Swiss Travel Pass or Rent a Car? How to Save Money in Switzerland Transport

Is there anyone who doesn’t want to take a ride on the most popular Glacier Express train while traveling in Switzerland? Obviously None. But the problem that budget travelers or backpackers face is the high cost of Swiss Travel Pass. Then how to explore Switzerland on a budget?

Ok, renting a car in Switzerland is a fantastic way to explore this expensive European country. Swiss travel pass or rent a car in Switzerland? Today, I’m going to explain which one is the ideal option for you.

swiss travel pass or rental car which is the cheapest option to travel in switzerland

Switzerland, the Dream Destination for all travelers which everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime. From snow-capped mountain to lush green valley, scenic hiking trails, crystal clear lakes, little charming Swiss village, Switzerland is enriched with everything that makes it divine destination. But do you know that you can easily save Money in Switzerland Trip with just a wise decision? Keep reading…

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It’s a fact that many travelers cannot fulfill their wish to experience Switzerland because of its expensiveness. Yes, Zurich, Geneva like cities are one of the costliest cities in the world.

But that doesn’t mean it cannot be explored by budget travelers. If you do proper research and planning for your Switzerland trip you can make it real with just 1000 USD without breaking your bank.

Sounds crazy! Yes, you heard right. You need just 1000 USD to explore 8 cities in Switzerland.

Three main things you have to keep in mind while planning for a budget trip in Switzerland:

Here in this blog, I will mainly focus on Transport, from where you can save a good amount of money in Switzerland.

Switzerland is a small country and each city of the country is well connected with each other by both rail and road. So you won’t face any trouble while traveling in Switzerland. However, the issue for a budget traveler or a backpacker is the cost of Swiss Travel Pass.

What is Swiss Travel Pass?

Swiss Travel Pass will give you the privilege of unlimited travel to local transport throughout train, bus, tram and boat services in entire Switzerland. A total of 4 types of passes are available in the 1st and 2nd class to explore Best of Switzerland.

Swiss Travel Pass
Swiss Travel Pass Fare Details
  • Swiss travel pass(regular)
  • Swiss travel pass Youth(for age under 26)
  • Swiss travel pass Flex(perfect for quick deciders, one can choose particular travel day to use this pass within one month and it is a little expensive than the regular pass)
  • Swiss travel pass Flex Youth(to choose flexible travel dates for age under 26)

Free travel for children up to the age of 16 when traveling with parents.

Swiss Travel Pass
Swiss Travel Pass

Swiss Travel Pass Benefits

  • Free travel on mainline trains throughout Switzerland.
  • Amazing scenic view on rail routes which is one of the main attractions in Switzerland.
  • Free boat ride in Lake Thun, Lake Brienz, Lake Lucerne, Lake Geneva, Lake Lugano, Lake Zurich.
  • Free popular mountain excursion like Mount Rigi, Schilthorn-Piz Gloria and the Cabrio cable car to the Stanserhorn.
  • Up to 50% discount on many mountain excursions.
  • Free admission around 500 museums in Switzerland.
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Swiss Travel Pass Disadvantages

  • The main disadvantage is its price which costs around 418 CHF for 8 consecutive days in 2nd class.
  • The pass is available for 3,4,8 or 15 consecutive days. So in case if you want to travel for 5 days then also you have to buy a pass for 8 days.
Swiss Rail
Swiss Rail

Is Swiss Travel Pass worth your money?

Yes, it is only if you don’t have a limited budget. Unarguably, the scenic view of the rail journey in Switzerland is one of the best train journeys in the world. For backpackers, I don’t think it will be an ideal choice to buy a Swiss travel pass.

Rent a Car in Switzerland

Who won’t like to drive and explore in a foreign country and that too at a low cost? Everybody does. All you need is a driving license of your own country(yes, Switzerland doesn’t require an international driving permit), your passport, and a credit card to rent a car in Switzerland. That’s it.

Worried about a road trip to a new country? Just download Top Free Travel Apps before your journey. Make sure to check this road trip packing list to manage your own trip efficiently. There are many car supplier companies like Alamo, Avis in Switzerland, and the best price deal you can get from rentalcars.

Why Rentalcars.com

  • It is one of the largest rental networks with more than 8 million bookings per year, working with over 900 companies in 160 countries.
  • Rentalcars is a part of booking.com, one of the largest travel e-commerce companies in the world.
  • It lets you compare vehicle prices and terms to help you to choose the best rental deals for your needs.
  • This car rental company provides free cancellation, theft protection, collision damage waiver and unlimited kilometers in the rental price on most of their deals.

As per your need, you can choose the best budget-friendly car from their site.

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car rent from rentalcars.com

For 8 days’ rent of a baby SUV, you have to pay just 210 USD and what you get in addition?

  • Collision damage waiver
  • Third-party liability(TPL)
  • Local taxes
  • Theft protection(TP)
  • Premium location surcharge
  • Road fee/Road licensing fee
  • Unlimited free kilometers
Swiss Travel Pass or Rent a Car? How to Save Money in Switzerland Transport

Isn’t it an amazing deal for an expensive country like Switzerland!

