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car rental in Germany/ travel tips for Germany, Switzerland and Spain

car rental in Germany/ travel tips for Germany, Switzerland and Spain

Jan 12th, 2010, 05:17 PM
  #1  
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car rental in Germany/ travel tips for Germany, Switzerland and Spain

I will be traveling to Germany, Switzerland and Spain this summer and would appreciate any and all tips/ advise you can give me. This will be my first time in Europe and I hope to rent a car and drive through these countries.
Mary06 is offline  
Jan 12th, 2010, 06:14 PM
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How many weeks will you have? If at least 3 weeks you should look at the Renault or Peuguot lease programs first.
bobthenavigator is online now  
Jan 12th, 2010, 06:55 PM
  #3  
 
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These are very borad questions and you do not indicate time, budget or interests.

I have not driven in Switzerland or Germany, but you do not want the burden of a car in any Spanish cities. You will garage it and not use it.

I would also recommend that you consult a map and consider the driving distances.
Aduchamp1 is offline  
Jan 12th, 2010, 08:21 PM
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Are you able to drive a standard transmission? That is, a shift car. Cars with automatic transmissions are considerably more expensive than standard transmissions. I agree with Adu that you should not consider driving a car in any city in Europe. Parking is hard to fine and is expensive.

That said, I have driven cars into European cities but have parked somewhere and then taken public transportation.

I wouldn't hesitate to drive a car in any of those countries. In fact, I already have. They all have excellent roads, though minor roads tend to be narrower than in the States. This past summer in Germany I did encounter a good deal of construction on the Autobahns in Germany and Austria. If you're outside a big city during rush hour, you may encounter a "stau," that is a traffic jam. So try not to be outside Munich, for instance, at 5:00 p.m.

Be aware of driving customs in Europe. You absolutely keep to the right lane, as the left lane is for passing and for really, really fast drivers. If you're in the left lane and a Mercedes or BMW comes roaring up at 100 mph, he (It's always a man!) will flash his headlights, which means "Get out of the way!" Do it!

A couple of years ago we went to Spain and had a wonderful time driving through the countryside. I'm sure we saw much more than we would have seen if we'd been driving.
Pegontheroad is offline  
Jan 12th, 2010, 08:47 PM
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Hi Mary06,

I'd just like to add something for you to think about -- using the excellent train service in Switzerland and Germany. I don't know if you're from North America or not, but many of us Americans are not used to having this great option. Trains run frequently, are convenient to everywhere you'd be wanting to go, and are quite a lot of FUN. I've been to Switzerland around 16 times, rented a car twice, and regretted it both times.

The best places to stay don't even allow cars (the car-free villages of Wengen and Mürren in the Berner Oberland, to name two), and none of the mountaintops are accessible by car.

And of course the trains are more green, so you can be happy that you left the Alps as clean as they were when you arrived (hooray!).

If you would like to consider doing this, you can research the train routes through both countries at either one of these two sites

www.rail.ch (Swiss rail)

www.bahn.de (German rail)

Again, if you would be interested in this, let us know, and we can help you find the best fares or rail pass.

Have fun as you research your trip!

s
swandav2000 is offline  
Jan 13th, 2010, 03:47 AM
  #6  
 
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Germany passed some very strict aggressive driving laws, so don't flash your headlights at slow cars ahead of you, it is now illegal--even if others do it. It's also illegal to make "offensive" gestures at other drivers who upset you for some reason.
Paul1950 is offline  
Jan 13th, 2010, 04:58 AM
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Another vote for the trains - from someone who lives in Switzerland and trains just about everywhere. Relaxing, fun, and you see the scenery instead of trying to read signs in another language.

gruezi (that means hello in the Zurich area of Switzerland)
gruezi is offline  
Jan 14th, 2010, 09:38 PM
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Glad I am starting now to gather info for our trip. We are flying into Frankfurt 6/28 and flying out 7/12. I had this idea that it would be fun to drive through Europe at our own pace. I am reconsidering tht idea after reading your blogs and talking to friends who have been there. We plan on driving south from Frankfurt, over to Switzerland and originally to France. My daughter decided she wanted to visit her friends in Spain and I was Ok with that. Now to plan the route and make hotel reservations. I need all the help I can get from you guys. Looking for mid priced hotels or if it has really unique/special features will be willing to spend more. Thanks for responding . Mary
Mary06 is offline  
Jan 14th, 2010, 11:14 PM
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Hi Mary06,

One of the best areas for first-time visitors in Switzerland is the Berner Oberland, which has tremendous Alpine scenery as well as really well developed infrastructure that makes it really easy to travel there. The one bad thing is that in July, you'll see lines of tour busses going down the streets with the offloaded passengers clogging up the sidewalks and congregating at the doors of the shops.

