Travel Hacks For Switzerland On A Budget

Switzerland is beautiful but far from a budget-friendly destination. However, if you still wish to visit this heaven on earth, we have some essential tips on how to travel across the Alpine country on a budget. Read on!
Lauterbrunnen, a famous skiing destination
Lauterbrunnen, a famous skiing destinationShutterstock

When you think of Switzerland, you think of the scenic beauty, glorious lakes and mountains, the towering castles and the magical Alps. However, there is a price to visit "Heaven on Earth," which is so high that it is the most expensive place in Europe. All of us wish to be at that place where going all-out on a Switzerland trip doesn't seem that daunting. If we are not yet at that place, there are many ways to explore this majestic city on a budget. Here are a few cost-effective tips and tricks to maximise your trip to Switzerland. 

View of Zurich
View of Zurich MadGeographer/Wikimedia Commons

How To Save On Accommodation

Switzerland Encourages Sustainable Living
Switzerland Encourages Sustainable LivingShutterstock

Since hotels and resorts take up a lot of our budget, it would be helpful to find inexpensive accommodations. Couchsurfing is a website allowing travellers to stay at local people's houses. This not only helps in acquiring cheap accommodation but also helps you to get the authentic experience and build lifelong connections, living with locals. Staying in hostels and Airbnbs can also help save money, provide suitable accommodation, give you a taste of the lives of the locals, and fully immerse yourself in the culture. Sites like and Hostelworld are helpful when finding the right hostels for your stay. 

While choosing hotels or hostels, it would be helpful to come when demand and the price are low. Booking less expensive hostels that are situated in the prime locations of a city is always a bonus, as it helps minimise the cost of transportation. Happy Inn Lodge is just 5-minutes away from the Interlaken train station. Zofingen Youth Hostel - Hotels is located in Zofingen, which connects you to the central transport system of the city. 

How To Save On Transportation

Avail public transport to maximise costs
Avail public transport to maximise costsShutterstock

With inflated taxes in Switzerland, taxis are the most expensive mode of travel here. Transportation takes up more of the budget than even accommodation. To combat that, a helpful resource is BlaBlaCar. It allows you to share rides with people and pay a minimal fee. Most of the time, this fee is less than that of public transport. 

Another way to go about it is to use public transport. You are entitled to free use of the local public transport system if you stay in Bern, Lucerne, Basel, Geneva, or Lausanne. You are given a ticket by your lodging that is good for your stay. Public transportation includes regional and inter-city trains, buses and trams to travel within the city, mountain and lake transportation like cable cars, ski gondolas, funiculars, and cogwheel trains etc. The canton of Ticino, an Italian-speaking region in the south of Switzerland with palm-lined lakes, rivers, alpine peaks and a hint of Mediterranean and Italian culture, took this one step ahead and provided all visitors staying at least one night with an all-inclusive ticket that includes buses and trains as well as a discount for cable cars, boats and selected activities.

Use The Cycles

Many cities like Bern, Geneva, Neuchâtel, Zurich, Zug or the Canton of Valais also offer free bikes. With a valid ID and a small deposit, you can rent these bikes, take a tour of the cities, and explore on your own This is a great way to experience the city.

The Swiss town of Basel
The Swiss town of BaselShutterstock

How To Save On Activities And Food

There are a lot of activities that help travellers explore and connect on a deeper level with the nature and people of Switzerland. You can join free walking tours in different parts of the city and explore the local places on foot. One Instagram-worthy free tour is the Street Art Tour of Zurich to see illegal and commissioned art of Zurich in places that tourists don't generally visit. Other tours with a small fee include Zurich Pub Crawl and Chocolate Tour.   

Picnic in Swiss Style
Picnic in Swiss StyleShutterstock

While food is also expensive, cooking one's own meals would be helpful. Set up a picnic by buying vegetables and enjoying the views. While there will be a lot of small supermarkets selling vegetables and other basics, the bigger chains include Migros and Coop. Discount supermarkets like Lidl and Aldi Suisse offer cheaper groceries with fewer options. To enjoy coffee and alcohol in Switzerland, it would be a wise idea to buy it from shops in small villages which are less expensive than those in the city.  

Top Tips

Zermatt & Matterhorn in the backdrop in Switzerland
Zermatt & Matterhorn in the backdrop in SwitzerlandShutterstock

Do carry your water bottle wherever you go since the water from the taps is very clean, and buying water bottles would also add to your cost. It is also very helpful to get a Swiss travel pass and, if used strategically, can help provide cheap tickets to not only public transport but also free admission to over 500 museums like Chillon Castle at Montreux, Matterhorn Museum in Zermatt and Swiss National Museum in Zurich. 

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