Car or Train in Switzerland?

Mar 9th, 2000, 11:48 AM
  #1  
Carol
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Car or Train in Switzerland?

We are planning a trip to Switzerland in late April, early May. Want specifically to see Zermatt. I understand you cannot take a car there but is it a good idea to drive from Northern Italy through Switzerland to Germany or is taking the train better? If we drive, where do we leave the car for the train to Zermatt?

 
Mar 9th, 2000, 03:27 PM
  #2  
Ed
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Car or train really depends on your full itinerary. In Switzerland the train is generally preferable as its convenient, reaches almost everywhere and the schedules are frequent. Train service in German is quite good as well.

You'll find info on Swiss trains and driving in the country starting at www.twenj.com/swissrail.htm

You can drive as far as Taesch on your way to Zermatt. Lots of (paid) outdoor parking. The train ride in to town is only a few minutes.

If you're thinking of renting a car in Italy it's generally the case that rentals there are quite expensive compared to the rest of Europe. You may also find you'll need to pay a hefty drop charge to rent in Italy and return in Germany. You'll want to compare costs as part of your train/car decision.

Rome.Switzerland.Bavaria
www.twenj.com
 
Mar 9th, 2000, 03:31 PM
  #3  
Patrick
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I travel Europe by train and by car, but in Switzerland I would definitely say forget the car and do the train. The connections are great, they are on time to the second, and the scenery is unbelievable. You can get virtually everywhere by train, and if you get a Swiss Pass, you also get free boat travel on most of the lakes (1st class pass gets you 1st class--upper deck on the boats as well). Zermatt is easy --and why have a car there to park for a day or two?
 
Mar 10th, 2000, 02:56 AM
  #4  
Mike Murphy
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Carol,
While train travel in Switzerland is excellent, when I'm on vacation, I want the ability to go where I want, when I want - something no train system can offer.

What might be helpful is to do a time and cost comparison (train vs. car) for your general travel plans. Websites to get info for the comparison:
Swiss Rail - http://www.sbb.ch/index_e.htm
Route Planning - http://www.shell.com/euroshell/
http://www.cwlease.com/cwlint/index2.htm

The excersize can make the decision a "no brainer".

If you decide to rent a car, consider doing so in Germany (best rental prices). Out of country cars require a Swiss toll road sticker (vignette) for travel on CH highways. BTW, the vignette is something the police seem to look for during tourist season but have a tendency to overlook during off-season - don't ask how I know this Late April/early May is on the cusp, so better be safe.
--
mjm
 
Mar 10th, 2000, 10:08 PM
  #5  
Donna
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We did both in Switzerland. There are advantages and disadvantages to each. If you have more luggage and camera equipment, etc., than you can comfortably tote around, a car is definitely better. There's also the problem of where to leave all your stuff when you arrive in a town where you will not be spending the night. Driving in Switzerland is quite the experience! If you rely solely on train travel, try to pick towns for sleeping in good proximity for make lots of day trips by train. If you do rent a car, just stay in a town near Zermatt, leave the car at the hotel, and take the train. Your best bet is to use a combination of both. Driving the entire trip (finding your way around, getting help with directions in a foreign language, learning all the road and highway signs, reading maps) can be more than challenging day after day.
 
Mar 11th, 2000, 08:27 AM
  #6  
Bob Brown
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After spending nearly 5 weeks in Switzerland on different trips, my choice would be for a car because growing up in the USA, I have geared my life style to having my own car or the use of one for 50 years.
However, there are some drawbacks to car travel in Switzerland. If you want to visit many of the major cities, parking can be quite expensive. And driving around in the cities can be something of a challenge because I found it hard to locate good city maps.
(Perhaps some of you have some suggestions on that aspect of car travel.)
On the other hand, if you are headed for the hills so to speak, you can go places in a car much more quickly and asily than you can get there by public transportation.
For example, trains don't to to Saas Fee, Zinal, or over the Grimsel Pass or the St. Bernard Pass. Buses go to many of those places, but hauling luggage on a Post Bus day after day is not my idea of a fun trip. And you are bound to the schedule.

For the Berner Oberland, given the excellence of the train and bus service and the availability of the regional pass that cuts costs, a car is a toss up. We have done it both ways. Last year it rained so much on us in the Berner Oberland that we ended up driving all over that part of Switzerland to have something to do. Hiking mountain trails in the rain is not much fun!!
Unless, of course, you enjoy seeing clouds, dodging sleet, and squishing in your boots. On the other side of the coin, had we not taken off wandering we would have missed the demonstration cheese factory in Afolten(narrated in 4 or 5 languages) and the cow judging contest. It was the bovine equivalent of the NBA playoffs. I was amused by the cows. They seemed not give one rip that they had won or not won a huge bell. But the winning farmers seemed happy about it!
So I think the decision is driven primarily by your travel plans and destinations. If your goal is to spend 2 weeks in Grindelwald, I don't think you need a car. If you want to wander, then you need one. (Now, if you want one, that is a different story.)
 
Mar 11th, 2000, 11:43 AM
  #7  
Donna
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We got around in the car just fine with the map of Switzerland available at any Swiss National Tourist Office. It is in the local language (and you want want that way so all the signs "match"), so you do have to familiarize yourself with a number of terms. We drove throughout the eastern half of Switzerland and Liechtenstein. We never once had any problem parking. To the best of my recollection, there was never a fee to park, except in Stein-um-Rhein, where there was a lot with a self-service meter, which was very easy to figure out.
 
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