Swiss Travel Pass vs Car Rental: Which Is Best?

swiss travel pass vs car rental

The Swiss Travel Pass is an easy choice for travel throughout Switzerland. However, there are cases where it makes more sense to rent a car.

So, if you tackle this conundrum, this post is for you.

Find out whether the Swiss Travel Pass or car rental is the best option for your upcoming trip to Switzerland.

When Renting A Car Even Makes Sense

Car rental including parking and gas/petrol in Switzerland is expensive. So, the only time it really makes sense financially is when you are at least 2 people.

Let me give you an example:

Car Rental Costs

Say you get a car for 250 CHF for 1 week. This would be an amazing deal, so I will add at least 100 for extras like insurance. 350CHF

You will have to pay for parking almost everywhere in Switzerland. Let’s add 20 CHF a day, which is reasonable. 140 CHF for a week

Gas costs about 2 CHF per litre, and you are likely to use 50-100 on your trip at least. Let’s call it 100 CHF.

Total for 1 week car rental is 590 CHF. This is an absolute minimum. If you rent a bigger car, or in high season, it could be double or more. So the above figure is very generous.

Swiss Travel Pass Costs

A Swiss Travel Pass for 359 CHF for 6 days travel. (** the Flex option may be cheaper if you don’t travel far on some days)

For two people that would be 718 CHF.

So, more expensive than a car for two people. However, the Swiss Travel Pass includes more than just train travel. It includes public transport in cities, museum entry, 50% discount on most mountain excursions.

So, to get a true price for the car rental you need to add 50% of the cost of any mountain trips you plan to do, plus any train/bus travel to get there from your accommodation, if you can’t drive there (eg. Zermatt is car-free).

Swiss Travel Pass Pros & Cons

There are a lot of advantages to the Swiss Travel Pass. Rather than list them all, here are the most important ones:

  • Free travel on all public transport, buses, trains and boats (except for mountain railways and cablecars)
  • Free travel on the most popular panoramic train journeys (Glacier Express, Golden Route)
  • Free access to over 500 museums
  • Free travel up the following mountains – Rigi, Stoos, Stanserhorn
  • Discounted travel on most popular mountain excursions (50% in almost all cases, special price for Jungfraujoch)

The disadvantages are:

  • You are limited to a specific number of days free travel (either consecutive or within a month)
  • Travel outside the days on your pass is not covered
  • It is still expensive to travel up the mountains (that also applies when you have a car)
  • You are constrained to train times and schedules (although they are rarely late)
  • Train travel often takes longer than door-to-door by car

Car Rental Pros & Cons

Car rental also comes with a number of pros and cons you should consider. The biggest advantages that come to mind include:

  • Easy to travel on your own timetable
  • Road trips in the Swiss mountains are epic!
  • Can drive door-to-door, straight to your accommodation
  • Less travel time when there are no traffic jams (rare)
  • Easier to transport your luggage (compared to changing trains)

The cons are:

  • Considerable traffic jams throughout Switzerland
  • Less relaxing driving compared to sitting on a train
  • Parking is not always available where you want in busy towns or cities
  • No discounts included on any other transport you take (you will pay full price which is expensive)

More On The Swiss Travel Pass

Mountain Trips

Jungfraujoch,   Pilatus,   Mount Rigi,   Mount Rigi

Pass Comparisons

Jungfrau Travel Pass,   Interrail,   Car Rental

Written by Ashley Faulkes
As a twenty-year resident of Switzerland, I am passionate about exploring every nook and cranny of this beautiful country, I spend my days deep in the great Swiss outdoors, and love to share these experiences and insights with fellow travel enthusiasts.

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