top 11 cheapest ways to travel in Switzerland

Top 11 Cheapest Ways To Travel In Switzerland

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The Cheapest Ways To Travel In Switzerland

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Many people think that traveling in Switzerland is incredibly expensive. That is the reason why they eventually decide to spend a day in Zürich and then walk away. However, such a decision only convinces them about the fact: Switzerland is an expensive country. Nevertheless, it does not have to be necessarily true if you can find your own way. I am going to persuade you about the opposite side. This article will give you helpful information on how to cut the Switzerland travel costs and explore as much of this stunning country as you want.

 

List Of The Cheapest Ways to Travel In Switzerland

Here is a quick list of the cheapest ways to travel in Switzerland for you:

  1. Go Camping
  2. Book AirBnB
  3. Avoid restaurants – have a picnic
  4. Find local markets
  5. Get Swiss Travel Pass
  6. Get Swiss Half Fare Card
  7. Buy train tickets through SBB App in advance
  8. Purchase SBB Saver Pass
  9. Buy SBB Day Pass at Interdiscount
  10. Get regional discounts for outdoor activities (passes)
  11. Use public transportation for free if staying in a hotel/hostel

 

 

Accommodation In Switzerland

There are several ways how you can save up on accommodation in Switzerland. Even though you will not be staying in luxury hotels with fancy facilities, if you want to see as much of Swiss beauty as you possibly can, read my following suggestion that will help you to save up a lot.

 

Camping

If you are an outdoor adventurer, it is a great idea to bring a tent with you to Switzerland. Some hostels, usually those in the countryside or next to the mountains, also have spots where you can go camping. Just check on the hostel’s website if they have camping spots, too.

The Balmer's Tent Village hostel in Interlaken
The Balmer’s Tent Village hostel in Interlaken

 

 

AirBnB In Switzerland

Airbnb is another great way to get accommodation to cut your Switzerland travel costs. The more affordable ones are always located a bit further from the city centre. But if you have the Swiss Travel Pass, about which I will write later in this article, it is not really a problem. It might get even cheaper than hostels, depending on the location. Airbnb in Switzerland is also a perfect option for groups or friends who want to rent an apartment. Also, you will meet many locals, which will enable you to practice speaking a language. This is one of the best ways to improve your language skills as a language travel learner.

Check out their website to find Airbnb rooms in Switzerland.

View from the Brienz Youth Hostel on Brienz Lake
View from the Brienz Youth Hostel on Brienz Lake

 

 

Food & Restaurants In Switzerland

Honestly, Switzerland is not the country where you come for a considerable culinary experience. It is better for trying local products such as cheese and different types of meat like Swiss prosciutto, Grisons meat, or cured raw ham. But going to the restaurants is not worth it. In Switzerland, you get similar dishes to other countries. We are not in India or Peru, where you come because you want to experience their typical cuisine and try local spices. I could order Cordon Blue even in my country or a neighboring country for much less if I wanted to. Besides, it is ridiculously expensive. I had an experience when the food I got was below average for the price and vice-versa. I do not mind paying more for good food or trying something new. But I need to get something special, unique for a particular country.

Swiss Cheese Fondue
Swiss Cheese Fondue, typical dish in Switzerland you have to try

What About Eating In A Park With Picturesque Scenery?

Buying your food in a local market or in a supermarket and taking it to nature with picturesque views is much more economical and enjoyable. Better than sitting in the restaurant, ordering usual food such as sausage or Cordon Blue, and paying triple the price actually for nothing. Of course, it depends on each of you. But I am the type of traveler who prefers to save on food in such an expensive country and spends it on exploring the destination. If I want to try something like Fondue, an authentic Swiss dish, then I say why not once in my life? But I highly recommend you to avoid going to restaurants every day. You can easily spend half of your budget there. It is not worth it.

 

Find Local Markets

What I suggest you, though, is to find a local market and taste local products. It is an exciting experience where you always get something typical Swiss. What is more, you can also talk to the locals. It is quite a common thing here in Switzerland. So if you are visiting some cities or towns, you can check online if there is any local market. Check out my Switzerland Travel Guide, where you can read about different local products and Swiss dishes worth trying.

 

 

Best Transportation Deals In Switzerland

In Switzerland, the best way is to travel by train. You can get special discounts, and trains take you almost everywhere. The railway network is highly developed, and connections are great. You will not be stuck for one hour in one place, waiting for your connecting train. They are very punctual. Also, their website always informs you about possible delays or constructions on the road. The Swiss railway network is called SBB – ”Schweizerischen Bundesbahnen” in German, which in English means ”Swiss Federal Railways.”

