Driving in Switzerland

Jul 27th, 2002, 10:12 PM
  #1  
Manoj
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Driving in Switzerland

Hi,
What is the best way to get around in
Switzerland? By car or by public transport?
Any tips will be appriciated.

- Manoj
 
Jul 28th, 2002, 04:47 AM
  #2  
Bob C
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We always go by car. Switzerland has great roads plus with a car you are free to go anywhere at anytime.
 
Jul 28th, 2002, 04:59 AM
  #3  
jw
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Hi, Manoj. I don't know if you'll pick up any no votes as far as driving goes, but I'll slip in my two cents worth. Switzerland has the most wonderful public transportation system including trains, buses and boats. They go everywhere! I love not having to find parking places or negotiate tricky traffic situations (or frightening roads). So my vote is no-car-no-car.
By the way, I use the Swiss Pass when I travel.

You'll probably want to consider the cost of each option, which might be less expensive if you have several people sharing a car.

Now, having said that, the decision probably depends on how much you like to drive and how unwilling you are to let public transportation schedules influence your vacation days. I have no problem planning my sightseeing with train and bus schedules in my hands -- in fact, I enjoy it. But another person might be frustrated because he/she can't make a u-turn on the spur of the moment.

Good luck with your decision. J.
 
Jul 28th, 2002, 07:06 AM
  #4  
travels
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If you're coming in as a tourist, then probably the train system is your best bet - renting a car for more than a week will be expensive. And - trains are so reliable, so frequent, so clean, so everything, that you'll be pleased. They even run right into small mountain villages. Now, if you'll be lugging around lots of luggage (please don't!!), then a car would be better... P.S. There are all sorts of special train-pass packages you can get - see www.cff.ch for info.
 
Jul 28th, 2002, 07:26 AM
  #5  
s
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Hello Manoj,

I also recommend the train. It's convenient and pretty quick, but best of all, you can eat and drink and gaze at the scenery enroute! No arguing about missed turns! No confusion about route 2A or 2B. Just hop on, sit down, and open the candy bar!

Definitely train.

s
 
Jul 28th, 2002, 08:37 AM
  #6  
manoj
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Hi, Thank you all for the info .. it makes my decision a lot easier ..
I was leaning toward getting the Swiss Pass.. just wanted other input for getting around...

Manoj
 
Jul 28th, 2002, 12:09 PM
  #7  
Bob Brown
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Monoj, before you accept fully the advice of the others, don't you think you should make two firm decisions? 1. Where will you be? Where do you want to go?

In the Berner Oberland around around Wengen and Mürren, a car does you little good because you can not take one into either village.

On the other hand, if you venture into the Saas valley to Saas Grund, you need a car because only buses go there. However, Saas Fee is "car locked". You park in a big deck and walk or take a shuttle to your hotel. The same is true of Zermatt.

If you want to visit some of the remote valleys off of the Rhone, you need a car. You can get to Zinal and Grimentz by bus, but the schedule does not lead to much flexibility. Moreover, some of the very remote valleys are not served freqently by bus, such as the Turtmanntal.
Also, one of the most spectacular drives you can take is a circular route that leads over the Susten, Furka, and Grimsel Passes. It is difficult to complete on a timely basis without a car.

I have done it both ways, and will again in a few weeks when I return.
No car at all for any portion of the trip is highly restrictive while depending on trains for travel to major cities is an advantage because parking can be expensive.

 
Jul 28th, 2002, 02:03 PM
  #8  
Captb
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Manoj,

All the above advice is right on target. However, by using only public tansportation - you will miss some awesome experiences. We just returned from Switzerland and Northern Italy after a three week driving tour. Our Swiss friend swears by the public system and it is excellent - there are even bus stops at mountain farms far from city center. BUT - you only can immerse yourself in the country if you get out of the car or train. IMHO the car wins - you can stop and venture out at any time - not so with a train! After three weeks in Europe we had two memorable experiences that could only be accessed by auto: 1-Driving the Splugenpassen from Italy into Switzerland - an inspiring ride over the alps on a twisting mountain road - this is no conventional highway but a great mountain drivng experience. 2 - driving into the Voralps & hiking around the glacial valley as an Alpine horn player serenaded us & the mountains.
One last observation: we found Swiss petrol prices to be about $10 a tank less than in France or Italy. Rather reasonable when you consider that Switzerland is a rather expensive country to visit.

Have a great trip - "on a sunny day" Switzerland is a beautiful contry!

 
Jul 28th, 2002, 02:12 PM
  #9  
swissman
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Hire a car. Sure the Swiss transport system is excellent but who really wants to plan their day around other peoples schedules. You'll end up using the car to get to places and then heading off on lake steamers or on the train into see Zermatt (no cars allowed) but nothing beats having the flexibility of a car to go where you want, when you want and stop and enjoy that wonderful scenery.
 
Jul 28th, 2002, 04:56 PM
  #10  
alpbil
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Here'a another vote for public transportation. Not only is it easy, reliable, and reaches almost everywhere, its better for the environment! They run so frequently, it's not really a hassle at all to adjust yourself to the schedules, and there are numerous private lines that can get you to really out of the way places. I don't understand why anyone would consider a car necessary in CH. When you weigh the advantages and disadvantages...trains and buses win! Also, without a car, its a great opp to bum a ride with the locals. I've met some great people that way.
 
