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Swiss Guest Cards


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As those familiar with travel in Switzerland may already know, there are various regions in Switzerland where you can get 'Guest Cards' which provide discounts and even free travel in the area. Some of these cards you pay for and some are provided free(not really of course) by hotels when you stay with them. It is always worthwhile doing a Google search for 'Switzerland guest cards (name of destination)' to see what is available.

I'd like to describe just one of them here. The best in terms of what it gives you is in my opinion, the Davos-Klosters card. Not only does it give you free or discounted access to many things in the area, but it gives you free unlimited travel on the buses, trains and all cable cars/gondolas, etc.

An example of what this can mean to the visitor in terms of money saved on a typical day goes like this. Let's suppose you are staying in a hotel just outside of Davos.

Bus from hotel to Davos train station: 5 CHF
Train from Davos to Klosters: 5-6 CHF
Cable car up to Gotschnagrat: 30 CHF
Hike the Panoramaweg across to Middle station
Cable car down to Davos: 23 CHF
Bus to hotel: 5 CHF

Total: 68 CHF per person for the day's outing.

For two people that means a savings of 136 CHF in return for a 3.50 CHF 'hotel tax' that is added on to your room cost for each nights stay. Or for a weekly average, let's say it costs you 7 x 3.50 = 24.50 CHF and if you saved an average of 100 CHF per day (which my wife and I have done), you save 700 minus 24.50 = 675.50 CHF for the week! I would suggest that as an easy average for a week of hiking and just doing/seeing things in the area.

Not all Guest Cards are created equal. Some cards will provide less in terms of savings and obviously it all depends on what aspects of what they provide you take advantage of. But anyone who knows Switzerland and has bought tickets for transportation will know that the above inclusion of all your transportation needs in the area for free represents significant savings for the average visitor. So my point obviously is that it pays to check on what Guest Card program if any exists wherever you plan to visit in Switzerland.
Very good advice! We travel to Switzerland most summers and have stayed in several areas. I found that the guest cards vary by area, as you said. Some only give discounts on a few local things and do not include buses or mountain rides.

Many places also offer mountain ride passes which can be a good deal if you plan on hiking most days. For the last few years we have been staying in Lenk, near Saanen and Gstaad. The Saanen-Gstaad area offers a Gstaad Card, which is different from the Guest Pass and gives you free access to the mountain rides. Their mountain ride pass is a very good deal, but the ones for Grindelwald are much more expensive (but their mountain rides are longer and more expensive too). Unfortunately you have to be staying in the area to purchase it and Lenk is just outside the area. Usually we were able to purchase it anyway, but last year they started asking to see you Guest Card to prove you were staying in their area.

I just looked up the Lenk Guest Card and they have improved it! Previously it did not get you much. Now it gives you free bus rides in the Lenk area - which is a good deal (in other years we've had to pay for these). In Lenk there are two mountain rides - a gondola and a cablecar. When you stay in a hotel in the area, you get a pass that is good for both rides. You don't get this in a vacation rental but you can buy a pass for the mountain rides.

If you are traveling around Switzerland by train and get a half-price card for train rides, you can use it on mountain rides and buses too (not all of them, but many).

If you are traveling to Switzerland it is time well spent to do some research on this before you leave.
On our last trip to Davos-Klosters (last September), I estimated that the Guest Card saved us an average of 100 CHF per day for our 10 day stay. That is 1000 CHF which is a significant amount of money in any currency.

The only transportation cost we had to pay for was a return ticket between Zurich airport and Davos. I think that is probably as low a total cost for transportation as you could manage in Switzerland.
Have you looked into the train pass (Swiss Transfer Ticket) that takes you from the airport (or border) to your destination and return? We always end up renting a car so have not used this, and I am not sure if it would be much cheaper (depends on your destination). There used to be an option to get a half price pass with it but I don't see that now.

Grindelwald is very expensive for mountain rides and for a pass for the rides. We were there a couple of summers ago and it was cheaper for us to buy a half-price pass for a month to get discounts on the mountain rides. I had to look up the various rides, figure out which ones we would use for hiking, work out if the mountain ride pass was cheaper than a half price pass! I love the hiking there, but the town is very popular and crowded in summer.

This August we will be two weeks in Lenk and then a week in Kandersteg.

The last time we were in Davos was in 1996! Wow! I've been meaning to plan a trip there - maybe next summer. Especially now that I know how reasonable the mountain rides will be.

