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Renting a car in Bern

Greetings!

Our family of 5 is arriving in Bern via train, of course our arrival time is during after hours for the local car rental, and we must pick up the car from the airport. Can you simplify how to get from point A (train station) to point B (airport)? Because none of it makes sense to me. Thanks!

And, Yes, I know they have a great train system, just not when you are multiplying it by 5 every day.

Thanks!

Posted by
1443 posts

Perhaps a taxi or bus to the airport will be your best bet. Bern is the capital, so taxis from the central train station to the airport will be readily available. With 5 people I agree that car rental is probably the better value for you despite the fine train system.

Posted by
8889 posts

Bern might be the federal capital, but it is only the 5th largest city in Switzerland, and the airport has very few flights. Most people heading to Bern use Zürich airport.
I found the relevant page on the airport's website: http://www.flughafenbern.ch/en/arriving-parking/anfahrt-oev
You need to get a train to "Bern Belp", a suburban station, NOT the main Bern station, then get a connecting shuttle bus.

Re-phrasing, where are you coming from and by what method of transport? It may be that picking the car up before you get to Bern is a better idea.

Posted by
23 posts

@ Chris: We are coming from Paris via the train, so Bern is best place to pick up a vehicle as our final destination wants to charge a hefty fee for the car, as well as service fee for us to pick it up after closing hours. So, unfortunately, Bern is my best alternative thus far. (Tickets are not booked, just yet)

I looked at the link you mentioned before posting my question, and was confused. (I can do airports, but I am lost with the whole transit system) While a taxi is an option, I'd rather not spend the 50 bucks when I know there is a cheaper one, I just have to figure out how to use it.

Thanks for helping!

Posted by
8889 posts

rkroyal, if you are going from Paris to Bern, your train is usually through Basel, and you probably need to change trains there; except for 1 train per day via Neuchâtel.
Basel is a bigger city, so has more car rental offices. Plus you will be there 1 hour before the train gets to Bern, so more chance the office is still open, and you save a trip to Bern airport.

I am slightly surprised you say "our arrival time is during after hours" as there are trains from Paris every 2 hours, and some will get you there midday or mid-afternoon. The trains are (for a random mid-week date):

Paris-Gare de Lyon dep 07:23, Bern arr 11:24
Paris-Gare de Lyon dep 07:57, Bern arr 12:52 <-- This train is via Neuchâtel
Paris-Gare de Lyon dep 10:23, Bern arr 14:24
Paris-Gare de Lyon dep 12:23, Bern arr 16:24
Paris-Gare de Lyon dep 14:23, Bern arr 18:24
Paris-Gare de Lyon dep 16:23, Bern arr 20:24
Paris-Gare de Lyon dep 18:23, Bern arr 22:51 <-- This train is direct, it goes via Basel but you don't have to change there.

Posted by
23 posts

@Chris:
I never thought of stopping in Basel, since it was a 2 hour drive from our destination. I did, however, pick on the hint to search all stops along the way, and you are correct and Basel does offer a wider selection of vehicles, and without the addition visit to the airport! Thanks for the suggestion!

We are traveling on the June 9th, which is a Saturday, and while those times you noted should have tickets attached to them, many of them do not. I have searched and searched, almost daily for two months, for tickets. Trainline offers two for Bern: 0721 & 0954, and since I added Basel I have an a couple more to select from. Before that it was a brick wall trying to get to Lauterbrunnen.

Could you tell me how to find a ticket for this: Paris-Gare de Lyon dep 07:57, Bern arr 12:52 <-- This train is via Neuchâtel? I would be interested in comparing its sticker price to the others.

Thanks!

Posted by
8889 posts

I went first to https://www.tgv-lyria.com/en
Which is the SNCF/SBB joint company running the High Speed trains from Paris to Switzerland. They only sell tickets for their trains, not onward connections to Bern. I discovered there are actually 3 trains a day from Paris to Neuchâtel, and all still have seats on 9th June.

07h57 PARIS GARE DE LYON, 11h53 NEUCHATEL STATION €69
11h57 PARIS GARE DE LYON, 15h53 NEUCHATEL STATION €59
17h57 PARIS GARE DE LYON, 21h53 NEUCHATEL STATION €39

Not sure if you could find a car in Neuchâtel on a Saturday.
I then did a search for Basel trains on 9th June, and all had seats:

07h21 PARIS GARE DE LYON, 10h26 BASEL SBB €43
09h54 PARIS GARE DE LYON, 13h26 BASEL SBB €57
12h23 PARIS GARE DE LYON, 15h26 BASEL SBB €71
14h23 PARIS GARE DE LYON, 17h26 BASEL SBB €43
16h23 PARIS GARE DE LYON, 19h26 BASEL SBB €50
18h23 PARIS GARE DE LYON, 21h26 BASEL SBB €50

Since Swiss trains never run out of seats (tickets are not specific to a train), you could also get to a connection from Basel to Bern with all of these trains.
I was confused by your comment that tickets were sold out. So I went to trainline and searched Paris to Basel. I got the same prices for all the above trains.
But, trainline does not sell Swiss internal tickets (no SBB logo on their homepage), so they were just offering you the one daily train that goes through to Bern without changing at Basel.

Posted by
32964 posts

A couple of follow up questions, K Royea, please.

Have you given up on the idea of stopping in Switzerland on the way by car from Venice to Paris?

Am I right that you are now doing Venice and Rome and flying from Italy to Paris, doing Paris and then going from Paris to Lauterbrunnen?

Did you decide on Lauterbrunnen over Grindelwald?

After you finish in the mountains what are you doing next? Where are you heading to?

I'm a little confused. I remember the calculations of the various options some months ago. I don't think I envisioned using both the train and car to get to the Berner Oberland. So if your destination is Lauterbrunnen and the mountains why don't you just stay on the train (change at Basel) all the way to Lauterbrunnen? It won't cost that much more for the full trip than cutting it short in Basel will it? And much less hassle.

Once you get to Lauterbrunnen are you planning on parking the car and going up into the mountains? If so, Lauterbrunnen is as far as you can go. Everything up both sides of the valley, both on the Wengen side and the Mürren side is car-free and you have to use the trains and cable cars.

Do you have additional plans for the car?

Posted by
23 posts

@Nigel:
Several components of our vacation have changed since my first post, thanks to the many suggestions made on this forum!

We have opted to forgo a vehicle for the long distance parts of our vacation, using a combination of trains and a flight to get back to Paris, but when calculating the train fare for navigating around the Alps it only made sense to rent a vehicle, since we are a family of 5. For example: It costs $112 for my family to travel roundtrip to Interlaken for an outing that we have planned, and we’d have to pay half that again the day we depart Lauterbrunnen. Keep on adding that amount every time we want to journey out of Lauterbrunnen. Parking isn’t a concern while we are there, as our flat has a garage available.

Believe it or not, it is actually cheaper to rent a car and drive the remaining distance to Laut, than taking the train directly there. Tolls, gas and all!

Posted by
23 posts

@Chris: I had a couple more questions about navigating Switzerland. The details were sent in a PM. Thanks!

Posted by
7209 posts

I don't see any discussion about your family members' ages. Are any of them < 16 years old? If so they travel free all over Switzerland with you as long as you get them a free Swiss Family Card.

Posted by
23 posts

@Tim: We have a 19, 16, & 12 yr old, so only one of them is eligible to travel for free on that pass. Unfortunately, a vehicle offers the better price when you calculate it all out. If it were just two of us, we'd opt of the Swiss pass. Thanks!