How to travel Switzerland on a budget

by Kelly

Switzerland has a reputation as an expensive country to visit but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go! We always try to travel to a budget so we can travel further and more often. These tips are how we travel to a budget in Switzerland.

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What budget do you need for Switzerland?

This is a very open ended question as everyone has a different wage, lifestyle and preferred travel style. Rather than say a generic amount I will share how we work out what to budget.

Switzerland is not as cheap to travel as some places in Eastern Europe, Asia or South America but it can still be affordable. We don’t actually stick to a certain amount each day but instead we aim to spend as little as possible where we can. This means trying to find great deals, being able to choose what is most important to us to do and what we can go without. Sometimes just being somewhere is enough, sometimes we really want to do every activity that is on offer. It really is a balancing act.

There are three main areas that you need to focus on for a budget:

Budgeting accommodation when travelling Switzerland on a budget

When looking for accommodation in Switzerland we will Google the area and narrow down where exactly we want to stay. You want to find somewhere that is central but also close/walkable to the train station. This cuts down on the need for buses or taxis. If you are driving then you would be looking for somewhere with free private parking as this would be a wasted cost each day. We usually book with as they have the best deals and a great range of properties. Also the more you book with them you move up levels in their reward program, earning benefits such as free breakfast and room upgrades for example. We always try to find accommodation with a kitchen or shared kitchen space so we can prepare our own meals which is a great way to save money while travelling.

Budgeting food when travelling Switzerland on a budget

We will really prioritise saving money on food. It would be rare for us to just go out and eat at a café or restaurant anywhere. Firstly I am coeliac which makes it very hard to eat just anywhere. Secondly this can really start to add up. Food in Switzerland is not cheap, it is similar to Australian pricing so we will always opt for supermarkets. We will always visit each supermarket in the area we are in and find the one that has the best range and pricing. We look for sales and discounts. Usually our accommodation has a kitchen, or at least a fridge, so we can make our own food. You really can live out of just a fridge for quite a while if you are trying to save money while travelling! We google for restaurant deals in the town we are visiting and keep our eyes peeled for any we might notice as we walk around the city.

Coffee also adds up. In Lucerne we found a 1 CHF automatic coffee machine in Aldi which was great. Otherwise you can find ice coffees in supermarkets or your hotel will supply coffee and tea in your room/ kitchen. Basically this is one of the first things we will give up, or only have one in the mornings. Water is also incredibly clean in Switzerland. Bring your own water bottle and fill it at the many fountains available!

I know that food is such an important part of travel and it sounds sad that you may not try the local dishes but it doesn’t have to mean this! You can allocate one night to have a restaurant meal out to try the speciality such as fondue. Or if you really love food (who doesn’t??) then choose one of the other aspects, accommodation or activities to save your money.

Budgeting activities when travelling Switzerland on a budget

Activities may be where you want to make your savings. There are literally hundreds of activities in Switzerland. Every area has so many great outdoor, historic buildings and museums to discover. We usually choose one or two that are our must do, non negotiables and do them. Often you can find great deals on Get Your Guide, or the security to know that the price wont change or be different depending on who you are or when you book. They are really reliable and we have never had any problem when using them.

Budgeting transport when travelling Switzerland on a budget

Transport is a huge expense. If you have your own vehicle you have to pay for parking and petrol. Using public transport is very easy but can also add up. Our best tips are to purchase your tickets in advance. The price goes up closer to your travel date. We tried to book at least a week out or at worst 48 hours before we were moving on.

Walking everywhere is another great tip. It may not always be possible but it is great fitness and will save you in the long run. A bus may be simple but walking is free, we easily did 20,000 steps per day while travelling.

Our biggest tip is to buy a Swiss Travel Pass! We used them on our last trip in Switzerland and they really saved us. They are basically one ticket that does it all. They include buses, trains, mountain excursions, panoramic trains, cable cars to Murren and entry to over 500 museums across Switzerland! This includes boat cruises on Lake Lucerne, Lake Thun and Lake Brienz, entry to castles, museums in each town. The Swiss Travel Pass is a great investment if you are planning on doing a substantial amount of travel in Switzerland.

An example of how we travelled in Switzerland on a budget:

We visited Lauterbrunnen which is a small but very beautiful mountain area in Switzerland. This is how we stayed here on a budget:


The accommodation can add up. The cheapest we could find was Valley Hostel and that was $130 AUD per night. We had a private room with bunk beds and shared bathrooms. Our room had the most spectacular view of the mountains. Instead of going for drinks somewhere expensive, we bought drinks at the store and had happy hour on our balcony. It also had a shared kitchen. We went to the local COOP store and bought food to cook for our dinner. Check out the map below which has accommodation prices for the whole of Switzerland.


We bought food at the COOP market. We cooked our own dinner and for lunch we bought picnic supplies to take with us during the day.


We wanted to go up to the mountains but the cable cars to Murren were out of our budget. Instead we went on the cute little train to Wengen. It was cheaper and we were able to be up in the mountains, in one of the most beautiful areas. There were loads of hiking options where you can fully experience the beauty of the location. In Lauterbrunnen we walked everywhere. This was easy the area is so incredibly beautiful that walking through the Swiss countryside was idyllic. We loved our time here, visiting on a budget didn’t stop us from having a wonderful experience.

We hope these tips are useful! Let us know if there is anything else you have questions about for travel in Switzerland. We love this country and would be happy to help you plan your dream trip there!

Where to next:

Why you should visit Lauterbrunnen

How to visit Murren and Grimmelwald

Should I visit Lucerne or Interlaken?

Why Swiss Travel Pass is the best way to travel Switzerland

How to travel Switzerland on a budget

Why you should visit Lucerne

Lake Brienz boat cruise

Is Glacier Express worth it? A Review

Prettiest Lake in Interlaken

What to do in Lake Thun Interlaken

How to spend a morning in Interlaken

3 day itinerary for Interlaken

What to do in Interlaken when it rains

Best things to do in Bern, Switzerland

Best hotel in Bern Switzerland

Why you should visit St Moritz

Best hotel in St Moritz

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