Switzerland is Europe's most expensive country to go to. Nevertheless, despite of its small size, it has so much to offer and it’s extremely diverse (just like some other little countries I love - Georgia, Albania or Slovenia). You might know Switzerland because of the Alps, but not that many heard about the Swiss Riviera full of palm trees and Mediterranean climate. Unfortunately, unlike the aforementioned countries, travelling through Switzerland might break the bank if you’re not careful enough - well, that only applies to those on a budget - if you’re rich, this post is not for you ;). Here there are some tips on how to save money while visiting Switzerland - based on my own experiences and our journey across this beautiful Alpine country.
How to Save Money Travelling in Switzerland
1. Travel in a group
I know that this tip might not be good for everyone, as there are a lot of people who travel on their own. However, if you can invite a few friends or join a group of people (e.g. on an online travel forum), this will help you save a lot as there will be many ways of sharing the costs. Sharing can dramatically reduce the expenses and help you avoid spending the needed cash. We traveled in a group of 4 and it was great.
2. Rent a car
We landed in the city called Basel (by the way, the airport in Basel has 3 exits to 3 different countries - Germany, France and Switzerland - make sure you take the right one). Then, we had to take a train to Zurich where our trip across Switzerland started. Surprisingly, the train costed over 30 CHF (roughly 30 USD/27 EUR) which turned out to be more expensive than the flight to Basel itself! (I know that by booking a train earlier you can save some money but you have to know the exact time before).
On the side note, traveling in Zurich is pricey - one way tram/bus ticket will cost around 6 CHF - you can save by using a daily pass. Zurich is quite popular but it wasn’t my favorite in the country - you can take a look at the detailed article about the city here.
If the prices above seem high, the best solution would be to travel in a group and renting a car - if only you can, do it. The cost of the car all together with full damage insurance purchased directly from the rental office and fuel costed us around 35 EUR (40 USD) a day. Compare it to the price of the train! Thanks to having the car you can travel whenever and wherever you want, at your own pace, and of course, you can save a lot of money.
3. Book hostels/budget accommodation
If you’re on a budget, you want to opt for budget accommodation. Cheap accommodation options and hostels have surprisingly high standard in Switzerland (at least ours did). If you travel in a group, it’s also easier to get a private room for all of you which, of course, gives a lot of comfort. In smaller towns in the Alps, we used private accommodation and rooms offered by local people. You can find plenty on comparison websites. Try to book those that offer kitchen and common dining room (see the point below). On average, we paid 25 EUR (28 USD) for a night per person which is not that low, however, considering the standards and the fact that it’s Switzerland, it was a good deal.
4. Buy in supermarkets and cook your own food
Booking cheap hostels has also one more advantage - many of them have a kitchen which you can use to prepare your own meals. Restaurants can be painfully expensive but Switzerland is full of cheap supermarkets (like Lidl - you can find one even in the very center of Zurich) which will let you save a lot of money on food. When you buy your own products and cook, you can make delicious healthy meal for less than 5 CHF per person. Bear in mind that the supermarkets close quite early (around 7pm) and are closed on Sunday (with the exception of the main train station). Even if you don’t cook, the grocery stores have bakery sections where you can buy something quick and simple.
5. Hike instead of taking the cable cars/trains
If you’re in Switzerland, it is obvious that you’d want to see the amazing Matterhorn and explore some trails in Zermatt area (I’ll write about them soon). But did you know that using one of the trains or cable cars to take you up and down the mountain can cost up to 100 CHF? The prices are quite ridiculous, but the places are a must-see. If you’re fit - hike. The hikes are very pleasant and the views spectacular. If you can’t hike, I would recommend that you either take the train/cable car only one way and then walk down or try to use it outside of the peak times (by getting tickets not long before closing, you can get discounts of up to 50%). Also, ask at your accommodation - they might also offer some vouchers.
Author: Tom @ Adventurous Travels
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