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Late November Driving (Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Italy)

Boston...
Level Contributor
22 posts
1 review
Late November Driving (Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Italy)

I'm planning a trip for the last week of November into December, currently looking at Zurich (flying in and out of), Liechtenstein, and through northern Italy (Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Veneto, over towards Milan/Como to drive back into Switzerland). I'm still playing with the itinerary and will likely post about that in the future. (We like to cover a lot of ground on an initial trip like this!)

To get to a lot of the places we want to go, cut down travel time, and stay flexible, we plan to rent a car. We're used to driving in snow, including blizzards. That being said, if we need to take a bus or train to get to a place & return, or take a different route, to be safer, we'll do that - recognizing that driving on mountains we're unfamiliar with in snow is not the same as driving at home or other places we've been in snow!

At that time of year, are the roads typically passable or are there options that would be safer? (I know that weather is unpredictable and saw that last year was cool earlier than normal. However, broad ideas of that time of year would be helpful. I've read through many posts on here but haven't found them about driving at that time.) We'll certainly get a car with snow tires & chains and know about the vignette!

Thanks in advance!

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8 replies to this topic
Schindellegi...
Destination Expert
for Switzerland, Kiev
Level Contributor
4,694 posts
26 reviews
1. Re: Late November Driving (Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Italy)

Motorways and main roads in Switzerland are usually cleared from snow within hours. Part of the mountain pass roads are closed mid-/late October or November for winter.

In case of unfrequent snowfall at lower altitude in northern Italy expect travel problems that can last more than a day. Whatever your driving experience and car winter equipment might be - you will simply be blocked by other vehicles in case of snow on roads.

Not really clear what your travel plans are - Mediterranean climate is relatively simple: hot and dry summer, relatively cold and wet winter, changing to nasty cold and wet usually late October or November, so imho not really interesting traveling around in that area late November and early December.

A car rented in Switzerland will have the vignette for motorways - but be aware of toll motorways in Italy. You can get an ideal on cost with www.viamichelin.com that shows distance and travel time and road toll estimates.

Boston...
Level Contributor
22 posts
1 review
2. Re: Late November Driving (Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Italy)

Thanks, jm2cents.

I had seen that some pass roads are closed but need to look into it further before figuring out a tentative route, of course. I saw that they are not closed as of x date but based upon how the weather is (so some years may be October, some years November) - is that correct? My expectation is that the way to go for me is to plan on them being closed and then if they are open, it's a nice surprise! I've been having a tough time figuring this part out but plan to spend time focused on it in the next few weeks. (I just started planning.)

It's good to know that Italy is not as good with snow clearing as Switzerland! I've been stuck in a snowstorm somewhere not used to them before and... definitely can be frustrating if you let it and cause serious delays. Anytime I plan a trip like this, I try to put a few days in the city I'm flying out of at the end so that if something happens that can't be covered by skipping a later stop or such, it should be recoverable to make the flight home! That way, if something happens, it happens, and we'll just have to enjoy some extra time in that location instead of our next... :)

I have traveled to other areas in the wet/snowy/dreary season and love it - though I know that's not usual! I like traveling at this time of year, because it works well with my work, is less expensive, and oftentimes combines the start of Christmas markets with smaller crowds and the ability to take our time rather than wait in lines and crowds. Plus, I've found it's a good time to visit vineyards and have a relaxed tasting. I know it's not as picturesque as summertime or when everything is covered in snow, but that's okay - I do appreciate your warning in case I was expecting something different!

My current tentative plan (just starting planning) is to land in Zurich, pick up the car, drive to Vaduz, then down to Trieste and through northern Italy before returning to Zurich (maybe stopping in Lucerne). We love history, ruins, natural beauty, and wine (either small sample or walking distance to our stop for the night), so we're hoping to get a sampling of that on this trip. For places we love, we'll return another time of year to explore further and see another aspect of it!

Thanks, I've used Rome2Rio in the past for broad estimates (and for my initial very rough estimate on this trip) but will try the viaMichelin site for this trip, especially with the ability to put in time of year, touristy routes, etc. It seems much better for the driving side of things, so I'll play around with it a bit more.

Thank you again for your time and help!

Canton of Valais...
Destination Expert
for Switzerland
Level Contributor
43,155 posts
201 reviews
3. Re: Late November Driving (Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Italy)

Theoretically snow tyres are a requirement in northen Italy - there are loads of road signs to that effect but Italians can be very "cavalier" about requirements! Part of their charm I suppose.

Anyway - a great route to take would take you via Salzburg, Villach and through Slovenia to Trieste. The Salzburg Christmas market is about the best I have ever been to. Then back to Zürich via Venice, Milan and the A2 north to Luzern and on to Zürich. Take a look at that routing...

Boston...
Level Contributor
22 posts
1 review
4. Re: Late November Driving (Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Italy)

Good to know - what we say around here is that it's not always the snow/ice/road conditions that are the biggest danger; it's often the other drivers. (I just don't want to go to another place and be that other driver!) It doesn't seem likely at that time of year, but in the event that there is a major storm and driving doesn't appear to be safe, we'll adjust and wait until it's safe (or skip a location).

I've actually been to the Salzburg Christmas market a few years ago and loved it! I'd absolutely go back but thought it was a bit too much out of the way. I don't think most of the rental cars can go into Slovenia, but I will check on that again. We're going to get one of the less expensive cars (though worth paying a little more for a better engine, etc.), so maybe that will be more likely to allow driving in Slovenia - fingers crossed. I think the new thought is to spend more time in Switzerland, Friuli-Venetia Giulia, and Veneto, including Venice (wasn't planning on it before).

Surprisingly (for me), the difference in time with going the route you suggest and driving from Vaduz to Trieste via Udine is only about a half hour! Now, we'd definitely make a few more stops, but it's definitely doable. If we can get a decent rental that permits driving in Slovenia, this is definitely high on my list now!

Thanks again!

Canton of Valais...
Destination Expert
for Switzerland
Level Contributor
43,155 posts
201 reviews
5. Re: Late November Driving (Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Italy)

Slovenia is a member of the EU so I don't think that car rental companies can dis-allow rentals to be driven there. Well worth reading the "fine print" though. (And I think that Italy is far more dangerous for rentals, especially high end ones. Lots of car thefts there especially in summer. But you won't be there in summer anyway)

Christmas markets: I have been to the ones in Innsbruck, Munich and Salzburg. I found the first two a bit under-whelming. Best ones I have visited over the years: Bern, Basel, Strasbourg and Montreux in addition to of course Salzburg which to me is the top!

Edited: 18 September 2018, 08:39
Boston...
Level Contributor
22 posts
1 review
6. Re: Late November Driving (Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Italy)

Interesting - I had looked at two companies that have three lists of country: one all vehicles can be driven in, one only some can be driven in (Slovenia included for both rental companies), and one no vehicles can be driven in at all. Basically, nicer cars can't go into a lot of the eastern European countries (based on those lists). I have seen this from other rental companies in the past, but it's never been an issue previously! I'll just make sure to let the rental company know our plans (necessary anyways) to be safe.

I have just added some more Christmas markets to my list (for the future)!

Thanks again!

Now I'm picking which cars have a decent engine and are compact,,, such fun!

7. Re: Late November Driving (Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Italy)

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8. Re: Late November Driving (Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Italy)

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