Is it possible to travel to Switzerland on a budget? Yes, it is! In this article, I’ll share an overview of my budget for a week in Switzerland.
Switzerland on a budget
Switzerland is certainly not a cheap holiday destination. For a basic room in a hotel, you pay about € 150 per night, and if you have a pizza with a beer for dinner, you’ll pay about € 25 (per person!). Do you want to go into the mountains? Then there’s a large chance that you have to take an expensive cable car because.
Is it possible to travel to Switzerland on a budget? Yes, you can. Although it will of course never be as cheap as a trip in Southeast Asia or South America, for example. It all depends on what choices you make during your trip. In this article, I will tell you more about my travel budget and how you can keep your holiday to Switzerland affordable.
Switzerland on a budget for a week: this is how much I spent
In September 2020, I traveled to Switzerland for a week. It was part of a longer trip, after Switzerland, I traveled south to explore Northern Italy by train.
Since Switzerland seemed expensive to me, I limited my visit to a week. In the end, Switzerland was not as expensive as I expected. This was partly due to the choice of my destination and the activities I did.
This is an overview of my budget, which I divide into five categories:
My trip to Switzerland was a last-minute decision. I had planned to travel to the USA and had booked a plane ticket from Düsseldorf (in Germany) to Las Vegas, but that trip got canceled because of COVID-19. However, I already had booked a train ticket from Groningen (The Netherlands) to Düsseldorf (which cost me € 19.90). From Düsseldorf, I was able to take a train to Interlaken in Switzerland for only € 34.90. During my stay in Switzerland, I spent an additional € 29.91 on traveling by train.
Please note: I only share the costs of the outward journey with this overview, because I traveled to Italy afterward. For the return journey (in this case to The Netherlands), you could do this amount times two.
Because the journey from The Netherlands to Switzerland was quite long, I decided to spend a night in Düsseldorf. This was awesome because I had some time to explore the city and there are a lot of fun things to do in Düsseldorf. I spent de night at the Ibis City hotel. This is a great budget hotel, close to the train station and I only paid € 42.75 for one night.
In Switzerland, I found the hotels quite expensive (especially as a solo traveler), so I booked a bed in a dorm in a luxury hostel: Backpackers Villa Sonnenhof in Interlaken. Originally I had booked a bed in a 7-person dorm, but because was the hostel was not very full, I got upgraded to a 4-person room (with a balcony!) I slept here for a total of six nights, sharing the room with only one other girl all the time (and I even slept alone one night). In total, I spent € 240.92 for six nights.
I rarely save on food, although I haven’t been out for dinner in Switzerland. I thought that was simply too expensive there and it is not really fun on your own. Moreover, there was a Lidl (a great discount supermarket) near the hostel. In the hostel, there was a great communal kitchen with good (private) cooking equipment, so it was really easy to cook my own meals. Breakfast was included in the hostel so I didn’t have to pay extra for that.
Every now and then I treated myself to something delicious, such as a cup of coffee with cake and a beer at the quay of the Rhine in Düsseldorf. In total, I spent € 79.74 on food.
If you feel like it, you can spend a lot of money in Switzerland on various activities. This mainly involves transport via cable cars and gondolas to get to the mountains or extreme sports like paragliding. I considered taking the ride to the Jungfraujoch (the highest train station in Europe), but for € 230 I thought it was just a bit too expensive.
In the end I did what I like best: a lot of walking. And I explored some amazing trails in Switzerland! Here are some hikes to inspire you:
- Hiking to Grindelwald First
- An amazing day hike in Lauterbrunnen
- Gorgeous hike from Iseltwald to the Giessbach waterfalls
Total costs in terms of activities: € 0.
Other costs usually include things like doing laundry, visa and sim cards. But fortunately, I could use my Dutch phone subscription in Switzerland (although it does not fall under the EU) and I did not have to do any laundry for the one week I was in Switzerland. In the end, I only spent € 0.70 on other costs for the use of a toilet at a station.
Total & distribution of costs
Switzerland on a budget. In total, I spent € 447.82 a week in Switzerland for a week, which is € 63.97 per day. That is not too bad, right?
This was the breakdown of the costs:
- Transport: € 83.71 (outward journey + local transport)
- Accommodation: € 283.67 (one night in a hotel and six nights in a hostel)
- Food: €79,74
- Activities: €0
- Other: €0,70
Switzerland on a budget: some extra tips to save money
That was not too bad, right? Of course, I understand that you might not be so eager to sleep in a shared room in a hostel or cook your own meals every night. But that’s how you can make a trip to Switzerland a lot more affordable. In addition, there are other things you can save a lot on for a cheap holiday in Switzerland:
- Eat vegetarian. Meat and fish are very expensive in Switzerland, not only in restaurants but also in the supermarket.
- You can also save a lot of money on transportation if you know where to look. Here are some tips:
- In some cities (for example Interlaken, Bern and, Geneva) you will receive a pass in your hotel or hostel to use the public transport within the city for free.
- Do you want to travel a lot by train and via cable cars? Then it can be smart to purchase a Swiss Travel Pass or a Swiss Half Fare Card.
- When booking your trip, also take a look at Flixbus as an alternative option. These are affordable long-distance buses that travel all over Europe. For example, with Flixbus I could travel to Milan in Italy for less than € 12 (by train this was € 90).
- Check your accommodation: is breakfast included? Sometimes you can also book lunch or dinner for little money.
- Check for inexpensive activities and in Switzerland, that means a lot of hiking. For example, instead of a return trip by cable car, you can opt to only use the cable car to go up the mountain and then walk back (downhill is so much easier).
Book a trip to Switzerland
Are you excited about a trip to Switzerland after reading this article? Here are a few tips to put arrange your own vacation to Switzerland:
- Book your train journey via Deutsche Bahn (this is a lot cheaper than SBB, the Swiss railways) or Interrail (the latter is especially useful if you want to travel by train in Europe and visit several countries or destinations).
- Traveling to Switzerland by plane? Check Skyscanner for the cheapest tickets
- Check Booking.com or Airbnb for accommodation.
- For a rental car, you can check AutoEurope or Rentalcars.com. A toll sticker is usually included with a rental car.
Don’t feel like arranging everything yourself? Intrepid Travel has a great package deal for a trip to Switzerland, which includes a lot of train travel.
Read more about Switzerland
Are you looking forward to a holiday to Switzerland and would you like to get inspired? Then I can recommend these travel guides:
I also wrote these articles about Switzerland: