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Driving in Lausanne

Driving in a new country can be daunting. These tips offer insight into what to expect when driving in Lausanne.

1. Understanding the Driving Culture

Driving in Lausanne, like most of Switzerland, is generally a pleasant experience. The roads are well-maintained and the drivers are disciplined. However, the city is hilly and has a lot of narrow, winding roads, which can be challenging for those not used to it. Also, be aware that the Swiss are strict about speed limits and traffic rules, so make sure you familiarize yourself with them.

2. Choosing the Right Car

Given the hilly terrain and narrow roads, a compact car is often the best choice for driving in Lausanne. It’s easier to maneuver and park. If you plan to explore the mountainous regions around the city, consider a car with good horsepower and possibly four-wheel drive.

3. Parking in Lausanne

Finding parking in Lausanne can be challenging, especially in the city center. Most parking spaces are metered and can be quite expensive. There are also parking garages available. It’s advisable to use public transportation or walk when possible, as the city is quite compact and well-served by public transit.

4. Driving with an International License

Foreigners can drive in Switzerland with an international driving permit for up to one year. After that, you will need to obtain a Swiss driving license. Note that if your license is not in English, German, French, or Italian, you will need to have it translated by an approved translator.

5. Obtaining a Swiss Driving License

If you’re staying in Switzerland for more than one year, you’ll need to exchange your foreign driving license for a Swiss one. This process usually involves submitting an application to the cantonal traffic office, along with your original license, a translation if necessary, a passport photo, and a fee. Some nationalities may also need to pass a theory test or practical driving test.

6. Be Aware of the Weather

Switzerland’s weather can be unpredictable, and conditions can change quickly, especially in winter. Make sure you’re prepared for driving in all kinds of weather, including snow and ice. Winter tires are mandatory in Switzerland from November to April.

Joshua WoodJoshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

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