Car Rental in Zurich
Cheapest Car Rental Rates
Most Popular Car Rental Deals
Why rent a car in Zurich?
Zurich is a great city to explore. Sophisticated and well-developed, it is home to well-preserved architecture, varied museums, modern art spaces, and classy restaurants. A lot of smaller, but equally interesting towns are located nearby, as is impressive nature. Traveling by rental car, you can explore Zurich first, then see the rest of Switzerland, perhaps even traveling to the French or Italian-speaking regions or taking a sneak peek at one of Switzerland’s neighboring countries.
One-Way Car Rentals in Zurich
The most popular one-way rental options for pick up in Zurich and drop off in another city include:
- From Zurich to Milan - 93 offers from $145.03 per day
- From Zurich to Geneva - 252 offers from $51.46 per day
- From Zurich to Venice - 9 offers from $241.15 per day
- From Zurich to Bologna - 37 offers from $145.03 per day
- From Zurich to Lugano - 36 offers from $66.55 per day
Top ways to enter Zurich
- Zurich Airport: The busiest in Switzerland, Zurich Airport handled 31 million travelers in 2018. The airport is a hub for Edelweiss Air and Swiss International Air Lines and is served by around 30 other airlines. In addition to European connections, the airport also has flights to and from destinations in Africa, Asia, and the Americas. Located 11 km (6.8 miles) northeast of the city center, the airport can be reached in about 15 minutes by car.
- EuroAirport Basel Mulhouse Freiburg: Located in France, but serving locations in three different countries, EuroAirport handled 9 million travelers in 2019. A hub for the low-cost carrier easyJet, it is often the most affordable place to fly to in Switzerland. EuroAirport is divided into French and Swiss sectors - if you plan to pick up your rental car in the French sector, ask your rental car provider in advance if they permit you crossing the border with Switzerland (while both countries are members of the Schengen Area, some rental car providers nonetheless don’t permit or charge an additional fee for crossing the border). Located just northwest of Basel, EuroAirport is 91 km (56.5 miles) from Zurich and can be reached in a little over an hour.
- Geneva Airport: Serving the largest French-speaking city of Switzerland, Geneva Cointrin Airport handled 17.6 million travelers in 2018. Served by around 30 different airlines, Geneva Airport hosts some flights by low-cost carriers like EasyJet in addition to Swiss International Air Lines. Geneva Airport is 270 km (167 miles) northwest of Zurich and can be reached in about three hours.
- Milan Malpensa Airport: The busiest airport in northern Italy and second-busiest in all of the country, Milan Malpensa handled 24 million travelers in 2018. The airport has flights by around 40 different airlines with most of the traffic served by ITA Airways, easyJet, Neos, and Ryanair. Located 280 km (174 miles) south of Zurich, Malpensa Airport can be reached in about 3 hours and 20 minutes. If you plan to pick up your rental car in Italy and then travel to Switzerland, ask your rental car provider in advance if they permit crossing the border.
- Munich Airport: With 48 million travelers served in 2019, Munich Airport is the busiest in Southern Germany, the second-busiest in the country, and the eighth busiest in Europe. The airport is a large hub for Lufthansa but also has flights by low-cost carriers like Eurowings and Norwegian Air and tens of other airlines. Located 340 km (211 miles) southeast of Zurich, Munich Airport can be reached in about 3 hours and 40 minutes. Like with Malpensa, ask your rental car provider in advance if they permit crossing the border with a rental car.
- By rail: If arriving in Zurich by train, you can pick up your rental car at Zurich Hauptbahnhof or the main train station.
- Despite being located quite far from any sea, Zurich has a temperate oceanic climate with humid continental influences. The city has warm summers, cold winters, and four distinct seasons. The average high temperature in Zurich is 24°C (75°F) in July, the warmest month (with some days significantly warmer), and 3°C (37°F) in January, the coldest. Summers in the city are quite wet, while winters are drier but experience a lot of snow. Zurich is located at an elevation of 400 - 500 m (1,300 - 1,650 ft); Uetliberg, the mountain overlooking the city, is 870 m (2,850 ft) high.
