Switzerland Insider

Switzerland Insider

If you’re planning a road trip through Switzerland, you’re in for a treat. While driving in Switzerland can be a wonderful experience, there are a few insider tips that can make your journey even more enjoyable. These travel hacks—known only to Swiss locals—will help you make the most of your trip. Get ready to discover the best ways to explore Switzerland by car!

Driving in Switzerland Travel Hacks

1. Buy Vignette Online

To drive on Swiss motorways, you need a vignette—a small sticker that serves as a toll pass. This costs CHF 40. Instead of waiting in line at the border or a gas station, buy it online before your trip. In this case the vignette will not come as a physical sticker (that’s really hard to remove), but is digitally linked to your license plate. This will save you time and hassle, allowing you to hit the road without delay. You can usually get it from this website: E-Vignette

2. Avoid Rush Hour Traffic

Switzerland’s major cities, like Zurich, Geneva, Bern and Lucerne can get quite congested during peak hours. To avoid getting stuck in traffic, plan your drives outside the typical rush hour times, which are usually from 7:00 to 9:00 AM and from 5:00 to 7:00 PM. Early mornings, late evenings or midday are the best times to travel smoothly through the cities and along major highways. Not only will you save time, but you’ll also enjoy a more relaxing drive with less stress and fewer delays. This is a case where I would check your navigation app before a trip, especially if you need to go to Zurich Airport or Geneva Airport during these times.

Traffic Information TCS (German only)

Traffic Information SRF (German only)

3. Check Mountain Pass Closures

Switzerland’s mountain passes offer some of the most stunning driving routes in the world. However, these roads can be unpredictable, especially in the colder months when snow and ice may lead to closures. Before you embark on a journey through the mountains, always check the status of the passes you plan to traverse. You can find up-to-date information on closures and conditions on this website. This simple step can help you avoid unexpected detours and ensure a safe and scenic drive. Should a mountain pass be closed, you have to open to either make a detour (sometimes several hours), or in some cases to drive your car on a car train and ride through the mountain!

Mountain Pass Closures

4. Car Train for Convenience

Switzerland’s mountainous terrain can make driving challenging, especially if you’re not accustomed to steep and winding roads or it is winter time and the mountain passes are closed. The car train, or “Autozug,” is a fantastic option for avoiding difficult driving conditions and saving time. These trains carry your car through tunnels or across mountains, letting you relax. Booking a spot on a car train not only provides convenience but also allows you to enjoy a unique part of Swiss travel culture. Reservations are recommended during Christmas time or other major holidays. Normally, this should not be necessary though.

Here are the 5 car trains in Switzerland:

Furka Car Train (Andermatt in Uri to Oberwald in Valais)

Lötschberg Car Train (Kandersteg in Bern to Goppenstein in Valais)

Simplon Car Train (Brig in Valais to Iselle in Italy)

You can combine the Lötschberg and Simplon Car Train and ride from Kandersteg in Bern to Iselle in Italy

Vereina Car Train (Klosters in Graubünden to Sagliains in Graubünden)

5. Park for Free with a Blue Disc

Parking in Switzerland can be expensive, but there’s a handy local trick that can help you save some money. In many towns and cities, you’ll find blue zones where you can park for free using a blue parking disc, or “Blaue Zone.” You can get one at most gas stations or tourist information centers. Depending on the location, you might get up to 90 minutes of free parking. Be sure to check the signs for the maximum allowed time and avoid parking fines by not exceeding it.

How to use the Blue Parking Disc in Switzerland (unless indicated differently):

You can buy these disc in supermarkets or gas stations. Then you need to find a parking spot that has a blue line painted on the ground. The disc needs to be placed if your car will be parked between 8am and 11:30am and between 1:30pm and 6pm, Monday to Saturday. Outside of these times, no disc is necessary.

