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Best rail pass for a week and 3 countries

  • 15 December 2023
  • 18 replies
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  • Keeps calm and carries on
  • 10 replies

Hello,
we are a family of 4 traveling to Europe for the first time next week. 2 Adults and a 20 year old and a 11 year old. 

Our plans are this. 24-26 Frankfurt. 26-27 Munich 27-29 Salzburg 29-1 Bern. 1-2 Frankfurt for the flight home. We also Land at 6AM on the 24th. 

Trying to understand the rails. We will do some inner city site seeing most days but it looks cheap to pay as you go for those. But trying to figure out if I would need both a EU global pass and a Swiss train pass. While in switzerland we are thinking of the train ride goldenpass express I think its called. And hitting museums. Just not sure if the EU pass and pay for the other stuff in Swiss is better or how this works.

 

Thank you

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Best answer by thibcabe 15 December 2023, 07:10

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Yes Eurail is valid on RJX trains (they're operated by ÖBB).

i'd also recommend seat reservations. 3€ per person through including seat selection.

Sure, the transfer is really easy and you can take your time. There are 2 fast trains per hour and more slower trains. Feel free to stop in Zurich too :)

Reservations aren't a thing on Swiss trains. I suggest heading to the front/rear ends of the train to find plenty of seats!

Thank you very much for the clarification again. It's been a good trip so far and the further south we get it seems better 😁

Userlevel 7
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You're welcome!

I had a quick look and on 29th December the 07:56 RJX is pretty empty while the 09:56 RJX looks busy. In any case I'd recommend reservations through ÖBB.

A lot of people will also get on/off along the way and not make the full Vienna - Salzburg - Zurich journey.

Enjoy!

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You're welcome!

I had a quick look and on 29th December the 07:56 RJX is pretty empty while the 09:56 RJX looks busy. In any case I'd recommend reservations through ÖBB.

A lot of people will also get on/off along the way and not make the full Vienna - Salzburg - Zurich journey.

Enjoy!

Thank you again and I was that early maybe best also and you have helped strengthen that decision 😊 🙏

Userlevel 7
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If you want to go up in the mountains I personally recommend you to go to Schilthorn. There's a turning restaurant with a 360 degree view of the mountains. 

https://schilthorn.ch/en/Welcome

 

Userlevel 7
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Glad to hear that! Hope you had a great time with this morning's weather. Enjoy the rest of the trip!

I'd love to visit Japan one day... :)

Userlevel 7
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It's rarely very cold I'd say, the last true cold wave was in February 2012.

This week it's been 10-15°C with rain in the lowlands (all snow melted) and next week is supposed to be dry and around 5°C. The wind might make it a bit chillier but nothing unbearable.

There will be plenty of snow higher in the Alps for sure. And the weather could still change in the next 2 weeks ofc.

Other questions welcome and enjoy your trip :)

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It's rarely very cold I'd say, the last true cold wave was in February 2012.

This week it's been 10-15°C with rain in the lowlands (all snow melted) and next week is supposed to be dry and around 5°C. The wind might make it a bit chillier but nothing unbearable.

There will be plenty of snow higher in the Alps for sure. And the weather could still change in the next 2 weeks ofc.

Other questions welcome and enjoy your trip :)

Thank you very much! I am sure I will have more as the days progress

 

Sorry I have another question.

 

We are currently enroute to Salzburg from muchen.

 

My question is that in 2 days we want to move to Bern and I'm not sure if our eu global pass is good for RJX rail train. The trip is 6.5 hours from what I see and would like to be ready for it. A lot of the trains today were packed and would think it maybe best to reserve a seat as it seems it maybe best with the long travel time.

 

And also that says we have to make a transfer in Zurich and was wondering if that maybe easy enough?

 

Thank you for the help 

Userlevel 7
Badge +5

Yes Eurail is valid on RJX trains (they're operated by ÖBB).

i'd also recommend seat reservations. 3€ per person through https://shop.oebbtickets.at/en/ticket including seat selection.

Sure, the transfer is really easy and you can take your time. There are 2 fast trains per hour and more slower trains. Feel free to stop in Zurich for a bit too :)

Reservations aren't a thing on Swiss trains. I suggest heading to the front/rear ends of the train to find plenty of seats!

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You're welcome!

I had a quick look and on 29th December the 07:56 RJX is pretty empty while the 09:56 RJX looks busy. In any case I'd recommend reservations through ÖBB.

A lot of people will also get on/off along the way and not make the full Vienna - Salzburg - Zurich journey.

Enjoy!

First off your advice has been seriously helpful. And I really appreciate it.

I hope this is the last time I bug you. Tomorrow we leave for Switzerland and I have reservations on the train we discussed. 

Now the next day I'd like to do the glacier train an het to spiez around 10am??? Or sooner if need be. How do I book the first class reservation for us? Websites seem confusing bit. I'd be happy In any class but traveling with 3 girls... 😂

 

Userlevel 7
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Which trains do you have in mind ? There are plenty of options around Spiez.