Jul 28th, 2002, 05:12 PM
  #11  
john
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I agree with those who use the buses and the trains. One of the best reasons for doing this is the freedom. You can get up into the mt. villages, sling on your pack and hike over the passes to the next valley or anywhere the trail takes you without worrying about picking up a car. Footloose and fancyfree, you can hike for days and pick up a bus when you're ready. Bob Brown, Gruben has a regional bus 4X a day in the summer. Valdaree,Valdaray! See you in the mountains.
 
Jul 29th, 2002, 03:42 AM
  #12  
jw
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Before you think 'yuck, buses?', know that Swiss buses are excellent and prompt. Now, as a Swiss Pass fanatic, I have to be up front and say that if you wish to day-trip, for example, to a very tiny place by bus, you will have less flexibility about when to return to your home base. A town where you might stroll for 30 minutes and jump back in your little hatchback and scoot to the next place might not have a bus going back in the direction of 'home' for two or three hours. It slows you down, and in my opinion that's good. On the other hand, if you're seeing mostly places on the train routes and boat routes, it will all seem wonderfully convenient. And the comments above about being able to enjoy the scenery are so true because, after all, this is Switzerland we're talking about. J.
 
Jul 29th, 2002, 04:58 AM
  #13  
sheila
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Those who use public transportation and those who insist on a private car are two different species separated by philosophy more than logic. The only reason you would NEED a car in Switzerland is because you have too much luggage or you are too lazy to walk to a train station or you are in so much of a hurry on your VACATION that you have to zip around at a heedless pace.
 
Jul 29th, 2002, 05:14 AM
  #14  
Bob Brown
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Hmm. Heedless pace because I drive a car, some of the time? Hmm. If I did not heed, I would bleed. (OK that's bad.) But my contention is that a car at times in Switzerland is a great convenience and helps me enjoy my vacation more than I would if I had to rely 100% on public transportation.

I have done it both ways: car and no car.
Around Lauterbrunnen, I agree. A car is of little use because you cannot get to many of the primary attractions except by cable conveyence or train.
But with a car I can explore at will, stop when I want, and go on when I want.
I know without a car I never would have found that cheese factory at Afoltern when the cow judging contest was in full swing. Nor would we have taken that beautiful remote road to Sarnen.
I think establishing stereotypes based on car usage is a little extreme, because there are some of us who can go either way. Moreover, we have some ideas of how to use our time to best advantage.
I don't have an unlimited amount of time for Switzerland or any other country when I am there, so naturally I try to balance cost with convenience and efficiency. This year I will arrive by train, travel the public transport routes, but I do have a car lined up for 3 days because I know where I want to go and a car is my most efficient mode of transportation.
If I am not going to see as much as I reasonably can, why go in the first place??
 
Jul 29th, 2002, 05:21 AM
  #15  
sheila
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Why go? I wonder too. Is it just to cram in as much scenery and villages as you can in the shortest amount of time? As I said, its philosophy...
 
Jul 29th, 2002, 08:21 AM
  #16  
carbound
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Hey guys: all you need to do is say - what do I want from my vacation? Do I like to zip around in a car, don't hassle with carrying luggage, surrender to "convenience-city", and pay a bit more; or do I want to ride the trains, a bit less pure freedom but more of an experience? It's like saying: do I want to wander around with a tour group or sit on an Alpine meadow and listen to the wind? A matter of likes...
 
Jul 29th, 2002, 08:30 AM
  #17  
Ann
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I always prefer to go by car so we can set our own schedule and get off on the back roads to picnic, stop and sightsee, or as Captb and Bob Brown noted, happen onto some wonderful, unplanned experiences that we can take advantage of by not having a "schedule" (whether bus or train) to make. Having said all that, however, I also note that last week, motorists spent 8 hours waiting to get through one of the passes. AND you have to have a $40 vignette on the car to use the motorways, not usually available on rental vehicles. So choose carefully. For me, the "stau" wouldn't have been a problem, as I'd have taken the long way around to avoid a tunnel (with its loss of scenery), anyway. The point is not to "get there" but to enjoy the trip. I can do that best by car, but then I'm of an age where walking to take in scenery from a bus stop is not a good thing.
 
Jul 29th, 2002, 08:42 AM
  #18  
john
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I think what Ann said is her last sentence is true. It seems like the older people like to rent a car because they have trouble walking around, unlike the younger folks who enjoy hiking and don't mind walking a few blocks to and from hotels/bus/trains. And contrary to what both Bob and Ann said, you also have wonderful, unplanned adventures using pub transport and you really met the locals.
 
Jul 29th, 2002, 09:03 AM
  #19  
Dan
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I had the same debate earlier this summer. I decided on the train and I was glad I did since it was very relaxing and easy to use.
Of course you won't have the option of getting in the car and going somewhere at the drop of a hat. But a vacation without a car was a refreshing change for me.

 
Jul 29th, 2002, 03:26 PM
  #20  
mbln74a
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Hi Manoj, we use both...but you didn't say where you plan to visit in Switzerland..if it is cities, then forget a car.
enjoy your trip. Linda
 

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