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Renting a car in Switzerland –things to know before renting a car in Switzerland

Switzerland!  This country is known to be one of the wealthiest countries in the world, being ranked to have the highest average wealth per adult and the ninth largest economy in the world. It is a landlocked country located in the west-central of Europe.  It is a country known to be the birthplace of the Red Cross. The country is made up of 26 small territorial divisions referred to as cantons and a city which controls its activities known as Bern, these places are mostly mountainous and could be a perfect place for a hiking and skiing holiday. Switzerland is a small but highly multicultural country with a vast range of tourist attraction centers such as the Matterhorn, Lake Geneva, Jungfraujoch, Chateau de Chillon, the great city of Bern, the highly cultural city of Zurich and so much more, having a lot of excellent museum and galleries, historic buildings, and renowned music festivals. Going to all these wonderful places would need a form of reliable transportation.

Traveling around the cities of Switzerland is usually by public transport which includes trains, buses, trams, boat ferries and also taxis. All these forms of transportation are okay partly because Switzerland has one of the most reliable public transport systems but renting a car to take you to your desired destinations is one of the best options, this gives you privacy, comfort, and less stress while touring the country.

These tips below would be of great help to you if you have chosen the option of renting a car- which is by far the best option of transportation to enjoy the beautiful sceneries of Switzerland.

Renting a car in Switzerland –a good or bad idea?

To rent a car in Switzerland is a good choice especially when you want to tour through the old villages that are full of medieval history or visit any of the many Swiss vineyards or even the picturesque landscapes of the mountain villages. Using a car would also not be a bad idea to tour urban cities like Geneva, Bern, etc. Renting a car to drive through the cities gives you a better chance to enjoy the views of the great alps and feel the warm air associated with this mountainous country. Just make sure to check your itinerary for areas that are inaccessible during winter and areas with dense traffic during summer before you begin your journey.

Car rental issues in Switzerland.

One of the biggest issues with renting a car in Switzerland is if you intend to get into one of the neighboring countries like Austria or Germany. Entering into these countries requires that you use an EU registered car because Swiss registered cars are prohibited from entering any other EU country. Most car rental companies own are mostly Swiss registered.

Best and worst car rental companies in Switzerland

Being in a foreign country where you intend to rent a car, the first thing you should do before you rent a car is to inquire about the services offered by the car rental companies available in the country. Similar to most business and other countries, there are some car rental companies who are known to offer a very poor quality of service to her customers. It is necessary to always get to know these companies to avoid getting involved with them. There are so many car rental companies that provide excellent service to customers in Switzerland, one should look out for them. Some of the best car rental companies in Switzerland includes

Best car rental companies

  • Sixt car hire- they are known to be reliable and offer affordable prices.
  • The hertz corporation –Awesome services you can count on.
  • Europcar

Worst car rental companies

  • Alamo Rent A Car –They have a very bad reputation through their bad customer services provided to their clients.
  • Enterprise Car rental –You are being charged for damages that was not incurred by you and have bad pricing system.

Renting a car in Switzerland: Manual vs Automatic

Renting an automatic or manual car in Switzerland depends solely on the preference of the renter. The country makes use of the right-handed system of driving. Make sure to use a car that you can properly handle on a hilly terrain. Due to the mountainous geography of the country, most roads tend to be hilly with sharp slopes. Most car companies offer you both options to choose from.

Is the use of a credit card compulsory when renting cars in Ireland?

Just like most car rental companies all over the world require that you have a debit card t rent a car, this is the same situation in most car rental companies in Switzerland. Most of the renowned car rental companies insist on using a credit card to hire but very few local car rental companies could accept a debit card or cash. The individual companies have their various requirement in accepting a debit card or if you intend to pay cash, a large deposit is charged. It is always best to have a credit card when renting a car to avoid unnecessary problems that may arise from alternate means of renting a car.

What is Max and Min Age to Rent a Car in Switzerland?

The minimum age to rent a car in Switzerland is within 19 to 21 years this depends on the individual car rental company. There is no maximum age restriction for renting a car but some rental companies prefer not to rent to senior citizens above 75.  But for some car rental companies in the country, a variable fee of about 20CHF per day is charged to drivers below 25. This is usually referred to as a young driver’s surcharge.

What is the average cost of renting a car in Switzerland?

The cost of renting a car in Switzerland varies from one Rental Company to another. There is no statutory price when it comes to renting a car. Cost depends on the type of car you want to rent and the season.

