Renting a car vs trains in Switzerland

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HenryB
HenryB
1 post
new member
Aug 15, 2017 - 1:18 AM

Hello,

Looking for some advice regarding how to travel during our upcoming trip to Switzerland. We will be spending a few nights in Como, Italy than traveling to Lauterbrunnen for 4 nights and finishing in Zurich for 1 night. While in Lauterbrunnen, we plan on taking full advantage of the local activities and want to do some sight seeing in Murren, Grindelwald, Interlaken, Kandersteg, etc.

Is it worth renting a car in Switzerland since we plan on visiting all these spots or should we take train/ public transportation? Our friends suggested using the Gondolas to go between towns which would definitely add to the experience but we want to make sure we aren't limiting our vacation by not opting for a car.

Thank you,

HenryB

Lucas
Lucas
9890 posts
expert &
moderator
Aug 15, 2017 - 8:27 AM in reply to HenryB

Hi HenryB and welcome to MySwissAlps!

I think the opposite is true - you are limiting your vacation if you travel by car. As you note, a lot of places are best reached (or can only be reached) by train or cable car here in Switzerland.

Have a look at Swiss rail pass options here. You should probably look at the Either the Swiss Travel Pass or Regional Pass-Bernese Oberland.

There are reasons why sometimes a car is best but it isn't too often. Read about car travel vs. train travel here as well.

Lucas

MelindaE
MelindaE
8 posts
new member
Aug 15, 2017 - 11:17 PM

Hi HenryB

We recently spent 8 days in Switzerland and have never travelled throughout Europe so had loads of questions - one being should we hire a car. Thank goodness we didn't as I think it would have been more of a bother than help. The train system is amazing in Switzerland and you can often make your journey a mix of train, gondola's and walks - having to then back track to pick up a car would have been a nuisance. We also found that by going into the train station information centres you could ask for a print out of journeys you were taking in future days - this would list the times and platforms you caught the next train from. Yes I know people will say it can all be looked up online but we found it very helpful. Happy travels :)

MelindaE

Peterli
Peterli
679 posts
top member
Aug 16, 2017 - 12:43 AM in reply to HenryB

Hi Henry,

Where are you arriving in Switzerland and are you departing at the same location ? Also, I do not know how many people you are, only that you are "we". If you are traveling by public transportation, you will have to buy two or three or how many you are tickets for each movement you make. If you rent a car, you have a set rental charge no matter how many you are. So this is one potential pro for renting.

You can do the cost analysis as it seems you know exactly what route you plan to take. If you rent and need to leave the car at a different location, keep in mind there is an extra charge for that. If you are planning to spend your time in cities, trains are better because the train station is usually close to the downtown and you don't have to spend time looking around for parking.

If you are traveling by car, there will be less moving around with your bags and so you won't need to worry about storage lockers or where to put things when you are riding a funicular or gondola or cable car or city transport. Your car is your storage locker. If you like just stopping whenever you see a place that you might be interesting, a car is better for obvious reasons. Don't get me wrong, the Swiss public travel system is, in my mind, unmatched in the world. Everything is so well synchronized, so that when you need to change trains or catch a postal bus, you will be able to make the connection. If you rent a car, you must factor in the cost for fuel. When I was young, I traveled the length and breadth of Switzerland by train and boat and postal car, with only a backpack to take care of. It was and still is a great way to effortlessly get an appreciation of the amazing variety packed into such a small country. But now I rent a car each year as I know the roads I use pretty much as well as the ones I use back home, and I like the freedom of being able to stop and continue whenever I want, just as if I was at home, and to go off and explore roads and places I haven't really seen before. It's hard to find a place that isn't interesting !

If you do decide to rent, and do so in Switzerland, your car should have an autoroute vignette. Check about a GPS with the rental agency. Roads are well marked but it is always nice to have a satnav, especially in built-up areas. Obviously, even if you do decide to rent a car, you will undoubtedly still have to take a funicular or gondola to reach places that are inaccessible by car, and so you will have to factor in these costs as well. I'm trying not to push one option or the other, as I think they both have their pros and cons. Ultimately, it is you who must decide as you know what you want to do the most. How's that for a start ?

Kferriter
Kferriter
10 posts
new member
Aug 17, 2017 - 4:59 AM in reply to Peterli

We did a similar trip in reverse. We spent several days in the Lauterbrunnen area and the went to como. We arrived in Zurich to start our trip. I could not imagine needing a car. The train trip from como to Lauterbrunnen was beautiful. And we spent 3 days in the Lauterbrunnen area and the trains were a perfect way to get from spot to spot.

In almost all cases, we couldn't have gotten to where we were going by car anyway. We stayed in Murren and went to villages and hikes on both sides of the valley and didn't come close to seeing everything. Translation, there's plenty to do in the immediate area if just being outside sounds good. We traveled in mid June so just before the tourism season began. never had a car. And never thought about having one.

I understand what Peterli is saying in terms of cost. If there are four adults, it may be worth doing the math. But understand that you'll still need to take the train to many spots in the mountain where cars aren't allowed or it just isn't convientant.

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