Combination of Eurail GP and Swiss pass or just Eurail?

  • 25 June 2023
  • 5 replies

Hello everyone! 

Its gonna be my first time in mainland Europe and I’m pretty excited, but also a little overwhelmed figuring out travel for me and my partner (she’s born in March 1996, so 27yrs old, for the purposes of the train pass ;) )

This is our plan: 

  • 29th July: I arrive in Paris late evening, stay and explore the city for 2 days (30-31st July). 
  • 1st August: Travel to Visp/Saas Fee (near Interlaken in Switzerland) where i’ll join my partner. This I believe I have to do either via Zurich or Geneva. 
  • 2nd August: Travel from Visp/Saas Fee to Interlaken, stay there for 3 days and enjoy some of the activities such as the lake ride, travel to nearby places such as Grindelwald, Lucerne/Lungern and Jungfrau (though I’ve seen the train trip is fairly expensive, so i’m open to alternatives!). Other suggestions on what to do are welcome as well :D 
  • 5th August: Travel from Interlaken to Como, via Lucerne (from where I want to take the Treno Gottardo) and Lucarno. I believe this will be a long ride of 8-10hrs depending on train connections. 
  • 8th August: Travel from Como to Florence, via Milan/Monza. Exploring whether a day trip to San Marino is worth it (point-to-point tickets here mostly).
  • 11th August: Travel from Florence to La Spezia/Cinque Terre, stay here for 4 days and enjoy some of the beach fun and hikes in the seaside hills. I’ve heard the Cinque Terre express train also gives great views and connects the villages there, so this is on our list. I don’t think this falls under Eurail, right?
  • 15th August: From La Spezia/Cinque Terre, we have to return to Paris to take our flight out on the 16th evening. I believe this has to be done via Milan or Turin. We are open to overnight trips for this part of our journey. 

By my calculations, a 7 day in 1 month Eurail pass seemed to work best in terms of cost, with the Florence to La Spezia part being a separate point to point ticket, assuming that the boat rides in Interlaken count as a separate travel day. But my calculations have not budgeted for seat reservations which i’m having trouble factoring in. 

Specific questions are these:

  1. Any tips on the best combi of trains from (a) Paris to Zurich/Geneva and from (b) Cinque Terre/Turin/Milan to Paris? I believe the high speed TGV Lyria and Frecciossa trains are covered in Eurail but the seat reservation costs can be very different across trains. I checked TrainLine and RailEurope to see the costs of a non-pass ticket for both these routes, and the cheapest is over EUR 100 as of now. Does taking a Eurail GP and booking a seat make more sense then?
  2. Is the Cinque Terre Express covered under the Eurail pass?
  3. What pass works best? I’m also open to a combi of a Eurail and Swiss pass if that works better for the above travel plan + activities. 

Any suggestions on the other parts of the journey are also welcome, especially from the point of view of seat reservation costs vs rail passes :) 


Best answer by thibcabe 25 June 2023, 14:43

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Userlevel 7
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First Visp and Saas-Fee are nowhere near Interlaken, at least for Swiss standards.

Make some calculations. Visp - Saas-Fee bus journey costs 34.80 CHF full-fare return (or 17.40 CHF half-fare) and wouldn’t be covered by Eurail.

The TGV to Geneva or Basel costs 29€ with a pass but it can be lowered to 10-20€ by taking the TGV as far as the last stop in France (Strasbourg, Mulhouse or Bellegarde). You then cross the border on a TER regional train.

Seat reservations are never needed within Switzerland. Please note that trains from Interlaken to Grindelwald, Lauterbrunnen and above are not included (25% discount only = no need to use a pass day). With Eurail you get 25-50% discount for multiple mountain peaks.

Interlaken - Lucerne - Locarno takes 5h21 and Locarno - Como 1h10 (do not take the EC across the border, 13€ extra for 1 km).

Seat reservation costs in Italy :

  • 13€ Frecciarossa
  • 3€ IC

I haven’t heard of the Cinque Terre Express but there are regional trains on the same route anyway, those are included and the best way to travel in the area. For short journeys, buy point-to-point tickets on (fixed price, can be bought at any time).

San Marino would be a very long detour, I wouldn’t recommend it.

La Spezia - Paris will be a long day : 0-13€ La Spezia - Torino Porta Susa (depending on the train) + 30€ Torino Porta Susa - Paris Gare de Lyon. Another option would be to go via Nice :

  • RE La Spezia - Genova Brignole 09:50 - 11:15
  • RE Genova Brignole - Ventimiglia 11:35 - 14:03
  • TER Ventimiglia - Nice-Ville 14:17 - 15:11 OR 14:45 - 15:40
  • TGV Nice-Ville - Paris Gare de Lyon 16:01 - 21:50 20€

The Eurail Pass should be good value as you have a few long journeys planned. Do not wait to book TGVs as you’ll be travelling on busy days.

If you’re planning on going to Jungfraujoch, I’d advise to buy the Swiss Half-fare card in addition to Eurail → 120 CHF for a month. It then halves all tickets : 107 CHF half-fare instead of 215 CHF full-fare = already 108 CHF saved for Jungfraujoch (the most expensive Swiss railway).

Please note that you’ll be travelling in Italy during the busiest week of the year (Ferragosto) so expect everything to be very crowded. Book everything in advance, especially accommodation.

hi @thibcabe ! thanks for the super useful reply! 

Can you help me out some more?

  1. Whats the best way to book to TGV to the last stop in France? Or shall i use the Eurail reservation service for this?
  2. Which is the train from Locarno to Como that you saw for 1h10m? 
  3. In general, whats the best websit to book seats for passholders? The Eurail app only or any other?

We’ve booked our stays everywhere and will avoid San Marino (thanks for your input!). We are considering the Swiss half fare card, it makes a lot of sense like you said. 

Thanks again!

PS: Coming from india, visp to interlaken is quite close :) 

Userlevel 7
Badge +5

You're welcome.

1. You can best check availability and price here : but there's a 4€ booking fee per order. On 2€ booking fee per person per train are added.

For Visp, I'd go via Bellegarde and Geneva. It's also quite a scenic journey along Lake Geneva and the Lavaux Vineyards !

2. The hourly RegioExpress (RE) to Milano Centrale leaving at xx:25, it stops at Como S. Giovanni. :)

3. You cannot book seats through the app, it only redirects you elsewhere. Generally it's best to avoid for booking due to extra fees but sometimes it's unavoidable : TGVs within the country (see above though) or the TGV between Italy and France. However for trains within Italy, it's best to use (no booking fee) : add Eurail as a discount and select one-way tickets.

Userlevel 7
Badge +10

Cinque Terre Express trains are local regional trains and included in Interrail/Eurail.

Amazing, thank you both!! Very useful :)