Rent a Car for Travel in Zurich

Known as a global financial center and for its efficient public transit system, Zurich may not seem like an obvious choice for renting a car. But having your own set of wheels opens up possibilities to explore Switzerland’s largest city and the surrounding region at your own pace. Here’s a guide on renting a car for travel in Zurich.

Rent a Car for Travel in Zurich

Benefits of Renting a Car in Zurich

Renting a car provides advantages over relying solely on public transportation:

Freedom and Flexibility

With a rental car you can visit sights on your own schedule and modify plans on the fly versus sticking to transit or tour timetables. Go wherever you want, whenever you want.

Access Nature and Small Towns

Reaching the idyllic Swiss countryside, stunning Alpine vistas, charming villages and outdoor adventures is easier with a rental car versus public transit.

Comfort and Privacy

Driving in your own private rental car is much more comfortable than Zurich’s crowded trams and buses. You can control the music and temperature.

Transport Purchases and Luggage

A rental car provides freedom to go shopping for Swiss watches, chocolate and souvenirs, and easily transport them, along with all your luggage.

Potential Cost Savings

Depending on the length of your trip, having a rental car could potentially save money compared to relying on trains, taxis and tours.

Booking Your Zurich Rental Car

If you decide to rent, here are some tips to keep in mind:

Reserve Early

Book your rental car as far in advance as possible, especially during peak tourist season when availability is lower. Last minute rentals will be expensive.

Location Matters

Choose a rental location that is close to your hotel to avoid wasting time getting across Zurich. Know parking policies at your accommodation.

Compare Rates

Shop around and compare rental car rates through different companies. Look for any membership discounts you can use.

Understand Insurance Needs

Verify what insurance options you need since your personal policy may not cover international rentals. Decline unnecessary add-ons to control costs.

Read Reviews

Research rental company reviews to see feedback from other Zurich travelers about service, car condition, etc. to make the best choice.

Seek Discounts

Search for available promo codes and coupons to lower your rental costs. Joining rental loyalty programs can also pay off.

Navigating Zurich by Car

Driving in Zurich and Switzerland has some key differences from North America. Here are tips for getting around:

Know the Rules

Brush up on Switzerland’s driving laws and regulations so you drive safely and avoid issues. For example, headlights must be on day and night.

Adjust to Roundabouts

Many Zurich intersections have roundabouts which require yielding to traffic already circulating. Use turn signals and watch for pedestrians.

Pay for Parking

In central Zurich you’ll have to pay for parking in garages, lots and street spaces. Have coins, cards and apps ready to display proof of payment.

Allow Extra Time

Build in plenty of extra time when driving in Zurich. Follow speed limits. Things move at a slower pace than you may be used to.

Get an International Driving Permit

While your home license may be valid, having an IDP translates it into German and other European languages.

Fill Up Often

Since Zurich has limited parking, fill up on gas whenever you see a station to avoid running out of fuel at an inopportune time.

Top Day Trip Destinations from Zurich

One of the best perks of renting a car in Zurich is taking day trips to see more of Switzerland’s stunning scenery and charming villages. Top day trips include:

Lucerne/Mount Pilatus

This picturesque city on Lake Lucerne is only 45 minutes away. From here you can ascend majestic Mount Pilatus.

Rhine Falls

The powerful Rhine Falls, Europe’s largest plain waterfalls, are just over an hour drive from Zurich near Schaffhausen.

Mount Rigi

For panoramic views of central Switzerland and the Alps, drive an hour to scenic Mount Rigi and ride the historic cog railway up to the summit.


visit quaint Appenzell just 90 minutes away to experience ornate Swiss culture and architecture plus delicious cheese.


This tiny principality is perfect for a day trip, about 2.5 hours from Zurich. Tour Vaduz Castle and stamp your passport!

Types of Rental Cars in Zurich

Zurich rental companies offer a variety of vehicle models and sizes to meet your needs:


Best for solo travelers or pairs. No frills but great gas mileage for zipping around the city. Examples: Toyota Yaris, Fiat Panda.


Solid option for small groups with room for 2-4 passengers and a couple bags. Maneuverable for urban driving. Examples: VW Golf, Opel Corsa.


Comfortable legroom and cargo room for 4-5 passengers and luggage. Great for longer day trips from the city. Examples: Toyota Corolla, Nissan Qashqai.

Standard SUV/Crossover

Versatile for groups and luggage with extra ground clearance for country roads. Decent gas mileage. Examples: Toyota RAV4, VW Tiguan.

Passenger Van

For large groups or families, with seating for up to 8 and abundant luggage room. Check license restrictions. Examples: Mercedes Vito, Ford Tourneo.

FAQ About Renting Cars in Zurich

What documents do I need to rent a car?

You’ll need a valid driver’s license, passport, credit card (for deposit), and International Driving Permit if you have one. Some companies may require additional proof of ID.

What side of the road do they drive on?

Traffic in Switzerland drives on the right-hand side of the road, just like in North America, so no adjustment needed there!

Are automatic cars available?

Yes, both automatic and manual transmission rental cars are readily available in Zurich. Reserve early if you specifically need an automatic vehicle.

Can I use my home country’s driver’s license?

Most companies accept foreign licenses as long as you’ve had one for at least a year. Getting an IDP provides extra reassurance.


While public transit in Zurich is exceptional, renting a car opens up additional opportunities to fully experience this Swiss gem at your own pace. With wheels, you can freely access the surrounding countryside and quaint villages to soak up stunning Alpine views and culture. Reserve early, understand insurance needs, and follow rules of the road. Buckle up and get ready to put the pedal to the metal on a fabulous Swiss road trip adventure!


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