I’m unsure

Swiss Flexi Saver Pass vs. Point-to-Point

Hi, I have never visited EU and don't quite understand the rail system, seeing as we adore our cars over here in the US... Nonetheless, can you make a recommendation on what would be most economical for my Switzerland itinerary?

Aug. 24 - travel by train from Geneva to Grindelwald.
Either Aug. 25 or 26 - take Jungfraujoch Top Of Europe train from Grindelwald and back.
Aug. 27 - travel by train from Grindelwald to Lugano.
Either Aug. 28 or 29 - take a scenic tour via bus, boat or train.
Aug. 30 - travel by train from Lugano to Geneva.

Do you have travel suggestions that would result in saving any money. There are two adults that will ALWAYS travel together.

Thank you and blessings!
Amy
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  • Jeff (Official Rep) June 21, 2013 15:50
    Hi Amy,

    I would recommend purchasing a Swiss Pass to cover the requested travel. You can purchase the Swiss Pass here:
    http://www.raileurope.com/rail-tickets-passes/swiss-pass/index.html .

    For a trip up to Jungfraujoch, you would be covered as far as Wengen or Grindelwald. With the Swiss Pass, you would still just have to purchase the 'Grindelwald or Wengen-Jungfraujoch/Swiss Pass' option of the 'Jungfraujoch Top of Europe' pass. To purchase this pass, you would click here: http://www.raileurope.com/activities/jungfraujoch/index.html .

    From Lugano, you can take either the William Express scenic route or the Bernina Express.

    Each of these scenic routes would just require reservations in addition to your rail pass. After you add the pass to your shopping cart, you would click 'Continue Shopping' to add your reservations. On the next screen, you would then click 'Buy a Reservation' under where it says 'Reservations for Pass Holders' (to check reservation costs and schedules beforehand, you would click on 'Book your Rail Pass Reservations' on the homepage of our website, www.raileurope.com.)

    The William Tell route consists of a train from Bellinzona to Fluelen and a boat across Lake Lucerne from Fluelen to Lucerne. You would just be able to use your Swiss Pass to board a regional train to get to Bellinzona from Lugano. Trains from Lugano to Bellinzona don't accept reservations, so the rail pass is all you would need to board.

    When you go to book your reservations for the William Tell Express on our website, you would enter 'Bellinzona' as your departure city and 'Lucerne-Boat Wmtell' (instead of just 'Lucerne') as your arrival city. This would cover reservations for the train from Bellinzona to Fluelen and the boat across Lake Lucerne. You would then do the same in reverse if you want to do this as a roundtrip and get back to Lugano the next day. It would not be possible to do a roundtrip on the William Tell as a daytrip, so your only option would be to return to Lugano the following day.

    The Bernina Express starts with a bus from Lugano to Tirano. In Tirano, you would switch to a Bernina Express train to either St. Moritz or Chur (in most cases, passengers take this route to St. Moritz, as there are many more options).

    When you go to book reservations for the Bernina Express on our website, you would piece together the connection by doing a separate search for each segment. Therefore, you would do one search to access the bus from Lugano to Tirano and another search for connecting trains from Tirano to either St. Moritz or Chur. You would then do the same in reverse if you need to get back to Lugano the next day. Only a roundtrip between Lugano and St. Moritz would be possible as a daytrip. If you were to take the Bernina Express to Chur instead, then you wouldn't be able to return to Lugano until the next day.

    The William Tell and Bernina Express can both be booked within 90 days of an intended date of departure, depending on availability. These routes are very popular, so I would recommend booking your reservations as soon as possible.
    • Jeff (Official Rep) April 14, 2017 19:38
      Update:

      As of 2017, the ‘William Tell Express’ scenic route is now known as the ‘Gotthard Panorama Express’ scenic route.

      The actual route is still the same, following the rail line between Flüelen and Bellinzona/Lugano that goes through the old Gotthard Tunnel.

      Also still considered part of this experience is the steamboat on Lake Lucerne, connecting Lucerne and Flüelen.

      From April 14th to July 2nd of 2017, the actual 'Gotthard Panorama Express' trains only operate on weekends and will not run all the way to Lugano. Therefore, during this time frame, the 'Gotthard Panorama Express' will only run between Flüelen and Bellinzona. In Bellinzona, passengers can connect to another train that will take them the short distance to Lugano.

      From July 3rd to October 22nd of 2017, the 'Gotthard Panorama Express' trains run daily between Flüelen, Bellinzona, and Lugano.

      For taking in the scenery, 'Gotthard Panorama Express' trains have panoramic windows in 1st class.