- With a GDP per capita of over 70,000 Euros (around 78,000 USD), Greater Zurich is one of the wealthiest regions in Europe, behind only the cities of Luxembourg City in Luxembourg, Dublin in Ireland, Brussels in Belgium, and Hamburg in Germany. The prosperity is reflected in the quality of living as Zurich is frequently voted one of the best places to live in the world. Zurich is also frequently ranked as the most expensive city in Europe, ahead of London, Moscow, and Paris.
- Although Bern is the capital of Switzerland, Zurich is by far the most populous urban center in the country. The city itself has a population of about 443,000 and a population density of 4,700/km2. The Greater Zurich Area, made up of seven different cantons, has a population of 1.8 million people, meaning that roughly every fifth resident of Switzerland lives in or around Zurich. The city itself is made up of 12 different districts, known as Kreise in German. The residents of Zurich are known as Zurcher (male) and Zurcherin (female).
Top destinations and activities
- Old Town. Picturesque and well-preserved, visiting Zurich Altstadt is one of the highlights of any trip to the city. The old town is famous as the home of beautiful buildings like St. Peter’s Church, old guild houses, and the University of Zurich, but it is best enjoyed by simply roaming its old narrow streets which seem to have changed very little over the last centuries.
- Lake Promenade. The long promenade on the northern coast of Lake Zurich is one of the prettiest areas in the city. Lined with trees and passing by many of Zurich’s landmarks, the promenade is the perfect place to go on a long walk or simply enjoy the view. Despite Zurich being very pricey, one of the nicest things to do in the city is absolutely free.
- Pavillon Le Corbusier. Located in the Zurichhorn area, the Pavilion is an art museum dedicated to the famous architect who hailed from Switzerland. Known as one of the fathers of modern architecture and urban planning, Le Corbusier created many daring and influential projects, some of which can be seen in the museum. Purpose-built, the museum itself can be seen as a work of art itself.
- Uetliberg. You can reach this mountain peak by a short 30-minute train ride from Zurich’s city center. At the viewpoint, you’ll be able to enjoy stunning views of Zurich, the lake, and the mountains in the distance. You can also take some time to wander some of the forest paths at the peak, walk down the mountain, or take the cable car back down.
Traffic and parking
- Switzerland drives on the right-hand side of the road.
- The speed limit in Switzerland is 100-120 km/h (62-75 mph) on motorways, 80 km/h (50 mph) on all other intercity roads, and 50 km/h (31 mph) inside urban and built-up areas. Switzerland has some of the strictest laws in the world when it comes to speeding - it is considered a legal offense; exceeding the limits very excessively can even lead to prison time.
- Switzerland is a very mountainous country. While it has some of the best roads in the world, driving remote mountain roads can still be a challenging experience as many are very narrow and steep. If you’re driving an especially narrow road and can’t see around the nearest bend, the law requires you to use a horn in advance.
- During the winter months, all cars need to be equipped with winter tires and if the snow is especially strong, using tire chains might also be required. All Swiss rental cars will have winter tires and many will also come with tire chains (though do ask your rental car in advance), but these requirements are important to keep in mind if you’re traveling to Switzerland with a rental car picked up in a neighboring country like Italy, France, or Germany.
- Many mountain passes are closed during the winter months. It’s a good idea to get an up-to-date GPS system that will notify you which roads are accessible and which are not.
- It is illegal to use a mobile phone while driving. The law is strictly enforced and the fines are high.
- The legal alcohol limit is 0.05% for experienced drivers and 0.00% for novice drivers. Exceeding these limits can lead to very steep fines or even imprisonment.
- The car’s registration and insurance documents must be in it at all times.
- If you’re the driver, you need to have your passport or ID card with you at all times.
