Lucerne to Grindelwald, Grindelwald to Montreux, Montreux to Zermatt, and Zermatt to Como

I am traveling from: Lucerne to Grindelwald, Grindelwald to Montreux, Montreux to Zermatt and Zermatt to Como, Italy. I leave in 60 days but cannot get a price or tickets for train trave between Lucerne and Grindelwald, Grindelald and Montreux. Shall I plan on purchasing when I arrive in Switzerland? Should I rent a car instead of using the train? Thanks for your help
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  • Jeff (Official Rep) July 25, 2016 18:43
    Hi Jack,

    For your travel around Switzerland, I would definitely recommend taking the train. Not only is it an extremely convenient and comfortable way to get around the country, but it also allows you to sit back and take in the views. Within your itinerary alone, you would end up traveling along at least 2 routes designated as special Swiss scenic routes.

    For the itinerary you laid out, your best option would be to purchase a Swiss Travel Pass, in combination with separate tickets to Como in Italy. The Swiss Travel Pass will cover the ticket costs for each of your trains in Switzerland.

    The Swiss Travel Pass is unique from other rail passes in that it also covers buses, boats, and city transit networks. This pass also provides for the best possible discounts on mountain railways and allows for entry to over 480 museums around Switzerland.

    For the Swiss Travel Pass, you would click here: https://www.raileurope.com/rail-tickets-passes/swiss-pass/index.html.

    To view the bonuses offered, you would click the tab for 'Travel Bonuses' once you have accessed this pass's page on our website.

    Lucerne to Grindelwald

    A connection from Lucerne to Grindelwald takes about 2.5 hours in duration and involves changing trains once in Interlaken along the way. The trains from Lucerne to Interlaken run along part of the famed 'GoldenPass' scenic route, while trains from Interlaken to Grindelwald run along the 'Bernese Oberland Railway'.

    On the GoldenPass from Lucerne to Interlaken, reservations are possible but not necessary. Therefore, the Swiss Travel Pass is all you'd need to board. Trains from Interlaken to Grindelwald don't even accept reservations, so the pass is all you'd need.

    All trains from Lucerne to Interlaken have panoramic windows for taking in the views.

    For planning purposes, you can check schedules by doing a search for the route under 'Where Are You Going?' on our homepage, www.raileurope.com. For this route, you would just piece together the connection by doing a separate search for each segment. Therefore, you would do one search for trains from Lucerne to Interlaken and another search for connecting trains from Interlaken to Grindelwald.

    Grindelwald to Montreux

    From Grindelwald to Montreux, there are connections taking only about 3 hours in duration and involving 3 train changes en route (once in Interlaken, once in Spiez, and then once in Visp). However, I would instead recommend taking a connection that allows you to to continue along the GoldenPass scenic route, and it would only add about an hour to your journey time for this trip.

    First, you would take a train along the Bernese Oberland Railway from Grindelwald back to Interlaken. In Interlaken, you would join back up with the GoldenPass scenic route by boarding a train to Zweisimmen. In Zweisimmen, you would board a train to Montreux, which represents the final segment of the GoldenPass scenic route.

    Of the trains comprising of this connection, reservations would only be necessary on the GoldenPass segment from Zweisimmen to Montreux. On the GoldenPass from Interlaken to Zweisimmen, reservations are possible but not necessary. Therefore, the Swiss Travel Pass is all you'd need to board. Trains from Grindelwald to Interlaken don't accept reservations, so the pass is all you'd need.

    For travel with a rail pass, you would purchase reservations for a GoldenPass train from Zweisimmen to Montreux by clicking the 'Seat Reservations' tab on our homepage (www.raileurope.com), entering the route, and indicating the type of rail pass with which you'll be traveling (i.e. the 'Swiss Travel Pass').

    When booking reservations for the segment from Zweisimmen to Montreux, you'll have the option of either ‘Classic’ GoldenPass trains or ‘Panorama’ GoldenPass trains. These will be labeled accordingly when you pull up the results of this search. Coaches on the 'Classic' trains have a vintage turn-of-the-century Belle Époque look, whereas the 'Panorama' trains have a more modern look. 'Classic' GoldenPass trains also have 'wine cellar coaches', which offer a wider selection of wine than would be offered in the bar cars on the 'Panorama' trains; however, food is available for purchase on both the 'Classic' and 'Panorama' trains. The Classic trains have large windows, but the windows on the Panorama trains are more “panoramic”, as the name suggests.

