So you’re thinking of travelling to one of the world’s most beautiful destinations?
Whether you’re heading on a secluded ski trip, hiking in the heart of the Alps or wanting to dive into Swiss culture, there are so many wonderful adventures to be had in this incredible country. No matter what type of holiday you choose, you’re no doubt in for a life-changing experience. Before you book your adventure, make sure you know when is the best time to visit Switzerland by reading our guide.
Money is always a core concern for anyone setting off on a travelling adventure, and that’s why we’ve written this guide to help you figure out how expensive Switzerland really is to travel to.
This guide will offer you some of the cheapest options for travelling to the mountainous wonderland, as well as giving more of an average cost. There are always ways to spend more, of course, and your budget should reflect the type of experience you want to have. Nonetheless, this guide has you covered in figuring out how much you’ll spend on your Swiss adventure.
Table of Contents
- Final Thoughts
The first thing to consider is where you’re going to stay, and there are a number of accommodation options out there depending on your comfort level and the type of travel you want to embark on. Your accommodation type and budget will depend on how long you want to spend in the country, for advice and tips we have a handy guide on how many days to spend in Switzerland.
As probably one of the best camping destinations in the world, Switzerland is an amazing place to get out the tent and really immerse yourself in nature. Good news for all you nature enthusiasts out there, because wild camping is completely legal in Switzerland, just as long as you know in which areas it is prohibited. Not only can you nestle your campervan/motorhome for free all across the country (as long as there are no signposts or local laws saying otherwise), but you can also pitch your tent above the tree line completely for free!
Be wary of your location as you cannot wild camp in Swiss National Park, Game Reserves, some Nature Reserves and Wild Rest Zones that are under protection.
If you feel uncomfortable with wild camping and want to camp with the comfort of toilets and showers, then the cost of a campsite can be anything from CHF 10 – CHF 40 depending on facilities, with the average being around CHF 30. At the time of writing this, the Swiss Franc (CHF) and the United States Dollar (USD) are roughly equal to each other so from now on I will quote all prices in USD.
There are hundreds of amazing hostels all over the country, and they all have a range of different personalities and things on offer. Depending on where you go, a bed in a dorm room (shared with other people) can range from USD 20 to USD 70, with the most expensive prices being in popular areas like Zurich and the cheaper ones being located in smaller towns like Interlaken. Hostels are a great way to travel on a budget and they also offer private rooms that are often cheaper than hotels. They are usually based in towns and cities and will provide a good base for anyone wanting to hike or enjoy city life.
Hostels in Switzerland are more expensive than in the rest of Europe but are definitely the cheapest way to travel without camping.
Hotels in Switzerland can be very expensive and are known to be some of the most expensive in Europe, but this doesn’t mean there aren’t some good deals out there. You can find hotels for as low as USD 80 a night in small towns but these are rare to find. The average is closer to USD 150 for a 1-2 star hotel with prices rising up to the thousands for premium hotels in nice areas. If you want to stay in a recreational area, such as a ski resort, this average goes up to around USD 200.
It’s always worth mentioning Couchsurfing, BeWelcome and similar platforms which allow you to stay with locals, gaining insider knowledge and expertise as well as a bed, absolutely free!
Food is one of the most important things for any traveller, here we’ll compare the cost of cooking for yourself, eating out in cheap places, and the cost of treating yourself to a nice restaurant.
As with most things, the cost of food changes significantly depending on where you go, with Basel and Zurich being significantly more expensive than smaller towns.
Groceries in Switzerland are some of the most expensive in Europe and even the most frugal amongst you will struggle to live off less than USD 15- 20 a day at an absolute minimum. For those who are cooking for themselves every day, you can expect to feed yourself for around USD 20-30 a day.
Eating out cheap
For those not wanting to cook but still want to remain on a budget, there are still some options. Many takeaways offer cheaper prices for food, with a kebab costing around USD 12 and a Mcdonald’s meal costing around the same. Of course, you sacrifice health a little with this option but is good for quick meals on the go.
You can get baked goods, snacks and small sandwiches from USD 5 – 10 depending on where you go, which can be a great option for a cheap lunch. Premium cafes may charge much more than this so be prepared to pay as much as USD 15 for a sandwich in some places.
A lunchtime meal will cost you around USD 20, with an evening meal setting you back a whopping USD 40-50. If you want to choose a fancy place with any speciality menus then expect to pay much more than this!
