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Rental Cars in Switzerland

We are considering taking a rental car in Zurich for travel around Switzerland
We are planning travel for two weeks - end august
Seniors in mid sixties - travelling and catching trains , carrying bags is a hassle and little difficult
I have two questions - seek input from the well travelled

1- Is it wise to rent car rather use trains ?

2- What car rental agency is advised

Thanks

Posted by
7205 posts

You mention mid-60s...are you saying that's too old to catch a train? Carrying bags shouldn't be a hassle unless you're taking too much stuff. Bags have wheels and can roll easily.

I think half the fun of traveling in Switzerland is riding the wonderful public transport system (not just trains).

Posted by
31471 posts

tony,

"Seniors in mid sixties - travelling and catching trains , carrying bags is a hassle and little difficult"

You didn't say if either of you have any health or mobility issues, but unless that's the case my response would be - rubbish! I'm in the same age range and have no problems with getting about by train using a Backpack Of course, not packing too much is the key point.

Switzerland has one of the best transportation systems in the world (possibly the best, completely electrified), and unless you plan on going somewhere that's really off the beaten path, then trains or integrated Post Buses are the way to go. Also keep in mind that some alpine villages are not accessible by car, so the vehicle will be parked, gathering dust and incurring rental charges. Cars are a big hassle in cities like Zürich and parking charges are steep.

To answer your first question, No, I don't believe it's wise. If you plan on travelling by train, then some pre-planning is a good idea. However it would help to have some idea which places in Switzerland you plan on visiting.

Posted by
815 posts

Hi Tony,

You need to keep in mind that we in Switzerland are by nature anti-car and we don't go out of our way to facilitate cars, except perhaps in the Kanton of Aarau, but that is another story.

Some examples:
- In Zurich the number of the cars allowed into the city at any given time are limited. If you find yourself stuck at a traffic light on one of the motor ways, it is most often because you have to wait for a car to leave the city before you can continue.
- Traffic lights designed to ensure you rarely get two green lights in a row
- Limited public car parking
- Planing restrictions on the number of parking spaces hotels etc. can have.
- Local laws requiring hotels to charge guests for parking spaces
And so on.

On the other hand we have an excellent public transport system, which you should be able to use, if you get a little bit organised:
- As others have said, pack light and use a wheelie bag
- Ask hotels for assistance in pick up and drop off
- Use MapSearch to identify hotels that are within easy walking distance of the train station.
- On the train timetable at SSB, use the advanced option and change the transfer duration to say 10 mins, so all train options will allow you more time to transfer
- Also on the train timetable you can select the option to show only connections that are suitable for person with mobility issues

- You can also forward luggage you don't need to a train station and pick it up later

I have mobility issues myself, so I do understand where you are coming from, but I think if you do a bit of planning you'll have a lot less stress on your trip to Switzerland if you take public transport.

Jim.

Posted by
27723 posts

One other anti car policy in Switzerland not mentioned by Jim is that Switzerland has just about the most expensive fuel in Europe.

If there is a chance you could use the public transport and send your luggage ahead I think you would find it pleasant. Unless you especially like driving in tunnels.

Posted by
9 posts

Gentlemen ,

Thank you very much for your valuable inputs
We have decided to use the trains
Your fabulous opinions - were compelling and made me refocus my efforts

Thank you every one

Posted by
31471 posts

tony,

In order to plan your trip, you may want to have a look at the RS Switzerland guidebook. If you need any specific transportation suggestions, post another note here.

Posted by
1179 posts

I am currently in Switzerland doing a house sit. I'm in my 60s and am traveling solo. Using the train is very easy in Switzerland even with luggage. They have these small platforms that make getting your luggage on and off the train very easy - you can roll your suitcase right off. The biggest issue for me is the smaller train stations that only have stairs to go under the tracks to other platforms or exit. A lot of the larger stations have ramps or elevators so you might want to research which stations you will be using and if they have lifts or ramps. The sbb.ch site has lots of information. As stated by another poster, there is also the service of having your luggage transported for you.

But, this is my second trip to Switzerland and both times, I've rented a car for part of the trip. I like the combination of public and self transport. If you decide to rent a car for any portion of your trip, Auto Europe is a great company I have used many times.

Posted by
12040 posts

Even though you already made your decision, to add more weight to it, a few of the most popular destinations in the country, Zermatt, Murren and Wengen do not allow private automobile access.

Posted by
3551 posts

Do not forget to review the train pass options.
I am currently in switzerland and the half fare card is saving me 50 % on my train, bus and boat ferry traveling. I purchased it upon arrival at my first rail station .

Posted by
6 posts

Hi,

I rented a car, can't remember the agency but all the major ones are fine to use, and drove all over Switzerland with my wife and in-laws. I found driving to be not much of a hassle at all, Rick Steve's book has tips on where to park for most major cities. Be sure to obey the speed limit though because there's a lot of speed cameras. My in-laws have mobility issues but their handicapped placard is valid in almost all of Europe due to a treaty or agreement or something. Google Maps works offline now if you download the area ahead of time so no need to rent the GPS from the agency. The above posters are correct about Swiss public transportation being easy and dependable, but I figured you'd want to hear about the experiences of someone who rented a car.

Chuck