    For planning purposes, you can view schedules for the other segments of this route by searching each one separately under 'Where Are You Going?' on our homepage. Therefore, you would do one search for trains from Grindelwald to Interlaken and another search for connecting trains from Interlaken to Zweisimmen.

    Montreux to Zermatt

    A connection from Montreux to Zermatt takes about 2.5 hours in duration and involves changing trains once in Visp along the way. These trains don't accept reservations, so the Swiss Travel Pass is all you would need to board.

    For planning purposes, you can view schedules by doing a search for the full route from Montreux to Zermatt under 'Where Are You Going?' on our homepage, www.raileurope.com.

    Zermatt to Como


    A connection from Zermatt to Como would take 4.5 to 5.5 hours in duration and involves at least 2 train changes along the way; once in Brig and then once in Milan. Trains from Zermatt to Brig operate along a segment of the Glacier Express scenic route.

    The trains from Zermatt to Brig don't accept reservations, so the Swiss Travel Pass is all you'd need to board.

    Even though you'd be entering into Italy, the Swiss Travel Pass would qualify you to receive a discounted rate called the 'Passholder 3' for a ticket on one of the trains from Brig to Milan.

    For the segment from Milan to Como, you would just need to purchase a regular ticket, since your Swiss Travel Pass would not be valid.

    For planning purposes, you can view schedules for the non-reservable segment from Zermatt to Brig by doing a search for it under 'Where Are You Going?' on our homepage, www.raileurope.com.

    To receive the 'Passholder 3' rate for a direct train from Brig to Milan, you would enter the route on our homepage and indicate that you'll be traveling with the 'Swiss Travel Pass'.

    When you pull up the results of your search, you can ensure it's the discounted 'Passholder 3' rate that you're being quoted by clicking on the 'View' button under the cost that displays. You would then refer to the 'Ticket Flexibility' options in the box that expands out below. For the 'Passholder 3' rate, you would just want to be sure that the 'Semi Flexible' option is checked. Underneath 'Semi Flexible', you would click 'Read More' and the name of the fare would read 'Trenitalia International Trains Passholder 3' or 'Trenitalia Pass 3'.

    To purchase regular tickets for a train from Milan to Como, you would click the 'Find Train Tickets' tab and enter the route. Since you would not be using a rail pass for this segment and you'll just be purchasing a regular ticket, you would just want to be sure that the 'No' option is checked where it asks you 'Are you traveling with a rail pass?'.
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  • Jeff (Official Rep) July 25, 2016 20:26
    Mountain Excursions from Lucerne

    While you're in Lucerne, there are 4 popular mountain excursions you can do. There is the Mt Titlis excursion, the Mt Pilatus excursion, the Mt Stanserhorn excursion, and the Mt Rigi excursion.

    Mount Titlis

    The excursion from Lucerne to Mt Titlis consists of a train from Lucerne to Engelberg, a cable car from Engelberg to Trübsee, a second cable car from Trübsee to Stand, and a third cable car from Stand to Titlis.

    On the segment from Lucerne to Engelberg, the Swiss Travel Pass would be valid. The Swiss Travel Pass would then enable you to receive a discount of about 45% on the cable cars between Engelberg and Titlis. To receive this discount, you would purchase the '1 Day Round-Trip Journey From Engelberg - For Use Only With Swiss Travel Pass' option of the 'Mount Titlis' ticket. You would purchase the 'Mount Titlis' ticket here: https://www.raileurope.com/activities....

    Mount Pilatus

    The excursion to Mt Pilatus includes a boat on Lake Lucerne from Lucerne to Alpnachstad. Once you get to Alpnachstad, the ascent continues on with a cog railway up to Pilatus itself (Pilatus Kulm). After reaching Pilatus (Pilatus Kulm), you would make your descent by taking a cable car to Fräkmüntegg and then a gondola from Fräkmüntegg to Kriens. From Kriens, you would take a bus to get back to Lucerne.

    The Swiss Travel Pass is valid on the boat from Lucerne to Alpnachstad and the bus from Kriens to Lucerne.

    The Swiss Travel Pass does not cover from Alpnachstad to Mt Pilatus and Mt Pilatus to Kriens (via Fräkmüntegg), but it would enable you to receive a 50% discount on these segments.

    To receive the 50% discount, you would purchase the '1 Day Round-Trip Journey From Alpnachstad or Kriens - For Use Only With Swiss Travel Pass' option of the 'Mount Pilatus' ticket. You would purchase the 'Mount Pilatus' ticket here: https://www.raileurope.com/activities....

