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Rental car in Switzerland

Hello - looking for advice on renting a car in Switzerland. We arrive in July and plan to rent a car in Zurich, and travel to Eastern Switzerland, near Lichtenstein, then head to central Switzerland, near Interlaken, and then journey to Eastern France outside of Lyon. We plan to return our rental car in Geneva. I know we will have a fee to drop it in another location. Any issues to be aware of driving into France? Any advice on the Geneva airport? I see there is a French side for drop-offs. I wasnt sure which location to chose for the rental car return. Thanks for the help

Posted by
7154 posts

You do realize Geneva is in Switzerland, right?? So you don’t have to drop in a different country. Better question is do you really need/want a rental in Switzerland?

Posted by
8 posts

Thanks for the quick reply. Yes, I will be returing the car in the same country, just different airports. We are a family of 5 and feel that a car is our best option as we are also spending several days in France.

Posted by
589 posts

The only thing about renting a car in France or any country is obey the speed limit and be careful where you park. Read all the signs in the area where you want to park to be sure it isn't private. Also, France has some toll roads. If you are on one of them, be sure to have plenty of cash to pay if your credit card doesn't work. Otherwise driving is no different than the US.

Posted by
8889 posts

caparrish,

"rent a car in Zurich" - I am guessing you mean Zürich airport because you are flying in, not Zürich city centre. As above, you can then return it at the Swiss side of Geneva airport and avoid the high international drop off fees.

"Lichtenstein" - There are many places called "Lichtenstein", all in Germany. Including the famous Lichtenstein castle (click for photo). Do you mean that, or do you mean the country of Liechtenstein?

"near Interlaken" - some popular places near Interlaken (Mürren, Wengen) are car-free.

Any issues to be aware of driving into France?

a) No problem driving a Swiss car in France.
b) Be sure to include Autoroute tolls in your cost estimates.
c) Where are you from? Which country issued your Driving Licence? If it is not a European country, you need an IDP (International Driving Permit) as well as your licence if you are driving in France, Austria or Italy. This certifies the legality of your licence. You get this in the country that issued your licence.
d) Learn the traffic rules and road signs before leaving home.

And yes, the "elephant in a corner" is do you really need a car in Switzerland, or should you simply use trains in Switzerland, then get a French car at Geneva airport and return it to the same place.

Posted by
8889 posts

Oh, and a small point. Do not start lines in your post with a #.

If the line starts with a # it looks like this.

If it start with a ## it looks like this.

If it start with a > it looks like this.

You can edit your old posts and remove the #.

Edit: Oops, caparrish appears to nave deleted their post instead of editing it.

Posted by
7154 posts

How old are your kids? Kids < 16 can travel 100% free with you wherever you go. The most beautiful parts of Switzerland cannot be reached by car...only by trains in which case you’d paying for rental car as well as parking for your rental car AND train tickets from that point on up into the car-free areas. So why would you pay for both?

Rental Cars offer very little in flexibility unlike what you might think. Trains go everywhere you as a tourist could possibly want to go.

Posted by
5451 posts

Trains go everywhere you as a tourist could possibly want to go.

And trains go on scenic routes where cars cannot go.

Posted by
477 posts
  1. Awesome itinerary. We drove into Liechtenstein too, on our way to Chur for the Bernina Express, just to tick off another country. Don't expect much more than that though.

  2. I think you will be able to avoid a dropoff fee, as long as you bring it back to Switzerland. Try Europcar if you haven't already.

  3. I haven't been to Geneva Airport, but if its like Basel airport there is a Swiss side and a French side.

  4. Don't bother with trains. If you are two, there is little price advantage; and if you are three or more a car is cheaper. And trains won't get you conveniently to places off the mainlines like Liechtenstein (rare service) or the Berner Oberland (multiple bus/train connections). Not to mention the convenience of being able stop at any village or lakeside stop that looks appealing to you.

Posted by
854 posts

Chiming in to echo what others have said, that if you have kids who are under 16 they ride the trains for free. The Switzerland trains are amazing, easy, clean....

Posted by
4670 posts

When I rented in Zurich, I had to tell them that I was going to take it out of the country, to Germany. (The agent asked me.) Certain other countries, Czech Republic if I remember, were prohibited. Did not cost extra, as far as I could tell. I was told that I DID have the Umweltplakette for urban Germany use. (I know you're not going to Germany.)

Posted by
34 posts

I’ve had good experiences with Hertz in Switzerland. And Europcar and Budget elsewhere. You shouldn’t have a problem dropping it off. You also won’t have any problems driving to other countries nearby.

It’s a joy to drive in Switzerland. Switzerland made a nice guide for touring by car: https://grandtour.myswitzerland.com/en/

Lichtenstein doesn’t get much love here but it’s worth popping into if you like hiking and off the beaten path places. Malbun has some great quiet hiking trails and is a quick drive up from Vaduz. There’s also some great mountainside restaurants you won’t see a single other tourist at. Its truly “backdoor” Europe. Good guide here: https://tourismus.li/en/

Posted by
2764 posts

Just make sure when you schedule your car return that you specify the Swiss side of the Geneva airport. Otherwise you'll probably pay a high inter-country drop fee. Whereas if you return on the Swiss side they'll either be no fee or a pretty modest fee, depending on the rental company.

Posted by
8 posts

Many thanks to all who have replied on this chain and shared travel advice and opinions with us. Much appreciated !

Posted by
15 posts

Regarding Rental Car. Get full coverage and insist on them telling you what it covers. The gal I rented from said If I only bring back just the sterring wheel, the car would be covered. I got full coverage and still had the rental company collectors call and write telling me I owed $ in damages for many months. There were no damages to the car. There are insurance scammers out there. Beware.