A Holidaymakers’ Guide to Driving in Switzerland
Switzerland is medieval cities, stunning lakes, epic ski resorts and legendary chocolate but that’s not all.
It has some of the prettiest drives in the world making it the ideal destination for the road trip of a lifetime.
Drive through a picture-perfect postcard and be dazzled by iconic mountain peaks, quaint villages and idyllic scenery.
If you’re looking for the perfect road trip, here’s your guide to driving Switzerland.
When to visit
Switzerland is a country that can be enjoyed at any time of the year. During winter it’s a bustling ski destination and is famed for its charismatic Christmas markets. It also offers snow-laden panoramas that are enough to take your breath away.
Switzerland is stunning during the summer but this is also when the country is at its busiest. Tourists flock to enjoy the snow-free alpine trails, cruises along the River Rhine and the glistening lakes that cover the country.
Perhaps the best time to visit is between summer and winter after the summer crowds have left and the skiers are yet to come.
Renting a car
You can hire a car from most major airports in Switzerland; Zurich, Bern and Geneva being the most popular. The country’s roads are fantastic to drive on but you need to ensure that you have a Freeway Vignette if you plan on driving on the Swiss motorways. Usually, hire cars will include these as standard but you don’t want to get caught without one so before leaving the airport be sure to double-check.
Note that in Switzerland it is compulsory to carry a warning triangle in your vehicle at all times and it’s also strongly advised to keep snow chains and a shovel in your vehicle in case of sudden weather changes.
While driving in Switzerland can be a pleasure, poor driving and narrow winding roads keep drivers on their toes. If you’re planning your road trip during the winter months a 4×4 is recommended as sometimes Swiss roads can become impassable with extreme weather.
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Paid parking at train stations, hotels and town centres is the norm in Switzerland and it can often be quite expensive, especially in the larger cities.
Car parks are generally divided into different zones:
Blue Zones: Parking from Monday till Saturday from 8 am until 6 pm is free of charge for an hour with the blue parking disc (including EU parking disc). On Sundays and public holidays, parking is free between the hours of 7 pm and 7 am.
Yellow Zones: These are private or reserved for companies and may only be used by them
White zones: These are chargeable and are usually numbered and located near a parking meter
Where to visit
Switzerland boasts breath-taking natural beauty and a long history; which means picturesque villages, castles and historical monuments. World-famous as a travel destination, Switzerland is a dream for nature lovers and cultural enthusiasts alike.
Here are a few places that should definitely be on your hit list:
Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland and considered the global centre for banking and finance.
Located at the north end of Lake Zurich, this city represents the cultural heartland of Switzerland and offers visitors not just pre-medieval history but also the largest selection of museums found anywhere in the country and more than a hundred art galleries.
This compact city is considered by many to be one of the most attractive cities in the world. It may be small but there’s so much to see and do in Lucerne, including the mountainous landscape and glacial lake.
This traditional resort town is sandwiched between the emerald-coloured waters of Lake Thun and Lake Brienz. Boat tours, hiking trails and alpine views are in abundance here, it’s truly a place where avid walkers and nature buffs can nurture the soul.
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