Switzerland has been called “the world’s most expensive country to visit.” The Swiss travel experience is only for the rich and famous, right? Well, you may be shocked to discover that you can plan a Switzerland vacation without breaking the bank. You just need to be clever about how you spend your vacation cash. Check out our budget tips for a vacation in Switzerland below.
Ready? Let’s go!
1. Avoid Drinking Alcohol in Bars
To the West is the wine-drinking French. While to the North are the beer gulping Germans. And yet, whether you’re a wine or beer drinker, alcohol in Switzerland can leave you out of pocket extremely quickly. If you want to travel around Switzerland without deep pockets, then avoiding alcohol altogether is highly recommended. If you can’t give up alcohol totally, you should seek out bar offers, such as happy hours. Moreover, it’s also legal to drink in public in Switzerland. So, grab a bottle of wine in the supermarket and head to the park for a picnic.
2. Go Vegetarian for Your Vacation
From animal welfare to environmental benefits, people forget there are budget benefits of a vegetarian diet as well. Buying meat dishes in restaurants can quickly increase the number on your check at the end of the evening. You don’t need to avoid meat completely. But, sticking to vegetarian-friendly meals can help to keep you on a tight budget. Besides, the cheese fondue is amazing just the way it is. If you get meat cravings after a couple of days, you can always explore the meat deli counters in the supermarket instead. This is much cheaper and just as tasty.
3. Walk Everywhere in the City
Even though many tourists head straight for the Alps, Switzerland has some beautiful cities as well. The German-speaking Zurich is the economic powerhouse of the country. It’s also a charming town stretched between two forests either side. Most residents of the second-city of Geneva speak French. Geneva has become the world’s center for diplomacy. But, the breathtaking architecture is not to be missed. Other Swiss cities worth a visit include Basel, Bern, and Lausanne. Perhaps one of the best features of Swiss urban centers is that you can walk everywhere you go. There is also efficient and affordable public transport. However, you really get to know a city on foot.
4. Stick Around in One Place for a While
Travel is expensive in Switzerland. If you’re thinking of seeing as much of the country as possible, then you’re going to spend a fortune. The super-fast trains are some of the best in the world. But, that means that they’re expensive. You also have to fork out for car rentals. By contrast, if you stay in one place for a while, you don’t have to spend so much on travel expenses. You also get live like a local for a week or two.
5. Think Outside the Box on Accommodations
Hotels are also extremely expensive in Switzerland compared to its European neighbors. Therefore, thinking outside of the box is essential if you’re on a budget. If you want a unique experience in the summer months, you can enjoy a night on a Swiss farm. This won’t cost you much and you’ll be able to wake up the next day surrounded by glorious mountains and countryside. Another option is Airbnb or hostels. You may need to search around a little bit. But, you can get some interesting and bargain places to stay here.
6. Drink Tap Water
Up to 63 percent of Americans drink bottled water regularly. That’s because many people think that bottled water is actually healthier. And yet, in Switzerland bottled water is sometimes considered pointless. Switzerland enjoys some of the cleanest water in the world. You can even drink from the lakes in some parts. You’ll also notice that in the major cities, it’s very common to spot water fountains.
7. You Don’t Have to Convert Cash
When you’re always converting cash from dollars, this can leave you with lots of extra fees. However, paying with a credit card can save you money. While you can’t pay everywhere with a credit card in some European countries (we’re looking at you Germany), it’s fine in Switzerland. Remember, you can get credit cards for poor credit before you go on vacation. This means that you don’t have to worry about converting cash all the time.
8. Free Things to Do in Switzerland
Sometimes, it can feel that you’re charged for breathing in Switzerland. However, you should know that there are also a bunch of free things to do. Make the most of the natural wonders which usually cost nothing. Lakes, mountains, and forests can be enjoyed by everyone and anyone. And yet, when you’re in the city, it’s another story. Of course, there are free walking tours and numerous festivals throughout the year. You can usually either get discounted entry (as a student or senior citizen) in many museums and attractions. Free museums in Geneva and Zurich include the Natural History Museum, the Botanical Gardens and the Museum of the History of Science. This is a great way to feed the culture vulture inside you without spending your lunch money.
9. Travel on Vacation in Low Season
If you’re flexible about when to travel to Switzerland on vacation, then you should definitely avoid winter and summer. Of course, the summer months are busy everywhere in Europe as people enjoy their summer vacations. In the winter, people visit Switzerland for winter sports, such as skiing. However, you can save substantial sums of money by visiting Switzerland during the spring and autumn. In particular, accommodation and travel costs will be cheaper.
Switzerland Vacation on a Budget
Where do you travel on a budget?
Few people would answer Switzerland. And yet, you’d be surprised how much fun you can have on vacation on a budget in the Alpine nation.