Best Pass to Buy for Paris/Switzerland/Rome

  • 19 March 2023
  • 16 replies
  • 797 views

Good day!

 

I am torn between purchasing between the Eurail and Swiss Pass. Our itinerary is as follows for end of May 2023:

 

Day 1-2 - Paris

Day 3 - Train from Paris to Interlaken

Day 4 - Interlaken (possibly do a boat tour in Lake Brienz)

Day 5 - Train from Interlaken/Lauterbrunnen to Lucerne (We have plans to go paragliding this specific morning, so have to go to Stechelberg station for this from Interlaken and then go to Lucerne after. I know there is a cable car ride involved from Stechelberg to Murren which is the take off site.)

Day 6 - Lucerne (We were looking into doing a Mt Pilatus trip)

Day 7 - Train from Lucerne to Geneva (Possibly looking at doing a stop in Gruyeres)

Day 8 - Train from Geneva to Rome

Day 9-11 - Rome

 

I was hoping I could do a combo of Eurail and Swiss Pass (3 days each), but the smallest Eurail package seems to be for 4 days.

 

Thank you in advance,

 

Regards,

Pat

 

 

 


16 replies

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A Swiss pass covers most of your travel in CH and offers a discount on mountain lines as well. Best value is likely to be advance ticket from Paris to the Swiss border (Basel). Then buy a ticket from Domodossola to Roma. You can work it out using SNCF connect and Trenitalia as prices will be date specific. You can work out the Swiss bits as well using the SBB app. if you have time!

Good day!

 

I am torn between purchasing between the Eurail and Swiss Pass. Our itinerary is as follows for end of May 2023:

 

Day 1-2 - Paris

Day 3 - Train from Paris to Interlaken

Day 4 - Interlaken (possibly do a boat tour in Lake Brienz)

Day 5 - Train from Interlaken/Lauterbrunnen to Lucerne (We have plans to go paragliding this specific morning, so have to go to Stechelberg station for this from Interlaken and then go to Lucerne after. I know there is a cable car ride involved from Stechelberg to Murren which is the take off site.)

Day 6 - Lucerne (We were looking into doing a Mt Pilatus trip)

Day 7 - Train from Lucerne to Geneva (Possibly looking at doing a stop in Gruyeres)

Day 8 - Train from Geneva to Rome

Day 9-11 - Rome

 

I was hoping I could do a combo of Eurail and Swiss Pass (3 days each), but the smallest Eurail package seems to be for 4 days.

 

Thank you in advance,

 

Regards,

Pat

 

Hello Pat, 

if this is your fixed itinerary, there's no need to buy a Swiss pass. Nearly everything is included with your Eurail pass, too. And there's a 50 % discount for Mt. Pilatus with both passes, too. Even the boat trip on Lake Brienz is included with your Eurail pass.

Only exception is the trip from Interlaken to Mürren and back where you'd get a 25 % discount with Eurail (it's 14,10 CHF one way per person to give you an idea what the (only) saving with Swiss Pass would be).

Be aware that there are two ways to get to Mürren. From Lauterbrunnen by cable car to Grütschalp and then by train to Mürren or bus to Stechelberg and then by cable car to Mürren. I think most people would do this as a roundtrip from Lauterbrunnen. 

Regarding your trip from Paris to Interlaken: Search for a connection via Meroux using the Filter option in the rail planner app - interesting route, less expensive and still fast, but with more changes that are no problem in Switzerland (it’s just a recommendation).

And just good to know: As a Swiss Pass is very expensive compared to a Eurail Global Pass (and there's no Eurail One Country Pass for Switzerland) it also doesn't make any sense to buy normal tickets for your trip from Paris / to Roma and an additional Swiss Pass if you are not doing any additional trips compared to your itinerary. 

Kind regards, Hektor. 

Userlevel 7
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Bear in mind that there would be supplements to pay on Day 3 and 8 with a Eurail pass.

Paris - Switzerland is €21-35, depending on route. You can usually reduce this a bit by jumping off the train before the border, and continuing on local trains

Geneva - Milan is €11

MIlan - Rome is €10

So it’s worth looking at the cost of regular tickets on those days, instead of a pass.

