While Switzerland boasts beautiful historical cities, world-famous mountain ranges and great food (who doesn’t like cheese and chocolate?!) many travellers stay away for one reason: money. The European country is notoriously pricey thanks to its strong currency, the Swiss Franc (CHF), which usually means only the most well-heeled travellers make the effort to visit.
So just how expensive is Switzerland, and are there ways for budget travellers to get by? Here is a list of some of the costs, based on prices as of late 2014. Prices are in CHF which is the equivalent of around $1.10 dollars or 0.83 euros. Click here for current conversion rates.
- 500 ml bottle of Evian water: 1.5 CHF
- One glass of wine at a restaurant: 6 CHF
- Bus ticket in Bern: 4.20 CHF
- Whooper meal at Burger King: 13.30 CHF
- Cheese fondue for two people: 26 CHF
- High end hotel room in Lucerne: 450 CHF per night
- Mid-range hotel room in Lucerne: 170 CHF
- Entree at a nice restaurant in Bern: 26 CHF and up
- One litre of gas: 1.80 CHF
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To stretch your dollar as far as possible, be on the lookout for multi-day visitor passes which can provide savings for attractions and public transportation. The city of Bern recently introduced the Bern Ticket, which means all visitors staying in tourist accommodations can use public transportation for free.
RELATED: How to visit Zermatt, Switzerland on a budget
It’s also worth noting that if you plan on driving into or through Switzerland, you’ll need to buy a sticker for your car at the border. It costs 40 CHF for the year- which is quite pricey if you only plan on being there for a few days!
If your accommodation includes a kitchenette, head to the grocery store instead of eating out to save money. You can easily pick up a whole bottle of wine for less than 10 CHF, as well as some Swiss chocolate to take home as a souvenir.
Finally, stay away from the American chains which are the most expensive. This photo taken in a Starbucks in Switzerland says it all…
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I have traveled extensively in Switzerland, and was trained by Swiss tourism. There are all levels of pricing, and yes, many packaged bargains. In general those who like to feel the pride of really ripping off a third world culture at the market will have no fun in Switzerland. They need to stick to places where nothing is expensive.
WOW. Or there are just people that can’t afford to pay 25 CHF for some pasta in a restaurant and people that know that the price is ridiculous (saying this as a cook that has worked in fine dining for nearly 15 years). Also, as somebody that has spent time in many “third world countries” to learn about the food, the culture and the language – that comment is beyond offensive to the people that call those countries home and to the people that happily visit those countries for other reasons than “ripping of a third world culture”. Maybe it would do you some good to spend some time in countries you deem “third world” (also, as an aside – “third world country” hasn’t really been used seriously since the end of the Cold War and the term was used more in a political manner than in an economic manner). Please educate yourself, ma’am.
– Your friend from San Francisco
Hey a Swiss here! I would never ever buy Evian water here because we have fresh water everywhere free of charge. Just bring a bottle with you and fill it up at the apartment or at the water fountains. almost no one buys bottled water here. If you must head to Migros or better Lidl there is water for 0.20 francs or even less.
Also buy train tickets in the SBB / CFF App there are so many budget options if you buy before your travels (15 francs from Zurich to Basel for example instead of 30).
If you want a cheap lunch head to the universities! The buffet is for everyone I think it’s around 12 Francs for a lunch with water and salad 🙂
Thanks Jennifer! I agree, the glacier-fed fountains are the best!!