- (part of) the Glacier Express on regional trains and back via Lucerne

- Jungfraujoch : 25% discount from Grindelwald/Lauterbrunnen to the summit (still 150 CHF per person)

- Schilthorn : 25% discount from Mürren

Let me know and I'll help you further.

Userlevel 7
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Now that I have time, some additional info on these 3 options (there are others ofc) :

Option 1 : Bern - (Spiez) - Brig - Andermatt - Göschenen - Lucerne - back to Bern or via Interlaken

- comfy trains through some beautiful Alpine scenery (snowy landscape for only a bit less than half the trip tho)

- max 1500 m elevation as the railway is in the valley but higher mountains around you (no glaciers)

Option 2 : Jungfraujoch, one-way via Grindelwald and the other via Lauterbrunnen

- high altitude (3500 m), view on the Aletsch glacier (longest in the Alps), long tunnel for the last bit

- Eurail valid until Grindelwald/Lauterbrunnen, then 25% discount. Only 2nd class carriages.

- very expensive and often crowded

- you might have to wait 30 min at Eigergletscher for the following train unless you pay 10 CHF per person for a reservation*

- check the weather forecast before going as every other day it's foggy

Option 3 : Schilthorn

- 3000 m by cable car

- 25% discount. Half the price than Jungfraujoch

*I never bothered as it's already expensive enough. Once I had to wait 30 min (July Sunday), the other time I didn't (December weekday).

Questions welcome.

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Now that I have time, some additional info on these 3 options (there are others ofc) :

Option 1 : Bern - (Spiez) - Brig - Andermatt - Göschenen - Lucerne - back to Bern or via Interlaken

- comfy trains through some beautiful Alpine scenery (snowy landscape for only a bit less than half the trip tho)

- max 1500 m elevation as the railway is in the valley but higher mountains around you (no glaciers)

Option 2 : Jungfraujoch, one-way via Grindelwald and the other via Lauterbrunnen

- high altitude (3500 m), view on the Aletsch glacier (longest in the Alps), long tunnel for the last bit

- Eurail valid until Grindelwald/Lauterbrunnen, then 25% discount. Only 2nd class carriages.

- very expensive and often crowded

- you might have to wait 30 min at Eigergletscher for the following train unless you pay 10 CHF per person for a reservation*

- check the weather forecast before going as every other day it's foggy

Option 3 : Schilthorn

- 3000 m by cable car

- 25% discount. Half the price than Jungfraujoch

*I never bothered as it's already expensive enough. Once I had to wait 30 min (July Sunday), the other time I didn't (December weekday).

Questions welcome.

I was thinking of doing what you recommend in a earlier post about going from Bern to Spiez. Then catching the golden pass train to Lausanne. Not sure what site to buy those tickets at. 

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If you want to go up in the mountains I personally recommend you to go to Schilthorn. There's a turning restaurant with a 360 degree view of the mountains. 

https://schilthorn.ch/en/Welcome

 

Thank you I will take a look at it 😊

Userlevel 7
Badge +5

I was thinking of doing what you recommend in a earlier post about going from Bern to Spiez. Then catching the golden pass train to Lausanne. Not sure what site to buy those tickets at. 

That would work well too. Unfortunately due to the recent warm weather and rain you won't see much snow (in the background only).

You don't have to buy tickets or anything as long as you use a pass day. The route is :

- Bern - Spiez - Zweisimmen - Montreux - Lausanne - Bern

Between Zweisimmen and Montreux hourly regular trains (twice a day using Belle Époque carriages) or at odd times the new shiny Golden Pass Express (running from Interlaken, Spiez to Montreux).

Reservations are not needed except maybe on the Golden Pass Express (20 CHF...). The 09:38 train out of Spiez has a few seats left and the 11:38 one a bit more. I took that train twice, never made a booking and it was pretty empty so it's your choice I'd say. (Booking on gpx.swiss)

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I was thinking of doing what you recommend in a earlier post about going from Bern to Spiez. Then catching the golden pass train to Lausanne. Not sure what site to buy those tickets at. 

That would work well too. Unfortunately due to the recent warm weather and rain you won't see much snow (in the background only).

You don't have to buy tickets or anything as long as you use a pass day. The route is :

- Bern - Spiez - Zweisimmen - Montreux - Lausanne - Bern

Between Zweisimmen and Montreux hourly regular trains (twice a day using Belle Époque carriages) or at odd times the new shiny Golden Pass Express (running from Interlaken, Spiez to Montreux).