You might consider a 4 day One Country pass, which would cover you for days 5/6/7/8 as far as the Swiss/ Italian border. And buy tickets from the border to Rome. You’d also need Paris to Interlaken on Day 3. (You could consider a 5 day pass, and it would cover you on day 3 from Basel to Interlaken.)

Userlevel 7
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Just a tip : when are you travelling ? Around the holiday weekends (17-21.05 - 27-30.05), many people will be travelling and tickets will be expensive so book as soon as your itinerary is fixed. Trains will sell out.

My opinion : if nothing is fixed, go to Geneva direct from Paris, there are direct TGVs every 2 hours. If you decide on a Eurail pass, it's best to leave the train in Bellegarde and take a regional train for the last leg (no more than 30 min longer). It'll save you 20€ per person.

- Day 4 : Geneva - Gruyères - Interlaken -> the most scenic route will be the Golden Pass

- Genève - Montreux - Montbovon - Gruyères - Montbovon - Zweisimmen - Spiez - Interlaken (don't worry about all the connections)

OR

- Genève - Palézieux - Gruyères - Montbovon - Zweisimmen - Spiez - Interlaken :)

- Day 5 : Paragliding day

- Day 6 : Interlaken - Lucerne -> could do Interlaken - Brienz by boat and Brienz - Interlaken train

- Day 7 : Lucerne -> Pilatus roundtrip

- Day 8 : Lucerne - Milan direct train, can be busy as all trains going to Italy, Milan - Rome

- Day 9-11 : Rome

Could also do :

- Day 6 : Interlaken - Brienz (boat) - Lucerne, leave your luggage at the hotel and do the Pilatus roundtrip on the same day

- Day 7 : Lucerne - Bellinzona via the Old Gotthard Line or Lucerne - Flüelen by boat and Flüelen - Bellinzona via the Old Line (IR26/46 Treno Gottardo), stay in either Locarno or Lugano

- Day 8 : Locarno/Lugano - Milan (lots of trains), Milan - Rome

 

For the pass : maybe a Swiss Travel Pass for 4 days (281 CHF, it includes the Interlaken paragliding day and the boat on Lake Lucerne, 50% discount Pilatus same as Eurail) + tickets between Paris and Geneva, Switzerland and Rome (can be cheap, way in advance and not on a holiday weekend)

 

@rvdborgt Does the Eurail One-country pass for Switzerland not exist (would be weird) ? It seems that Eurail is doing its best to hide it. I've looked through the site and couldn't find any info... https://www.eurail.com/en/eurail-passes/one-country-pass

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You might consider a 4 day One Country pass, which would cover you for days 5/6/7/8 as far as the Swiss/ Italian border. And buy tickets from the border to Rome. You’d also need Paris to Interlaken on Day 3. (You could consider a 5 day pass, and it would cover you on day 3 from Basel to Interlaken.)

@ralderton There is no Eurail one country pass for Switzerland, only the Swiss Travel pass is available.

Userlevel 7
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Ah. I see a One Country Pass on the website, but I guess the it only shows me Interrail passes, based on my IP address! So maybe not available as a Eurail pass.

The Swiss Travel Pass looks expensive. I would have thought a 4 or 5 day Global Pass would be cheaper, but I can’t see prices for Eurail, only Interrail.

Userlevel 7
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Ah. I see a One Country Pass on the website, but I guess the it only shows me Interrail passes, based on my IP address! So maybe not available as a Eurail pass.

The Swiss Travel Pass looks expensive. I would have thought a 4 or 5 day Global Pass would be cheaper, but I can’t see prices for Eurail, only Interrail.

@ralderton 

eurail.com will give you the prices and availability of Eurail passes.

interrail.eu does the same for Interrail passes

Userlevel 7
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A 4 day Eurail Global pass is 248$ (276$ without the sale).

A 5-day Global pass is 285$ (instead of 317$)

Not that much cheaper in the end I'd day

Thank you all so much for helping me out! I very much appreciate all your well-thought out answers. It is helpful to be able to “talk it out” with other people.

