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Why rent a car in Zürich?

Located at the northwest tip of Lake Zürich, with magnificent views of the snow-capped Alps, Switzerland’s capital city has long been known as one of Europe’s main financial hubs and site of FIFA’s headquarters. Zürich is also one of Europe’s hippest destinations, with a mixture of cultural attractions, famous fashion labels and a flamboyant nightlife. It has more than 100 galleries and renowned museums, such as the Museum of Art and the Swiss National Museum.

Its charming Altstadt (Old Town) reflects its pre-medieval history and has trendy and traditional shops, while luxury and international brands can be found on Bahnhofstrasse.

The best way to enjoy the area’s breathtaking beauty is to get a rental car in Zurich and venture out on short expeditions. It’s under a half-hour drive to Winterthur, a treasure trove of art, culture and history, then another 20 minutes to Frauenfeld, with its historic castle. Baden, 30 minutes southeast, has thermal springs bubbling away at temperatures of 47ºC. A 20-minute drive takes you to Uster, from where you can cross the whale-shaped Greifensee to Moar on a boat.

How to get to and around Zürich?

Zürich Airport, the main international airport serving Zürich, is only six miles from the centre. Trains run between the airport and Zürich Main Station (Zürich Hauptbanhof) every five to 10 minutes. You can also take a 10-minute journey on the S-Bahn lines S2 and S6, or other regional and intercity trains. If you rent a car at Zürich Airport, you and your luggage can travel comfortably and be downtown in 15 minutes via the A1L motorway.

Hiring a car in Zürich city centre

You can pick up a hire car in Zurich from the airport or a number of points within the city to make your day-trip planning much easier.

Parking is only permitted in marked places. White zones with parking meters are for short stays from 30 minutes to four hours. Parking permits in the residents’ blue zones can be purchased from at CHF15 per day, but parking regulations are strict and visitors are advised to use the car parks in the centre instead. Between 9pm and 8am parking is free almost anywhere.

Zürich has some impressive hotels among its highest ranked. The 170-year-old, stylish Baur au Lac, in a park overlooking the Alps and Lake Zürich, offers designer furnishings, heated bathroom floors and its own line of chocolates. The Widder Hotel, near the financial district in the Old Town, is an intriguing mixture of modern and rustic in its décor. The Dolder Grand looks nothing short of grand perched atop a hill with 19th century architecture and spires. Its magnificent spa, pool and gym facilities and its Michelin-starred restaurant make it a resort on its own.

What brands are available?

You can choose your rental car in Zurich from a large range of companies. Below is a list of brands available at Zurich Airport.

  • Alamo
  • Avis
  • Budget
  • Dollar Europe
  • Enterprise
  • Europcar
  • Hertz
  • Sixt
  • Thrifty EU
  • Must-sees within an easy drive of Zürich

    One of the most popular day trips is to the 10,623-foot-high snowy summit of Mount Titlis for spectacular Alpine views. Start at the resort town of Engelberg, a 90-minute drive south, then ride the three cable cars and funicular to the top. On the way to Mount Titlis, stop by lovely Lucerne, with its cobbled streets, medieval walls and Old Town.

    In a little over two hours, you can get to the scenic Bernese Oberland region for a drive among its towering peaks, then take the cogwheel train from Grindelwald to ascend the Unesco World Heritage-listed Jungfraujoch mountain pass. Walk through the Ice Palace carved into the glacier, and enjoy views of an endless winter wonderland landscape from the Sphynx Observatory.

    Tips and tricks for driving in Switzerland

    Switzerland has a high demographic density, and traffic jams are frequent. City streets can be narrow and parking limited. Road conditions are excellent and accidents infrequent, but drivers are required to pay to use the motorway and display a sticker, or vignette, on the vehicle’s windscreen. The stickers can be bought from the Swiss Centre in the UK or locally at border points and petrol stations for €38.50 (in 2017).

    You must be 18 or over and drive on the right-hand side. Use of seatbelts and dipped headlights is compulsory. Carry your valid UK driving licence along with your passport and car insurance papers at all times.

    Ready to plan your Zürich city break?

    Feeling inspired to start planning your trip to Zürich and other parts of the Switzerland? Use this city guide and the Expedia search tool to find the best car hire, flight and hotel deals and research your preferred attractions and activities.