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8 nights Switzerland Itinerary with car

I am meeting my 21 year old daughter and two other college girls for 8 nights in Switzerland in beginning March 11. Their preference is to see the "famous" alpine areas including Zermatt, Jungfrau, and the lake views. I live in Italy (the One Year Life Sabbatical from the Italy Forum) and will be driving up to meet them. (I have a constant companion --- Cavalier spaniel that will accompany us). My questions to this expert group:
1. I have a six month car rental through Auto Europe, leased through Peuguot with French license plates. The US reps told me I had no issues driving anywhere in the Schengen nations. Is there anything I need to do before driving into Switzerland and Austria?
2. Recommendations on how to split our time. My thought was to spend the first 4 nights in Interlaken and then 3 nights in Zermatt.
3. Because the girls are flying in/out of Frankfurt, they will have to spend the final night in Frankfurt for their early morning departure.
4. Any recommendations for a car service that can take them from Frankfurt to Interlaken and return them from Zermatt?

While the trains are excellent, it will be easier for me to simply drive between sleeping destinations than manage the bags, dog and girls. I will continue on after they depart for time in Austria and then back into Italy to visit friends in the Veneto.

Thank you very much!
Catherine (7 months in Italy and LOVING IT!! Working on my visa extension!)

Posted by
7205 posts

You'll need a vignette for driving in Switzerland and Austria.

Interlaken is not a destination - the reason for visiting "Interlaken Area" is to see the Swiss Alps. Continue driving through Interlaken on into the Lauterbrunnen Valley. Park the car and head to either Murren or Wengen via train/gondola. You can't drive there. Same for Zermatt - you'll have to park in Tasch and take the train into Zermatt.

Car Service??? Good luck with that. Although the train goes from Frankfurt Airport to Lauterbrunnen in as little as 5.5 hours. I see the estimated drive time is 4.5 hours.

Posted by
104 posts

Tim, thank you for your reply. I think. It came across rather as a scolding than an upbeat helpful response like I am used to seeing on the Italian Forum. I thought my posting was clear. We are going to Switzerland for lake views, and the alps. Interlaken happens to be one of my favorite cities, providing ready access to both the lakes and to the alps. Zermatt is a completely different destination and it is obvious I will be parking the car. I was hoping for more friendly tips and advice. BTW, car services are readily available in every major city, every airport - across Europe. I'll simply go with the TripAdvisor recommendation. Buona notte signore.

Posted by
7205 posts

Well txgirl620, I'll definitely try to be more upbeat when offering answers to your questions. Maybe you're offended by the description of Interlaken as a half-hearted Swiss Alps destination...but it is what it is and you'll get that same answer from a myriad of people. Yes, jump on over to TripAdvisor and ask all the "Interlaken" questions you want. I'll be there as one of the "Interlaken Destination Experts"

Car Service from Frankfurt to in "Private" Car Service? I am DEFINITELY interested in your vast experience of Car Services delivering you from one country to the next "all over Europe".

Hope you're successful in renewing your Visa.

Posted by
31521 posts


As Tim mentioned, you'll need highway tax vignettes for driving in both Switzerland and Austria. Be sure to affix them to the windshield in the precise designated spot. There are hefty fines (collected on the spot) for failing to have the vignette.

Depending on what you're planning to see in the Berner Oberland, I'm not sure what conditions will be like in mid-March. That may be the time the local farmers are fertilizing their fields, so you may experience some very strong odours while touring about. The weather could also be an issue. If you want to travel to the Jungfraujoch, be sure to budget accordingly as it's not cheap! You may want to consider at least the Swiss Half Fare Card to help a bit with the mountain lifts. The Schilthornn is a bit less expensive, but still on the pricey side.

I have no information on "car services". I'd suggest using the trains as the Swiss system is excellent. While the driving time may appear to be shorter, keep in mind that cars (including car services) are subject to traffic.

Posted by
104 posts

Thank you for the reply.

I had to laugh at your description of the farming trends. I live on a hilltop out in the countryside in Umbria. The "fragrances" during the year shift from a nice floral to a not so nice soil mixture! I wish I could pick the time of the year, but with college students they get their breaks and either I get to spend time with my daughter or I wait to compete with summer invitations. My trips to Switzerland have been at different times of the year, and I have always found it to be a beautiful place.
While Interlaken is certainly not Zermatt, it allows for easy excursions using the train or going for a drive.

With regard to car services ... it not anything I've ever had any problems with. Especially with multiple passengers, baggage and the challenge of changing trains for exhausted travelers.

Again, thank you for your response.