In my opinion, Switzerland is one of the most beautiful countries in the world and definitely worth a visit. However, I often hear people say “Switzerland is too expensive” or “I will never afford to go to Switzerland”. Fear not, as we give you tips to make your dream vacation possible. With these tips, you can visit Switzerland on a budget.
The 1st place you can save a lot is with Accommodation:
Ever heard of “Switzerland sleeping on straw”?
Visit the site: www.myfarm.ch/ for affordable accommodation and a once in a lifetime experience to stay on a farm in Switzerland. The children will love this and I can assure you there are pretty cute options available. If you are traveling in a group, this is definitely also a fun option and will not cost you an arm and a leg.
Do you want to take a working holiday?
Visit the site: www.workaway.info/ for possibilities all over the world. This often gives you the opportunity to stay with a family and learn the way they do things in their country. In exchange for your work, you get free boarding and food. In many cases, you will have more than enough time left to explore the country while you are there.
Transport is another huge expense:
Train rides are the best way to see everything in Switzerland (especially when traveling with kids), but be on the lookout for the best prices.
Visit the site: https://www.happyrail.com/en/switzerland-by-train.
The “Share a ride service” is a cheaper option than Switzerland’s expensive public transport.
Visit the site: https://www.blablacar.co.uk/ride-sharing-abroad/ch/ connecting drivers and passengers willing to travel together between cities and sharing the cost of the journey. (More options around the world are Liftshare and GoCarShare.) Is it safe? Well, it is as safe as any other taxi service involving members of the public, so you have to be vigilant no matter where in the world you are.
Your Swiss travel pass will give you access to public transport as well as many other options. There are different packages available and if you are younger than 26, you will get a huge discount as well.
Visit the site: https://www.sbb.ch/en/leisure-holidays.html for more daily updated info.
E-Bike rentals are a very good option, especially for sightseeing. If you have small children you will be able to rent a “buggy” that attaches to the bike as well.
As public transport is very expensive in Switzerland, this would be one of the places you can save a lot of money. If you are a small group of 3 of 4 people, it might be a better option to Rent a car; Especially if you would like to explore more of Switzerland.
The one thing you do not have to buy in Switzerland is expensive bottled water. In every town, you will find a freshwater fountain. It is free, clean rainwater directly from the mountains, and perfectly safe to drink, so just bring a water bottle and fill it up along the way.
Buy food at the shop rather than doing a takeaway. Take-away places are expensive; even McDonalds is expensive in Switzerland. The best option would be to buy food from the Coop and make your own food at the hostel of self-catering where you are staying.
If you are going out for the day, buy stuff from the Coop and have a picnic along the way instead of going to a sit-down restaurant.
Save the restaurant experience for that one night when you enjoy the tradition of having a Swiss Cheese Fondue – definitely worth it. (Tip: Soup on the menu in Switzerland is a cheaper option but is very tasty and worth ordering.)
In Switzerland, they have places selling food at the end of the day, at bargain prices just so they don’t have to through it away. It is still perfectly good and you will be surprised at what you can get.
Download the “TooGoodToGo” – App
In their own words: “Too good to go is the free app which allows you to purchase unsold food from top eateries at the end of service, to prevent it from being thrown away. This means you get high-quality food at a great price and do some good for the planet.”
Just be careful if you have any allergies or special dietary requirements.
Another tip I found useful is, when you are traveling from Germany to Switzerland, to buy your groceries in Germany where it is a lot cheaper.
Entertainment for small kids is often free as there are lots of play parks all over Switzerland and a day spent in nature will cost you nothing.
Hiking is the number one thing to do in Switzerland. Be sure to pack your best walking shoes. The hiking trail options are incredible and the views are breathtakingly beautiful.
The beautiful lakes and waterfalls are especially worth a visit. (For example, Oeschinen Lake and Lauterbrunnen valley waterfalls are beautiful.)
There are many free museums you can visit.
Swiss cheese and chocolate factories often offer free entrance for children under 12. Some places adults can also enter for free, but then you might have to pay for the cheese tasting at the end. Do enquire before going.
Enjoy a day of leisure and stroll through the villages to do some “window-shopping”. This is an experience in itself and you can see how the locals live. For example, when visiting Bern, the old city is definitely worth a walkthrough.
Always check the weather before you plan anything. Some sites recommend you download the “SRF Weather app.”, but it might be in a foreign language. Just make sure you have access to the internet and here is the best site to visit for anything weather-related: https://www.myswissalps.com/aboutswitzerland/nature
If you prefer to take the funicular/cable car up to one of the sight-seeing points in Switzerland’s beautiful Alps, it can be expensive. A cheaper option would be to buy a one-way ticket to the top and then enjoy a scenic hike back down. You will see lots of people doing it (some even running). Alternatively, use your Travel Pass for the train.
Try to stay in the smaller towns. The big cities are more expensive and the delight of staying in a “car-free” town in Switzerland is priceless.
Buy your souvenirs at the local grocery stores. It might sound strange, but they sell exactly the same stuff as the expensive shops on the mountain tops, but much cheaper.
So there you have it, you can do a tour of Switzerland on a budget.
Need a checklist?