- Children younger than 12 years of age must have a child seat. Ask your rental car provider about the availability of one if you will be traveling with a young child.
- The general emergency number in Switzerland, like in the European Union, is 112. You can also call 117 for police, 118 for the fire brigade, and 144 for an ambulance.
Switzerland does not have toll roads as in some other European countries. Instead, a vignette is required to use the motorways of the country. If renting a car in Switzerland, the vignette should already be on the car when you receive it. However, if you rent a car in neighboring France, Italy, Germany or Austria, you will need to purchase a vignette when entering Switzerland (i.e., near the customs checkpoint). Unfortunately, there is only one type of vignette offered, one lasting the entire year (valid until January 31 of next year). This has the unfortunate effect of costing the traveler more than residents on a per-day basis. The cost of the vignette is currently 40 CHF.
While there are no toll roads, there are two tunnels that are tolled. These are the Grand St. Bernhard Tunnel spout of Lake Geneva near the border with Italy and the Munt la Schera near the Italian border in the far east of the country.
There are also five toll tunnels where vehicles are transported by train. The nearest to Zurich is the Oberalp Pass, about 120 km (75 miles) south of the city.
Learn more about the highway vignette system in Switzerland on the official Swiss Customs Administration website and the European toll road website.
Ideas for day trips
- Baden. A pretty little town near the border with Germany, Baden is famous the Stein Castle, the Children’s Museum, and an old, reconstructed wood bridge. The word ‘Baden’ literally means ‘baths’ in archaic German, and travelers love visiting the town's many spas and thermal springs which have attracted foreign visitors since Roman times. Located 23 km (14 miles) northwest of Zurich, Baden can be reached in about 25 minutes.
- Zurich Wilderness Park. A large, forested territory made up of two joined nature preserves, the wilderness park is home to many native animal species like brown bears, elk grey wolves, and European bison. There are also many hiking trails and picnic spots, making it one of the nicest green areas in the vicinity of Zurich. Located just 13 km (8 miles) south of the city, the park can be reached in about 20 minutes by car.
- Winterthur. A medium-sized city, Winterthur is best known for its historical architecture. But the city also has a whopping 17 museums, with the Oskar Reinhart Collection, an art museum, and Technorama - Swiss Science Center being the standouts. Located just 24 km (15 miles) northeast of Zurich, Winterthur takes 30 minutes to reach, making it an ideal spot even if you only have one day in Zurich.
Most popular cars
The most popular rental car in Zurich is the Volkswagen Polo, followed by the Volkswagen Golf and the Ford Focus. The most popular rental car types are economy, mini, and compact.
- Basel. Located right on the border with Germany and France, Switzerland’s third city is a great place to explore. Travelers love it for impressive churches like Basel Munster and Elisabethenkirche, sophisticated museums, and unique festivals. Located 87 km (54 miles) northwest of Zurich, Basel can be reached in about 1 hour and 15 minutes. From here, you can easily visit Alsace in France and the Black Forest in Germany, though you should ask your rental car provider in advance to find out if they permit it.
- Ticino. Even in a country like Switzerland, the region of Ticino stands out for its natural beauty. Primarily Italian-speaking, it is home to alpine lake beaches, snow-capped peaks, and long, green valleys. Ticino’s little towns, including Locarno, Bellinzona, and Lugano, are also very much worth a visit. The latter, 207 km (128 miles) northeast of Zurich, can be reached in about 2 hours and 40 minutes.
- Lucerne. A nice city in Central Switzerland, Lucerne offers many experiences dedicated to the surrounding Alps. These include the Glacier Garden, Alpineum (a museum and diorama), and surrounding mountains like Titlis, Pilatus, and Rigi that you can climb. Among the other attractions of the city are the Rosengart Collection which has artworks by Picasso, Cezanne, and Chagal, and the Chapel Bridge. Located 52 km (32 miles) south of Zurich, Lucerne can be reached in about 45 minutes.
