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2 final days in Switzerland before flying out of Zurich- what to do?

So I am down to the final 2 days of planning. We leave Salzburg by train on Oct 2, arriving in Zurich main station at 1:30-ish. Because there are 4 of us, I decided to rent a car at Zurich airport and drive to Luzern for 2 nights. We will take our friends to the Zurich airport on Tuesday (flight leaves at 2 PM-figure we need to get them there by 11-sh?) and then we have 2 more days before our flight leaves Zurich (same time).

Any suggestions on what to do, where to go? I don't have rooms reserved yet. We have been to Interlaken/Lauterbrunnen, Wengen, Grindelwald, taken a boat across Lake Thun (most beautiful boat ride I've ever taken)...Been to Bern. But, having said this, our last trip here was 25 years ago! So, if we repeat something, that's okay. Just trolling for advice, given the short time frame!

FYI (because there is always someone who questions these things). My reason for renting a car:
$27 each way to take the train to Luzern=$216 round trip. The car will cost us about $266. We don’t have enough time or enough places we want to go to justify getting a Swiss rail pass. Been there, done that. Will likely take public transport around town. I’m sure that gas prices will make us gasp.

Posted by
4674 posts

Did you calculate THE parking fees for the car, and the expensive European gas? I would vote for using the train, and exploring the various Swiss Travel passes.
Safe travels!

EDITED typo - sorry, the parking fees, not ten parking fees.🙃

Posted by
722 posts

Appenzell is only about 1 1/2 hours from Zurich by car and a beautiful region.

Posted by
74 posts

I understand that gas will be $$, but 10 parking fees? We have free parking at our apartment and will mostly be around town with public transport. Maybe you could clarify?

Posted by
481 posts

It’s hard to say, there are so many beautiful locations! Appenzell is my second favourite place to go, after the Berner Oberland, so I will agree with Margie’s suggestion.

The car vs. train debate comes up here a lot, I have noticed. In your case you give very compelling reasons for choosing to rent a car, your savings with the train will be minimal, someone else might spend that extra money in just a single, slightly more expensive meal or any other small thing during their entire holiday and think nothing of it. Enjoy your trip!

Posted by
1394 posts

Free public parking in Swiss cities is almost non-existent, and parking costs have a way of adding up quickly. Gas currently is the equivalent $8+ per gallon.
The car will need to be of adequate size to hold all four travelers plus your luggage and is going to cost
you in time to both pick it up and then drop it off two days later.
My calculations for fares from the Swiss train website www.SBB.ch are: on 10/2 Zurich Hbf to Luzern $16 each x 4 = $64 and 10/4 Luzern to Zurich Flughafen (Airport) $22 each x 4 = $88, Subtotal = $152. ( Note that train tickets to/from Zurich Airport are more expensive than to/from Zurich Hbf )

10/4 Zurich Flughafen to Appenzell $36 each or $72; Train from Appenzell to Zurich Flughafen $36 each or $72 total. $152 + $144= $296 for all train tix at lowest fares available.
The car rental is going to cost $266 + train to go from Zurich Hbf to Zurich Airport $8 x4 =$32 +210 miles@25 mpg = $60 Fuel + Parking ( unknown) +Insurance (unknown)
=$358 before any potential parking or insurance costs.
Going by train would actually be less expensive at $296 than the car rental which will cost $358 even before adding on any potential insurance or parking costs. With less than two days time to spend with your friends, you will unnecessarily be spending some of it to go from downtown Zurich to the airport to sign the contract and collect the car only to drop the car off two days later. If going by train directly from Zurich Hbf to Luzern, you skip that headache and get to Lucerne earlier. And from Lucerne’s train station it’s only a 5-minute walk to the Old Town (Altstadt) on the other side of the river. There are also trams that will take you where you want to go.
Finally, note that the central village of Appenzell, with its 7,000 residents, is a car-free pedestrian zone.

Posted by
481 posts

You also will need to purchase a Vignette, which is a decal for the rental car, in order to drive on Swiss highways.

A car rented from the Zurich Airport will have a Vignette for Switzerland, it isn't that each person who rents that car needs to buy their own.

Posted by
1394 posts

Thank you, MySwissLife. I deleted that calculation and adjusted the costs of the car rental.

Posted by
70 posts

As you rent the car in Switzerland, the vignette mentioned by Kenko should be attached to the windshield. Better to check though.

Posted by
4674 posts

Ptlovsot
Sorry, it was a typo-
I meant THE parking fees, not ten parking fees.
Have a great trip.

Posted by
8421 posts

Take into account the travel time from Luzern to the BO and back. It makes it a long day trip with not enough time on the ground. With a car, I'd stick to Luzern as there are plenty of mountains, a cruisable lake and lot to do there.

Posted by
74 posts

I have to say that usually I am quite annoyed when people argue about my long thought out plans and not answering the question at all…

HOWEVER, in this case, I appreciate the breakdown and time considerations that were mentioned. When I initially looked into train tickets Zurich to Lucerne, I saw (approx) $10 one way tickets. But when I looked again the other day, I could only find $27, hence my thought toward car rental.
To clear up other misconceptions: this is a 2 week trip with our friends. After they leave Zurich on Tuesday, we are staying on for an additional 2 days by ourselves. As we don’t have room reservations for the final 2 nights, we could go anywhere we want and not return to Lucerne at all, unless that is our best option. IF we use trains exclusively, our friends would take themselves to the airport and we could adventure on directly from Luzern. IF we rented the car, we would have it for 4 days.

I know nothing about Appenzell, is there enough to do/see for 2 days? I didn’t mention it before but if we stumbled on a cheesemaker, that would be cool! I’m torn between just enjoying the Swiss beauty or finding cheese and chocolate makers. As it is early October, we may need inside options.

Posted by
1394 posts

Hi Ptlovesot,

The SBB website is a bit anomalous as it shows Swiss train prices assuming viewers have a Half-Fare card. So what you see is 1/2 the price of a one-way ticket. The Swiss are likely aware of this but it confuses most of the rest of us. This is why the prices seen at The Trainline, Omio and other sites are usually more than twice the prices sent at SBB. I was surprised the train fares beat car rental costs. However, the entire country is linked to mass transit and their train system is a model for the world.

Good news is that— yes—Appenzell is iconic Swiss countryside and has local 🧀 cheeses to taste. Not sure about chocolate. There also are gondolas 🚠 to take up into the nearby mountains for hiking or just relaxing. Check Appenzell out on YouTube.
Enjoy!