Fuelling of a car per gallon goes for $6.4. During the various seasons like summer and autumn, price rises.  Car rentals are $310 for a week during summer and $237 for a week in autumn, while spring and winter are $213 and $248 respectively for a 7 days duration.

Road Laws domineering Switzerland as a tourist when Renting a Car

Switzerland is known to be a country as a country that prioritizes safe road usage. They have strict road laws accompanied by fines and strict penalties when not adhered to. These laws include

  • Never exceed the stipulated speed limit as a tourist.
  • Use of daylight or dipped headlights during the day
  • Always be with your driver’s license and motor insurance certificate, and registration document at all times
  • Seat belts are mandatory
  • Children less than 11 years are not allowed to seat in the front seat
  • Drinking and driving is highly prohibited
  • Use of cellphones us not allowed while driving
  • It is an offense to overtake a car from the right
  • Use of snow tires and chains in areas where necessary during winter is obligatory
  • The right of way is usually given to drivers on the right
  • Always have a ‘motorway vignette’ on the car at all times.

Documents needed to rent a car in Switzerland.

To rent a car you would need certain documents to be allowed rental of cars in Switzerland . A valid international driver’s license or an EU driver’s license if you have a non-Roman alphabet such as Arabic, Chinese or Russian, it must be accompanied by an International Driver’s Permit.

Toll gates and other information

Tollgate fees are not taken in Switzerland but an annual fee referred to as vignette is required to be paid annually. This fee is 40CHF for cars and 80CHF for RVs, motorhomes, and trailers. It is required that the vignette is put on the car’s windshield. Failure to have this would lead to a payment of a fine that is twice the original fee.

Renting a Car in Switzerland as an American Driver (USA)

Renting a car in a car in Switzerland as an American driver is pretty much the same thing. Getting a car rented, requires similar procedures and requirements. You just have to be more careful while driving in the mountainous areas, especially during winter.

What NOT to DO When Returning a Rental Car in Switzerland.

It’s important not to get any damage done on the car rented while returning it. Ensure the car is in the same condition it was rented while returning it. Make sure you return the car with the same quantity of fuel it had when it was rented.

Tips to avoid car rental companies RIP-OFF

If you wish to avoid additional charges from the rental company, endeavor to return the car at the stipulated time. Failure to do this could mean you’ll have to pay an extra fee depending on the policy of the company. Try to follow all the company’s policy to avoid additional charges.

Important Contact Numbers

  • Police -117
  • Ambulance -144
  • Poison emergency-145
  • Road emergency-140
  • Fire service- 118
  • Useful links

Traffic regulations

All you need to know about Switzerland as a Tourist

Having a wonderful holiday depends on the places you visit –visiting fun places needs an excellent form of transportation, one of which is renting a car. These tips would help you have a good time in Switzerland while employing the service of a rented car.

History Switzerland

Ancient settlement in Switzerland is likely to date back to the Ice Age. Truly, evidence of mankind represented here has been seen from the Stone Age, Bronze Age and the Iron Age, which is also the age of the Helvetians. This Celtic tribe?s name is seen today on Swiss stamps and coins and is the basis for the official Roman name of Switzerland- Confoederatio Helvetica. The Roman Period, from 58 BC to 400 AD was highlighted by the occupation of Switzerland by Roman troops, which was followed by the settlement of the Germanic people during the middle ages. Switzerland history is often considered to begin in 1291, the year that the Swiss Confederation began. In 1332, Lucerne became the first city to join the confederacy. This confederacy lasted until 1515, when the Battle of Marignano signaled the end of the era when the nation is divided between support of the French and Italian, thus ending in the iconic neutral Switzerland. This independence was not recognized by Europe until 1648, however. Following the Napoleonic Wars of the 18th Century, the neutrality of Switzerland is recognized in the Congress of Vienna.

The Pope enacts Jesuit order in the nation during 1814. A central government is established in 1848, signaling the end of a period of civil unrest, ending in a civil war in 1847.Switzerland remains neutral during World War I, and the Red Cross is established during this time. The nation becomes one of Europe?s first industrialized nations during this century. Geneva becomes the headquarters for the League of Nations in part due to the neutral nature of Switzerland. After 1945, the nation is marked with a stable economy, positive political health, and a wealth of growth.

