The summer ends all too abruptly, as folk rediscover their workaday routines. But for those able to stretch their travels on into September and beyond, late summer and fall offer some great bargains.
Switzerland tops our list for post-season exploration. The crowds of high summer have gone, the vineyards of Lavaux are laden with grapes, the woods around Lucerne are on the turn, yet further south in the Ticino, summer warmth clings on well into October.
Two options: The Swiss Pass and Swiss Flexi-Pass
For those looking to explore Switzerland by train, the end of the high season brings some very fine bargains. For couples traveling together, the price of the Swiss Pass and the Swiss Flexi-Pass tumbles. These are Swiss Travel System (STS) products which allow non-residents of Switzerland to roam freely over the country’s bus, boat and rail networks.
We think that these passes have the edge over InterRail or Eurail because of their greater network validity across Switzerland. For example, STS passes can be used on many rail routes where holders of other passes would still need to buy a ticket (eg. the MOB route to Zermatt). And the bonus of having bus and boat travel thrown in for free is a real blessing in Switzerland.
Nor are holders of STS passes confined entirely to Switzerland. Those wanting to probe the Confederation’s frontiers can head (for free with an STS Pass) by bus or train to Tirano in Italy or by boat to Evian-les-Bains in France.
Look at these offers valid for travel September 1 through November 30, 2012. An STS Swiss Pass valid four consecutive travel days within Switzerland for two people costs just 226 Swiss francs. That’s just 28 Swiss francs per person per day.
(For US travelers, it is worth noting that the Swiss franc and the dollar are pretty well at par just now, making those franc to dollar conversions dead easy even for the arithmetically challenged).
Four consecutive days on the rails are not for everyone, and that’s where the STS Flexi-Pass comes in handy. Fours days travel within a month costs 262 Swiss francs for two adults exploring Switzerland together.
With either of these options, children aged 15 and under travel with adult pass-holders for free. For a premium, which you must select at the time of booking, there are also first-class options.
You can book these STS deals online. These deals are open to all except for residents of the Swiss Confederation and Liechtenstein.