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We are 4 adults, arriving in Zurich- for a 3 day stay in Lucerne. We plan to visit Mt. Titlis and maybe Interlaken during our stay.

Is it cheaper to rent a car for our 3 day trip, or should we just go with taxis/public transport with some swiss pass?

Our trip is from 23rd-26th August and the forecast shows rain in Engelberg- is Titlis worth it during such a time?

Mt. Titlis round trip seems to cost almost 100 swiss francs per person, but some tour operators charge the same amount for tours from Lucerne to Titlis. Which option is more economical? Is there any way to get cheaper tickets to visit Titlis?

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    Define "better"?
    – CMaster
    Commented Jul 24, 2023 at 10:22
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    That is the case for individuals- but as a group of 4- at least in most places in Asia- they average out to be the same if not less, and there's the added convenience. My question is mostly as a group of 4.
    – V Prah
    Commented Jul 24, 2023 at 10:28
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    @user253751 this is also true outside of Asia, especially in jurisdictions where there is no charge for additional passengers, though not often for long trips. For example, in New York City the cost of four bus fares is typically similar to the cost of a ride of 2 miles / 3 km or so. In Switzerland, however, taxis are fairly expensive. V Prah: but for some people the extra walking and/or longer travel time required with public transportation may be preferable to being squeezed into the back seat of a taxi!
    – phoog
    Commented Jul 24, 2023 at 11:36
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    @Crazydre In Bern, a single ticket for public transport within the city is CHF 4.80. If three people travel together, it would still be cheaper to pay CHF 13 for a taxi. Commented Jul 24, 2023 at 14:03
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    IMHO don't rent a car it Switzerland and don't take a taxi. Public transport is indeed expensive (like everything in Switzerland), but if you do a bit of research, you can find cheaper short-term regional passes aimed at tourists. On the other hand, petrol is expensive, parking is expensive and fines for any traffic-related offence are also expensive. Commented Jul 25, 2023 at 8:00

4 Answers 4

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It is not just "travel pass" versus rental car.

Consider this:

  • With a rental car you still will have to pay for mountain railways. The Titlis trip costs about 100,- pp.
  • Add to that parking. Also do not forget that hotels do not always have parking, and when they have it is seldom free.
  • Many popular trips cannot be conveniently done using a car.

So you will end up using public transit anyway.

OTOH. A Swiss Travel Pass is overkill. You do not need unlimited public transit in the whole country. And it does not cover the Titlis either.

No, your best option is the Tell Pass.

The Tell Pass is a regional pass that covers all public transit in the region around Luzern. It also covers most mountain railways. It covers the Titlis, the Rigi, the lake steamers, the Stanserhorn bahn, and even the train to Interlaken. For 220,- pp you have all that. So you could decide to even do more than just the Titlis.

And in summer there is a 2 for 1 offer, where certain hotels will give you the second Tell Pass for free if you stay there at least 3 nights. Have a look if your accommodation takes part.

You will find everything about the Tell Pass here: https://www.tellpass.ch/en

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    I love your 'Many popular trips cannot be conveniently done using a car.' It may look incredulous to non locals but that is why we have an international Q&A site and get answers from people with local expertise :-)
    – quarague
    Commented Jul 25, 2023 at 7:40
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    Thanks a lot- I worked this out on a spreadsheet, and while the cost of car is not far off compared to the Tell Pass (even with parking and petrol) The Tell pass worked off better for 2 more reasons- the convenience, and most importantly the added discounts on other places (like the Rigi Kaltbad Spa which I'm now planning to visit). Thanks a lot :)
    – V Prah
    Commented Jul 25, 2023 at 7:57
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    You still would need to add the train from Zurich Airport to Lucerne (or at least Zug or thereabouts), wouldn’t you? The coverage stops just short of Zurich. And it’s definitely the first time I see a map with the South at the top!
    – jcaron
    Commented Jul 25, 2023 at 11:07
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    The way to go about this is to really treat the pass like an "all you can eat" buffet, and gorge yourself on it. You can visit the Rigi, do boat trips. Eg. I you fancy just sitting on a boat for a few hours in the evening drinking a beer, just do it... Commented Jul 25, 2023 at 11:50
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Adding some more info about the Tell Pass:

  • See the summer 2023 Tell Pass map for where it is valid.

  • You may want to maximize the scenic locations you visit by using a Tell Pass, and taking as many trains (and buses and gondolas) as possible while it is valid. Even if doing so, 3 days is too short to visit every point of interest in the region. So choose a few favorites in advance. The last-minute weather may affect your final decision.

Adding some more info about train travel:

  • Look up train (and other public transport) schedules at sbb.ch or in the SBB app. You can also buy tickets at both places with a credit card. Queuing at Zürich airport railway station ticket booth (or vending machine) is a privacy-conscious option: that doesn't ask for name and date of birth of all travellers.

  • The cheapest option to travel from Zürich airport to Luzern with a Tell Pass is buying a single ticket from Zürich airport to Baar (17.40 CHF per person), and taking the S24 to Zug, and changing to any IR train going to Luzern. The Tell Pass is valid from Baar (earlier than Zug).

