Switzerland is known for being an expensive country. This is immediately evident the moment you arrive at a Swiss airport or Bahnhof. 12 Swiss Franks for a Big Mac? How about 39 bucks for a bucket of chicken? Thirsty? Gulp on a small can of soda for 4 bucks. The prices are so shocking sometimes, you need to cut that basic burger into quarters to feed yourself for a few days.
Being stingy in Switzerland is critical, especially now during Covid. An antigen test in Switzerland cost 45 CHF a pop. And if you are planning to country-hop in Europe, you need to cough up the same amount in every country you want to visit. There’s no going around this.
So, while it is a fact that Swiss prices are as high as the Jungfrau, you can save money by following these important hacks.
Eat Like a Local - Want to know where locals get their lunch? You won’t find them in unbelievably expensive restaurants. Instead, they all go to the mall, where food courts are. In Zurich, we went to this neighborhood mall and found a food court. We got a fixed and substantial cafeteria-style meal made up of a Wiener schnitzel, green salad, dessert, and a drink all for 18 Swiss francs.
Shop and Cook – Swiss restaurants are notorious for high prices, so again, live like a local. Take advantage of street markets or groceries. Look for a Lidl supermarket because the two most popular ones, Coop and Migros are expensive.
Pick up some items, make a sandwich, whip up a salad, or cook a stew then pick a nice scenic spot for a grand picnic. Making your food will always be cheaper than eating out.
Tap that Wasser – American bottled water companies always market their products as “from the alps” or “mountain glacier spring fresh.” Well, you are in the land of the alps and glaciers! So, take advantage of this and drink from your chalet’s tap water or the many public fountains in the cities and towns! Fill up your water bottle and take it wherever you go. You get a pat on the back for saving your wallet and the environment and hydrate with one of the best H20s on the planet.
Take a Hike – Switzerland is a hikers paradise. If you’re not the walking type, you will enjoy Los Angeles more. Public transport in Switzerland is expensive, so if Apple or Google Maps say a destination is walkable within an hour or so, do it. Switzerland is so scenic, you won’t even notice the fatigue.
Get the Discounted Swiss Travel Pass – If you think walking is for prehistoric people, then, by all means, take public transport. But don’t do it without the amazing Swiss Travel Pass. This pass, for a one-time fee gets you:
Unlimited Travel by train, bus, and boat
Unlimited travel on premium panorama trains (seat reservation fees and/or surcharges apply)
Unlimited use of public transport in more than 90 towns & cities.
Free admission to more than 500 museums
Mountain excursions included: Rigi, Stanserhorn, and Stoos.
Up to 50% discount on many other mountain excursions.
Up to 30% discount on SBB RailAway
Available at all ticket counters within Switzerland.
There are various plans you can choose from (Prices in CHF)
Swiss Travel Pass 3 days: 2nd Class 232.00 | First Class 369.00
Swiss Travel Pass 4 days: 2nd Class 281.00 | First Class 447.00
Swiss Travel Pass 6 days: 2nd Class 359.00 | First Class 570.00
Swiss Travel Pass 8 days: 2nd Class 389.00 | First Class 617.00
Swiss Travel Pass 15 days: 2nd Class 429.00 | First Class 675.00
I know, these prices can be frightening, but trust me, these are cheaper than buying the tickets individually. Check the SBB site for updated prices.
So, there you go! You can enjoy an expensive destination like Switzerland by being smart and, yes, stingy. After all, nobody cares if you reached the peak of the Eiger via first-class cogwheel train or walking class. The important thing is you got there.