Since you’re making the effort to visit this beautiful country, it’s unlikely you’re going to want to spend all of your time in one place. There are many different options for getting around Switzerland, from driving your own vehicle, to taking public transport, and even renting a campervan. Here we will discuss all options in order to find the best options for you.
Cost of petrol/diesel
The price of petrol at the time of writing is around USD 2 per litre, with diesel coming in at around USD 2.30.
An intercity bus from Zurich to Geneva will cost around USD 50 – 70 depending on how far in advance you book, with budget companies like FlixBus offering higher tariffs in Switzerland than in the rest of Europe.
The cost of trains in Switzerland is similar to the busses, with a journey across the country from Zurich to Geneva costing around USD 55.
A car rental will cost you around USD 50 on average, with some cheaper deals out there for as low as USD 30 a day. You can also pick up a camper for as low as USD 50, which is a great deal when you factor in not having to pay for accommodation. Of course, petrol and diesel prices come into play here.
Hitchhiking is always free and Switzerland is well-known for being very accepting of picking up hitchhikers.
Car-sharing websites such as Blabla car are a great way to get around for cheap. Instead of using public transport, you are simply paying a local for a seat in their car when they would be driving anyway. This is usually a fast and comfortable way to travel and costs you as low as USD 14 to get from Zurich to Geneva, with rides going regularly.
Although inner-city transport in Swiss cities is often fairly expensive, Zurich offers free bike rentals across the city which can be a great way to explore in the spring and summer.
Now you’ve found a place to stay, eaten some amazing food and travelled around the country, it’s time to fill your days up with some amazing activities. Switzerland has so much to offer in terms of activities that it’s hard to sum up in one post, but I promise to do my best.
Surprisingly a lot of museums around Switzerland are free, making it a great place to enjoy art and culture.
You can rent full gear in most mountain areas for around USD 45 with lift passes costing anywhere from USD 50 – 100 depending on the resort. It’s worth noting that the cost of food is significantly more expensive in ski resorts.
Hiking is a favourite pastime of the Swiss, and thankfully no permits or passes are required, meaning this is a great free activity to enjoy.
There are many tour companies operating within Switzerland and these vary greatly from guided day hikes to week-long adventures with food and accommodation provided. It is hard to give a scope on the price of these as they are so varied but the average cost of a tour is higher in Switzerland than in the rest of Europe.
It goes without saying that many of you will be wanting to head out and experience the nightlife at some point on your trip, and with the country being known worldwide for its beer, it’d be rude not to. We also include non-alcoholic drinks for those wanting to enjoy the day with coffee or juice.
A cup of coffee will set you back around USD 4 whereas a soft drink will cost around USD 1.50 for half a litre.
You can get local beer for very cheap in Switzerland, sometimes as low as USD 2 for 500ml. The price can go up to around USD 6.50 for other brands. You can expect to pay around USD 8 – 12 for a glass of wine and an average of USD 18 for a cocktail.
Breweries are a common practice in Switzerland and you can take a tour for a relatively small price, some breweries offer tours for as low as USD 12 with a sample included, whereas other popular breweries will set you back close to USD 30.
Although not as Internationally renowned as French or Italian wines, the Swiss are very proud of their wines, and you can visit a winery and do a tasting for around USD 10 -20.
Finally, no trip anywhere would be complete without bringing things home to your friends and family.
Swiss chocolate is some of the best in the world, and you can expect to pay a premium for the luxury. Prices average around USD 5 for 100g, with premium chocolates costing way more and mass-produced chocolates going as low as USD 2 per 100g.
Switzerland is well known across the world for its flavourful cheese and, although it is not cheap, it is definitely worth it! For around USD 9 a kilo, this fantastic cheese can be yours.
In general, the cost of gifts in Switzerland is more expensive than in the rest of Europe, with special premiums added to army knives and watches.
Switzerland is without a doubt one of the most expensive countries in Europe, but that doesn’t mean your trip there has to reflect that. There is a whole range of possibilities for all budgets in this magnificent country. You can wild camp/couch surf, cook your own food and hitchhike for next to nothing, or stay in premium hotels and eat out every night for thousands of dollars, the choice is ultimately yours!
Don’t know where to go in Switzerland? Read our 9-day travel itinerary!