  • The fastest option to travel from Zürich airport to Luzern is taking an IC+IR train combination (transfer at Zürich HB) or the direct IR train. For these, you need to buy a single ticket from Zürich airport to Zug (19.60 CHF per person). The Tell Pass is valid from Baar (earlier than Zug), but since that IR train doesn't stop at Baar, you can't use the Tell Pass from Baar, only from Zug.

  • For a more scenic but slower train ride from Zürich airport to Luzern, go via Arth-Goldau. For that you have to transfer at Zürich HB (only if you take the IC train), Zug and Arth-Goldau. The price is the same as above, the Tell Pass covers the journey from Zug.

Spectacular mountain stations covered by the Tell Pass:

  • Titlis
  • Ice Flyer
  • Pilatus Kulm
  • Rigi Kulm
  • Fronalpstock
  • Klingenstock
  • Engstlenalp
  • Bonistock
  • Brienzer Rothorn
  • Schneehüenerstock
  • Bürgenstock
  • Einsiedeln
  • Klausen Passhöhe
  • Kemmeriboden
  • (probably some others, your mileage may vary)

Enjoy the scenery!

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  • Thanks for all the information @pts ! I had a quick follow up- does the tell pass tend to sell out- and should I buy in advance? Also will Titlis have long lines since it’s peak season- and how much wait time should I expect/ is prior reservation required?
    – V Prah
    Commented Jul 26, 2023 at 6:42
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    @VPrah: Ask these as separate questions, others know better than I. The Tell Pass doesn't sell out, supply is unlimited. You can buy it online in advance (and print it at home), or you can buy it at many locations within Switzerland, including Zürich airport railway ticket booth.
    – pts
    Commented Jul 26, 2023 at 7:37
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    @VPrah: I have no clue about the peak season waiting times for Titlis gondolas. Last time I was there it was less than 5 minutes, but it may vary a lot. Just write them an e-mail, ask for waiting times and for the best time of day to arrive. Please note that that the train takes you to Engelberg, and from there you need to take multiple gondolas to Titlis, with a queue for each.
    – pts
    Commented Jul 26, 2023 at 7:41
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Your question is really a lot of questions, so not ideal (and really not allowed on this site). In any case some answers:

Swiss people tend not to use taxi. You can do most things without taxi (but if you are busy businessmen always at phone).

Then it depends on you. On train all group see much more: better view and no driver. You can also walk and discuss, point things and plan. But you trade flexibility. Trains (and busses) are good to link localities (so places with inhabitants or workers). It is far less convenient to spot few natural places, or to do some alpine passes (infrequent busses, so you cannot stop and explore, but maybe at summit).

Interlaken, Lucerne, Engelberg are easy to reach with trains. But if you want to see more spectacular parts (Lauterbrunnen valley, etc.) train/bus are not ideal.

Personally I think Piz Gloria (Schiltorn) is much better and less touristy and cheaper. Possibly less thing to do on top, but you are there for the mountains, so... (no walking on ice, etc. just a 007 exposition). Or Zermat (which it is touristic and nice). Engelberg: I'm impressed by the numbers of busses in there, and not much more.

About weather. It is far from your arrival, so nobody know. At that time, you may see first snow on mountains. Titlis and Jungfrauhoch have better entertainment inside buildings, and you get the spirit of mountain: you may see the sky and 3 minute later you cannot see your hands. Some magical environment we read in books. But nothing more. I'm not sure it is worth the travel (OTOH once in lifetime may be interesting). If you have flexibility, plan to go on top of mountains when forecast is good (and stable).

Also parking is very expensive in all Swiss cities (and hotels in cities).

Depending on the numbers of day in Switzerland, try to do both.

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  • Thanks for your response- I wasn't aware multiple questions weren't allowed, so I'll be more careful in future. I've understood taxis are just not a viable option. I will still have to compare car parking at my hotel, and see if it is worth it. Thanks!
    – V Prah
    Commented Jul 24, 2023 at 13:05
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    For multiple question: just use multiple questions (so pages). So different parts can be valuated (and voted). And also it is easier for Google to find the relevant page (the relevant part of question). Note: the design of this side is about being a reference site, not a forum, so with some special rules. Commented Jul 24, 2023 at 13:14
  • I was a child at the time, so it's possible I didn't fully appreciate the logistical headaches, but I've definitely visited Lauterbrunnen and the the Jungfraujoch by train. You can take a historic cog railway up the mountain: jungfrau.ch/en-gb/corporate/jungfrau-railways/… It's quite a neat experience. I believe we stayed in Wengen for several days. It looks like there was a cable car involved too.... I might be mixing up two trips. Commented Jul 25, 2023 at 17:25
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For 4 adults, renting a car is very likely to be cheaper. Assuming 3 nights in Lucerne (i.e.. 4 days total), you should be able to get a decent sized car for less than US$500 (plus gas), whereas a rail pass would be almost $1400 (plus the occasional ride share or taxi for local stuff).

You can try to splice it all together with individual public transportation tickets, but for 4 adults, a single car is just a really cost efficient mode of transportation.

It takes a about 10 minutes to price this out online for your specific details (exact dates, car preferences, itinerary, etc). I suggest to do this draw your own conclusions.

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    Don't forget that the rental car will not take you up to the Titlis. So you still need to add 4 x100 for that. Commented Jul 24, 2023 at 20:54

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