Hostels in Switzerland are some of the most expensive throughout Europe – it’s often hard to find one for less than €30.
Look for a hostel that offers more: Breakfast, local transport cards and other discounts always help, plus a having a kitchen is almost a must.
AirBnB: If you are travelling in a group, weigh-up the option of dividing the total price and stay a little further out of the city centre.
Couch-Surf! There are plenty of hosts in Switzerland. Write a personalised message and give your hosts a little information about you and your trip!
The first time I saw the total for a train journey through Switzerland I thought I had selected 6 tickets. Nope, it was correct, one 2 hour journey was over CHF 60 per person. But how to get around it? Switzerland has a huge range of passes to try to discount these costs, and if you need help trying to decide what pass is right for you, check out this page.
Supersaver Tickets Some transport including train and boat tickets offer a certain number of ‘Supersaver’ tickets – these are reduced fares (sometimes up to 50% off) but are only valid for the one journey you selected and there are only a handful of these tickets available so get in quick! Plan your journey on SBB.com/eng and if there are Supersaver tickets available you’ll see them once you’ve selected your time down near the Half Price Fares option.
Half Price Card You’ll have to do a little pre-calculating to see whether it’s really worth your while but if you plan to travel regularly, a Half Price Card might end up saving you money in the long run. The card costs CHF 120 and gives you 50% off all transport within one month.
Eurail Pass If you’re travelling through neighbouring countries in Europe, consider a Eurail Pass. You can choose which countries to include and how many travel days you want (4 – 10 days within 2 months unlimited travel days within 3 months). Nearly all trains in Switzerland are free with a Eurail pass and selected cable cars and most boats are discounted.
Swiss Pass Similar to the Eurail Pass, you can purchase the Swiss Pass and be entitled to free travel rail, bus and boat travel for a certain number of travel days. Discounts are also included for certain cable cars, gondelas and cogwheel trains. Prices start from CHF 213 and once again, you’ll have to know what you plan to do during your time in Switzerland to compare costs with or without the pass.
Hotel Transport If you book a hotel in Bern, Geneva, Saas-Fee or Moritz, you get free access to local public transport. If you book an airport hotel, free rides to the airport are often included. Ask your hotel when you book.
Food & Drink
Both groceries and dining out are often highly priced compared to other surrounding countries.
Buy a stack of groceries before you travel to Switzerland
2 minute noodles, pasta sauces, muesli bars, even fruit and veg, load up before you cross the border and you’ll save a tonne. Plan a couple of meals and buy those ingredients, then the only thing you have to buy here will be bread, milk, and other perishables (and 2kg of Swiss chocolate).
Cook, cook, and cook some more
One simple pasta dish at a not-so-touristy restaurant will fetch between 17 and 23sf, so use up all those pre-bought ingredients and whip yourself up something tasty for a quarter of the price! Need inspiration? Check out some hostel-friendly recipes here.
Want to go on a bender?
*bank balance shakes head*. While you can buy drinks from the local grocery store for around CHF 2, beers at a bar cost somewhere between CHF 7 & 10 a pop. Nightlife here also isn’t as established as other parts of Europe so it’s sometimes harder than usual to find a pumping club. If you are trying to do Switzerland on a budget, try to think about it like this is your nature/relax/outdoorsy time. All-nighters and unlimited jagerbombs will come again soon…
Cable cars, skiing, lake cruises, paragliding… Switzerland has some incredible activities, but often just one will blow your budget.
Walk & Hike Instead of buying a return ticket, hike up to the peak. It’s more rewarding to reach the top after a few hours of climbing than to just board a 5 minute train with the crowds.
Switzerland has over 60,000km of very well maintained and well signed walking trails, so instead of jumping on that CHF 30 train to take you 10 minutes to the next town, why not walk? Every main town will have a tourist information kiosk with guides on walking trails, and once you’re away, just follow the yellow signposts.
Specialty Cards As mentioned above, speciality cards such as Eurail or the Swiss Pass gives you huge discounts not just on transport but on some activities too.
Pick just one Switzerland is absolutely incredible and honestly has something for everyone. It’s so hard not to want to do everything, but if you’re on a tight budget, try to pick one main splurge. If you’re travelling with friends, maybe an epic sky-diving or paragliding adventure? If you’re in a couple, why not lash out on a fancy hotel for a night, complete with private jacuzzi overlooking the snow-capped alps.