Yes, you can enjoy million-dollar Swiss views without burning a hole in your pocket!
Switzerland conjures up many images. The best cheese in the world, magnificent snow-covered peaks, melt-in-mouth, smooth and creamy chocolates and rolling green hills dotted with grazing cows and wooden chalets. If there is one thing Switzerland isn’t synonymous with, it’s the word “budget”. The Alpine country is frequently featured in the list of “world’s most expensive countries” and a poorly-planned Swiss trip can certainly cost a fortune. However, a bit of research, smart timing, and a knack for cost cutting can make your trip a lot less pricey than you think.
Quick tips for saving big bucks in Switzerland
1. Swiss travel pass. To buy or not to buy?
Switzerland has one of the most efficient public transport networks in the world. If you’re going around Switzerland like a local, an all-in-one ticket like a Swiss travel pass can be amazing value for money. But before you decide to invest in one, you need to have clarity on places you want to visit and the days you want to travel. With a Swiss travel pass, you can travel extensively by rail, road and waterways across the entire country. Moreover, it allows free entry to more than 500 museums and several mountain excursions. Keep an eye out for offers that give you extra travel days on 4 or 8-day consecutive travel pass. For longer journeys, the Swiss Half Fare Card can help you avail a 50 per cent discount on trains, buses, boats and mountain transport. For single journeys at the lowest possible rate, look for supersaver tickets online.
2. Stay for free
If you have a Swiss friend who is ready to host you for free, don’t think twice before saying a “yes”! Saving 30 to 40 CHF on accommodation each night is certainly a fabulous deal! Moreover, with Switzerland being a small country, it’s pretty easy to take day trips from one corner to another. Couchsurfing (a service that lets travelers stay with locals for free) is the second best alternative to saving money on your stay and interacting with locals. Since a lot of backpackers use this service, put in your requests well ahead of time. While your host wouldn’t ask for money, you can always bring along a thoughtful gift from your home country. Alternatively, you can opt for Airbnb if you’re traveling with someone. When you split the cost, it turns out to be much cheaper than a hostel dorm! If you’re the adventurous sort, consider setting up your own tent for a small fee or simply sleeping under the stars, provided you’re carrying a sleeping bag.
3. Supermarkets and weekend markets are your saviours
Eating out is expensive in Switzerland. An average meal at a restaurant can easily cost around 20 to 30 CHF. Cooking your own food is way more affordable. Hit a supermarket (like Migros and Coop) or a weekend market on your day of arrival and stock up on groceries, bread and other breakfast essentials like bircher muesli, cereal bars and more. In a budget of 50 to 80 CHF, you can buy groceries that can last for an entire week. Also, meat is expensive in Switzerland. So, stick to veggies if possible. For free sampling of Swiss specialities, visit local farmer’s markets. Drop everything for that day and think of a food tour at a market. Most stalls are happy to offer delicious free samples of mouth-watering local produce.
4. Skip expensive tours
Switzerland has ample lakes, glaciers, mountains. This is certainly the place to skip the expensive tours and connect with nature for free. Take a refreshing dip in the lake or go hiking!
DON’T MISS THE FREEBIES
Free walking tours
For a crash course on your favourite Swiss city, join one of the free walking tours. These three to four hour group tours are led by knowledgeable, entertaining guides who work on a voluntary basis. You are welcome to tip them if you like.
Water from the fountains
A rule of thumb for day-time exploring in Switzerland: bring a water bottle. Switzerland has gorgeous water fountains around every corner and you can fill on pure water straight from the mountains. Yes, tap water in Switzerland is absolutely drinkable.
Free bikes and public transport
Many cities like Zurich, Bern and Geneva offer free bikes. Check if they are available for few hours or for a whole day. All yuo need to do is bring along your ID and 20 CHF for the deposit. In cities like Lucerne, Basel and Lausanne, you get to use local public transport for free. Your accommodation provides you with a ticket that’s valid for the time of your stay.