Tantalizing Chocolatiers, a variety of cheese, breathtaking views, and crystal-clear lakes with an amazing backdrop of the snow-capped Alpine mountains. Switzerland is on the bucket-list of most travellers since a long time. Because of the ticket prices of some of the most beautiful rail routes and the cost of staying in the most expensive metropolitan hubs of the world, the trip becomes a little too pricey.
And who are we kidding, travelling to the most expensive country in the world is something not everyone can afford, right? Wrong. Although, Switzerland will never be a “dirt cheap” country to visit, but one can always plan a visit to Switzerland on a relatively light budget.
Here are some simple money – saving tips that can definitely help you plan a visit to you dream destination, Switzerland on a budget.
Also See: Most Beautiful villages in Switzerland
Top 6 Tips to travel Switzerland on Budget
1. Research and plan
Research is your friend. The most basic thing to do, before you set off to your dream destination, is plan. Finalize the cities you want to visit and the activities you want to do. A poorly planned vacation to Switzerland can leave your pockets quite empty.
- Look for cheap international flights.
- Visit Switzerland during the off-season. It will help you save a little more.
- Plan your routes in a particular direction so that you don’t end up spending extra on the train tickets.
- Read travel blogs of solo travellers, couples, and groups to find out if the activities you’re planning to do are worth your money or not.
- Choose the cheapest cities in Switzerland to spend your nights in. Most places in the country can be covered on a day trip.
- Try to make a cost-effective itinerary and structure your trip.
2. Budget your transport
- Look for the cheap flights in and out of Switzerland. The fluctuating prices and deals on air tickets can be an advantage in this case.
- Plan a one-way trip. Flying into one city and book return tickets from another. It is a better option.
- Travel in the trains within the country. It is the most prominent and economical intercity travel option with picturesque landscapes.
3. Travel or rail passes
It is a breathtaking intercity journey when you’re travelling by train in Switzerland. The rail routes of Switzerland are famous all over the world for their enchanting views of the landscapes with a very cozy and efficient service, which you will remember all your life. And investing into travel passes can be a budget-friendly way to travel around in the country rather than buying the expensive tickets every time you have to travel. But don’t just give away your money, do your research, read a travel blog, look for the rail pass that suits best for the span of your travel.
- Finalize the cities you will be visiting and the places you will be going to.
- Check how often you will need to use the public transport.
- Look for the appropriate rail pass, so that you don’t end up spending extra.
- If you will only be visiting one or two cities a Supersaver or Half Fare Card will be perfect for your trip.
- Grab a Swiss Travel Pass, Eurail or Interrail Pass if you plan to change cities often like after every 2 days.
- Book the passes in advance; this will get you better deals. Sometimes these passes may include freebies like free cable car rides, free entry to sightseeing destinations and discounted ferry.
- Try booking the passes online. It is always more cheaper than going to the kiosk and buying tickets.
4. Public transport within cities
Switzerland has one of the most efficient and easy to travel public transport networks in the world. And the taxis in Switzerland are quite expensive. Therefore, using public transport within the city is the most economical.
- Visit cities like Geneva, Lucerne, Bern, Basel and Laussane that offer free public transport to the tourists. Just check into your hotel and pick a travel card.
- Rent bikes for going places within the city. This will definitely save you some CHFs, as these bikes are almost always cheaper than the local public transport.
- Look for rent free bikes too. Bern, Zurich, Geneva, Neuchâtel, Zug and the Canton of Valais are some cities that lend out free bikes for a few hours or sometimes even a whole day. You will only need your ID and the refundable cash deposit.
- Choose a hotel or a hostel in the beautiful valleys in the Alps or choose a retreat near a train station while staying in St. Mortiz, Zermatt and Lauterbrunnen. This will help you avoid spending extra dimes for cable cars and funiculars.
5. Accommodation on Budget
Accommodation is one of the most important factors you want to consider when you’re planning to visit Switzerland on a budget. Finding a cheap accommodation in Switzerland is a real tough. Yes, the top end Pinewood cabins are tempting but quite budget draining as well.
- Avoid the peak season and visit the country between February to May. And you might be able to find an affordable stay in Switzerland.
