It’s no secret that Switzerland is famously expensive, and the ski town of Zermatt located smack dab in the middle of the Alps is no exception. The cost of an entree is enough to make one rethink whether they’re really hungry after all, and the price of a ski day including lift tickets and rentals adds up fast.
Fortunately, there are some simple ways for those still clamouring to hit the hills to save money. While the getaway still won’t be cheap compared to vacationing in neighbouring countries like Austria or Italy, here are some tips for how to visit scenic Zermatt, Switzerland on a budget.
Stay in a private apartment
Like anywhere, the largest expense in Zermatt is accommodation. Hotel rooms cost anywhere from $300 to a staggering $2100 per night at five star properties in high season, which can leave even the most well-heeled visitors shell shocked. However there’s a way around that: staying in private homes.
Airbnb is a great resource, with two bedroom apartments costing an average of only $250 per night. Since Zermatt is quite compact, pretty much anywhere in town is considered a good location. As a bonus, renters will also have access to a kitchen, which brings me to my next point…
Make your own food
Eating out in Zermatt is expensive (it’s hard to find any entree for less than 25 euros per plate, and even McDonalds can run around 15 euros), and it’s not always healthy. I’m looking at you, delicious fresh bread soaked in steaming cheese fondue! A nice workaround is to head to a grocery store, such as the Coop right across from the train station.
Despite not having access to a kitchen, my husband and I managed to pull this off magnificently. For about 25 euros, we got a full pack of prosciutto, salami, a block of gruyere cheese, a fresh baguette and basket of tomatoes, then had a picnic in our hotel room. Paired with a bottle of white wine, it turned out to be a delicious dinner which tasted even better knowing we weren’t facing a 100+ euro bill once we finished!
Another trick for those staying in a hotel is to fill up at breakfast. The family-run Hotel Perren has a huge breakfast buffet with sausages, eggs, fluffy croissants, fruit and yogurt among other things. Safe to say you won’t be hungry for hours after starting your day there!
READ MORE: Just how expensive is Switzerland?
Skip the taxis
Zermatt is very walkable, and lugging your ski equipment through the streets between the hill and your accommodation is commonplace. If that seems like a burden, it won’t after learning how much it costs to hop in one of the town’s electric taxis: up to 20 francs for a ride taking an average of five minutes!
Those on a budget will want to skip the cab ride and hoof it around on their own two feet instead. Those still balking at the idea will be pleased to know there are frequent buses, which are free for those who have already purchased rail tickets to attractions such as the Matterhorn glacier paradise. Most hotels will also pick up visitors in their own eTaxi for free, which takes care of that pesky luggage problem.
Ski away from Switzerland
Finally, there’s a foolproof way to save money on your Zermatt holiday—ski over to Italy! The hill is actually shared by both Switzerland and Italy, and lift tickets are good for both countries. Simply make your way over to the Matterhorn glacier paradise, and from there you can ski down into the Italian section.
There’s a fantastic restaurant at the top on the border (no passports required!) which serves up specialities like steaming hot bowls of pasta and paninis, which will only set you back 5-15 euros. Alternatively, ski down to the Italian resort town of Cervinia for meals that are about half the price of similar fare in Switzerland. Buon appetito!
WATCH: Skiing in Zermatt, Switzerland
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