SBB train cheapest ways to travel in switzerland
The regular SBB train

Check out SBB website for any information you need, as well as train connections throughout Switzerland.

 

How & Where To Get A Discount For Train Travel In Switzerland?

Do not come to Switzerland without getting a discount. Instead, plan ahead and decide how many days you will stay and how many days from your itinerary you will need to travel by train. This way, you can save up a lot. Below, I am giving you 4 tips for the cheapest ways to travel in Switzerland using trains.

 

Swiss Travel Pass

One of the best ways to save up is to purchase a Swiss Travel Pass, which is available for 3, 4, 8, or 15 days. You can choose between 1st and 2nd class. If you are young, below 26 years old, your Pass will be considerably cheaper than for an adult (26 years and above). Depending on the number of days you choose, you need to travel on consecutive days with Swiss Travel Pass.

Swiss Travel Pass package including Swiss Travel Pass, Map of Switzerland & Travel Stamp Booklet
Swiss Travel Pass package including Swiss Travel Pass, Map of Switzerland & Travel Stamp Booklet

 

Swiss Travel Pass Flex

If you know you will spend one or more days in a destination where you will not need to take a train, it is better to buy Swiss Travel Pass Flex. You can travel on the chosen number of days within a whole month, which does not have to be consecutive. Although it is a bit more expensive than Swiss Travel Pass, you still save up a lot. Let’s say you want to get a regular Swiss Travel Pass for your four days Switzerland itinerary. But then you pay for an additional day when you need to travel, but the day does not follow up. In this case, you will pay a lot just for this extra day. So plan your itinerary ahead to avoid paying extra.

Read my article about Swiss Travel Pass and Swiss Travel Pass Flex for more information and booking.

Pass for trains, buses, boats, museums & mountain excursions

With both Swiss Travel Passes, not only can you travel by train, but it is also valid for buses, public transportation in cities, or even a boat on Swiss lakes. It is all included. What is more, there are 500 museums, where you get free admission with both Swiss Travel Passes. Also, you can get a free ticket to some mountain excursions. Other mountain excursion providers offer you up to 50% discount.

Travelling on the Lake Brienz on the boat Switzerland
Travelling on Lake Brienz on the boat, Switzerland

 

Swiss Half Fare Card

If you buy the Swiss Half Fare Card, you will pay just 50% of the full price for every single train ride ticket. The card costs 120 Swiss francs.

Suppose you want to get from Zurich to Lucerne. Let’s say the total ticket price is 50 Swiss francs. However, you have purchased the Swiss Half Fare Card, so this ticket from Zurich to Lucerne will cost you only 25 Swiss francs (50% off).

Note that the Swiss Half Fare Card is not a ticket. It is just a card with which you get every train ticket for 50% less. I recommend you get this card only if you are not making too many train rides in Switzerland. The Swiss Travel Pass gets still much more economical for you if you want to travel more in Switzerland.

 

Purchase Tickets In Advance & Download SBB App

If you do not want to spend so many days traveling through Switzerland or just want to get from point A to point B, this option is for you. Plan ahead of time, and you can get cheaper tickets if you book in advance. Go to SBB website and check out the prices for your desired route even one or two months before your journey, and you might save up.

TIP: Avoid buying tickets right at the train station counter, as it is the most expensive way. They always charge slightly more. Even if you haven’t managed to book your tickets in advance, download the SBB app. This way, you still get them a little bit cheaper.

 

SBB Saver Day Pass

Saver Day Pass is a great option if you want to travel by train just for one day and want to see many places on this day. Important is to know that the earlier you book it, the cheaper it gets. You will get the best deals when you book at least 3 weeks in advance. Go to SBB section for bookings and more information.

 

SBB Saver Day Pass For 1 Canton Only

Swiss railways also offer discounts within one canton from time to time. For instance, in autumn or spring during a low season, some cantons might announce a special offer when they know that not many tourists will come. The Saver Day Pass for one canton costs 50 Swiss francs, and you can travel for a day without a limit within the particular canton.

 

SBB Day Pass From Interdiscount Shop

Also, there are shops like Interdiscount, which offer exact ticket discounts as well. Check their website, whether they don’t have SBB one-day tickets for the time when you are going to be in Switzerland.

