Bern

By | 16th January 2018

Is it worth hiring a car in Bern?

Do you need a car in Bern > Should you rent a car in Bern Switzerland > Bern ( BRN ) Do you need a car in Bern? Is it worth hiring a car in Bern? Should you rent a car in Bern?

Bern Car hire summary


Overall drive rating

Based on a weighted score across all cost and quality factors. [Full notes - drive rating]

40%

  • Price alone isn't the only factor in determining whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Bern but clearly it's an important one. See our "why" section for more figures.
  • Cost factors include - price of car hire (peak and off peak season), car hire extras, fuel, tolls and parking costs.
  • Quality factors include - scenic drives, road quality and upkeep, general safety and congestion levels.
  • A complete index of all 10 factors will be uploaded shortly.

Cheapest rate for one week

Based on cheapest economy car hire deal with no added extras. [full notes - basic costs]

€235

 #241/300

  • This is the very lowest price we could find for a one week car rental period in Bern during the quiet season.
  • You will almost always end up paying more than this figure, but any extra costs or supplementary charges are usually determined by the renter, so we cannot easily compare like with like.
  • In many cases, rental companies will offer a cheap rental and then expect you to take out expensive insurance waivers. There are always ways to avoid this!

How much should I expect to pay in the peak season?

Based on cheapest deal during the summer holiday season. (Unless otherwise noted) [full notes - seasonal variations]

 €340

218/300

  • During the peak holiday season, public transport is often better value, as many train and bus fares are fixed throughout the year. See our "why not" section for more suggestions.
  • For most featured destinations, the peak season will be during the summer, typically July and August for northern hemisphere destinations. However, peak demand might occur at different times, for example in some ski resorts or winter sun destinations etc.


Free parking score

Based on the number of hotels which offer free parking. Total 99 - of which 34 have free parking. [full notes - parking]

34%

#184/300

  • Free hotel parking is very useful to have when you are hiring a car, and it's always worth checking ahead beforehand.
  • If free hotel parking is not available, you might want to consider renting a car for a single day, rather than for your whole trip.
  • The availability (or lack of) free hotel parking can be a really important factor in determining whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Bern, as it can be a significant extra daily cost which you won't usually be paying at home!
  • Parking costs play a very major part in our consideration of whether or not it's worth hiring a car in each destination.
  • By using public transport, walking or hiring a bicycle, you can avoid having to worry about parking charges altogether! See our "why not" section for more suggestions.

Bern public transport quick facts

Train score

Higher scores go to the systems which don't just take you to the most amazing places, but also to the ones which are easy to use, fast, reliable and frequent. A good train system on its own is usually enough to determine that you don't need to hire a car in many destinations.

100%

  • [full notes trains]
  • Trains include all kinds of urban rail system from trams up to metro and suburban networks.
  • Trains also include mountain railways and cable cars.
  • Generally, places with a good rail network will automatically mean that you don't "need" to hire a car, but you can still might find that on balance you are better off by having one.

Water travel score

This is a general rating for all types of water travel, including scheduled ferries, sea / rivers cruises and excursions in Bern

90%

  • [full notes - water score]
  • The water score looks at means of transport on water - it does not consider water based activities like surfing or kayaking.

Overall public transport score

This is a more practical rating based on bus and rail travel, and also including ferries and other boat services, where they are part of the public transport network.

100%

  • [full notes - overall transit] buses | trams | metro | local & regional rail | national rail
  • Is public transport in Bern good value, or is it worth hiring a car just because it is cheaper overall?
  • Even if public transport is cheap and reliable, you might still feel that you should hire a car in Bern because it will still give you more flexibility to reach out-of-the-way places, especially in rural areas.

Walking and Cycling Overview

Active travel score

This overall rating considers walking and cycling in and around Bern. It includes factors such as the quality of the street environment, and whether you are likely to feel safe walking or cycling, together with the availability of bicycle hire and the ease of linking walking or cycling routes with public transport.

100%

  • [full notes - active score] walking (city) | hiking | cycling (city /  country).
  • A high active travel score means that you might not need a car in Bern, because you can see everything you need to see using a combination of your own two feet and the public transport system.

Car rental in - Bern Need v worth & should!

Whether you have come here asking "do I need a car in Bern", "is it worth hiring a car in Bern", or whether or not you "should" hire a car here, these are all slight variations on a similar theme. Here we break each one down according to the criteria we use for each question. This is a weighted score based on the values above. These are explained further in the text which follows - [#why] [#whynot]. Do you need a car in Bern?

Do you need a car in Bern?