1. Round your arrival time to the next half hour mark. (e.g. 2:32 pm: round to 3pm; 2:57pm: round to 3pm)

2. After you have set your arrival time, you then have 1h of free parking.

6. Find Cheaper Gas Away from Highways and Cities

Fuel prices in Switzerland can be quite high, especially at gas stations located along highways and in major cities. To save money, locals know to fill up their tanks at stations in smaller towns or rural areas, where prices are often significantly lower. Plan your refueling stops in advance and look for gas stations off the beaten path. This simple hack can help you stretch your travel budget further and keep your road trip costs down. But then again, Switzerland is really small and you won’t have to refill too often!

How to use a gas station in Switzerland

7. Enjoy Scenic Routes

While highways are efficient for getting from point A to point B, Switzerland’s true charm lies in its scenic routes. These lesser-known roads take you through breathtaking landscapes, picturesque villages, and along pristine lakes. Consider driving the Grand Tour of Switzerland, a well-marked route that showcases the country’s most stunning scenery. Not only will you enjoy spectacular views, but you’ll also discover hidden gems that are often missed by those sticking to the main roads. So, take the scenic route, slow down, and truly savor the beauty of Switzerland.

Check out the Secret Road between Lucerne and Interlaken

Mountain Pass from the Video

Ächerli Pass is a hidden gem in the canton of Obwalden, Switzerland. It’s a peaceful mountain route, perfect for a scenic drive with stunning views of the Swiss Alps and lush valleys. Due to its low traffic, it offers a calm and enjoyable driving experience. However, it’s closed in the winter because of snow, so it’s best to visit during the warmer months.

Rent a Car for your Swiss Road Trip!

Make your Swiss trip even more worthwhile by renting a car in Switzerland!

  • Explore at Your Own Pace: Renting a car gives you the freedom to discover Switzerland’s breathtaking landscapes and charming villages on your own schedule.
  • Convenient and Comfortable: Enjoy the convenience of traveling directly to your destinations without the constraints of public transportation.
  • Uncover Hidden Gems: With a rental car, you can venture off the beaten path and find the lesser-known treasures of Switzerland.
 

8. Stay in the Right Lane on Highways

On Swiss highways, it’s important to stick to the right lane unless you are overtaking. The left lane is strictly for passing slower traffic, and driving in it continuously can cause frustration among local drivers. Moving to the right lane not only helps maintain traffic flow but also ensures safer driving conditions. By staying in the right lane, you’ll avoid unnecessary stress and make your journey smoother. Remember to move back to the right lane after overtaking, and enjoy a more relaxed drive through the beautiful Swiss landscape.

9. Stick to Rules to Avoid Fines and Accidents

Switzerland is known for its strict traffic rules and efficient enforcement, which help maintain order on the roads. Speed limits, parking regulations, and traffic signals are taken very seriously. Fines can be quite steep, even for minor infractions. To avoid these costly penalties, make sure you adhere to all traffic signs and rules. Use your seatbelt, respect speed limits, and never use your phone while driving unless you have a hands-free device. By following these rules, you’ll have a safer and more pleasant driving experience without the worry of unexpected fines.

10. Don’t Let Others Stress You

Driving in a new country can be stressful, especially if you’re not familiar with the local driving culture. Swiss drivers are generally polite and follow the rules, but you might encounter occasional tailgaters or drivers who seem in a hurry. Don’t let them stress you out. Stay calm, stick to your speed, and drive safely. If someone is driving too close, just pull over when it’s safe and let them pass. Your focus should be on enjoying the journey and the stunning Swiss scenery, rather than worrying about impatient drivers.

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Conclusion

Exploring Switzerland by car is a fantastic way to see the country’s diverse landscapes, from majestic mountains to serene lakes. By following these travel hacks known to Swiss locals, you’ll not only save money and time but also enjoy a smoother and more enjoyable trip. So, pack your bags, prepare your car, and get ready for an unforgettable journey through one of the most beautiful countries in the world!

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