When to go Switzerland

The varied regions and climates of Switzerland lend themselves to many types of holiday. The time of the year that you choose to visit is completely up to you and dependent on your taste. Whether you are a fan of winter sports or summer hikes, there is a holiday perfect for you in Switzerland. Winter visits to the Swiss Alps are quite popular. The season for resorts begins in the middle of December and runs through the middle of April, or when snow starts to fade. Lauberhorn ski races, or the Ski World Cup, are held in January each year, as it has been since 1930. The event commences around Jungfrau, Monch, and Eiger. The next month, St Moritz hosts the White Turf St Moritz. Lake St Moritz is the site of this equestrian race and the Skikjoring- a sport with thoroughbred horses pulling ski-clad men in this dangerous and exhilarating sport.

Summers in Switzerland and comfortable and mild, making them popular for those looking to spend a holiday enjoying the great outdoors, the warm season is approximately from June to September. Visitors love to take advantage of the lack of snow to go hiking along the mountainous regions, exploring valleys, canyons, and hillsides. Beware, that even in the middle of June, some of the higher altitudes may still have snow, so pack and plan accordingly. The cost of tourism is a bit more during this high season, and it is usually advised to book your travels in a timely manner. Although the weather is not as warm, the late Spring or early Fall months are next best to enjoy these types of outdoor activities while keeping clear of large crowds and saving a bit of money on travel and accommodation expenses.


Weather Switzerland

The nation of Switzerland has varying climates throughout the land. The south of Switzerland enjoys a Mediterranean climate that is mild and temperate, while the Swiss mountains can be treacherously cold and even sometimes bitter. However, the majority of Switzerland falls under the same climate category as most of central Europe and is often quite pleasant. The warmer months of the year bring rain to many parts of Switzerland, with peaks in May and August. Furthermore, there is a weather phenomenon called the Fohn. This is a warm, arid wind that occurs in the valleys of Switzerland. It can be quite uncomfortable if you are not a big fan of heat. The Fohn is known to blow through valleys generally around fall and springtime.

The Swiss Alps are considered one of the most impressive places to visit. The Alps have three different climate zones: Subalpine zone, alpine zone, and glacial zone. Generally speaking, as the heights increase, the temperatures decrease. The Glacial zone is known for being the coldest. A permanent landscape of ice and snow complete the visual to complement freezing temperatures. The Glacial zone is largely uninhabited. The Alpine zone, which lies just above the tree line, is also quite cold. There are some small areas where people do live, but these are limited to the lowest altitude areas. The Subalpine zone is the most hospitable. The majority of villages and towns in the Alps belong to this zone.

Best locations Switzerland

Seeing all that Switzerland has to offer would take multiple holidays. Luckily, the people and the countryside are welcoming and a repeat visit is never a bad idea. However, there are a few sites that top many tourism site lists as must do sites in Switzerland. The Seven Wonders of Switzerland and the Seven Natural Wonders make a list of fourteen amazing sites to fill your itinerary. The Castle of Chillon, Castles of Bellinzona, and the Abbey of St Gallen are all impressive historical and architecturally appealing sites. The vineyards of Lavaux sit on the shores of Lake Geneva and stretch between Lausanne and Montreux.

The views from the Sphinx observatory at the Top of Europe warrant a spot on the list of seven, as well. More breathtaking, high-altitude views can be found at the Grande Dixence, which is located near the town of Sion. This dam reaches 285 in height. Finally, the Landwasser viaduct is a must-see. The Alps are very prominent is Swiss holiday planning, and therefore, many mountains make the list of Seven Natural Wonders. The famed Matterhorn is one of the most notable peaks in the nation, and the Jungfrau and Eiger are the next-most famous sites in the Swiss Alps. Lake Lucerne and those at Upper Engadine are on the list, as well. These are located at high elevations and feature pristine waters and views of valleys below. Even higher up is Lake Oeschinensee, atop Kandersteg. Europe?s longest glacier, Aletsch, is located near Bettmeralp. Lastly is the Rhine Falls. Rhine Falls is the largest waterfall in all of Europe and is located near Schaffhausen.

Disabled visitors Switzerland

Switzerland is an accommodating nation and has special amenities to serve visitors with mobility concerns. From public transport, airports, and lodging, Switzerland is welcoming and able to assist those with different needs. The Swiss railways (SBB) offer assistance, discounts, and more for disabled travelers. Services for the hearing, sight, and mobility impaired allow all types of guests to experience fair and comfortable treatment and travel. The train system, SNCF, offers accessibility for those with mobility issues as well as sight and/or hearing-impaired travelers. In fact, specific stations even offer assistance to persons with decreased mobility. Swiss Airports also offer assistance to persons with reduced mobility. Air carriers are individual in their level and quality of service, though all offer in-flight help. For this service, notify your travel agent or airline at least 48 hours before your trip. While in the Swiss airports, persons with reduced mobility will receive assistance with check-in, luggage, and transfers as long as they request assistance. Car hire agencies Hertz and Holiday Cars both offer handicapped adapted vehicles for rent. Be sure to book ahead to ensure this type of vehicle is available for you at arrival. Parking decals must be displayed at all times when utilizing the many accessible parking spaces in Switzerland. These cards and blue badges are issued to drivers with physical handicaps and those transporting such passengers. Medical certification of need will be required to receive a parking decal.

