Budget travel in Switzerland and how much do you need per day. Switzerland is one of the most sought-after travel destinations. It’s also one of the most expensive. The perfect Alpine views and amazing quality of life do come at a price, and most of the time, it’s steep.
However, there are many things to see and do that won’t cost you an arm or a leg. Some of them can even be done for free.As the land of the ultra-luxurious, expenses in Switzerland can definitely skyrocket.
Fortunately, you don’t have to check in at legendary hotels and swanky wellness spas. People visit Switzerland mainly for one thing – to get up close and personal with the inspiring Swiss Alps. With a bit of planning and knowing when to splurge and when to hold back, your trip to Switzerland can be both memorable and within your budget.
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Is it safe/difficult to travel in Switzerland?
Switzerland is probably one of the safest countries to travel to. The country registers barely any crime, and everywhere you go there is a general sense of security. People mostly mind their own business, and you will rarely get bothered by people on the street.
As long as you don’t get yourself in any kind of trouble or do anything illegal, you can practically walk around anywhere in Switzerland at whatever time you please. All it really takes to have a worry-free time in Switzerland is common sense and respect for the people around you.
Best time to go to Switzerland
Switzerland is beautiful all year round. Timing your travel highly depends on what exactly you want to experience and, to a certain degree, how much cold you can tolerate. There are four seasons in Switzerland, and each one has its pros and cons.
Spring: March, April, May
Spring is what you’d call a shoulder season, which is the period before (or after) the peak season. For Switzerland, peak season is Summer. During Spring, however, you can get good deals on flights and accommodation. There are also less crowds to deal with.
There are long daylight hours during Spring, but early Spring in March can still feel very wintry. This is a great time to get some skiing – you’ll get snow cover will less people. April starts to get warmer and the best deals are usually found around this time. May temperatures are warmer and more predictable, hovering between 15 to 20 degrees Celsius.
Keep in mind that many cable cars are shut down right after Easter (which can be around end of March) until hiking season starts in May.
Summer: June, July, August
Summer is the busiest season in Switzerland. School is out, the weather is warmer, hiking trails are open, lakes are perfect for boating or swimming. This also means that prices go way up and popular tourist attractions will be filled with tourists.
If you’re traveling during this period, it’s better to visit popular attractions early in the morning or late in the afternoon, or go to more underrated places.
Fall: September, October, November
Fall is another shoulder season and a great time for great deals and still great weather. There are smaller crowds but the weather is still relatively warm, so you can still enjoy some summer activities. The days are shorter, but the leaves start to change in October for a different kind of scenery.
Cable cars and funiculars start closing down again for maintenance or due to snow, so mountain top excursions might not be always possible. On the other hand, October is wine season, but November is one of the worst months to visit. It’s chilly and wet, not quite Winter yet and not enough snow.
If you’re more of an indoors person with museums and shopping, then November would be a lean month to visit.
Winter: December, January, February
Winter is prime time for skiing. Ski and mountain resorts become very expensive and lodges quickly get fully-booked. However, if you’re visiting Switzerland for snow sports, there’s no better time to go. There are also tons of Christmas markets, parties, and Holiday events to go to.
Visa in Switzerland
Certain countries will need a Schengen visa to enter Switzerland. Applying for a Schengen visa requires several documents, including insurance, proof of financial capacity, and pre-booked accommodations. Check if you need a visa to enter Switzerland.
Cash and ATM in Switzerland
Switzerland is one of the largest banking centers in the world. Credit cards are widely accepted. Cash will be needed for some small boutiques or perhaps for tips, but there will be no problems with any kind of payment in the country.
Internet and WiFi connection in Switzerland
There are over 1,700 public WiFi hotspots in Switzerland. Some are free to use for a limited time, especially in establishments like hotels and bars, train stations, and even on the slopes of popular ski resorts. It’s also possible for you to pay a fee to use the public WiFi for hourly, daily, or even monthly use of this access.
As with most overseas travel, the most convenient way to stay connected is to purchase or subscribe to your own mobile hotspot or data pack. Whichever way you choose to go online, internet connections in Switzerland are fast and reliable.