      For passengers traveling with a rail pass, the ‘Gotthard Panorama Express’ trains do require reservations, which would also be inclusive of the steamboat. When booking reservations for the ‘Gotthard Panorama Express', you would have to type 'Lucerne-Boat Gotthard' (instead of just 'Lucerne') in the field for the departure city or arrival city, with either ‘Bellinzona’ or ‘Lugano’ in the opposite field.

      If you'll be traveling on a day when the 'Gotthard Panorama Express' trains don’t run (i.e. a weekday between April 14th and July 2nd, 2017), you would instead take a series of regional trains that follows the same route. While you would still be following the same route and enjoying the same scenery, the regional trains do not have panoramic windows, like the actual ‘Gotthard Panorama Express’ trains do. The regional trains on the ‘Gotthard Panorama Express' route are:

      Flüelen-Erstfeld
      Erstfeld-Bellinzona
      Bellinzona-Lugano

      The regional trains do not accept reservations. Therefore, any passenger traveling with a rail pass would only need to show the rail pass to board.

      Other notable changes with the new ‘Gotthard Panorama Express’ route are:

      - Now offered in 2nd class but with no panoramic windows

      - Eurail Passes no longer cover the Lake Lucerne steamboat but do provide for a 50% discount (Swiss Travel Passes, on the other hand, are still valid to cover the Lake Lucerne steamboat in full)

      - A meal is no longer included on the steamboat
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  • Jeff (Official Rep) June 21, 2013 16:02
    Reservations are either not accepted or not at all necessary for the rest of your trips (i.e. Geneva to Grindelwald, Grindelwald to Lugano, and Lugano to Geneva). Therefore, the Swiss Pass is all you would need to board the trains comprising of these connections.

    For planning purposes, you can just check schedules by clicking on 'Find Fares & Schedules' on the homepage of our website, www.raileurope.com.

    A rail connection from Geneva to Grindelwald involves changing trains twice along the way; once in Bern and then once in Interlaken.

    A rail connection from Grindelwald to Lugano involves changing trains twice along the way as well; once in Interlaken and then once in Lucerne.

    A rail connection from Lugano to Geneva involves changing trains once in Zurich along the way.

    To view these schedules under 'Find Fares & Schedules' on our website, you would piece together the connections by doing a separate search for each segment.
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  • I’m happy
    Jeff! You have been a WORLD of help! Thank you so much for your kind efforts in this matter.

    One more Q - We won't have the luxury of spending a night NOT in Lugano once we arrive, thus, it seems none of the overnight train suggestions would make much sense for us (with the exception of the one day trip you suggested from Lugano to St. Moritz and back). So, since you buy reservations for Jungfraujoch that do not take a day from your Flexi Pass, would we need a full 4-day Swiss Flexi Saver Pass? Or, just 3? And, if we do decide to take the day trip to St. Moritz from Lugano, would that take a day from the pass?

    Thank you!
    Amy
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  • Jeff (Official Rep) June 25, 2013 15:44
    You're welcome, Amy.

    It isn't reservations that you would be purchasing for the Jungfraujoch trip, it is more like a supplemental ticket, and this would actually not use up a day of travel on your Swiss Pass. Therefore, you would not have to account for your Jungfaujoch trip from Grindelwald when considering the number of travel days to purchase your Swiss Pass for.

    Reservations are not accepted for any part of the Jungfraujoch trip. The 'Jungfraujoch Top of Europe' pass is an open voucher that you would use to hop on any of the trains up to Jungfraujoch and back. The roundtrip between Grindelwald and Jungfraujoch would just have to be completed within a 24 time period once you begin the journey. Rest assured, you will have no difficulty getting on any of the trains.

    The trains depart very frequently, so there would be no need to worry yourself about specific schedules. Schedules for the portion of this trip on the cogwheel from Grindelwald or Wengen to Kleine Scheidegg, as well as schedules for the portion of this route on the Jungfrau railway from Kleine Scheidegg to Jungfraujoch are both not able to be viewed on our website. If you wish to inquire about specific schedules for these trains, you would call us at 1-800-622-8600.

    A one-way between Grindelwald or Wengen and Jungfraujoch only takes about 1.5 hours in duration at the minimum.

    A trip on the Bernina Express between Lugano and St. Moritz would use up a day of travel on your pass, since you would be using your rail pass to cover the ticket costs for this trip. Therefore, from the information you've provided, it appears as though you'd need a 4 day Swiss Flexi Pass.
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  • I’m SUPER HAPPY
    Excellent, Jeff! Very happy for this information. Exactly what I'm looking for in making this decision. I will purchase the 4-day Swiss Flexi Pass for me and my hubbs. Then, I will just make sure we grab a train up to The Top of Europe while we are in Grindelwald. And, of course, I will make the Bernina Express reservation soon, using my pass. Thanks for the info. You cleared the dark clouds of confusion for me!
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