To answer a few uncertainties I noted, and some other first thoughts after reading the responses:

  1. We are Canadian citizens, so I believe the Eurail pass would be valid for us (instead of Interrail.)
  2. The Geneva leg is fixed to be right before Rome as we are accompanying a family friend/dropping her off.
  3. I failed to mention that there are three of us - 2 adults and 1 senior (as defined to be 60+). I can see the Eurail provides a discount for seniors, but do not believe to be the same case for the Swiss Pass. Without the promo right now, a 5 day Eurail Pass is USD$920 for three people (USD$827 with promo). Swiss Pass 4 day Pass is 281CHF (USD$304) per person, 6 day Pass is 359CHF (USD$389) per person. It sounds like based on my itinerary, the only differences between the two passes are: 1) Swiss Pass would not cover Paris to Swiss border and Swiss border to Rome. 2) Eurail covers both Mt Pilatus and Lake Brienz (same as Swiss Pass), but does not cover cable car to Murren. Eurail covers everything else in my itinerary?
  4. The travel days would be May 22nd for Paris to Interlaken. May 24 for Interlaken to Stechelberg to Murren to Lucerne. (Accommodation is in Interlaken but need to meet paraglide pilot in Stechelberg who we would be going to Murren with via cable car.) May 26 for Lucerne to Geneva. May 27 for Geneva to Rome. With that said, comparative to the holidays, it sounds like I should probably book the tickets to Italy ASAP.
  5. It sounds like if we buy the Swiss Pass instead of the Eurail Pass, we would just then have to purchase regular tickets from Paris to the Swiss border (Basel) and from first Italian city/Swiss border (Domodossola) to Rome. Alternatively, there was a recommendation for a connection via Meroux using the Filter option in the rail planner app - more interesting route, less expensive and still fast.

 

Again, thank you so very much for all of your input!!

 

Pat

Userlevel 7
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​​​​​I can’t answer all of these but

1 - Correct. Eurail for you.

3 - Correct. Swiss pass wouldn’t cover you for the parts outside Switzerland. Eurail would cover all your trips (subject to paying the extra supplements I mentioned above). I don’t know about the mountain bits.

4 - If you’re buying cash tickets, and willing to commit, then book early.

If you’re using a pass, then one of the benefits of them is less need to commit early. Domestic trains in Italy, you can get the reservation as little as a few minutes before, unless the trains physically sell out. (That’s unlikely, and there’s always a way around it.) I would buy the reservation for Paris to Switzerland soon, whichever route you take.

5 - I’m not sure of prices, but for a quick and easy comparison put some routes into www.trainline.com for the Paris - Switzerland and www.italiarail.com  for the second part. If you don’t like the results, try to help it by breaking it down into smaller chunks at likely cities (Strasbourg, Basel, Geneva, Milan)

 

 

​​​​​I can’t answer all of these but

1 - Correct. Eurail for you.

3 - Correct. Swiss pass wouldn’t cover you for the parts outside Switzerland. Eurail would cover all your trips (subject to paying the extra supplements I mentioned above). I don’t know about the mountain bits.

4 - If you’re buying cash tickets, and willing to commit, then book early.

If you’re using a pass, then one of the benefits of them is less need to commit early. Domestic trains in Italy, you can get the reservation as little as a few minutes before, unless the trains physically sell out. (That’s unlikely, and there’s always a way around it.) I would buy the reservation for Paris to Switzerland soon, whichever route you take.

5 - I’m not sure of prices, but for a quick and easy comparison put some routes into www.trainline.com for the Paris - Switzerland and www.italiarail.com  for the second part. If you don’t like the results, try to help it by breaking it down into smaller chunks at likely cities (Strasbourg, Basel, Geneva, Milan)

 

 

Thank you for your response!  Regarding Point#3, I am not sure I understand the supplementary charges to pay for Days 3 and 8 for Eurail pass.  My understanding is this pass more holistically covers my trip versus the Swiss pass.  It’s just the Swiss pass will cover buses in Switzerland whereas Eurail does not.

​​​​​I can’t answer all of these but

1 - Correct. Eurail for you.

3 - Correct. Swiss pass wouldn’t cover you for the parts outside Switzerland. Eurail would cover all your trips (subject to paying the extra supplements I mentioned above). I don’t know about the mountain bits.

4 - If you’re buying cash tickets, and willing to commit, then book early.

If you’re using a pass, then one of the benefits of them is less need to commit early. Domestic trains in Italy, you can get the reservation as little as a few minutes before, unless the trains physically sell out. (That’s unlikely, and there’s always a way around it.) I would buy the reservation for Paris to Switzerland soon, whichever route you take.