- Try Couchsurfing. It is also a great way to save money as well as meet the local people to experience Switzerland in a more authentic way.
- Ditch the expensive hotels and book a hostel dorm. Hostel dorms in Switzerland are quite swanky and happening, the famous ones being Backpackers Villa Sonnenhof in Interlaken, St. Moritz Youth Hostel and lakeside Backpackers Lucerne
- Spend more nights in cities with free transport and cheap accommodation. Bern is the cheapest city in Switzerland in terms of transport and finding an affordable bed to sleep on is also not very tough.
- Camp in the Alpine mountains during the summers. It will satisfy both your adrenaline and the your pocket.
- Pitch a tent or live in the mountain huts run by the Swiss Alpine Club.
- Experience sleeping on hay and straws at the farms. Some Swiss holiday farms offer night stays including breakfasts at rates cheaper than a hostel.
6. Food and Drink
You must have already guessed it by now; eating out is also very expensive in Switzerland.
- Cook your own food. You might be able to get through an entire week with the same amount of money you would spend eating out in a day.
- Buy your groceries from supermarkets like Denner, Aldi, Coop, Migros and Lidl. Out of these Aldi and Lidl are the cheapest.
- Opt for the lunch specials when you plan to eat out in a restaurant. It is a fixed lunch menu at a very reasonable rate.
- Buy one day old bread and bakery. This is a new concept called Ässbar wherein whatever fresh products the bakeries couldn’t sell during the particular day are collected and sold at half the price the next day.
- Binge on free snacks and chocolates available at the markets and chocolate factories to satisfy the a midday craving
- Do not buy packaged or bottled water. It will only add up to your cost. Switzerland has the cleanest tap water available in the world and is safe for drinking.
- Fill up your water bottles at the fresh water fountains.
- Avoid drinking a lot of alcohol, as it is also very expensive. Instead of partying all night with a pint of beer, enjoy an early morning hike in the great Alpine mountains.
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Top activities to try in Switzerland
A trip to Switzerland on a budget doesn’t mean you have to cut down on your activities. There are a number of free activities, which will help you save and yet cherish the time in the Swiss Alps forever.
If you want to explore the outdoors and satiate the adventure junkie inside of you, the Swiss backyard won’t let you spend a dime on it.
- Go hiking in the Swiss Alpine ranges. It is absolutely free.
- Go to Zernas to feel that Adrenaline rush, the starting point of hikes in the Swiss national park. It has a trail of woodlands, mountain peaks, glaciers, jewel-colored lakes and waterfalls.
Nowadays Urban Swimming has become a very popular concept. If you don’t mind swimming the cold-water, Switzerland’s pristine lakes are all open to you.
- Take a dive in lakes like Aare in Bern, the Limmat in Zürich, or the Rhine Basel for free.
One of the most attractive activities in Switzerland is skiing. But it adds up to your budget just as much. Here are some tips for enjoying skiing when travelling to Switzerland on a budget.
- Visit the country in off-season to avoid price hikes.
- Choose a low-end resort. Ski passes here are almost 30% cheaper with a view every bit as stunning.
Top sightseeing places you mist visit in Switzerland
- Participate in free walking tours being held in the cities and explore the historic and touristy side of Switzerland.
- Go to Schaffhausen and appreciate the beauty of the Rhine Falls, Europe’s largest waterfalls, which obviously has free entry for everyone.
- Look for complimentary entries in museums. The works by Giacometti and Van Gogh is showcased for free, in the Kunsthaus Zürich, on Wednesdays.
- Visit the brilliant Musée d’Art et d’Histoire in Geneva It has free entry anddisplays masterpieces like Konrad Witz’s La pêche miraculeuse.
- Take a free tour of the house of parliament, Bundeshaus, in Bern.
- Visit a free wildlife park in Zurich, Aarau, Winterthur, St. Gallen, Interlaken and many other places.
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Now, you know it all. You can witness the amazing Switzerland on a budget. Look up the Internet for travel blogs and you will get all the help. Staying in the cheapest city in Switzerland and still experience it’s extraordinary beauty will only leave you satisfied, happy and very content. You will have a huge bag of memories, if not designer purses and clothes, to cherish for a lifetime.