Reservations are not needed except maybe on the Golden Pass Express (20 CHF...). The 09:38 train out of Spiez has a few seats left and the 11:38 one a bit more. I took that train twice, never made a booking and it was pretty empty so it's your choice I'd say. (Booking on gpx.swiss)

Just wanted to thank you for all the advice!! We decided to do the Schilthorn per yours and AnnaB’s advice. We had a great time and the weather was perfect as we checked the weather and hit it right at 11am. You definitely made the trip easier and saved us some money. If you are ever in Okinawa or Japan shoot me a PM if you need advice :)

 

Userlevel 7
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Get Eurail Global Passes : 2 adults, 1 youth, 1 (free) children. I'd get maybe 5 but more likely 7 day passes.

Last-minute tickets will be very expensive and the Swiss Travel Pass is useless if you have Eurail.

The previous exception was that trains from Interlaken to Lauterbrunnen/Grindelwald were not included in Eurail but this is not the case since last Sunday.

I'd make seat reservations on the German trains to be sure you sit together (trains will be busy between Christmas & New Year). Book through the railway companies, it's cheaper (+ no fees) : 3€ per train through ÖBB, 4.90€ per journey through DB (incl. seat map).

Same thing for Salzburg - Zurich : available through ÖBB with a seat map.

On the other hand seat reservations on Swiss trains are unheard of : lived here all my life and never made one. Trains are large and run at least hourly but often every 30 min. As a tip : board the front/rear end as people are lazy and board in the middle next to the stairs. That way you're assured to find a seat :)

The Goldenpass is a nice route for sure (hopefully there will be snow by the time you're here). The new and shiny Golden Pass Express runs from Interlaken to Montreux but I wouldn't necessarily go to Interlaken that day. That area is worth your second full day in Bern.

It would look like this then :

- Bern - Spiez

- Spiez - Zweisimmen - Montreux Golden Pass (Express)

- Montreux - Lausanne

- Lausanne - Bern

Start the day early as daylight is limited in December. Trains run at least hourly (shiny train less often but there are other trains on the same route). Check timetables on SBB app or sbb.ch.

Museums are not included in Eurail but there are family/student discounts.

Is there a specific reason to visit Frankfurt (apart from being home to the major airport of the country) ? Pretty much everything will be dead on Christmas but I'd say this will be the case everywhere…

Questions welcome

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Get Eurail Global Passes : 2 adults, 1 youth, 1 (free) children. I'd get maybe 5 but more likely 7 day passes.

Last-minute tickets will be very expensive and the Swiss Travel Pass is useless if you have Eurail.

The previous exception was that trains from Interlaken to Lauterbrunnen/Grindelwald were not included in Eurail but this is not the case since last Sunday.

I'd make seat reservations on the German trains to be sure you sit together (trains will be busy between Christmas & New Year). Book through the railway companies, it's cheaper (+ no fees) : 3€ per train through ÖBB, 4.90€ per journey through DB (incl. seat map).

Same thing for Salzburg - Zurich : available through ÖBB with a seat map.

On the other hand seat reservations on Swiss trains are unheard of : lived here all my life and never made one. Trains are large and run at least hourly but often every 30 min. As a tip : board the front/rear end as people are lazy and board in the middle next to the stairs. That way you're assured to find a seat :)

The Goldenpass is a nice route for sure (hopefully there will be snow by the time you're here). The new and shiny Golden Pass Express runs from Interlaken to Montreux but I wouldn't necessarily go to Interlaken that day. That area is worth your second full day in Bern.

It would look like this then :

- Bern - Spiez

- Spiez - Zweisimmen - Montreux Golden Pass (Express)

- Montreux - Lausanne

- Lausanne - Bern

Start the day early as daylight is limited in December. Trains run at least hourly (shiny train less often but there are other trains on the same route). Check timetables on SBB app or sbb.ch.

Museums are not included in Eurail but there are family/student discounts.

Is there a specific reason to visit Frankfurt (apart from being home to the major airport of the country) ? Pretty much everything will be dead on Christmas but I'd say this will be the case everywhere…

Questions welcome

Thank you for that clarification on the trains and museum. That helps a lot. 

I do like that route you suggest. It hits a few place we were talking about. 

As for hitting Frankfurt it was the only major airport for a direct flight from Japan for a decent price. There is a few things we wanted to see and cancelled some things off the list because of closings it seems. Austria and Switzerland were the 2 more important places to visit. Its a first trip for us so even just learning the areas and enjoying the cafes and street shops will be fun I think/hope. 
 

Is the cold there a windy frigid cold or just a normal cold? I am from Wisconsin in America so it dont bother me much just more thinking of the girls.

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It's rarely very cold I'd say, the last true cold wave was in February 2012.

This week it's been 10-15°C with rain in the lowlands (all snow melted) and next week is supposed to be dry and around 5°C. The wind might make it a bit chillier but nothing unbearable.

There will be plenty of snow higher in the Alps for sure. And the weather could still change in the next 2 weeks ofc.

Other questions welcome and enjoy your trip :)

Thank you very much! I am sure I will have more as the days progress

 

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