This is essentially based on whether or not public transport and other "non car" options are good enough to get around and beyond the city. For the lowest "need" score, the destination should have a combination of excellent all-round public transport, great opportunities for walking and cycling, together with poor value car hire or generally poor quality roads. 
  • In destinations where both public transport and car hire options are excellent, the verdict for "do I need a car in  Bern " will swing towards a strong no, because you can do absolutely fine without one).
Is it worth hiring a car in Bern?

Is it worth hiring a car in Bern?

Is car hire good value, especially during the peak season? How does this compare with transit fares? This question mainly looks at issues of cost and practicality.
  • In destinations where both public transport and car hire options are excellent, the verdict for "is it worth hiring a car in  Bern" will swing towards whichever option offers the lowest overall cost for a group of 2-4 people travelling together.
Should you rent a car in Bern?

Should you rent a car in Bern?

Weighing up the above questions, if you are here for the first time AND asking about hiring a car, is it a good idea?
  • The final "carometer" swing is much more opinion based, and it takes into account which options will give you the truly best travel experience (n our humble opinion of course). Where a destination offers an excellent score with or without a car, the swing will go towards whichever option we feel gives the most truly unforgettable experience.
  • Ultimately, it's your choice whether or not you rent a car here. We're trying to give you something that's sufficiently far enough away from a "maybe" to help you make that choice. Ultimately, people only come to us because they are uncertain, but we don't really know what each person's preferences are. Whether we say you should or you shouldn't rent a car in  Bern, you might also want to look up some of our other cities to see how  Bern compares with other destinations in  Switzerland or  Europe.
  • By using public transport, walking or hiring a bicycle, you can avoid having to worry about parking charges altogether! See our "why not" section for more suggestions.


What does everyone else do?

Do most people hire a car in Bern?

This is based on our observations of (a) car rental facilities and (b) what we think most people will do here. It's not an exact figure, just an estimate of how likely people are to get hold of a rental car here.
  • his is based on the percentage of people "in the market" who we think are likely to hire a car. This includes anyone arriving on holiday here who would usually hire a car on their travels, so it doesn't include people who don't usually drive (or don't drive), people staying with friends etc.

60%

Visitors per year (million)

  • Cities with more visitors are more likely to have more complex airport car rental arrangements, and generally they will also have better public transport, but this is not always the case, especially in North America.

2

  • [full notes - do as everyone else does?]
  • You may wish to go with the flow, or you might prefer to avoid doing the most popular or obvious option. This will vary according to the range of choice available. This tends to be much higher in destinations which are closer to the middle of the car or no car scale.

Who is travelling?

Your group size and travel budget has a major impact on whether or not getting a rental car is good value compared to using public transport as your main means of getting around. Ultimately, these are all "worth" questions:

Is it worth renting a car in Bern if I am a solo / budget traveller?

Generally, hiring a car is not good value for solo travellers for multiple reasons, especially as most of the costs of renting apply to the car, not the occupants. With public transport, the reverse is usually true! However, there are always some places where you will need a car, simply because they are almost impossible to reach using public transport.

Is it worth renting a car in Bern for 2 people travelling together?

A rental car can be good value for couples or for friends travelling together, but since most cars come with at least four seats, it's often still better value to use public transport. However, if you prefer to keep yourselves to yourselves, then you might still want to rent.

Is it worth renting a car in Bern for families?

Families of groups of 3-4 people travelling together will always get the best value from a rental car. However, you may also be burdened with extra costs for car seat hire, and you well also prefer to use local trains and buses, if they are quicker than getting stuck in heavy traffic.

Where are you staying?

The place you are staying, together with the sort of places you want to see, will have a large impact on whether or not you "need" to rent a car:

Do you need a car in Bern if we are staying in the city centre / main resort area?

Most large towns or purpose built holiday resorts will have some kind of public transport, whereas parking provision will vary greatly from one place to the next. 

Do you need a car in Bern if we are staying on the edge of the urban area?

Typically you may be staying in an apartment or hmall house on the edge of a resort or urban area. These places usually have some level of public transport, but not as much as city / resort centres.

Do you need a car in Bern if we are staying in a rural area?

Rural proprties might include larger villas or apartments, but they can still be within a short walk of a bus stop or local railway station, and the opportunities for hiking and cycling might also be substantial, depending on the destination.

What is your attitude towards driving?

We can give you suggestions based on whatever we consider to be a "typical" visitor to Bern, but ultimately your decision is also going to be influenced by whether or not you ususally prefer to hire a car in the first place.

Should I hire a car in Bern if I prefer not to drive?

