Where to Stay
Honestly, accommodation is EXPENSIVE. If you’re staying in the cities, I’d do some research ahead of time. If you’re travelling with others, it’s probably cheaper to book a hotel room than to stay in hostels. Hostels can be incredibly pricey here, but if you’re a solo traveller, it might still be cheaper to stay in one. If you need to book a place to stay, use this booking.com link! I get a small commission (and you don’t pay extra!).
AirBnB is also a great resource in Switzerland. You can often find a cheaper place to stay just a quick tram ride away from the big cities.
Couchsurfing is a great tool to use here. In a place like Switzerland, Couchsurfing is generally safe. That being said, you should still be careful.
How to Get Around
Getting To/From Switzerland
The most efficient way to travel in and out of Switzerland is either plane or train, however, if you’re booking short notice, it can be seriously overpriced. Buses, though generally slower and less efficient/comfortable than planes/trains, are fairly cheap here. Flixbus is a reliable and cheap company to use, though there are many bus companies.
Trains are often the most convenient way to get around, but the costs add up! Train journeys are not cheap. Definitely book ahead of time; last-minute ticket purchases make the cost of your train skyrocket.
If you’re planning on taking loads of trains, buses, and ferries in a short amount of time, it might be worth it to get a Swiss Travel Pass. They seem like quite a bit of money, but they will be worth it if you’re planning on travelling around the country.
If you travel in and out of Switzerland often, I’d look into the Swiss Transfer Ticket. With this ticket, you can travel from a Swiss border station or airport to your destination and back, up to twice a month. It is 154 CHF for one month (second class). It might be worth it if your destination is far away from the airport you land in. This is only available for those living outside of Switzerland.
If you’re staying a while, check out the Half Fare Card. This allows you to get up to 50% off train tickets and public transportation. It costs CHF 120 per month.
What to Eat
Eating out in Swizerland comes with a pretty hefty price tag (for the budget traveller or those staying in CH for a long time). If you must eat out, kebabs and pastries are generally the cheapest. It’s better to go to a grocery store and to get their takeaway food or to buy groceries to cook your meals at home. Coop and Migros are good stores, but Aldi and smaller Turkish stores are cheaper.
Even fast food is a bit pricier in Switzerland, but if you’re really craving a dine-in meal, McDonalds and Burger King are probably some of the cheapest meals you’ll get.
Things to Do
First, it’s important to note that everything closes on Sunday. Don’t plan a city trip for Sundays! On Sundays, do as the Swiss do: get out into nature!
Hiking is an obvious cheap activity, but it’s a good one. To get to some of the more famous hiking places can be expensive, but there will always be a hiking route for you to follow just a stone’s throw away.
Even if hiking isn’t REALLY your thing, you can still enjoy the outdoors! Skiing is surprisingly affordable in Switzerland. There are also some beautiful outdoor activities, like a mountain coaster (awesome) or a massive suspension bridge/play area. Switzerland seriously knows how to do the outdoors.
Walk around the cities! Swiss cities are BEAUTIFUL and packed with things to do. Check for free museums, historic sights, churches, and landmarks. One of my favourite ways to see a city while on a budget is to plan my own walking tour. That’s how I saw so many European cities a couple years ago. It’s a great way to save money.
You can also bike around cities if walking isn’t your thing.
Want more general budget travel tips? Read this post!