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Travelling by motorhome in Switzerland - Grand Tour of Switzerland

What is it really like to travel by motorhome in Switzerland? We spent nine days in Switzerland during our summer motorhome trip in Europe, and we've received many questions about Switzerland as a motorhome country. How does the motorway toll work? How are the prices? What did we think of the campsites? Here are all our answers!

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Do you pay a motorway toll?

One of the most common questions we get about travelling with a motorhome in Switzerland is about motorway tolls. Many people are worried that you have to pay for a whole year and that it will be expensive. It is true that you pay for a whole year, but it is not true that it is expensive. The motorway toll in Switzerland is currently CHF 40 (about 390 Swiss francs) for a calendar year.

Switzerland

Compared to many other countries with motorway tolls, this is a very good price, even if you are only in the country for a few days. It is also very easy to buy the small vignette to be attached to the windscreen. It is available at all petrol stations and some other places. Read the latest information on Swiss Motorway sticker.

However, please note that if you are driving a caravan, you must buy two vignettes, and if you are driving a motorhome over 3.5 tonnes, you will pay differently (see below, under "Can you drive a large motorhome in Switzerland?").

Husbil vinjett
The vignette is on the windscreen

How are the roads?

The roads in Switzerland are very well maintained and good. Whether you drive on a motorway, country road or minor roads, you can count on good road standards. In some places you may have to be prepared for relatively steep gradients.

Schweiz väg

What is the Grand Tour of Switzerland?

If you want to be sure of travelling on beautiful roads, you can choose to drive along the Grand Tour of Switzerland. By following this pre-planned route, you know you'll experience everything from soaring mountains and dramatic glaciers to medieval villages and bustling cities. If you take the full tour, you can experience 45 major attractions, 12 of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Switzerland Grand Tour

The complete tour (you can of course choose to drive only a part of it) is 1643 kilometres and the best time to drive is between April and October. The route is mainly planned for passenger cars, but on all stretches we drove it was also possible to drive a motorhome. Some sections may be too narrow for a bus or campervan, in which case an alternative route is available.

Skylt Grand Tour

Which traffic rules apply?

Talking on a handheld mobile phone and texting while driving is prohibited. On steep and winding Alpine roads, the person driving uphill has the right of way. Buses and heavy vehicles have priority over light ones.

Väg Schweiz

Can you drive a large motorhome in Switzerland?

You can certainly drive a large motorhome in Switzerland, but there may be some roads and tunnels to avoid. However, motorhomes over 3.5 tonnes cannot buy a regular vignette, but pay the Schwerverkehrsabgabe (German) or RPLF (French), a tax based on the type of vehicle.

It is reported that this fee is currently 3.25 CHF/day (minimum 25 CHF) or 32.50 CHF for 10 days. The vehicle must be declared at customs at the border, or at another shop nearby, or at the post office.

Zurich

How much does it cost to refuel?

When we were in Switzerland (August 2018), petrol prices were similar to those in Sweden.

WIFI.se

Can you fricamp?

Free camping is only allowed if the landowner has given permission. Check the signs or ask the tourist office or the police about what applies in the area. Occasional overnight stays in more sparsely populated areas are probably fine.

Husbil i Schweiz

Are there car parks?

According to the CamperContact app, there are quite a few pitches in Switzerland. We never tested these, so we can't say how they work.

What are the campsites like?

We were on several nice campsites with all possible services, including washing machines, WiFi and a restaurant. We also stood on some simpler campsites, which mainly offered what you need, such as electricity, water, service house and the possibility of emptying. Common to all the campsites we visited was that they were extremely close to nature and beautiful.

What is the cost of camping in Switzerland?

In our experience, there is quite a difference in price between simple campsites in the countryside and luxury campsites near popular cities. We have stayed at campsites that only cost just over 200 SEK per night, but we have also stayed at campsites that cost almost 600 SEK per night.

Camping Appenzell

Do you need anything special with you?

As well as the obvious things like passports and driving licences, it's a good idea to bring a small converter for Swiss sockets (also usually available to borrow at campsites). It's also worth bearing in mind that Switzerland is not part of the EU, so using your own internet can be very expensive. The best option may be to buy a local SIM card for your phone and add WiFi.

Update: Since we wrote this post, Telenor has decided to remove roaming charges in Switzerland. Check with your operator before travelling!

Ankor
A camper brought ducks ... but it is not necessary

Can you manage in English?

Switzerland is a country with four official languages (German, French, Italian and Rhaeto-Romanic). In our experience, English is the language of choice wherever you are.

What is available in shops and restaurants?

Most of Switzerland has a supermarket called Migros, and in some parts we also saw Lidl and Aldi. In shops and restaurants you will find much the same products as at home, although there is a greater focus on cheese and chocolate. Two classic Swiss dishes are raclette and cheese fondue.

Fondue

What are the prices in Switzerland?

Switzerland is a relatively expensive country, and you often have to be prepared for higher prices than in Sweden. Our recommendation is not to be discouraged by the prices, Switzerland is far too beautiful and amazing for that!

If you're travelling with a motorhome, you can keep prices down by shopping and cooking your own food, and staying in affordable pitches and campsites.

Schweisiskt boende
Modern Swiss accommodation, with its own moorings
All our top tips about Switzerland. Click on the image!

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