5 - I’m not sure of prices, but for a quick and easy comparison put some routes into www.trainline.com for the Paris - Switzerland and www.italiarail.com  for the second part. If you don’t like the results, try to help it by breaking it down into smaller chunks at likely cities (Strasbourg, Basel, Geneva, Milan)

 

 

Thank you for your response!  Regarding Point#3, I am not sure I understand the supplementary charges to pay for Days 3 and 8 for Eurail pass.  My understanding is this pass more holistically covers my trip versus the Swiss pass.  It’s just the Swiss pass will cover buses in Switzerland whereas Eurail does not.

 

Cross border services from France into Switzerland have high reservation fees for Eurail Pass holder (€35 in 2nd and €68 in 1st class). Going via Meroux does cut this to just 10 € for a mandatory reservation you’d need for a TGV in France (may be 20 € if many reservations are sold already).

Same for trains from Switzerland to Italy, but these aren’t that expensive. You’d need a supplement of 11 € 2nd class or 13 € 1st class. For high speed trains in Italy, it’s a mandatory reservation for 10 €, too (just 3 € for ordinary Intercity trains).

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Thank you for your response!  Regarding Point#3, I am not sure I understand the supplementary charges to pay for Days 3 and 8 for Eurail pass.  My understanding is this pass more holistically covers my trip versus the Swiss pass.  It’s just the Swiss pass will cover buses in Switzerland whereas Eurail does not.

Some rail operators in some countries (both France and Italy, in your case) charge reservation fees or supplements to use a pass.

In France it’s €10 (limited quota) or €20 (only limited by the train selling out) on TGVs, or €10 for Intercity trains, and nothing for regional trains

In Italy it’s €10 on the fastest Frecciarossa, Frecciargento, Frecciabianca, €3 on Intercity, and nothing for regional.

In Switzerland, no extras to pay.

For cross-border, the direct TGVs from Paris to Switzerland have much higher fees, which is why it’s recommended to take a sneaky route to avoid them.

Eg:

Paris to Strasbourg or Mulhouse would be €10 or €20 reservation fee, then no fees on the trains from Strasbourg - Basel - Interlaken.

You could also pull the same trick by going Paris - Bellegarde, then local train to Geneva.

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So thanks for all the infos you gave. :)

Now I'll do some calculations…

- Eurail Global Pass 5 days within a month (with promo) 799$

- seat reservation Paris-Est - Strasbourg 09:25 - 11:11 (22.05) 3x10€ (there's an earlier connection too)

There's no seats available to Belfort TGV/Meroux or Mulhouse before 12:05 (arrival in Belfort, you'd need to wait an hour)/12:38 (Mulhouse).

- Interlaken - Mürren via Stechelberg and Lauterbrunnen - Interlaken : about 23 CHF per person with the 25% discount

- 42 CHF Mt Pilatus roundtrip, 56 CHF with the boat (no need to use a pass day for the 56 CHF price as there's no train involved)

- seat reservation Genève - Milano Centrale (27.05). 3x 11€. There are engineering works that weekend so less direct Interregio (IR) trains are running to Brig

Option 1 : 05:15 EC to Milano Centrale 09:40, seat reservation available from Brig (not from Geneva I don't know why). You just sit at the given seats from Brig and there won't be any problem (seat reservations are not mandatory within Switzerland, even for that train)

Option 2 : slightly later departure 05:50 with a change in Vevey, EC between Brig and Milan 10:40

Option 3 : later departure from Geneva, 09:29 (direct to Brig) or 09:50 (change in Vevey), EC Brig 12:44 - Milano Centrale 14:40

- Frecciarossa seat reservations Milano Centrale - Roma Termini : plenty of availability (3 x 10€)

 

TOTAL : 799+30+70+168+33+30 = about 1130 for the 3 of you or 376 per person

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Other calculations :

- Swiss Travel Pass 4 days for 3 adults 834 CHF

- Fifth day : about 3 x 52 CHF (Saver Day Pass)

- Pilatus : 3 x 56 CHF

- Tickets Paris - Swiss border / Swiss border - Rome : …

Not worth it

 

Let me know if you've got any questions :)

Thanks so much for all of the feedback, everybody!!!

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