What other places have you been to in Switzerland?
Yes the Transfer Ticket will be cheaper than point to point and is the best option for a one destination trip. We have done trips when we had a car and others when we relied on a rail pass such as the Flexipass or Half Fare Card depending on what we thought we would do.

We tend to prioritize simplicity, flexibility and comfort over price. That doesn't mean we don't look for a good price but we don't choose price over more important (to us) factors. As a result, we do sometimes pay more than we could have payed if we tried to find the cheapest option. So for example, we will not fly standard economy, we always want at least increased legroom. We will always fly non-stop if it is available rather than a flight with one or more stops, regardless of price difference. We do not pre-book anything unless we intend to have a one stop trip such as the one last September to Davos-Klosters.

If you want to consider Davos-Klosters for a future trip Pauline, not only does the Guest Card get you a lot, I can also suggest a nice hotel which I believe provides very good value for money. They have special offers on at all times of the year. In April-May this year, they were offering a 'standard double' room with breakfast for 48 GBP (am I correct in thinking that is your home currency?) From now through October, it is 80 GBP. That is NOT per person, it is per room. With half board, it is 500 GDP per week, per person. The 'hiking package' also includes a packed lunch each day.

It is a 3 star boutique hotel with an award winning restaurant. http://bellevuewiesen.com/ The only issue is it is in a small village 25 minutes by bus from Davos centre and the last bus back from Davos in the day is at around 7.30pm. There are no other restaurants in the village, so it's either eat early elsewhere in Davos or eat in the hotel restaurant later. The half-board dinners are very good but too much for our needs. We did a week on half board and 3 nights without. We also opted for a 'Panoramic' room which of course cost a bit more. With a car of course this would not be a problem.

If staying more centrally is a preference, there are other hotels in the area (including in Klosters) which offer similar packages and prices. I can recommend the Bellevue as a nice hotel but it is only an example of what you can find in the area and at what kind of price.

It seems from what I read that this year, there are several difference types of Guest Cards. There was only one last year which included everything. From what I read now, it seems they've changed that so you need to make sure you get the right one included.

Regarding where else have we been in Switzerland, I have been visiting Switzerland for about 35 years and so have stayed in most parts at one time or another. Still we haven't been everywhere. It's amazing how much such a small country has to offer.
Thanks for the recommendations and I think we will go to Davos next summer. GBP is the currency we use at home (we live in the U.K.) but I still think in dollars and use my US credit cards when we travel (we previously lived in the US). But, we always stay in vacation rentals so that we can do our own cooking. We have stayed in a few Swiss hotels and have always enjoyed them. That country knows how to run hotels!

We've been going to Switzerland since 1988, when we spent the summer there, and have been to a lot of places but we haven't been everywhere. We have decided that we love the Bernese Oberland and have stayed a week or two in each valley except the one with Meiringen. I love the hiking in that area. Well organised, well signed, lots of mountain rides.

I am looking forward to our trip this summer!
I find it interesting that you live in the UK but use USA cards. The UK has some of the best cards in the world for a traveller to use. The biggest issue with USA cards these days is of course the general lack of true Chip and PIN technology. Only a few USA card providers offer them and it appears that most USA providers still don't intend to do so, using the inferior Chip and Signature cards.

The best site for a traveller from the UK to use when looking at what cards to get for travel is without a doubt the Moneysavingexpert site. http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/travel/travel-credit-cards One of the advantages of that site is that it is constantly updated, so you are never wondering if their advice is current or not. That isn't the case with many other similar sites.

There are some similar sites for other countries but it can be hard to actually find out if the cards they are suggesting are TRUE Chip and PIN cards or are Chip and Signature cards which also have PIN capability. It is a question of which they default to. If a card is true Chip and PIN, it will basically always work. If it defaults to Chip and Signature it will not always work.

We currently live in Canada where all cards are now Chip and PIN but few provide a perfect exchange rate. So it's a different issue here. We avoid it by using our UK issued cards when travelling.
My income is in the US, so rather than convert dollars to pounds to euro to use my UK credit card, I pay from my US account and skip one conversion. I end up using my UK credit card when chip and pin is needed.
I just looked up the Lenk Guest Card and they have improved it! Previously it did not get you much. Now it gives you free bus rides in the Lenk area - which is a good deal (in other years we've had to pay for these). In Lenk there are two mountain rides - a gondola and a cablecar. When you stay in a hotel in the area, you get a pass that is good for both rides. You don't get this in a vacation rental but you can buy a pass for the mountain rides.
Great news! I love saving money!

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