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Rental car in Switzerland


hmcrn
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Hi all!  We are headed out of Basel on a river cruise in May 2022.  Flying in to Zurich, 4 of us were considering renting a car and touring around Switzerland for 2-3 days and then leaving the car at the airport in Basel prior to the cruise.  

Is this feasible?  How hard is it for a US driver in Switzerland? Any things to beware of?  Any advice?

Tentative thoughts are Lucerne, Zermatt, Montreux, and then to Basel - perhaps a few side trips.  

We thought of taking the trains, but we wanted more flexibility.  

Appreciate any comments!  Thanks!

Edited by hmcrn
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Gnome12 has a point. But you could do this if you want a whirlwind tour.

 

We once rented a car in Zurich and returned to Basel, pre-cruise. Not a problem. Driving is easy enough. The only caveat is that the Basel airport has two sections - Swiss and French. Make sure you follow the signs to the correct section, and make sure you know which section you're supposed to return to. And know that "Mietwagen" is the term for rental car (on the Swiss side), so you can find the return lot.

 

We have been to Montreux and Lucerne; it's easy enough to navigate there. Never Zermatt - isn't that a car-free place, where you have to take a train? 

 

In addition to our rental car experience we have driven personal vehicles through Switzerland as part of the European Delivery program with Audi. The roads are great and well-signed so I would not worry about finding your way. We've never had issues other than an occasional wrong turn, or some traffic.

 

Enjoy your trip!

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Thanks JPAlbny!  Great tips on the Basel airport, and good to know the signage is good.  

Zermatt IS car free - i was told we could park outside of town in a lot and then take a short train ride (or tram?) in to town.  

 

Gnome12 - you are correct!  We are definitely doing a pretty whirlwind tour.  We are thinking lunch near the lake in Lucerne then Zermatt for overnight.  A day in Zermatt, then next day to Montreux for a few hours, then ending in Basel the night before the cruise.  It will be literally "sight-seeing" for most things and no chance to explore which is very sad.  When we retire we will go back and "do it right"!  

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Most european cars are smaller then those in the US. For 4 persons with luggage be sure you get the right one. Also automatic isnot always offered. Gas is more expensive and goes by liters.

Apart from that you will be o.k. driving in Switzerland. 

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Hi Heidi!

Fred and I rented a car in 2019 from Frankfurt with return to Nuremberg. Included in our itinerary was 3 nights in Lucerne. We stayed at the Hotel Balm in Meggen because it included free parking and a transportation pass so was an easy bus trip into Lucerne. Great breakfast and our room overlooked the lake to Mt. Pilatus. Driving is easy, but we did not want to risk valet parking a rental car by staying in Lucerne proper. Though do watch your speed as Switzerland tracked me down for a hefty fine.

 

Currently planning for a group of 6 couples for Switzerland post our 2023 Avalon Rhine cruise. Initially I was thinking to include Lucerne, the Gotthard Panoramic train to Lugano, Zermatt, and the Jungfrau region but over 8 days vs. your 3!! Have since revised to just Lucerne and the Jungfrau area.

 

I will email you with some links, but suggest skipping Zermatt and Montreux. We have visited both those areas on land trips.

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  • 1 month later...

According to Google Maps, that involves 303 miles and 7 hours of driving.  Given that you are planning to allow only 2 or 3 days for your land trip, that will not give you much time to see anything.  You certainly will not have any time for side trips.

 

DON

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 10/27/2021 at 2:17 PM, hmcrn said:

Hi all!  We are headed out of Basel on a river cruise in May 2022.  Flying in to Zurich, 4 of us were considering renting a car and touring around Switzerland for 2-3 days and then leaving the car at the airport in Basel prior to the cruise.  

Is this feasible?  How hard is it for a US driver in Switzerland? Any things to beware of?  Any advice?

Tentative thoughts are Lucerne, Zermatt, Montreux, and then to Basel - perhaps a few side trips.  

We thought of taking the trains, but we wanted more flexibility.  

Appreciate any comments!  Thanks!

With just 2-3 days I would not try to go to Zermatt or Montreaux.  Lucerne and the Berner Oberland south of Interlaken would be doable and good choices.  Driving in Switzerland is just like here in the US.  For 4 people the car rental cost would be ok, but the trains are so easy and relaxing for everyone, including the driver!

 

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There’s so much to see in Switzerland def push for 3 nights.  Driving is easy and the roads and tunnels are quite impressive.  We did a similar itin but stayed in Lucerne at Hotel des Balances which included valet parking. Agree that Interlaken is well worth a visit.

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I would also recommend staying with the Lucerne & Berner Oberland area & skipping the time to drive further south.  Although we have done that & it is wonderful, but takes time.

  Lucerne will be nice to tour in a day and it's not a long drive to Interlaken. You can enjoy the mountain vistas from that region.  It does take time to go up the alpine lifts but so worth it!!

You can drive up to Basel from there, possibly even stopping for a walking tour of Bern on the way if time allows.

We got along just fine driving for a week+ in Switzerland.  Having a GPS (or phone map) does help a lot, especially maneuvering thru cities.  

Enjoy your trip wherever you decide!  

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