Getting TO Salzburg

Feb 10th, 2011, 03:23 PM
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Getting TO Salzburg

We're spending two weeks visiting Switzerland and Austria. In Switzerland we'll stay in Luzern and then Lauterbrunnen and we WILL have a car for this part of the trip. Next we we be in Salzburg and Vienna, 3 days apiece. My question has to do with how to get from Lauterbrunnen to Salzburg.

I've read that there are very high fees if you drop off a rental car in a different country than you picked it up in. Should we
1) Drive to .... somewhere closer to Salzburg, ditch the car and take a train? We like scenic drives, if there weren't such a penalty for drop off in Austria we'd be happy to drive the whole way and then ditch the car in Salzburg.
2) Train the whole way? Won't this be expensive?
3) Is there some inexpensive European airline flight to consider?
4) Consider keeping a car in Salzburg? I generally don't in cities, but there are some nice places to go outside the downtown area.

We DO plan take the train from Salzburg to Vienna.

Thanks in advance for any advice,
Alice9 is offline  
Feb 10th, 2011, 04:51 PM
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Well we do road trips all of the time - and would do this as one too. It;s true that drop off in another country has a penalty - but to us it's minor in comparison that the freedom of traveling with a car gives you. Based on the trip you outline we would pick it up at the landing airport and return it when we get to Vienna.

This gives you the option of making stops between Switzerland and Salzburg - we visited Herrenchiemsee - which was not far off our route.

Salzburg isn;t large enough that having a car is a problem. We stayed at a hotel right across the river from the oldest part of town -and the hotel had a valet that took care of the car for us the whole time. Plus then you have it for trips into the countryside.
nytraveler is offline  
Feb 10th, 2011, 04:59 PM
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To avoid the large drop off fee, you could drop your car in Switzerland in a town close to the border, take a taxi/bus to a close town in Austria to pick up another car.

Drop the 2nd car in either Salzburg or Vienna. There are places around Salzburg that you probably would enjoy seeing, as well as, places between Salzburg and Vienna.
joannyc is online now  
Feb 10th, 2011, 08:02 PM
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Do you have your airline tckets yet? If not look at open jaw flights to Salzburg through ZRH. Stay in Switzerland as planned, continue on to to Salzburg, and return from Vienna. I looked into this with us flying into Salzburg and staying in Switzerland for a few days after leaving from Vienna.
ronkala is offline  
Feb 11th, 2011, 04:32 AM
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We HAVE open jaw tickets - we arrive in Zurich and leave for home from Vienna. The issue, really, is the car - whether we need it once we get to Salzburg, and what to do about the drop off fee.

Although I admit I have't checked any car rental companies yet, I'm assuming the drop off fee is high from reading other posts. I guess I ought to do some research on that!

Alice9 is offline  
Feb 11th, 2011, 04:47 AM
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Just compare the fee and other rental costs for drop off in Salzburg or Vienna versus the train fares from Switzerland, then make your decision, factoring in your enjoyment with driving.
Cathinjoetown is offline  
Feb 11th, 2011, 02:55 PM
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Actually, you don't need a car in Luzern or Lauterbrunnen. In Luzern, to see some of the sights outside of town, you can take the boats. From Luzern to Lauterbrunnen take the train. There is no place to go by car in Lauterbrunnen; it's "the end of the line". From there you have to use the trains or cable cars, except to the Trimmelbach Falls, but there is a bus that goes there.

NOw, I grant you, driving from Lauterbrunnen (or Interlaken, where you can pick up a rental car) across the Sustenpass is awsome, but ou have to weigh this against the inconvenience of the drop-off charge.

One option is to take the train Bern - Zuerich - Innsbruck. Pick up your car there. You still have the opportunity to drive some very scenic routes from there.

The fastest route is about 5 1/2 hours. If you check on or the Swiss or Austrian RR webside you can find some decent ticket prices, if you book as much as 90 days in advance on the Internet.

Check with what they can do for you regarding cars.
treplow is offline  
Feb 14th, 2011, 05:01 AM
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Thanks, treplow. We're very much into having a car on trips, unless we're in large cities. Driving across the Sustenpass sounds exactly what we like to do.

I'm assigning to my husband, the task of figuring out the train/car/ whatever transportation issue. We've used Autoeurope before, worth checking out again. And I hadn't found yet, so thanks for that. I'd been looking at routes using viamichelin.

Alice9 is offline  
Feb 14th, 2011, 11:26 AM
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We did this same trip in reverse in December and took the train (never rented a car). The transportation was quite easy and I don't really think you need a car in any of those cities. They have excellent public transportation. Sounds like you are set on a car, but just keep in mind that it's an option and the views from the train are magnificent - and you can have a glass of wine, too!
ButterflyGirl06 is offline  
Feb 14th, 2011, 11:43 AM
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Alice; Also go to and check the drop off charges. For Auto Europe, call them, toll free. i-888 223 5555
iris1745 is offline  
Feb 15th, 2011, 10:16 AM
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I hadn't thought about Kayak, I've only used them for airfare, good idea. And yes, actually SPEAKING to someone at Auto Europe is appealing. I'll let you know how I fare.

Alice9 is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2011, 05:31 PM
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Well, here's a surprise. My husband checked out rental car rates for 8 days, two different ways - pickup/dropoff Zurich and pickup Zurich dropoff Salzburg. Auto Europe, same price, about $512. No apparent dropoff fee (unless they hit you with that at the time, but that seems unlikely). The cost seems pretty in line with other car rentals we've done.

We had thought it might be worth it to have the car in Switzerland, then ditch it and take the train, but the train tickets aren't cheap.

So I think we'll go with it, unless someone can give me a good reason NOT to!

Alice9 is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2011, 06:13 PM
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Call them 888-223-5555
bobthenavigator is offline  
Mar 24th, 2011, 07:01 AM
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Good idea, Bob, shouldn't just trust a website.

Alice9 is offline  
May 2nd, 2011, 07:43 AM
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Just to close this loop - my husband was wrong, the drop-off fee didn't appear until you got all the way through and was basically the same as the cost of the car! SO, our new plan is to rent a car in Zurich, return it to Zurich, and then take the train to Salzburg.

I've looked into buying the half pass and I think it will be worth it for us (we get back the cost just for the Jungfraujoch). I THINK we can get half price on the part of the Zurich-Salzburg trip that's IN Switzerland.

Alice9 is offline  
May 7th, 2011, 03:21 PM
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I use Gemutlich travel to book my cars and they know the ins and outs for the German speaking countries. You can find them at

I was able to make this trick work once but a couple of times when I tried it it did not work. Request a car with Austrian plates on it if they have one (if that is your final destination). Even if it means you have to upgrade the car it is usually a whole lot less than the drop fee and it does the car company a favor when you take the car back to the country of origin for them. Talk to Andy Bestor at Gemut and see what he recommends.
AisleSeat is offline  

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