- Interlaken. Gorgeous in both winter and summer, there are so many things to do in Interlaken. Enjoy kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, and swimming in Lake Brienz or Lake Thun. Take a beautiful hike on a mountain trail such as Rugen trail or Harder Kulm. You can also combine your Interlaken trip with some time in Grindelwald, known for its hiking, viewpoints, cute village, and breathtaking mountain views. From Zurich, you can reach Interlaken in about 1 hour and 45 minutes.
Car Rental Prices in Zurich
- Convertibles - from $144 per day
- Station wagons - from $74 per day
- Large cars - from $78 per day
- Medium cars - from $67 per day
- Vans - from $174 per day
- Premium cars - from $102 per day
- Small cars - from $52 per day
- SUVs - from $66 per day
Try these simple tips to get a great rental car in Zurich:
- Compare the rates of different rental car providers
- Book your rental car well in advance
- Plan your route before you go
- Know your fuel and mileage requirements
- Visit during the month when the rental prices are the cheapest. According to our data, visiting Zurich is the cheapest in April when renting a car is about 41% cheaper than the yearly average.
Top 15 Cities near Zurich
Lucerne Car Rentals from $77.98 per day49.6 km / 30.8 miles away
59.8 km / 37.2 miles away
Altenrhein Car Rentals from $106.53 per day76.1 km / 47.3 miles away
Basel Car Rentals from $67.41 per day78.3 km / 48.7 miles away
Chur Car Rentals from $67.83 per day100.1 km / 62.2 miles away
Interlaken Car Rentals from $94.70 per day101.3 km / 62.9 miles away
Bern Car Rentals from $34.84 per day102.0 km / 63.4 miles away
Thun Car Rentals from $73.53 per day106.8 km / 66.4 miles away
145.6 km / 90.5 miles away
Bellinzona Car Rentals from $73.53 per day145.8 km / 90.6 miles away
Gstaad Car Rentals from $112.31 per day146.1 km / 90.8 miles away
Lugano Car Rentals from $73.53 per day164.4 km / 102.2 miles away
166.1 km / 103.2 miles away
Sion Car Rentals from $86.17 per day166.8 km / 103.6 miles away
Geneva Car Rentals from $64.65 per day230.3 km / 143.1 miles away
Top 8 Locations near Zurich
Zurich Airport Car Rentals from $65.87 per day
6.9 km / 4.3 miles away
St.Gallen–Altenrhein Airport Car Rentals from $106.53 per day76.1 km / 47.3 miles away
Basel Airport Car Rentals from $67.41 per day78.3 km / 48.7 miles away
Bern Airport Car Rentals from $113.10 per day100.3 km / 62.3 miles away
Downtown Car Rentals from $66.96 per day229.8 km / 142.8 miles away
Geneva Train Station Car Rentals from $83.05 per day230.1 km / 143.0 miles away
Geneva Airport Car Rentals from $64.65 per day230.3 km / 143.1 miles away
Map of Car Rental Locations
What is the cheapest month to rent a car in Zurich?
This information can help you identify the low season. But these are only average numbers. How much your car rental will cost will depend on the type of vehicle you rent, how long you’ll rent it for, and how far ahead you book. Simply enter your dates in the form at the top of the page to see the exact prices.
What’s the usual rental length in Zurich?
What's the most popular month to rent a car in Zurich?
Car Rental Information
|Car rental locations||6|
|Popular suppliers||Alamo, Explore Vacations AG, Hertz, Enterprise, Europcar|
|Popular car categories||Small cars, SUVs, Medium cars, Vans|
|Lowest price||$52 per day|
Most Popular Car Models of Rental Suppliers
|Hertz||Citroen C3||5||2||Small cars|
|Alamo||Volkswagen Polo||4||2||Small cars|
|Alamo||Volkswagen Polo||4||2||Small cars|
|Hertz||Volkswagen Polo||4||2||Small cars|
|Explore Vacations AG||Volkswagen Golf||5||2||Medium cars|
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