 

All these discounts that I mentioned to you really help if you are traveling through Switzerland on a budget. The best option is definitely Swiss Travel Pass/Swiss Travel Pass Flex. For my 8-day Switzerland itinerary, I have used the Swiss Travel Pass Flex for 8 days. It enabled me to stay the whole month in Switzerland and spend as much time in the places I went to as I wanted to.

 

Traveling By Car

Traveling by car is always a good idea and a convenient way to travel, but be careful. There are usually high parking fees in Switzerland unless you discover some hidden spots, free of charge. Those also exist, so if you are entering a location where you want to stop, take some time and look for them.

 

 

Outdoor Activities On A Budget

There are also special discounts or passes for outdoor activities, which normally allow you to travel within a region. All the outdoor activities are included, which will again get much more economical for you, rather than paying for each activity that you decide to do.

For example, if you want to spend more days exploring the Jungfrau region , you can get the Jungfrau Travel Pass. Not only are all the train and bus routes included, but also cable cars, cogwheel trains, and outdoor activities. Check my post about Jungfrau region for more information. You pay once with a discount, and you can do it all within the region. Besides, if you already have the Swiss Travel Pass (or Swiss Travel Pass Flex), you get the Jungfrau Travel Pass even for a reduced price.

Check out my article about the difference between the Jungfrau Travel Pass & Swiss Travel Pass. It gives you detailed information about each pass, price and helps you to decide whether it’s worth it for you or not.

Grindelwald First outdoor activities brieflets
Grindelwald First outdoor activities brieflets

It only depends on what you want to do. However, if you have the Swiss Travel Pass, activities and excursions are for a reduced fare, if not completely free.

Check out the top 8 mountain excursions in Switzerland and how to get discounts for them.

Top 8 Mountain Excursions & Discounts

 

 

Sightseeing In Cities

If you were not satisfied with my idea of sleeping in hostels and staying in one room with more people, don’t worry. I have some good news for you. If you stay in a hotel in big cities, you can use public transportation for free. This particularly works in Basel, Bern, Geneve, Lucerne, Montreux, Lausanne, and the whole Canton of Ticino. Once you check-in upon arrival, you will get a ticket to use for public transportation in the city during your stay.

Lausanne public transportation cheapest ways to travel in Switzerland
Lausanne public transportation, Switzerland

 

 

Recap Hacks: The Cheapest Ways To Travel In Switzerland

So, to recap my hacks for the top cheapest ways to travel in Switzerland, here are the top 5 tips for you:

  1. Plan your journey in advance – decide on the number of days you want to spend traveling through Switzerland.
  2. Get a Swiss Travel Pass if you know you will be using trains on consecutive days or buy Swiss Travel Pass Flex if you want to be more flexible and travel in Switzerland within a month for your chosen number of days (so that you can spend a day or two in a destination).
  3. Do some camping or find a nice Airbnb apartment.
  4. Do not eat so much in restaurants. Instead, buy your food in a supermarket or find local markets to try some local specialties.
  5. Decide on outdoor activities and find out if there are any regional discounts.

 

 

How Much Should You Budget For A Trip In Switzerland?

I’ve created a simple table for you comparing costs in Switzerland on a budget and with a bigger budget. Check it out below so that you know what budget you need for your Swiss travel:

  • Hostel Stay Budget: 20 – 40 Swiss Francs per Night
  • Swiss Travel Pass: The Cheapest Way to Travel in Switzerland: See the prices for Swiss Travel Pass.
  • Food: 15 – 20 Swiss Francs per Day
  • Attractions: around 30 Swiss Francs per Day (depends on what you want to do)

Overall, you’ll spend around 60 to 70 Swiss Francs per day if you want to travel Switzerland on a budget.

how much should you budget for a trip in switzerland

 

 

Get My Switzerland Packing List

You’ll get detailed descriptions of clothes and materials, best backpacks, and necessary things to pack for your Swiss itinerary. Personal photos of what I brought to my Swiss trip so you can pack according to my strategy:

switzerland packing list mountains in switzerland

Get my Switzerland Packing List

 

 

I hope I have convinced you that it is possible to find the cheapest ways to travel in Switzerland. I have done it myself. With the discounts and tips I gave you, I was able to fully enjoy my ten days Switzerland itinerary without hurting my wallet too much. If you want to know more about my journey, check out my Swiss travel itinerary post.

So next time, don’t just stay in Zurich, plan your trip and go out there exploring this stunningly beautiful country. If you have difficulties planning your itinerary through Switzerland, don’t hesitate to contact me. I will be happy to help you with planning your Swiss trip.