I will be flying into Geneva and would like to rent a car to travel to interlocken, lucern, Zurich. Any suggestion if this is a good idea or not. Should I be using the train instead. We are 4 people.
For Switzerland, not a good idea, All those places are well served by rail. Check out the "railpasses" section of this website for discounts you can get on the Swiss Transport system. For example you can get a 4 day-two person Swiss Pass which covers all inter city trains, municipal transit, and free entry to most museums for $189 USD; this include 50% discounts on the Jungfrau train, and Schiltorn Cable Car. There is also a Half-Fare card for $99USD; valid for one-month it gets you 50% off most all modes of transport in the entire country.
And if any of your "4 persons" are less than 16 years old they will travel 100% free with you on the public transport system. Swiss public transport is a joy to use...don't pass it up for a car.
Trains appear to be the way to go, but what happens in our case. We are driving a car from Belgium and staying in Switzerland for one week and back to France.
I suppose I could leave my car in a garage somewhere and return to the same location,but this somehow doesn't make sense.
All the places you mentioned are well served by public transit. If the 4 people are all adults it just becomes a mathematical exercise to see which travel version is cheaper. I suspect they come in close. With kids the train version would be cheaper.
We decided to travel through Switzerland by car with 4 people. Main reason: our base was in very rural Emmental. Very cheap and very comfortable accommodation (900 sqf appartment) for under 90 CHF/day for all 4 of us and true Swiss atmosphere won us over. While about 80% of our destinations were well serviced by public transit, the accommodation wasn't at all. And while the kids might travel for free on the trains we wanted to be more flexible with them than what a strict train schedule would have provided.
BTW once we arrived in larger centres like Lucerne, Basel, Bern we parked the car and walked or used transit (e.g. the boat to cross the lake in Lucerne).
I have looked into buying the two person four day pass for $189 but could not find this option.
This sounds perfect for us as we will be driving to Lauterbrunnen and stay for three days.
I could not comment about Geneva or Lucern, but a car in Interlaken, although probably not strictly necessary, is managable and allows you more freedom to explore the surrounding area -there's much more to see around Interlaken besides Murren, Laurterbrunnen and Gimmelwald. For Zurich, however, from my experience accidently driving through the city after missing the turn-off for the highway, here's my adivce: get rid of the car!
Dean: It's called the Swiss SaverPass and can be bought for 2 or more people traveling together at all times...everyone's name is printed on the same paper ticket so you can't split up and go different directions although it's perfectly fine for just 1 of those people to take the paper ticket and jump on the train alone. The $189 is per person so the price is really $378 for 2 persons. Read about it here: http://www.raileurope.com/us/rail/passes/swiss_saverpass.htm