and involves changing trains once in Spiez along the way.

    If you were to connect up with the Glacier Express in Zermatt, the connection from Interlaken to Zermatt would take just over 2 hours in duration and involves 2 train changes en route; once in Spiez and then once in Visp.

    You would refer back to 'Find Fares & Schedules' on our homepage to purchase tickets and check schedules for the connection from Interlaken to Brig and for the Glacier Express route from Brig to St Moritz.

    A connection from St Moritz to Milan would take about 5.5 to 6 hours in duration and involves 2 changes en route; once in Thusis and then once in Bellinzona. The segment from Thusis to Bellinzona would actually be on a bus you would have to pay to board locally upon arrival. Since we aren't able to sell tickets for this bus service, its schedules aren't able to be viewed on our site. If you'd like to inquire about schedules for the buses from Thusis to Bellinzona, you would have to call us at 1-800-622-8600.

    Tickets for the trains from St Moritz to Thusis (regional trains) and Bellinzona to Milan (EuroCity/EC trains) are able to be booked under 'Find Fares & Schedules' on our website. However, to be covered for one of the direct trains from St Moritz to Thusis, you would actually have to purchase a ticket from St Moritz to the town of Chur. Even though your ticket would display Chur as the destination station, you would just get off when the train stops in Thusis. The direct trains from St Moritz to Chur stop in Thusis about 33 minutes before they are shown to be arriving into Chur on our site.

    The trains that comprise of your itinerary can only be booked within 90 days of an intended date of departure. If your intended travel happens to fall outside of this time frame, you would just enter earlier dates, some time within the next 90 days, to get an idea of the ticket costs and view schedules when searching these routes on our site.
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  • Thanks so much for the help!

    We do plan on visiting London and possibly Madrid, but not many cities outside those areas, which is why I couldn't decide if point to point or a regional pass was better. So ultimately purchasing point to point passes in advance would be more cost efficient than a regional pass or select pass for France, Spain, Italy and Switzerland?

    Thanks again
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  • Jeff (Official Rep) January 06, 2015 18:27
    Hi Andy,

    The best option for your travels would be dependent on the specific cities you intend to visit and various other factors. If your plans also include travel to Spain or any other destinations, then you would likely want to purchase a rail pass instead of point-to-point tickets. I only advised that point-to-point tickets would be your best option initially, because I wasn't aware you would be doing any other traveling. However, purchasing a pass would also change what you would need to purchase with regard to the trips I advised about above.

    From what you've mentioned, the pass you would purchase is the Eurail Select Pass. The Eurail Select Pass is a pass that covers 4 bordering countries of your choosing. You would purchase your Eurail Select Pass to include France, Switzerland, Italy, and Spain.

    It is important to note that the Eurostar, which is the train that connects London and Paris, is not actually covered by any rail pass. However, a rail pass would still enable you to receive a Passholder fare for a ticket on the Eurostar. You would purchase tickets at the Passholder rate on the Eurostar by clicking on 'Book your Rail Pass Reservations' on our homepage and indicating the type of rail pass you'll be traveling with when you're prompted. The Passholder rates on the Eurostar can sell out very quickly, so it would be recommended that these tickets be purchased as soon as possible. The Eurostar train is unique in that it can generally be booked 6 to 9 months in advance of a departure.

    With regard to your connection from Paris to Grindelwald or Lauterbrunnen, a Eurail Select Pass would enable you to receive a 'Passholder 2' rate on the TGV Lyria high-speed train from Paris to Basel. The connecting trains from Basel to Interlaken don't accept reservations, so the rail pass is all you would need to board. However, a Eurail Select Pass does not cover travel beyond Interlaken on the way to Jungfrau. Therefore, you would still have to purchase either the 'Jungfraujoch Top of Europe' mountaintop excursion or the 'Jungfrau VIP Pass' to cover your travel between Interlaken, Grindelwald, Lauterbrunnen, and Jungfraujoch.

    Once again, the 'Jungfraujoch Top of Europe' only covers travel within a 24 hour time frame, while the 'Jungfrau VIP Pass' covers travel in the Jungfrau region over the course of 3 days.

    If you opt to purchase the 'Jungfraujoch Top of Europe', you would purchase the '1 Day Round-Trip Journey from Interlaken - For Use Only With a Eurail Pass Which Includes Switzerland' option (since you'd be traveling with the Eurail Select Pass).

    If you opt to purchase the 'Jungfrau VIP Pass' instead, you would choose the '3 Consecutive Days - For Use Only With Swiss Travel Pass or Eurail Pass Which Includes Switzerland' option (since you'd be traveling with the Eurail Select Pass).

    You would purchase your 'Passholder 2' reservations on the TGV Lyria train from Paris to Basel by clicking on 'Book your Rail Pass Reservations' on our homepage, entering the route, and indicating that you'll be traveling with a Eurail Select Pass when you're prompted. To verify that you're being quoted the Passholder 2 rates on one of these trains, you would click 'Read More' under where it says 'Ticket Flexibility' after clicking the 'View' button, which is listed with the costs that display for each departure shown. Once you do this, it would say 'TGV Lyria Passholder 2' (or something similar) as the fare name. If you don't see this fare for a direct train from Paris to Basel, you can call us at 1-800-622-8600 to double-check if it's available.

