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Renting a car

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newark, nj
posts: 312
reviews: 5
Renting a car

Hi I am visiting switzerland for the first time, would it be more convenient to rent a car in the country? If I did what is the parking situation like?

I will be going to Geneva for 1 night, Grindelwald 2 nights, Lucerne 2nights and Zurich 2 nights

If we don't have a car will we have to do lots of walking?

We will be staying at mostly youth hostels

San Antonio, Texas
Destination Expert
for San Antonio
posts: 1,930
reviews: 18
1. Re: Renting a car

IMO a car would be a waste. Geneva & Zurich I would not want to park. There is lots of parking @ mountain hostel in Grindelwald but none @ mountain hostel in Grimmalwald. The hostel in Lucerne there is some parking nearby.

Anchorage, Alaska
Destination Expert
for Anchorage, Zermatt
posts: 14,062
reviews: 8
2. Re: Renting a car

Hi, cars are a pain in the neck in cities and mountain villages which is exactly where you plan to be! It is so easy to travel by public transportation anywhere in the country as well as in the cities. You can get all the train timetables in English on the Swiss rail website and, if you know the address of your hostel, you can put it into the website and discover which tram or bus you should take from the station to the hostel - just put in the address and then use the drop down menu in the box to the right to show address.

www.sbb.ch/en

I'm not very familiar with the public transportation in Geneva but in Lucerne and Zurich you can catch a bus or tram every couple of blocks so there's no reason to walk far at all!

If you are planning to travel in September, there is a rail pass 2 for 1 deal that might help with costs.

Hope this helps.

Martigny...
Destination Expert
for Switzerland
posts: 20,541
reviews: 130
3. Re: Renting a car

Basically here we take trains, buses and trams and - walk. A car is a libility in any of our cities and towns. Parking is very hard and very very expensive (think NYC prices in Geneva and Zürich!) IF you can find a park. I live here and have a car. Which I use when I need to go to a supermarket and do a large shop which I cannot fit into my little trolley to walk home. I also use it to get to and from my Golf Club because it is almost impossible to match a Tee time with the bus schedule!! But whenever I go to another town I take the train.

Reading, United...
posts: 9
reviews: 58
4. Re: Renting a car

After living in Switzerland for nearly 30 years I can really recommend that you rent a car - but beware if you rent from the airports (similar in outher countries) that they will add on all sorts (eg winter tyres and chains). There are many off airport car rental places - look on the web.

As to parking - there is no issue apart from in the centers of the large cities, Zurich and Geneva are not great but there are lots of car parks and they cost less than in the UK. In the mountains we always find space.

Where we live now is only 20 km from Lausanne but there are only 2 buses a day - great if you are retired; and trying to get a train in Zurich or Lausanne if you do not speak German and French is just too stressful. To get to Geneva airport is a relaxing 55 minute drive by car but takes 4 changes of train/bus by public transport and over 2 hours. People who live in Zurich, Basel or Geneva where there is a good public transport system forget the rest of the population.

So if you want to travel around and see the most interesting places then rent a car - and Switzerland is very expensive so you need to take advantage of every minute (prices in Hotels have gone up considerably more than the cost of inflation and even the Swiss government has commented that this is effecting tourism - a polite way of saying its a rip-off)

Martigny...
Destination Expert
for Switzerland
posts: 20,541
reviews: 130
5. Re: Renting a car

All I can say about the above post is that it concerns and amazes me. Clearly the poster, even with a long residence in this country, has not driven to many other cities or s/he would know what problems parking a car brings and the cost.!! And to say "beware if you rent from the airports (similar in outher countries) that they will add on all sorts (eg winter tyres and chains)." is more than silly. Snow tyres and chains are only on/in the car in winter and there is no additional charge for them. Indeed, they are required by law immediately you drive on a snow covered road. Also I have found, when I have rented a car here, no difference in cost between the major rental companies on or off airport locations.

The post is incorrect witht he exception, most likely of the low frequency of bus service to the village that the person lives in!! However it is also rather unlikely that a tourist will have a burning desire to visit an out of the way place in the suburbs of Lausanne!!

Kent, England
posts: 1,121
6. Re: Renting a car

I utterly disagree with alesken. The train and local and post buses will take you to all of the tourist sites. Since Switzerland is a country where, if the train doesn't go there the post bus will, and there are several special post bus routes over some of the most popular passes. You are on holiday so leave the car behind. Check out the train routes at www.sbb.ch/en for the English language version this will also give you other means of transport to the locations without trains. If you go to the Swiss Post website you can find the post bus excursions as well. As for having to speak French or German to get around, what rubbish, I don't speak either but manage every year while on holiday.

San Antonio, Texas
Destination Expert
for San Antonio
posts: 1,930
reviews: 18
7. Re: Renting a car

I do not know there the hostels are in Geneva and Zurich, so I cannot speak to that. The Mountain Hostel in Grindelwald is a short 3 minute walk from the Grindelwald-Grund Train station, it would be even less if you did not have to walk around the station. Backpackers in Lucerne is a 15 minute walk from the station, you will walk along the harbor and then along the parks and shore of the lake. Everything you will want to see in thoses two area is either walking distance or bus. You would be wasting money on a car. Everything in Geneva and Zurich is the same, walk, bus or train.

Getting to the Geneva airport from downtown Geneva is very short train ride. Zurich airport to Zurich is just a little longer train ride. As I said in my post above skip the car.

Edited: 10:48 am, August 05, 2012
Anchorage, Alaska
Destination Expert
for Anchorage, Zermatt
posts: 14,062
reviews: 8
8. Re: Renting a car

someone who doesn't put their true location and has lived in a country for 20 years but not learned to speak the language doesn't seem to be very involved in their place of residence so I wonder if they actually try to use public transportation or if, like many of us from places without good public transportation, they continue to do what is comfortable - drive a car. It can be a bit more necessary to plan in order to use public transportation but the time from arrival at a place to whatever you want to do is much less particularly in the Swiss cities where parking is restricted, the parking garages often full and they are very expensive. You have to contend with cities that were not laid out very well or traffic (folks a few hundred years ago weren't thinking about cars) and driving in a place where you are not familiar with the traffic laws so are subject to getting a fine.

Public transportation is easy to use in Switzerland. Most staff of Swiss Rail and other services that visitors use will speak at least some English and a little patience along with a phrase book will get you what you need. Of course, it helps to be pleasant and realize you are the person who doesn't speak the local language - just as we would want someone visiting the US to behave if they didn't speak English though we are not at all likely to have any staff who speak their language.

hope this helps in your decision making!

newark, nj
posts: 312
reviews: 5
9. Re: Renting a car

I was doing some research and the Swiss Pass for the rail is around $300 per person for 4 days. So this would end up being $600 if we stay there for 7 days.

$1200 total for the 2 of us.

If we rent a car for the 7 days its approximately $200 the quote from SIXT.

How much could the parking be that it would be $1000 or more for 7 days?

Mannheim, Germany
Destination Expert
for Zurich, Mannheim
posts: 13,273
reviews: 3
10. Re: Renting a car

Your prices are way off. Are toy really sure you need a pass for every single day?