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Lucerne area in December- rental car?

My husband, 3 kids and I are spending 9 nights in Europe this December. 4 nights in Heidelberg, then 5 nights in Lucerne area. We prefer to stay out of the city center and found some great AirBNB options with lake and mountain views. All of them highly suggest having a rental car since they're off the beaten track/not close to public transportation.

My husband is comfortable driving in winter weather, but after reading lots of forums I'm getting nervous about having a car in wintertime. We would use it for day trips to Lucerne city center, Basel and Interlaken area and probably not take any trains. I know the train system is great, but it seems silly (and costly) to rent a car AND pay for train trips. So.....what do you all think? Or are there other options I'm missing? I assume it'll be tricky and a pain to take a taxi every time from the rental to public transportation. None of us will be skiing. We just want to sightsee and explore the beauty of Switzerland. Thanks in advance!!

Posted by
21522 posts

We would use it for day trips to Lucerne city center, Basel and Interlaken area and probably not take any trains. I know the train system is great, but it seems silly (and costly) to rent a car AND pay for train trips. So.....what do you all think?

Have you calculated the cost of parking in Luzern centre, Basel, and Interlaken? You won't find any free parking.

For example - I've just checked on the official site - https://www.parking-luzern.ch/en one day parking in the Luzern Altstadt costs CHF 39.50. To park at the station costs CHF 52.50.

I know for a fact that parking in Basel is difficult - I have done it.

On the other hand if you stay in a hotel - I know you aren't, but others may - in the city of Basel or the city of Luzern (or in Bern and others) you will get free local transportation in that locality.

Don't expect places to provide overnight parking either. I assume that your remote airbnbs are providing parking?

The Brünig Pass between Luzern and Interlaken is often closed in winter. The train between the two runs regardless. Beautiful scenery too.

Posted by
6585 posts

With Swiss Transportation being so fabulous and the fact that any of your kids < 16 years old travel free with you I can't fathom the reason to have a vehicle. Not to even mention the fact that 5 people + luggage is going to probably require a minivan plus staying in the villages that you want to see is so much better than trying to save a few $ by staying in outlying (boring) areas.

If you want to explore Switzerland's beauty then do it in style on the trains, boats, buses, gondolas, funiculars - THAT'S the way to Switzerland!

Posted by
3 posts

Thanks for the responses. The main reason we'd consider a rental car is because the 3-4 AirBNB rentals we really like are 20-30 minutes outside of Lucerne, but also up steep roads/not easily walkable to public transportation. My husband also loves to drive and I think he's romanticizing about driving through winding, snowy Swiss roads ;)

We may have to revisit the AirBNB options and select something that's closer to public transportation, even though I really love the ones we found!