    For planning purposes, you can just check schedules for the non-reservable trains from Basel to Interlaken by clicking on 'Find Fares & Schedules' on our homepage, entering the cities, and not indicating that you'll be traveling with any type of rail pass.

    The trains that comprise of a connection from Interlaken to Brig (Interlaken to Spiez and Spiez to Brig) both don't accept reservations, so the Eurail Select Pass is all you would need to board. You can just refer back to 'Find Fares & Schedules' on our homepage to check schedules for this route, since these trains aren't reservable.

    It is important to point out that the Eurail Select Pass does not cover the ticket costs for the full route of the Glacier Express scenic line. The Eurail Select Pass would only cover the segment of the Glacier Express route between Disentis and St Moritz. Therefore, to be covered for the segment from Brig to Disentis, you would have to purchase a special ticket called the 'Glacier Express Eurail Passholder Fare'. Specifically, you would purchase the 'One-Way From Brig to Disentis - For Use Only With Eurail Pass Which Includes Switzerland' option of this ticket.

    If you wish to start to the Glacier Express trip in Zermatt instead of Brig, you would have to purchase two options of the 'Glacier Express Eurail Passholder Fare' ticket, as the trains from Visp to Zermatt (as part of what would be your inbound connection from Interlaken to Zermatt) also run along the portion of the Glacier Express route that is not covered with a Eurail Select Pass. Therefore, you would purchase the 'One-Way From Visp to Zermatt - For Use Only With Eurail Pass Which Includes Switzerland' option of the 'Glacier Express Eurail Passholder Fare' ticket, and you would also purchase the 'One-Way From Zermatt to Disentis - For Use Only With Eurail Pass Which Includes Switzerland' option.

    Whether you start in Brig or Zermatt, the Glacier Express would also require seat reservations in addition to 'Glacier Express Eurail Passholder Fare' ticket and the rail pass. You wouldn't need to purchase reservations for a train from Visp to Zermatt, as you would just be able to take one of the regional trains that run along this route, but you would need to purchase reservations for an actual Glacier Express train from Zermatt to St Moritz or Brig to St Moritz. You would do so by clicking on 'Book your Rail Pass Reservations' on our homepage and entering the route.

    With regard to the connection from St Moritz to Milan, I would actually recommend that you take a different route than the one I advised of above. It would actually be more direct to get from St Moritz to Milan by taking a train from St Moritz to Tirano (which is actually part of another scenic route called the 'Bernina Express') and then a connecting train from Tirano to Milan. This option would only take about 6 hours in duration, and is the best way to get from St Moritz to Milan.

    The Eurail Select Pass does cover the trains on the Bernina Express scenic route from St Moritz to Tirano. On this route from St Moritz to Tirano, there are regional trains that run year-round and don't accept reservations, and there are also the actual Bernina Express trains that only run from May 10th to October 26th and do require reservations. Therefore, if you'll be traveling within this time period and wish to take an actual Bernina Express to get from St. Moritz to Tirano, you would purchase seat reservations by clicking on 'Book your Rail Pass Reservations' on our homepage. Otherwise, you can just use your Eurail Select Pass to hop on any of the regional trains from St Moritz to Tirano.

    Trains from Tirano to Milan are privately owned and operated by a company called 'TreNord'. With that being the case, these trains would actually not be covered by a rail pass, and you would just have to purchase these tickets locally upon your arrival into Tirano. We are only able to sell tickets for the trains from Tirano to Milan as 'print-at-station' e-tickets; however, the station in Tirano doesn't actually have the kiosks that would be necessary to print the tickets from. Therefore, you would just purchase the tickets locally for this particular segment. For planning purposes, you can check schedules for trains from Tirano to Milan under 'Find Fares & Schedules' on our homepage.

    Information about getting to Madrid would depend on where you'll be traveling there from and any of the other places you might be planning on visiting after Milan.
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    • Jeff (Official Rep) April 13, 2018 14:29
      IMPORTANT UPDATE

      As of this month (April 2018):

      The following rail passes no longer qualify passengers to receive ‘passholder’ rates for reservations on the Eurostar:

      Any single country Eurail Pass, including:

      • Eurail France Pass
      • Eurail Benelux Pass

      Any 2 country option of Eurail Select Pass, including:

      • Eurail France-Italy Pass
      • Eurail France-Switzerland Pass
      • Eurail France-Germany Pass
      • Eurail Benelux-France Pass
      • Eurail France-Spain Pass
      • Eurail Benelux-Germany Pass

      BritRail Passes and the France-Italy combination of the 2 country Eurail Select Pass continue to not be valid on the Eurostar.

      Passengers traveling with any of these rail passes would need to purchase regular tickets to take the Eurostar.

      Passholder rates will continue to be offered (depending on availability) to any passenger traveling with a Eurail Global Pass, a 3 country Eurail Select Pass (that includes the country of arrival or departure, be it France or the Benelux), or a 4 country Eurail Select Pass (that includes the country of arrival or departure, be it France or the Benelux).
    • Jeff (Official Rep) April 13, 2018 14:47
      IMPORTANT UPDATE

      As of April 2018:

      ‘Passholder 2’ and ‘Passholder 3’ rates on TGV Lyria trains (Paris-Basel) are no longer valid. For a TGV Lyria to be covered, Eurail Passes must now include both countries being traveled through.
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