Driving Tips - Switzerland
If you’re planning a road trip in Switzerland, you’ll find it has well-maintained roads. However, because of its large population in a small area, you’ll frequently run into traffic. Driving in the Alps can be more difficult, as not all roads are paved and the mountain driving involves sharp inclines and curvy roads. Nonetheless, the sections below will help keep you safe while driving in Switzerland.
Certain documents should always be carried in your vehicle. These are:
- A valid driver’s license
- Proof of insurance; if not, then need to purchase insurance from the rental company
- International Driver’s Permit (IDP) from your home country
- Proof of ownership
The legal age to get a license in Switzerland is 18. However, if you plan to rent a car, check with the rental company for the minimum age.
Driving Rules, Laws and Regulations
- You will drive on the right hand side of the road
- You must have your headlights on at all times, even in daylight hours
- You should not pass another car on the right side
- Always carry license while driving
- Obey all posted traffic signs and lights
- Children under 12 years of age and 150 cm in height (about 5 feet) must be in a safety seat
- Everyone in the vehicle must wear a seatbelt
Speed Limits and Fines
Speed limit signs will be posted in km/h. Following speed limits must be adhered in all cases:
- 120 km/h (47 mph) on superhighways
- 80 km/h (50 mph) on regular highways
- 50 km/h (31 mph) in towns
Fines start at 20 francs on highways and 40 francs in town. If you are going more than 16-25 km/h (10-16 mph) above the speed limit, depending on where you’re driving, you can be summoned to court; you can be fined, and you may not be able to drive in Switzerland for a period of time.
For most drivers, the legal Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) level is 0.05g/100ml. The penalties increase with the level of alcohol in your blood and whether you caused an incident while driving. At 50 to 79 mg, you will be warned and fined, though if you cause an accident, the fine will increase; you can even be jailed for up to 3 years. With higher levels of alcohol in your system, you can be suspended from driving.
Because urban areas are highly populated, parking is heavily regulated with parking zones; some parking spots are privately owned (often marked in yellow). It’s generally ok to park in a white zone, though usually you will need to pay at a meter. In blue zones, you’ll need a parking disk to leave on your car to show when you left it. Generally, you can purchase these at post offices.
Switzerland is a bit congested for driving; in fact, it has a wonderful public transportation system in place if you’d rather not mess with the traffic. However, if you must drive, check with local laws to make sure you know what rules to follow while you are there.
Geneva Driving Guide
Geneva is often referred to as The Smallest of Big Cities and the City of Peace. The banks of Lake Geneva, the many public parks (it is the greenest city in Europe), the views of the surrounding Alps and Jura mountain ranges, old world alleyways and impeccably clean streets continually beckon you to go for a stroll. Geneva is not only home to the UNO but is also an economic hub.
But when eating cake, sampling chocolate and strolling manicured gardens becomes too much for you, you can always head out to the surrounding area for some excellent day trips.
Geneva to Gruyeres:
1 hour 23 to Gruyeres (121 km)
The medieval village of Gruyeres is located high up on a hill, offering fantastic views of the surrounding snow capped Alps. The surroundings of Gruyere are all picturesque green meadows where cows graze peacefully on wild flowers. Gruyeres is an excellent spot to sample the cheese that it is so famous for as well as the exceptional chocolates that the Swiss pride themselves on. The cobbled streets will lead you to all sorts of welcome temptations, including restaurants that offer cheese fondue, dairies and cheese factories.
Gruyeres is definitely not for the lactose intolerant.
The medieval castle, perched at the very top of a hill, is quite a site to see as well. It looks like it belongs in a book of fairytales.
Geneva to Montreux:
1 hour 8 min to Montreux (93,5 km)
Montreux has a gorgeous lakefront promenade, lined with sculptures, trees and plenty of flowers, that just begs you to wander along it and soak in the spectacular views of the Swiss Alps. It is also not too far from the Chateau de Chillon, Switzerland’s best known moated castle, on the opposite side of Lake Geneva. The fully restored and furnished castle is well worth a visit and houses a collection of antique weapons, chests and other artifacts that have been excavated from the area surrounding the castle.
If you’re a fan of Jazz, then try to schedule your trip to Geneva over July when you can drive to Montreux to watch the Montreux Jazz Festival.
If you’re tempted to stay in Gruyeres, Montreux or any other surrounding town while on your trip to Geneva then be sure to browse through our range of affordable accommodation on our website, where we encourage you to spend less on accommodation and more on the experiences found outside your hotel walls. We know that dates can shift and plans can change so as part of our special offers, we don’t charge for cancellations, under special conditions, we also offer up to 25% off for stays longer than 5 days.
We follow the same ethos when it comes to car rentals. Why spend a lot of your travelling budget on an overpriced rental car that is heavy on fuel and rental cost, and eats away at your budget? We offer a range of rental cars that allow you to go further with the money you save. We have a number of collection points in and around the city of Geneva, to ensure that the rental process is not only economical, but convenient and stress free.
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