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Car rental vs train from Zurich in December

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Posts: 11
Tajmo58
Tajmo58
3 posts
new member
Dec 1, 2019 - 10:13 PM

We are arriving to Zurich on December 25,2019. We booked a hotel in spiez for our entire 5 night stay . We are wondering if it’s better to take the train or take a rental . We are planning to have a short visit to surrounding cities around spiez. I am wondering how road conditions are in December . We are from Miami and have never driven on icy roads however we want to use the car for our site seeing. Please help us decide if it’s better to take a train or to drive to surrounding cities.

1960man
1960man
2318 posts
top member
Dec 1, 2019 - 11:53 PM in reply to Tajmo58

Zero need to use a car

There are a few remote places in Switzerland where a car is very slightly beneficial over the public transport system, however if it is your first trip to Switzerland from Florida, you really won't need to/won't be able to venture to those sorts of places, especially in December. In summer a car can work well because you can park in laybys etc and get out and look around or sit around in warm sunshine - this is not really the case in mid winter

Reasons for not using a car in your case are manyfold, including:

  • Switzerland is a small country with what is generally accepted as the most integrated public transport system in the world, if there is no railway, a bus will be waiting in the station forecourt to link to places not on the railway
  • virtually all main tourist sites are accessible by public transport, especially if it is your first time
  • Spiez is a perfect place to stay - right on a main line railway with good connections to the whole of Switzerland
  • Being a small country you can get there and back to most parts of Switzerland in one day from a central point like Spiez.
  • etc
Last modified on Dec 1, 2019 - 11:56 PM by 1960man
rockoyster
rockoyster
7837 posts
expert
Dec 2, 2019 - 1:49 AM in reply to Tajmo58

Hello Tajmo and Welcome to MySwissAlps,

Use public transport. You will find it much more relaxing. If you doubt the wisdom of this and 1960man's advice read www.myswissalps.com/ca rversustrain.

I recently spent a week in Thun. See www.myswissalps.com/fo rum/topic/a-week-in-thun. You will have no trouble filling your days.

I am a big fan of the SBB Mobile app (bit.ly/2ICIUHi) for checking train, bus, boat and cable way timetables, finding fares* and buying tickets on-line if required. In the unlikely event you don’t have a device capable of running the app then you can use the timetable on the SBB website (bit.ly/2HH1U7B). If you are not familiar with using the timetable it will pay to first read the instructions at www.myswissalps.com/ti metable.

* The SBB website shows half-fare prices by default, the mobile app allows you to nominate whether to show full or half-fares (by editing the passenger details in settings) and is also smart enough to offer you the Saver Day Pass (www.myswissalps.com/sa verdaypass) if that offers the best fare. The app can also display a platform map (at least at the larger stations) to help you make connections. You can also easily filter modes of transport (eg bus or ship).

Based on your personal itinerary you should read “How to choose the best travel pass” (www.myswissalps.com/tr ain/ticketspasses/prac tical/chooserailpass), download the handy spreadsheet calculator and do the math. The spreadsheet also includes links to the “Where it's valid" page for all available passes. Be sure to check those pages for each pass you are considering. Study the map AND read all the text on those pages to fully understand what is covered by the respective pass.

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
6919 posts
expert
Dec 2, 2019 - 1:52 AM in reply to Tajmo58

Hi Tajmo58 -

How many in your group?

Slowpoke

Steph
Steph
2020 posts
top member &
moderator
Dec 2, 2019 - 7:23 AM in reply to Tajmo58

Hello Tajmo58,

Nice to hear you're coming along to Switzerland. I also would say that you're better off travelling by train, as suggested by the other members.

To help you get an idea of driving (just for you to compare), make sure to check the below links:
- www.myswissalps.com/ca r, especially the "How to drive in the mountains" section
- www.myswissalps.com/be sttimetovisit

Hope this helps you decide your mode of transport. Get back to us anytime for further support.

Best,
Steph

gramels
gramels
22 posts
new member
Dec 2, 2019 - 9:53 AM

+1 for train

:-)

Tajmo58
Tajmo58
3 posts
new member
Dec 2, 2019 - 5:15 PM in reply to Slowpoke

We are a family of 4

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
6919 posts
expert
Dec 2, 2019 - 5:31 PM in reply to Tajmo58

Hi Tajmo58 -

Now that others have given you the excellent reasons to use the trains, you may find this map useful.

map.search.ch/?pos=626640,168992&z=32

I have zoomed it to zoom level 32 ( last number in the URL) at which magnification the train lines show up clearly as black lines.

(That is why I prefer this map to Google Maps.)

In the frame I've selected, you can see some of the lines near Interlaken, and barely see the line along the shore (through tunnels) between Spiez and interlaken

If you zoom out to a reduced magnification, this version shows that Bern, Luzern, and Brig (in the Rhone Valley) are within easy reach by train, often on quite scenic routes:

map.search.ch/?pos=622464,166400&z=2

If you zoom back in, the train lines will reappear. You can see that there are several routes to Bern, allowing a choice of different "to" and "return" routes.

map.search.ch/?pos=610384,196208&z=32

If you zoom in south of Interlaken, toward the Jungfrau, you can see the train lines and the cable ways:

map.search.ch/?pos=642544,166400&z=32

Cars cannot even reach some of the locations along some of the mountainous train routes, and everyone in the party gets to look at the scenery. No worries about driving. Cars are not permitted in most of the near near the Jungfrau.

I took the attached view of the Lauterbrunnen Valley while standing beside the train line as it enters Wengen coming up from Lauterbrunnen. You can see the same view from the right side of the train as it pulls into Wengen station. ( that is, you can see it if you have clear day, and in December, there will be a lot more snow, although the valley floor may not have any). Wengen is a car-free village.

Slowpoke

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Slowpoke
Slowpoke
6919 posts
expert
Dec 2, 2019 - 5:53 PM in reply to Tajmo58

<<"We are a family of 4">>

The reason that I asked is that the cost per person can be lower as the group size increases, when you rent a car. And, in contrast, each traveler must have his or her own rail pass.

The benefit is not as large as you might think, however because any parking in the cities can be quite expensive. Actually, even if your final all-included cost comes out less with a rental car for four people, you can actually have less convenience as long as your itinerary includes cities.

Also, younger members of your might be able to get a free or discounted pass, based on age.)
www.myswissalps.com/sw issrailpasses
www.myswissalps.com/tr ain/ticketspasses/prac tical/discounts

And, cars tend to be small enough that you'd need to rent something larger ( more costly) to handle luggage for 4, unless everyone packs light. Hard to do with Winter clothes. If you stay at one base hotel, you only have to get your luggage there ( and back) one time, of course....you travel by train or car.

Not sure this was mentioned before, but when I fly in from the 'States I don't let myself drive for two days, or more, to get over jet-lag and be reasonably safe and not confused when there is a need to make sudden decisions. Street signs are in German where you'll be. GPS tends to solve the routing problems, but it is not perfect...especially in cities, where the intersections come up quickly, and always find myself in the wrong lane for a turn.

Slowpoke

Tajmo58
Tajmo58
3 posts
new member
Dec 3, 2019 - 1:50 PM

Thank you so much for all your recommendations. It was a unanimous decision to take the train instead of car rental . We are super excited for our trip.

Steph
Steph
2020 posts
top member &
moderator
Dec 3, 2019 - 8:23 PM in reply to Tajmo58

Thank YOU for your appreciation. We're glad you found helpful input here on the forum and are more than happy to support you further with any issues that might arrise.

Best,
Steph

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