Switzerland is an expensive country, it is perhaps one of the most expensive countries in the world, but I think it is really not necessary to spend a small fortune to enjoy the beauties of this country. With a bit of planning and organization, you can visit Switzerland with a medium budget. However, in order to stick to a low travel budget, you need to take fancy restaurants and luxurious hotels out of the question.So, in this article I’ll give you all the tips I’ve gathered in the five years I’ve spent in Switzerland and give you some tips that will help you save a few bucks while visiting the home of the best chocolate in the world. In this article I will teach you how to Travel Switzerland on a Budget.
How do we travel within Switzerland?
The most convenient way to travel in Switzerland is by a rental car. Travelling by car through Switzerland is not only a cheaper way to travel, it’s an opportunity to drive on some truly spectacular roads, such as the San Bernardino Pass or Furka Pass. Driving through the Swiss Alps is an experience in itself.
Renting a car might be expensive but for couples and families, it’s the most budget-friendly alternative. Normally, the price for a small car is 80-120 chf per day, but the rates differ significantly from season to season.
- The roads are in very good condition
- Felixibility (This is how we discovered Lake Suffers or Iseltwalt, in the Bernese Upperland Region)
- Financially speaking, the car is my cheapest transport option. Fuel in Switzerland costs around 1.70 and 2.10 CHF/litre for diesel, and 1.55-1.80 CHF for standard 95 petrol.
- You have to buy a highway sticker for 14 months, regardless of the length of your stay in Switzerland. This costs CHF 40 and is absolutely necessary!
- Lots of speed limits. The maximum speed you can drive on the motorway is 120 km/h, but there are not many places where you can drive that fast.
- Fines – there are huge
- Parking – these are additional costs, quite hard to predict. But depending on where you park your car, an hour’s of parking can be anywhere between 0.50 and 5 CHF. You also need to be very careful when parking on public streets, as they have a time limit of 1/2 hour in busy areas and 2 hours in less busy areas
How to save money on public transport
Compared to other European countries, public transport is the most expensive way to travel around Switzerland for both tourists and locals. For example, an urban bus or train ride costs between CHF 3 and 5, depending on the location. And if you want to travel from town to town within a 10-15 km distance, then a bus ticket may well go for as much as CHF 10-14.
Those who are travelling for tourism in Switzerland have the option of buying a Swiss Travel Pass, which offers unlimited trips by train, bus or boat throughout Switzerland for a period of 3, 4, 8 or 15 days. The pass also offers a 50% discount on most mountain trains and cable cars (in Zermatt, Montreux, Lucerne). Also included in the Swiss Travel Pass is another card that gives you access to approximately 500 museums and exhibitions.
Travel passes can be amazing value for money if you’re going to use public transport, but sometimes buyling a travel pass can be just a waste of money. First, you should plan your Switzerland Itinerary and decide where exactly do you want to go, what places do you want to see and how frequently are you going to use public transport? Every day? Every second day? Only once or twice during your whole stay?
|1st Class||3 days||4 days||8 days||15 days|
|Adulti||CHF 369.00||CHF 447.00||CHF 663.00||CHF 810.00|
|Tineri 16 – <26||CHF 315.00||CHF 381.00||CHF 566.00||CHF 692.00|
|Copii 6 – <16||CHF 184,5||CHF 223.50||CHF 331.50||CHF 405|
|2nd Class||3 days||4 days||8 days||15 days|
|Adulti||CHF 232.00||CHF 281.00||CHF 418.00||CHF 513.00|
|Tineri 16 – <26||CHF 198.00||CHF 240.00||CHF 357.00||CHF 439.00|
|Copii 6 – <16||CHF 116||CHF 140.5||CHF 209||CHF 256.50|
How to Travel Switzerland on a Budget – Buy food a local grocery shop
For those travelling on a low-budget the best option is the supermarket. When we are travelling in Switzerland, we usually get our food from the supermarket – prepared meals, local cheese, veggies, fruits and pastries – and when the opportunity arises, we buy street food.
