The mere idea of travelling around Switzerland on the cheap might make you roll your eyes in disbelief—after all, the nation regularly tops polls of the world’s most expensive countries.
Be that as it may, with a little vigilant arranging, some smart planning and a wise skill for cost cutting, Switzerland’s million-dollar Alpine views, memorable rail journeys and big-hitting sights needn’t cost a fortune.
Unless you’re hoping to kip at the airport, you’ll need to decide how to get about. Fortunately, Switzerland has plenty of money-saving workarounds in regards to transport.
Cheap car hire
With all those cloud-scraping mountains and Alpine passes, hiring a car can be a tempting thought. You’ll reap savings by renting in neighbouring Germany (for Basel) or France (for Geneva), but however, recall that fuel and stopping can rapidly increase costs.
Switzerland additionally has a standout amongst the most proficient and exhaustive open transport arranges on the planet, so do you truly require an engine? SBB trains and postal transports hurried to almost every town and town—even remote ones. What’s more, standard prepares frequently cover an indistinguishable staggeringly wonderful courses from pricier ones like the Glacier Express – yet at a slower pace and with more changes.
Embrace the economical travel pass
To save money, consider buying a travel pass, but plan your route to avoid backtracking. For short trips to one specific destination, the Swiss Transfer Ticket might be the most economical option, permitting return travel to/from the airport. It’s valid for one month.
For longer, multi-destination journeys, the Swiss Half Fare Card yields a 50% discount on trains, buses, boats and mountain transport. Alternatively, the Swiss Travel Pass (available for three to 15 consecutive days) offers unlimited train, bus and boat travel alongside free entry to 500 museums and numerous mountain excursions.
Nature for next to nothing
You’ve come for the great outdoors, right? The good news is that once your transport and accommodation is sorted, Switzerland’s phenomenal backyard won’t cost you a cent to explore.
Paradise for pennies
The nation is bound with some of Europe’s most extraordinary climbing trails, some of which string high into the Alps. Remain in the valleys or pick a resort with prepare access to abstain from spending additional for link autos and funiculars. St Moritz, Lauterbrunnen and Zermatt are great wagers—and all have tolerable youth inns.
For a slice of true wilderness try Zernez, the starting point for spirit-lifting hikes in the Swiss National Park. A world of woodlands, peaks, glaciers, moors, waterfalls and jewel-coloured lakes; its remoter reaches has golden eagles, chamois, ibex and bearded vultures tucked away.
Saving cents on skiing
When it comes to skiing in Switzerland, costs quickly snowball. Minimise expense by avoiding the school holidays and taking advantage of low-season deals. Your francs will go further in low-key resorts like Andermatt, Bettmeralp and the Val d’Anniviers, where ski passes are up to 30% cheaper and the powder and views every bit as glorious. Kids in tow? Check out where children ski for free.
Shave off hardware costs by pre-booking with Swiss Passes or by taking your own particular rigging with national carrier Swiss for free.
Big beauty, small budget
Try not to worry on the off chance that you haven’t got two pennies to rub together to sightsee, Switzerland adores a complimentary gift.
Cities on the cheap
Exploring the covered arcades of Bern’s Unesco-listed Old Town, fortified Murten or the creaky 14th-century Kapellbrücke bridge in Lucerne are all gratis. The hike up to Bellinzona’s trio of medieval castles doesn’t cost anything either and the views across the city campaniles and surrounding mountains are priceless.
Search for complimentary gallery passage in urban areas. The perpetual accumulation at Kunsthaus Zürich, for example, exhibits works by Giacometti and Van Gogh and is free on Wednesdays.
The country’s nature parks and their many outdoor attractions are free too—from the thunderous Rhine Falls, Europe’s biggest plain waterfall, to the wispy Staubbach Falls that inspired the pen of Byron and Goethe.
Food and drink isn’t cheap in Switzerland, but there are ways to expand your stomach without extending your overdraft.
Forget the hotel breakfast
Swearing off an inn breakfast may spare you as much as Sfr30, and relatively every bistro can stir up a nice espresso and cake or Bircher muesli (moved oats with grains, products of the soil) for significantly less. Pastry shops and butcher shops are additionally useful for nibbling on the foot (the last frequently have hotdogs to take away).
Lunch for less
Aim to make lunch your main meal when many restaurants offer a menü (fixed-price lunch special) for as little as Sfr15. Simple pizzerias and Asian restaurants are generally cheaper than traditional Swiss places too. Hostels sometimes have shared kitchens where guests can cook. Stock up on groceries and picnic essentials at stores like Migros and Coop, which also do salads, sandwiches and other to-go snacks.
Drink for free
One golden rule for daytime exploring: bring a water bottle. Nearly every town has a fountain where you can fill up on pure water straight from the mountains. Tap water doesn’t get better than in Switzerland.
More money-saving tips
If you have read the tips above and are still thinking of phoning the bank manager, here are a final few frugal tips for free.
Cycle to scrimp
From May to October, Schweiz Rollt lease bicycles in riverside towns and lakeside urban communities like Geneva, Bern, Valais, Zürich, La-Chaux-de-Fonds and Neuchâtel. Contract is either free (temporarily) or reasonable (from Sfr2 every hour). Take ID.
Take a thrifty tour
For the inside scoop on many Swiss cities, join the free walking tours run by Freewalk, whose knowledgeable, entertaining guides work on a voluntary basis (tips are appreciated). In Interlaken, the two-hour Free Walking Tour puts a fun take on the Alpine hub.