Advantages of renting a car:
1. When you've got a car of your own, you are your own boss. You aren't bound by time. You can leave your hotel when you want and return when you feel like. You don't have to worry about hurrying up to catch a train. Having a car allows you complete flexibility, and if that's something that is crucial to you while you're on your trip, you're really going to enjoy this option.
2. Renting a car is naturally more cost effective than purchasing a Swiss Travel Pass, especially if you're traveling in a group of more than 2 or 3 people. From sedans and hatchbacks to SUVs and MPVs, you'll easily find options that are suitable to you. If you're renting a car, I would advise you to rent an automatic one since it allows more ease while driving. Expect to spend around Rs 35,000 and up to rent a car for 15 days.
3. The roads in Switzerland are fantastic and I couldn't think of a better place for a road trip. Views of minty blue lakes, colourful mountains and verdant rolling hills, will make for a memorable road trip.
Disadvantages of renting a car:
1. Now, driving in Switzerland is not like driving in India, you cannot just wing it. There are strict rules and even stricter penalties if those rules are broken. So you have to be extra cautious while driving there. Let's not forget that Switzerland also has left-hand drive and right-hand traffic, which could be a cause of discomfort to some.
2. An additional cost that many don't consider while choosing to rent a car in Switzerland is parking. Parking in Switzerland is more strict than you can imagine. There are designated spots where you can park, and it is extremely rare to come across free parking! Throughout our 15-day trip, the only places where we could park for free was at our Airbnbs. In the towns, we had to park in paid parking lots which are extremely expensive. To give you an idea, we paid Rs 1164 (CHF 16) to park in Grindelwald for 4 hours.
Making the final choice
Now that you know both sides of the coin, you can make a decision based on the kind of traveller that you are and what you prioritise while on a vacation. Here are my tips:
1. If you're a family / group of more than 3 people who are on a week-long (or longer) trip to Switzerland, then renting a car is ideal for you as it will turn out to be drastically cheaper.
2. If you're not comfortable with left-hand drive and right-hand traffic or with the country's stringent traffic rules, then you should opt for the train since driving can be fairly stressful.
3. Driving during shoulder seasons is convenient, however during the summer, the traffic is significant, which may cause unnecessary delays or trouble while driving.
4. If you don't want to waste time waiting for the next train to your destination or don't want to be bound by any kind of schedule while on vacation, then too, you must rent a car.
5. If the main aim of your trip is to visit all the major mountains such as Mt. Titlis, Jungfraujoch, Mt. Pilatus etc, then you will save more by purchasing the Swiss Travel Ticket.
6. There are numerous car-free towns in Switzerland like Wengen, Murren, Zermatt and Chur, to visit which you will have to purchase train tickets, even if you have a car.
Choosing the Swiss Travel Ticket and renting a car is an important decision upon which the budget of your trip rests. But remember, no matter what you choose, your trip to Switzerland will be worth every single penny and every iota of effort that you put into planning. I can’t wait for you to behold its beauty for yourself!
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