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Driving in Switzerland

Driving in Switzerland photo

ABOVE: Our kind of driving in Switzerland.

We don't drive in Switzerland. Why? Because it's hardly ever necessary, and we'd rather not be burdened with a car (and the hassles of parking it) when we're enjoying Swiss cities, villages, and countryside.

Over the past 150+ years, the Swiss have spent billions of francs on the world's finest network of trains, buses, boats, funiculars, aerial cablecars, trams, and chairlifts. You can go nearly anywhere in Switzerland with a Swiss Pass in your pocket. So why view the countryside through a bug-splattered windshield like a tourist in California, New Jersey, or Texas?

Still, if you must drive, we won't throw myself in front of your car or caravan. Instead, we'll concede defeat gracefully and point you to articles and other Web resources by experts who are more willing and competent than we are to help you plan a Swiss trip by car:

Auto clubs

Touring-Club Suisse
The Touring Club of Switzerland's Web site is devoted mostly to sales and customer service for Swiss motorists, but it does have useful travel information for visitors.

ACS
Like the Touring-Club Suisse, the Automobile Club of Switzerland is geared to residents, but its Google-translated site may be worth a look.

Car train

BLS Lötschberg Car Transport
From the Bernese Oberland, BLS car trains offer a shortcut to the southern side of the Alps. (Just drive onto a train, and you'll be through the tunnel in 15 minutes.)

Route planners

Finaroute
Enter your Swiss departure and arrival towns, choose the kind of routing you want, and Finaroute will generate a detailed itinerary.

Law enforcement

Swiss Traffic Tickets switzerlandforvisitors.com
What to do when you commit a traffic sin and get caught.

Motoring Trivia

Where's That Vehicle Come From: Switzerland
Did the BMW that blew by you come from Schwyz or Solothurn? Here's how to tell.

Rental firms

Auto Europe our partner
This long-established firm has a wide range of cars from Peugeot, VW, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, and other manufacturers--including high-performance sports cars from a partner based in Zürich. Auto Europe also offers Peugeot "Buy Back" short-term leases for travelers from overseas.

Renault EuroDrive our partner
If you're driving in Europe for 17 days or more and your permanent residence is outside the European Union, a Renault EuroDrive short-term lease can be significantly cheaper than renting.

Motorhomes (caravans) and motorcycles

Auto Europe our partner
In addition to cars, vans, and SUVs, this long-estblished rental firm offers motorhomes for pickup in France, Great Britain, Germany, and Spain.

Moby Campers
This Swiss firm has a "handover place" in Bieberist, a village near Solothurn that can be reached by hourly trains from Zürich and Geneva Airports.

Related article

Sustenpass Road switzerlandforvisitors.com
Take a scenic excursion or a three-pass tour by car, bicycle, or Postal Bus. (The Sustenpass lies between Andermatt and Meiringen at the junction of cantons Bern and Uri.)

Other transportation

Just in case you have second thoughts about driving, here are links to indexes of my articles on other forms of transportation in Switzerland and Austria:

"Best of the Web"
- Forbes and The Washington Post


Photo (c) iStockphoto.com/Arosoft

Need a car in Europe?

If you live outside the EU, a tax-free tourist car lease can be cheaper than renting for visits of 21+ days. Minimum driver age is 18, there' s no upper age limit, and rates include insurance.

Want to save even more? Pick up and return your car in Geneva or France.

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Traveling by train?
Get free schedules, maps, and guides for 50+ European railroads. (Residents of North and Central America can buy tickets and rail passes online.)

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