Tips: If your pick up and drop location is different make sure that there is no ‘one-way drop fee’ while booking a car from www.rentalcars.com

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Benefits of Renting a Car in Switzerland

  • The best advantage of renting a car in Switzerland is the low cost(215 USD for 8 days rent+ 95 USD for Diesel, total approx. 305 USD) compared to Swiss travel pass(418 USD for 8 days travel pass). If you travel in a group then renting a car will be cheaper as you can share the price of car rent and diesel cost. In the case of Swiss travel pass, everybody has to buy an individual pass.
  • Beauty is all around you in Switzerland and renting a car will give you the flexibility to stop anywhere when you see a good scenario on your way and click pictures at any time. Especially driving in Interlaken would be your lifetime experience.
  • You can explore more places, whatever you want, within a short period of time making any main city as your base.
  • Renting a car in Switzerland is the best option for solitude seekers who love to explore some offbeat places in Switzerland.
  • You can change your plan any time, especially when the weather is bad in the high mountain area, you can change your plan and visit another place instead.

Tips: Before picking up the car from the company take a video of the car from outside as well as inside, so that you can inform the rental company if there is any scratch before taking the car.

roads of Switzerland
Roads of Switzerland

Disadvantages of Renting a Car in Switzerland

  • Switzerland is a right-hand traffic country so it might be confusing to drive for the first time for the people who are from left-hand traffic countries. However, after driving for the first two hours it will be adjusted automatically in your mind.
  • Parking fee in Switzerland is higher(7-15 USD/Night) than any other country in Europe(Try to book such hostel or Airbnb where parking is free)
  • Rules in Switzerland are very strict and if you disobey any traffic rule you will get a ticket which will be deducted from your security deposit amount by the rental company.

What will happen if you lost the key of the car?

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If you lost the key of your rental car, you have to pay for the key replacement and the charges vary($200-$250) but if you have World Nomads travel insurance then it can be reimbursed.

Swiss Travel Pass or Rent a Car?

So it is totally up to you whether you want to save your money and travel freely with a flexible schedule or travel with Swiss travel pass enjoying the most beautiful train routes with no worry about public transport, museum entry and some mountain excursions. But with a higher cost.

Swiss Travel Pass or Rent a Car? How to Save Money in Switzerland Transport
Image by pasja1000 from Pixabay

Tips for Budget Transport of Switzerland Travel

  • Always use a SIM card with an internet connection while you are driving in Switzerland because Google Maps will be your best friend while you drive in a new country for the first time.
  • You can buy individual tickets for the train or bus instead of buying a Swiss travel pass or rent a car if you plan to visit for less than 3 days.
  • You can buy Swiss travel pass on a discounted price if you travel after the end of the peak season from the beginning of Winter to 31st March.
  • Never try to book any intercity taxi in Switzerland as it is too much costly beyond your expectations.
  • You can buy bus tickets from goeuro.com to commute to major cities like Zurich, Lucerne, Geneva. However, a free bus pass or transport card is provided by most of the hotels and hostels.
  • A bus journey is always preferred by budget travelers rather than a train journey. Though the train journey might be costly it will take less time than the bus.
  • While returning the car back to the company then you have to fill the full tank of your car. Otherwise, you have to pay double for per liter. So refill your car’s tank from the nearby petrol pump of www.rentalcars.com parking before returning the car.
  • In most cases, car rental company doesn’t give you full cover for accident or theft. In such a case, you have to pay a certain amount first and the rest will be covered by the rental company. This certain amount is known as the excess amount. The rental company will block the security deposit amount on your credit card. So make sure you have a high credit card limit. The deposit amount is released when you return the car. If you wish you can take full cover for your rented car which is quite expensive.

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swiss travel pass vs rental cars

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  1. I never imagined that car rental in Switzerland could be so cheap, especially including insurance and all. This makes a trip there seem much easier and more affordable than I imagined. It may have to go on the list, at some point, in the summer, when we won’t freeze our tropical-loving butts off. 😉

  2. Blair villanueva says:

    Thanks for sharing the comparison. It is similar to Japan, where renting a self-drive car is cheaper than getting a rail pass. We got to control our time when we selfdrive.

    1. Yes Blair, it is really cheap renting a car instead of STP. But maximum people choose the convenient way to buy a costly Swiss travel pass.

  3. I wish our country has something like this Travel Pass. It makes it so much easier and more affordable for foreign and local tourists to get around. We have some sort of pass for our metro rails, but that’s just it. It’s more for daily commutes and not actually for “traveling.”

  4. Christopher Mitchell says:

    I’ve actually been considering heading back to Switzerland soon, so this is something well worth considering. All things considered, I think that I’ll just rent a car and have that autonomy! Thanks for putting this together!

  5. I love trains, they are my favorite mean of public transportation by far, but when I want to make the most of my trip I always go for the rental. Looking at the landscapes zooming past your window while eating your breakfast is great but I think that the luxury to be able to go wherever you want at any time beats everything else. Not to mention that it’s also cheaper.

  6. Switzerland is such an amazing destination but also so expensive. When we visited Switzerland last time, I didn’t purchase the Swiss Travel Pass as I found it too expensive for the five days we would be in the country, plus also as our Eurail pass covered most of the trains we took. However if one is planning on taking several of those cable car rides to Piz Gloria etc, then the Swiss Pass can be quite worth it too. I like the option of renting the car – it would make for such a fun road trip with the family. The drives look stunning and all the details you’ve provided about car rentals are very helpful. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Very handy tips as I am about to plan my trip to Switzerland. I will look into your recommended rental cars. Thanks

  8. Hi there, thanks for breaking down the 2 most common transportation options in Switzerland. A lot of travelers marked that renting and exploring tourist places using a car is very expensive. But you showed some amazing tips to utilize the car rental service in Switzerland wholeheartedly.

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