Best German Town To Drop Off Rental Car BEFORE Switzerland

We will be wandering our way down to the Swiss border in a rented car, with Lucerne as our destination, and want to drop the car in a convenient German location. We will be doing sort of a "Z", beginning in Bacharach, across to Nuremberg, then diagonally to the southwest (west of Munich) down to the border. After Switzerland, we plan to travel back to Germany and Austria, possibly staying in the Garmisch area then finishing in Munich after Oktoberfest ends. So somewhere west of Lake Constance, with good train connections to Lucerne, seems the best place to drop the car. Any suggestions?

Posted by Lee
Lakewood, Colorado
11264 posts

Unless you actually want to stop and spend time in some places along the way, the most economic way to get from Nürnberg to Luzern would be by express train using a Europa-Spezial Schweiz fare. These fares are for a specific train on a specific day but fares from Nürnberg to Luzern start at 39€/p with advance purchase as much as 92 days out.

Posted by Mike
los angeles, california, usa
77 posts

We're taking a few days to wander about on our way south, hence the rental car. In no particular rush to get there.

Posted by Eileen
Texan in CA
3578 posts

Just a heads-up - remember, you can train into Switzerland from anywhere in Germany...so choose your location based on which rental location will actually be open when you arrive to drop off the car (check both day of the week and hours of the day); the operating hours can get pretty weird...and may make the decision for you. My quick perusal shows that G-P, Munich, or Salzburg would all work for me (*on the made-up date in the future that I chose; another day may show more/less trains at completely different times of the day). Yes, you'd need to take a train TO Salzburg probably (unless your rental allows for returns to Salzburg...you never know). It depends on the time of day you want to travel - each candidate has one or two better trains (meaning less connections), so you'd want to minimize your connections. The best train, combined with the best candidate for returning your rental, is your answer. Edit: FWIW, the particular date I choose all show fares as low as 39€ for the good runs...so buy your tickets online ASAP after you make your decision!

Posted by Mike
los angeles, california, usa
77 posts

We'll be WEST of Bodensee/Lake Constance entering Switzerland and EAST of it leaving. So from Lake Constance to Frieburg is where we're looking to drop the car.

Posted by Tim
Wyckoff, NJ, USA
667 posts

Well, if you're using one of the big rental companies, Google Maps is likely to pop up, automatically, with red pointers to other offices of the same company as you pan along the border. It's hard to tell what you mean by best: Cheapest train, most interesting town, fastest train, fewest train changes, best scenery, whatever. I suspect you must drop the car in Germany, but you didn't say that. I'd point out that Weil am Rhein is very, very close to Basel. Besides the Basel attractions, there are the Vitra Design Museum and Augusta Raurica while you still have the car. If you like train travel, why not go as far as you can on your Black Forest hotel train ticket, and buy the train fare for the rest of the way? Do you have massive luggage? Incidentally, I'd ask when you pick up the car whether they happen to have one with a Swiss toll vignette. There are lots of nice towns just inside Switzerland to see, perhaps driving back East towards Zurich/Luzerne. Any chance the Zurich Airport has no foreign-drop penalty?

Posted by Tom
Hüttenfeld, Hessen, Germany
9094 posts

I'm confused. Why do you want to drop the car off when you're returning to Germany later in the trip? Why not just keep it in Switzerland? Swiss vignettes only cost about €42. You can easily spend that much on one meal in Switzerland.

Posted by Lola
Seattle, WA
5444 posts

Take a look at the Swiss rail map Google "Swiss synoptic map" to see it. It shows the German towns closest to the Swiss border. West of Bodensee, Singen would work if there is a rental office there. If not, look farther west. No matter where you drop, you will likely have to go via Zurich to get to Luzern ( unless you go as far west as Basel, which might make a nice place to see anyway).

Posted by David
Florence, AL, USA
1960 posts

You can drop the car at Lindau, on the eastern side of Bodensee. I believe you can catch the train there that goes around the north shore of the lake into Zurich. Autobahn A96/A14 runs right by there.

Posted by Tim
Wyckoff, NJ, USA
667 posts

Tom's subsequent post suggested to me: It is of course totally unnecessary to have a car in Lucerne - maybe even an annoyance. But we chose to stay in Vitznau, at the luxury Vitznauerhof (free parking, AFAIR.) We used the boat for our day in Lucerne. The car was handy for touring around the lake towns (yes, limited parking), if that's an interest. I'm not trying to persuade you to stay outside Lucerne, nor to keep the car - only to consider another idea. BTW, Lots of Rick Steves people stay in Weggis for less money. You can walk from the Vitznauerhof to the cogwheel train that goes to the summit whose cablecar comes down in Weggis. We walked back (to our luxury hotel!) from Weggis, after missing the municipal bus. The bigger Parkhotel in Vitznau is closed for gut renovation for years.

Posted by Mike
los angeles, california, usa
77 posts

Thanks for the many suggestions. I am always taken with how helpful & sharing so many RS people are. We hadn't considered staying outside Lucerne but will now look into that option. As to Landau, that's where we planned to p/u the next rental car. To Tom, the main reason we didn't want the car in Switzerland is that it would more than likely remain parked for 5 days. We will be renting it from the Bestors as always & they are quite good at these sorts of "split ticket" arrangements. I'm also looking forward to kicking back on trains for a few days.

Posted by Denise
Lake Forest, CA, USA
1391 posts

After flying into Zurich, I took a 1 hr. train trip to Singen and picked up our rental car from Europcar, which was arranged through AutoEurope. Singen is a small town and it was very easy to walk the short distance from the train station to the rental car office. From Singen we went into the southern part of the Black Forest.

Posted by Tom
Hüttenfeld, Hessen, Germany
9094 posts

"As to Landau, that's where we planned to p/u the next rental car." Just so we're clear, is that LINdau or LANdau? One is practically on the border with Switzerland, the other is much farther to the north.

Posted by Kathy
Germany, Germany
800 posts

Konstanz is a good sized town. It's much bigger than Singen. It may have more options for car rental than Singen. Can't get any closer to Switzerland, either. Train service in/out of there is super easy as well, I've done it a few times.

Posted by Mike
los angeles, california, usa
77 posts

Denise and Kathy, thanks for the tips on Singen and Konstanz. And Tom, yes, it's Lindau the town not Landau the actor...who could conceivably be in Lindau renting a touring old Landau while we toddle by.

Posted by Sarah
Stuttgart, Germany
2012 posts

I agree with Kathy that Konstanz is the obvious choice here. It's large enough and has enough of a tourist infrastructure that there should be a drop off point, and you're literally on the border.

Posted by Mike
los angeles, california, usa
77 posts

Thanks for all the advice. It looks like Konstanz makes the most sense.