In Switzerland there are 6 supermarket chains – COOP, Migros, Denner, Volg, Aldi and Lidl, where you can get both chocolate for you and your family and cooked food. For food, we recommend the stores belonging to the COOP network – Coop Supermarket, Coop Pronto, Coop City – because there you will find various hot meals (pasta, chicken rice), delicacies (sushi, salmon or beef tartare), a wide variety of salads, sandwiches, cakes and natural juices. For a to-go meal, Coop is the best choice. Also in the Coop network there are also restaurants, where you can have a lunch (main course, drink and dessert) for about 30-35 CHF.
Accommodation in Switzerland
In Switzerland, the accommodation is very expensive! Nothing new so far! The chances of getting a hotel for less than CHF 100 per night are pretty low, but don’t freak out. If you have a car, you’ll have more flexibility and you can choose hotels or even apartments located in the villages outside the big cities. Depending on your preferences and the area you’re staying in, you’ll probably have to spend between CHF 80 and 120 for an average hotel, and between CHF 50 and 90 for a room in an apartment.
If you’re not really into staying in a hotel, I’d recommend looking for apartments on Airbnb, as I’ m sure you’ll find something for a mid to low budget.
How to Travel Switzerland on a Budget – Tourist attractions and activities
Although it’s probably the most expensive country in Europe for tourists, a holiday in Switzerland is a once in a lifetime kind of experience. That’s why I recommend you to give yourself at least seven days and to prepare for a lot of activities. I’m going to write an article with an itinerary idea for 4-7-10-14 days in Switzerland, in which I’ll show you everything you can do in a certain time frame – from tourist attractions, activities, transportation and so much more. But until then, I’ll leave here a pricelist of the most popular activities and attractions in Switzerland.
Switzerland has so much to offer, from hiking in the Alps and swimming in the country’s turquoise lakes, to paragliding and hot air balloon flights. Switzerland has literally thousands of museums, stunning lakes waiting to be explored, exceptional mountain resorts, fabulous hiking trails in and through the mountains and spectacular hiking routes (try the “5 lakes walk” in Zermatt). Switzerland is one of the most diverse holiday destinations in Europe!
If you are planning to travel by train, then you will definitely have a Swiss Travel Pass, which will save you from paying for many admissions and activities. And if you don’t have this pass, you can choose two or three activities to do on your trip through the Swiss Alps. In the list below we’ve put some top activities that are more affordable and will give you truly memorable experiences, those kind of experiences you can only experience in Switzerland.
|Gornegrat Train (Zermatt)||110.00 CHF/ oneway&return|
|Harder Kulm Observation Deck||34 CHF / oneway&return|
|1 Hour Boat Tour on Lake Geneve||18 CHF|
|Patek Phillippe Museum||10 CHF|
|La Maison du Gruyere||7 CHF|
I personally insist that you allocate a part of your budget for the train ride to Gornergrat – Zermatt. It’s true that it’s an expensive trip, but believe me when I tell you it will be worth every single penny. After that, I highly recommend taking a boat tour on one of Switzerland’s most beautiful lakes – Leman, Brienz or Luzern. And finally, if you want to enjoy a view that will leave you speechless, then I suggest you to go up to the Harder Kulm.
How to Travel Switzerland on a Budget?Yes, it’s POSSIBLE!
At the end, I want to offer you some tips that will help you visit Switzerland on a low budget, as far as it is possible to travel low-cost in Switzerland 😀
- Swiss Travel Pass for an 8-day roadtrip – If we split the 418 CHF by 8 days, we will have a cost of approx. 50 CHF/day. In this price you will have included public transport (train, bus, metro), but also free access to a wide range of tourist attractions.
- Take advantage of Happy Hour – We have not received a discount of 20 CHF/person for the train ride to Gornergart, Zermatt.
- Skip the restaurants! Choose the food in the grocery store. As I said above, in supermarkets you can find fresh ready-made meals, lots of cheese, delicious pastries and much more. We had a super-delicious lunch on the shores of Lake Geneva, which cost us 30 CHF/person (sandwiches for two,) falafel and cous cous salad, sushi, eclairs and a Coke.
- Accommodation – if hotels are too expensive, you can go for airbnbs. Another idea would be to go camping and sleep either in a tent or a campervan, but this is only possible if you travel by car or campervan (click here for a full list of camping sites in Switzerland).
Have you visited Switzerland before? Tell us in the comments section what you liked best about this country, how expensive you found it, or what recommendations you have for visiting Switzerland on a budget. We are looking forward to reading your opinion!