    Mount Stanserhorn

    The excursion to Mt Stanserhorn starts with a short train from Lucerne to Stans. In Stans, you board a vintage 1893 funicular to the Kalti station, where you switch to a double-decker open-air cable car to Stanserhorn.

    The Swiss Travel Pass is valid on the train from Lucerne to Stans. The Swiss Travel Pass does not cover the funicular from Stans to Kalti and the cable car from Kalti to Stanserhorn, but it would enable you to receive a 50% discount.

    To receive the 50% discount, you would purchase the '1 Day Round-Trip Journey From Stans - For Use Only With Swiss Travel Pass' option of the 'Mount Stanserhorn' ticket. You would purchase the 'Mount Stanserhorn' ticket here: https://www.raileurope.com/activities....

    Mount Rigi

    From Lucerne to Mt Rigi, there are 2 different routes you can take; one via Arth Goldau and the other via Vitznau. The Swiss Travel Pass covers the entirety of both of these two routes.

    The route via Arth Goldau would involve taking a train from Lucerne to Arth Goldau and the 'Arth-Rigi Bahn' cog railway from Arth Goldau to Rigi Kulm.

    The route via Vitznau would involve taking a boat on Lake Lucerne from Lucerne to Vitznau, and the 'Vitznau-Rigi Bahn' cog railway from Vitznau to Rigi Kulm.

    Since there are 2 routes, you might want to consider making your ascent one way and descending via the other.

    The Swiss Travel Pass would also cover the cable car from Weggis to Rigi Kaltbad.

    There are several other cable cars nearby on which the Swiss Travel Pass should enable you to receive discounts of 25-50%. These other cable cars include:

    Kräbel - Rigi Scheidegg

    Obergschwend - Rigi Burggeist

    Vitznau - Hinterbergen

    Vitznau - Wissifluh

    Küssnacht - Seebodenalp

    Brunnen - Urmiberg
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  • Hi Jeff,

    Thank you. A Swiss Travel Pass appears to be my best option. I see I can purchase a pass for travel on any four days during a month (each leg of my travel is in September). That would allow me to take each leg of my planned itinerary.

    I do have the following questions regarding the Swiss Travel Pass:

    1. Do you agree that the 4-travel days within one month is my best option?

    2. You show Zermott to Como through Brig and Milan. I also notice that I can go through Visp and Zurich at a slightly higher cost. Do you recommend one over the other?

    3. It appears that the Swiss Travel Pass will only cover buses, boats, and city transit networks on each of the 4-travel days that are used for the train travel. Is that correct?
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  • Jeff (Official Rep) August 01, 2016 16:40
    Hi Jack,

    1. For just the 4 trips you mentioned in your initial question (Lucerne to Grindelwald, Grindelwald to Montreux, Montreux to Zermatt, and Zermatt to Como), the 4 day 'flexipass' version (4 days in 1 month) of the Swiss Travel Pass is all you'd need.

    However, if you plan on using the pass for any of the mountaintop excursions I mentioned in my follow-up response (on separate days from your 4 main trips), then you would need to have those additional days accounted for on your pass. One possible way to do this would be to purchase a 'consecutive' version of the Swiss Travel Pass with a validity period covering the timeframe in which you'd making all of your trips. For example, if you'll be doing all of these trips within a time frame of 2 weeks, you would purchase the consecutive version of the Swiss Travel Pass for 15 days (there is no 14 day option).

    Otherwise, you would purchase a 'flexi' version of the Swiss Travel Pass for a total amount of 'travel days' that accounts for the specific numbers of mountaintop excursions you intend to do. However, after the '4 days in 1 month' flexi pass, the next flexi option of the Swiss Travel Pass would be '8 days in 1 month'. Therefore, even if you only plan on doing the Titlis and Pilatus excursions, then you would account for these 2 extra days by purchasing the flexi pass for '8 days in 1 month', as there is no '6 days in 1 month' option.

    2.) The option from Zermatt to Como via Brig and Milan is much more direct and would take 2 to 3 less hours in duration than the option via Zurich. Therefore, I would recommend taking the route via Brig and Milan.

    3.) You're correct in your understanding of the Swiss Travel Pass bonuses, as it would require the use of a 'travel day' to use the pass for a bus, boat, or public transit (on a day separate from your other trips). If you plan on using a Swiss Travel Pass for such bonuses, that is when the consecutive' version of the pass can serve to be useful, because then the travel can just be done at any point within the validity period of the pass.
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