Read here to know the best prepaid sim card in Switzerland!
Food budget travel in Switzerland
Meal prices will vary greatly. There are many Michelin star restaurants in the country, but there are also small kiosks and food carts serving great local dishes. If your accommodation has a kitchen, cooking your own food is a great way to save on costs.
On average, a meal in a sit-down restaurant in Switzerland will cost around Sfr 20-40, and that might not even include drinks. Breakfast will usually be cheaper and dinner will usually be the most expensive.
Watch out for lunch specials and promos that many cafes offer, as this is one of best ways to eat cheap. The other is things like kebabs, Asian food, and small takeaways found near train stations.
Accommodation in Switzerland
Some of Switzerland’s most iconic landmarks are centuries old structures turned into legendary hotels. Obviously, these will be extremely expensive, but there are also some budget options around the country.
For example, there’s no lack of hostels, backpacker inns, and budget hotels anywhere in Switzerland. These rooms can go anywhere between Sfr 50-100 per night budget travel in Switzerland, which isn’t bad considering the high cost of living. And because this is Switzerland, budget doesn’t necessarily mean shady or terrible either. Most of Switzerland’s affordable accommodations are well-designed and well-kept.
There are also Airbnb for €60-80 and you can get $30 USD off your first booking with AirBnB when you sign up with us!
Having insurance while you are traveling outside your home country is very important. Make sure that you have one too, to keep you safe in your trips around the world.
Things to do for free in Switzerland
While many things can be expensive in your budget travel in Switzerland, many things are also free.
There are thousands of hiking trails all over Switzerland. They can bring you through forests, meadows, mountainsides, and along rivers. Not only is this a great way to get up close and personal with the Alpine landscape, it’s also completely free!
One of the best places to hike is Grindelwald – a small town situated in the stunning Bernese Oberland. Many of these hikes are easily accessible without the need to ride cable cars. They’re also easy to navigate even if you have younger kids in tow.
To get into Swiss culture, you can sign up for free walking tours. These are usually organized by locals or tourism students and operate on tips alone. You can be as generous or thrifty as you want. Historic landmarks such as churches, old bridges, and government centers are also free to enter (but sometimes not free to explore).
Best of all, around a third of Switzerland’s 900 museums are free to enter, including CERN. If you have a Swiss Travel Pass, which is a great way to save on train travel, then some of the most important museums will be free of charge as well.
If you get hungry, there are some stores that offer free tastings. The Kambly Factory Store in Trubschachen offers different types of biscuits, cookies, and chocolates for visitors to try. You can also get a sampling of Swiss cheese at some cheese stores and factories in different cities and towns. So, if you need a snack during the day, why not give that a shot!
Local transportation in Switzerland
It’s no secret that Switzerland has some of the most efficient public transport in the world. The trains are (almost) always perfectly on time, it’s easy to change trains or connect with buses, and finding your way around the country is a cinch.
Depending on your length of stay and where you want to go, a Swiss Travel Pass is often the best way to save money moving around the country. There are also many excursion trains like the Glacier Express and the Bernina Express, which are also included in the pass.
Luckily for visitors, some cities offer free public transportation. If you’re staying in hotels in Bern, Basel, Lucerne, Montreux, Geneva, and the Canton of Ticino, you get a pass for free transportation within the city during your stay. And often during summer, many mountain villages or ski areas offer free passes as well.
In other cities, there’s an option called Schweizrollt – which are free bikes you can use with a deposit. You’ll find these bike stations in huge cities like Zurich, Geneva, and the Canton of Valais.
Budget travel in Switzerland per day?
Assuming you won’t be splurging on anything fancy, the average daily budget in Switzerland is around Sfr 150-200 per day, including meals, transportation, and activities throughout the day. This can go up or down depending on how frugal you want to be and what you’ll be doing during your stay. Ski trips will definitely cost a lot more, but nature walks will cost you nothing.
So, although Switzerland is not the budget travel option you might have hoped for, it is still doable for most people.