People Switzerland

There are four main languages spoken in Switzerland: German, French, Italian, and Rumantsch. Spoken by about 63% of the population, German is the most common language. Of the 26 cantons (administrative divisions), 19 of them are predominately German-speaking. Second in prevalence is French. The French speaking Suisse Romande includes Geneva, Vaud, Neuchtel, and Jura. This population accounts for 20% of the nation. Italian is spoken in the region around Ticino and the Graubunden canton, in the south. About 6.5% of the population speaks Italian. The final major tongue in Switzerland is Raeto-Romansh. With only half a percent of citizens speaking this language, it is not widely known, and the canton Graubunden, where the language is spoken, is also a German- and Italian-speaking region.The Alpine culture is very popular in Switzerland. The alphorn is a traditional Alpine musical instrument that is akin to a wooden trumpet. Typically played to accompany yodelling, the alphorn is an iconic piece of Alpine culture.

The traditional favorite activities in the Alpine regions include winter sports, hiking, and mountain biking. The lower areas are typically used for farming or for livestock. Many famed literature artists were born in Switzerland, such as Johanna Spyri, who penned the novel Heidi, author Gottfried Keller, and author Max Frisch. Athletes such as Roger Federer, Ernesto Bertarelli, and figure-skater Denise Biellmann were also born in Switzerland. Other Swiss nationals include Claude Nicollier, who was the first Swiss astronaut, Auguste and son Jacques Picard, and grandson Bertrand Piccard.

Switzerland driving tips

Switzerland roads offer spectacular views of the Alps and it is one of the most spectacular mountain range. In Switzerland traffic travels on the right hand side and overtaking is on the left hand side, all secondary roads must give way to traffic coming from the right unless a priority sign is shown. Engines must be switched off at traffic lights and railway crossings to avoid pollution. The speed limit in the city is 31mph to 49kph, on open roads speed is 50mph to 80kph and on highways it is 75mph to 120kph. Over-speeding is penalized and fines are normally paid on the spot, the size of fines varies depending on the offence.

The minimum driving age in Switzerland is 18 years and it is advisable to carry your driving license, insurance certificates and vehicle registration paper along with proof of ownership and passport. Seat belts are compulsory in Switzerland both in the front and the rear seat and children under seven years of age must travel in the rear seat unless in an unapproved child seat. Alcohol is strictly prohibited and the blood alcohol limit is 50mg per 100ml of blood, random testing is conducted and if found you may lose your license. Holding a license and travelling with a drunk driver you are equally responsible under Swiss law. Avoid driving in wet and windy weather as it is very dangerous, it is advisable to stop and wait till the weather is settling down.

Red tape visas Switzerland

Switzerland is part of the Schengen, which includes the majority of the European Union (minus the UK, Ireland, Romania, Cyprus, and Bulgaria), Iceland, Norway, Lichtenstein, and, of course, Switzerland. The Schengen Agreement allows for the abolishment of border controls between residents of one Schengen nation and travel to another member of Schengen. In addition to Schengen-nation citizens, members of the EU, New Zealand and Australia need only a passport to cover the entire length of their Swiss stay. These individuals will not need a Visa for any period of stay. Those coming from outside Schengen, Iceland, Norway, Lichtenstein, and Switzerland as well as those from the EU, Australia, or New Zealand, will adhere to different rules. Members of these other nations need to provide proof of at least three months of passport validity beyond their intended length of stay. Passport visitors from these alternate nations may only stay for ninety days at a time, within a 180-day frame.

Any longer stay will require the application for an acquisition for a Visa, which includes proper proof of reason for entering. Additionally, these individuals should take care to receive both an entry and exit stamp from the Schengen area. Failure to do so can result in denial for further admittance, as the passport will show evidence of over-staying the limited amount. For more information, explore the Federal Office for Migration website. The site covers all matters pertaining to passport and Visa requirements.