This is especially the case when there is only one main driver in the group, and it's based on the attitude of the driver rather than their passengers! The main driver may also simply prefer to use public transport, or they may prefer to take scenic train journeys where available.

Should we rent a car in Bern if we are easy either way?

This is more aimed at the typical visitor who isn't that bothered about how they get around, as long as it is the most convenient / best value option.

Should I rent a car in Bern if I prefer to drive?

For people who usually prefer the freedom and flexibility of having a hire car. Is it still best to rent a car in Bern, or are there good reasons not to?

The Swiss capital is often overlooked by people who just want to change trains and head for the ski resorts, but this is a great shame as this tightly packed UNESCO world Heritage city has so much to offer. Having said that, this is of course the capital or Switzerland, so public transport is naturally outstanding. What about the surrounding area?

Do you need a car in Bern? Introduction

When someone asks "Do you need a car in Bern?", this often breaks down to two key questions:
  1. Can you actually get around using public transport, or is a car all but essential?
  2. Is it worth hiring a car in Bern? Is it good value for money, compared with non-car options?
Over the next few sections, we wil look at the pros and cons of driving in Bern as a tourist, and ultimately weigh these up, so we can answer the key question of Should you rent a car in Bern?
Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

Why should you rent a car in Bern?

What are the main reasons for hiring a car here? Do you just want to drive locally? Do you want to go further afield, or should you even look at taking a road trip? In terms of factors like the cost of the hire itself, fuel costs, road tolls and parking charges, is it worth hiring a car in Bern?
  • There are very few reasons to hire a car in Bern, unless you are on a business trip to multiple suburban locations, or are visiting family, and sticking to the Swiss Lowlands.
  • Swiss bank account — when you see the prices of the train up to the world-famous Jungfraujoch top of Europe, you may well wish that you had your own Swiss bank account, because this is the most expensive railway in the world on a mile for mile basis. However, even if you wanted to drive, you just can’t — this, together with several other places in the Bernese Oberland, is simply unreachable on four wheels.
  • Share and save – depending on where you are going, it may be cheaper to travel together in a group, and save on train costs. However, Swiss Travel Centre often have discounted offers on their passes, including some 2 for 1 offers, so check these out before booking a hire car. Remember that car hire in Bern is still  expensive too, as is petrol, although neither are as expensive as they are in countries such as Bergen or Stavanger in Norway!
  • Still good for driving — even if some of the results in the Jungfrau region are off-limits for cars, there are still plenty of great places to go driving, especially during summer. Drive to resorts such as Gstaad, or continue to Les Diablerets, which is much easier to get to by car, compared to the very circuitous train ride from Bern.
  • Scenery – just because the area around Bern is famous for some stunningly scenic train ride doesn’t mean that you can’t go for an (almost) equally scenic drive too. Photographers may well prefer the freedom of a hire car.
  • No airport station – unlike Geneva and Zurich airports, there is no station at Bern-Belp airport. To reach the local train network, you will have to go by bus, and these are infrequent, so you may end up needing a (very expensive) taxi.