One way to avoid the busses and all the hassle would be to stay in one of the car-free villages that I mention above. In addition to being away from the hordes, you'll be perched on the side of the Alps with incredible views over the valley. One great hotel I've stayed at twice is the 3-star Alpenrose

www.alpenrose.ch

Other sites for this area

www.myjungfrau.ch
www.mywengen.ch

Another option would be to stay in Luzern, which is very close to Zürich. Luzern has Alps and lakes and history, and many people consider it to have all of Switzerland in one place. So if you like to have some culutre, it would be a good stop. More information at

www.luzern.org
www.lakelucerne.ch

Have fun as your plans develop!

s
swandav2000 is offline  
Jan 15th, 2010, 05:24 AM
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I've enjoyed driving vacations in Europe, and train vacations in Europe, and combination driving/train vacations in Europe. It just depends on where and when you are going and what you and your traveling companions want to experience on your trip.
Paul1950 is offline  
Jan 15th, 2010, 05:47 AM
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Hi Mary; I think you should check your driving times, from Frankfurt to a town in Switzerland. Then from that town to the town in Spain where you daughter would like to visit. Then from that town in Spain back to Frankfurt. Then you will know how much time you will be spending driving. Switzerland to France may be a better option. www.michelin.com
iris1745 is offline  
Jan 15th, 2010, 07:55 AM
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Spain does not fit at all--much too far.
Limit the trip to south Germany and Switzerland--more than enough for 13 day.
bobthenavigator is online now  
Jan 19th, 2010, 10:23 AM
  #13  
 
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Hi, I'm also needing info and help as this will be my first time in Germany Re: Train from Frankfurt Airport to Hassfurt, which is about 2-3 hrs heading south from Frankfurt. Will be arriving on Singpore A/L about 11:30 am, then trying to find train at FRA Airport. HELP?
schatzie8 is offline  
Jan 19th, 2010, 11:23 AM
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Use Google Maps and their directions
feature. Frankfurt through Switzerland to Madrid is over 2,000 km! Close to 1,500 just to Barcelona if your daughter's friend lives in northern Spain... I just don't see how you can fit Spain into your itinerary with the time you have available.

And if you did make it to Spain... it's a long way back to Frankfurt for your return flight. ;^(
ParisAmsterdam is offline  
Jan 19th, 2010, 11:35 AM
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And driving in Munich or anywhere else at 5pm is problem free. In case you have to wait, just listen to the radio and WAIT. They will move eventually. If you were standing there and waiting for 30min, so what. Those who have to rely on a train are poor losers anyway. They don't have any personal space around then and are stacked on a train like cows. You want that? Driving is the best option for traveling to anywhere in Europe.
logos999 is offline  
Jan 19th, 2010, 11:47 AM
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100mph is totally relaxed and slow driving. Since I don't drive a BMW or Mercedes and going 100mph is a standard! driving speed in my foreign car, I know those German made cars are going a LOT faster than just that.
logos999 is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2010, 08:33 PM
  #17  
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Thanks for all the ideas. I am getting a better idea of what I want and what is available. I think I have decided to rent a car for Germany, train for Switzerland and spend time in the car free towns, and car for France(not Spain) Keep sending advice. Thanks...if anyone is ever in Oklahoma, please get in touch.
Mary06 is offline  
Jun 24th, 2010, 08:25 PM
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We will be heading to Europe Monday...decided on the Eurrail Pass and will do Germany, Austria, Italy and France...could we take the fast train from Paris to London and try to visit Wimbleton...we are huge tennis buffs thanks for all your input
Mary06 is offline  
Jun 24th, 2010, 09:41 PM
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If your trip is focussed on small villages or rural areas, a car is a good idea. European trains are wonderful but they don't get you to dinner and back if you are off the beaten track. If you're not comfortable driving a manual transmission, upgrade to an automatic - your brain and travel partners will all appreciate and understand the value of the additional expense. Get a GPS! Invaluable. But make sure you know how to use it before you leave the rental area. If all your time is in urban centers, stay with the train. If you wish, you can always get a car for just a couple days.
lukehead is offline  
Jun 24th, 2010, 09:43 PM
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German car rental agencies are becoming stricter on the need for an international driver's license. Can be done while you wait at any AAA office (I think $15, $25 if they do the photos). Be prepared.
lukehead is offline  

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