Why not? Visiting Bern without a car

What is public transport like in Bern? What about local conditions for walking or cycling? Can you rely on public transport and maybe a few taxis for most or all of your trip? Are there some times of year when it's easier to get by without a car than others? When should you rent a car in 3?
  • Bern City – many people might just want to change here on their way to ski resorts, but this is a great shame, as in my opinion it is by far and away the finest of the major Swiss cities. Bern is a must for shoppers with its mile of covered arcades, whilst it is equally pleasurable to just wander around the historic city centre. For great views of the Alps behind, climb the tower of the Bern Munster.
  • Double Bond Heaven – James Bond fans will want to head straight to the Piz Gloria revolving restaurant, immortalised in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. However, this is just one side of the absolutely stunning way Swiss engineers have tamed the mountains in the Jungfrau region. Nearby is the…
  • Jungfraujoch Top of Europe experience, which features a spiralling rack and pinion railway which has been blasted through the mountain side. You arrive in a huge cavernous space which very much resembles a Bond villain’s lair, before being lifted up to an open-air view platform, which offers a stunning vista of the Altech glacier. To reach these attractions, take the train to Interlaken Ost (East) first. Heading to Piz Gloria will take you through Lauterbrunnen, and then up a steep cliff to the car free village of Murren, from where the cable car continues to the top of a mountain. To reach Jungfraujoch, you can also head via Lauterbrunnen, from where you can take a train via another car free village of Wengen; or you can go via Grindelwald. Either way, this is one particular part of Bond’s world where the Aston stays in the garage.
  • Zermatt — with the newly built Lotchberg Base Tunnel, Bern is the ideal gateway to Zermatt and the imposing Matterhorn which sits behind it, with one simple change at Visp. Although you can drive to Zermatt, why would you want to, when the trains are so good? Also, what is the point in picking up a hire car and then paying again to take it on the auto-train through the Lotchberg tunnel? Zermatt itself is also car free, although electric vehicles are permitted. You can only get as close as the parking garage on the edge of the resort in a hire car, so why bother?
  • Crans-Montana — the famous resort of Crans-Montana can also be reached by changing Visp and then again Sierre – although this time, you could get there in a car if you really wanted to!
  • Leukerbad, as the name suggests is a spa resort sitting right underneath the southern wedge of the Alpine plateau. This time you will have to get there by bus (from Visp), or better still – hike there from Kandersteg on the other side!
  • Lake Steamers – the Swiss lakes offer numerous opportunities to simply sit back, and relax as the super scenery skims by. There are often included as part of any Swiss pass or local train package. A natural base to enjoy the lakes is unsurprisingly Interlaken, although many travellers prefer to head there for adventure sports.
  • Climb — the Alps offer a breathtaking backdrop to any part of the city, but for the most spectacular advantage point, climb up the tower in Bern’s Munster, and enjoy not just great views of the mountains behind, but also a stunning view of the historic city itself.
  • Look the other way — it is easy to lavish attention on the Bernese Oberland, and other resorts in the Alps, but it is also worth an excursion to the bilingual city of Biel / Bienne, and continuing along the lake to Neuchâtel and Yverdon (see Basel page).
  • Integrated walking and cycling — as you would expect, there are numerous walking and cycling trails all over central Switzerland, and these are always clearly signposted with estimated times. These paths always start and finish near some sort of public transport stop, and many of them will take you over to the next valley, so it is much easier to coordinate with public transport, than to drive somewhere and restrict yourself to having to return to the same spot.
  • Interlaken — Switzerland’s answer to New Zealand’s Queenstown offers any number of high adrenaline activities, or alternatively you can take it easy on one of the lake steamers on either Lake Thun (board at Interlaken West station) or Lake Brienz (Interlaken Ost).
  • Beatenbucht — this lovely village on the northern side of Lake Thun has what must surely be the most scenic swimming pool in Europe, with the trio of Jungfrau, Monch and Eiger as a backdrop. Even a location such as this is easily reachable by bus from Interlaken.
  • Summer downhill — in Switzerland, the fun doesn’t stop when the snow melts, in fact it is even easier to appreciate downhill runs, either on a mountain bike or by picking up one of the scooters (trottibikes), which are available for hire at various cable car or mountain railway base stations. Either way, let the cable or train take the strain, and enjoy the downhill run.
  • Paul Klee Art Museum – back to Bern itself, the Paul Klee Museum features three delightfully sweeping vaults and, just like any art museum should be, is just as much an attraction because of the building as it is because of the contents.
  • Limited flights – the range of flights to Bern is extremely limited, so you are much more likely to arrive into Zurich or Geneva airports in the first place. As these airports have stations onsite, you can easily connect onto the local trains in the Bernese Oberland via Bern Hbf. You may also get half price transfers using the Swiss Transfer Ticket.

Is it worth hiring a car in Bern?  Verdictof all the cities featured in Car Or No Car .com that actually have car hire facilities, Bern stands out as by far and away the strongest recommendation not to get one. This should be pretty obvious, considering that this is where you come for the best of the best of mountain railways, cable cars and lake cruisers, all integrated into one seamless (if expensive) system.

Considering the sheer expense of hiring a car in Bern, together with the fact that some of the most exciting places to visit are off-limits to vehicle traffic anyway, this really should be a no-brainer.

The only other places where we could recommend not getting a car in even stronger terms would have to be destinations like Hong Kong, whose airport has no car rental facilities (Avis have an office downtown if you really insist), or Bermuda, where local regulations do not permit tourists to hire a car.

Verdict — absolute no!

Ratings

Our slider ratings range from 0 (it isn't even possible to hire a car, e.g. Hong Kong) through to 10 (you really must rent a car here, e.g. Phoenix, Tampa). However, most places are somewhere inbetween these extremes, and this is where it gets more interesting! Further ratings breakdowns, including a much more detailed public transport rating, are currently being added. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.

Verdict

What is our final score for Bern on the Carornocar scale?

Remember, this isn't so much a rating of the road network, or a score for what we think of the buses or trains, but it's simply a scale showing the swing between whether or not we think a rental car is a good idea here.

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