For many years we wanted to go to Switzerland, but the first question always was: How much will a trip to Switzerland cost us? I mean who doesn’t want to visit the most perfect, always green country in the…world?? Let’s not forget one of the most expensive also. There are many ways to travel to Switzerland on a budget. In this post, I am going to tell you how to save money and travel to Switzerland on a budget.
Time to visit
In 2019, we decided to book a two months vacation to Switzerland! Well, not a full 100% vacation because we would still be working remotely from Monday to Friday.
We choose September and October, and I think we could not decide for a more perfect period. Superb weather, not too hot, not too cold either. I don’t know how, but trust me when I say that each weekend we were blessed with sunny skies and around 20 °C even in October. Autumn is indeed an amazing time to visit Switzerland, not too crowded, but still good weather, even for a swim in the lake.
I think it’s important to decide from the start which part of Switzerland you want to visit. As a reference point, I would choose areas such as Zürich or Geneva. From Zürich, you can visit the northern but also the central part of the country, and from Geneva, you can easily reach the southern and central parts.
We wanted to book an apartment nearby Zürich. I say nearby because accommodations are much cheaper if you move away from the city. When I first started to look into apartments for the two months period I was shocked by the prices. Hard to find something around Zürich for less than 2000 CHF/month and look decent. In the end, we booked an apartment for one month in Küsnacht, 8 – 9 km from Zürich, and another in Berikon, 20 km from Zürich. Let’s put it another way, these were the ONLY apartments less expensive than others in the area. We used Airbnb for booking.
For the first flat in Küsnacht, we paid 2500 CHF/month. When we arrived, we discovered that Küsnacht is the land for the rich and famous in the area. Indeed the apartment where we stayed had a superb garden with magnificent views over Lake Zürich. I kindly recommend this apartment, Rebecca was an amazing host, always helpful with anything we needed.
From here we could easily reach the northern part of the country, on the border with France or Germany.
Our second accommodation was in Berikon, a cute small village in the canton of Aargau, 20 km from Zurich. We paid 2300 CHF/month, for a superb apartment overlooking the Alps. Daniel and his family, are the most kindest guests you will ever find. We had everything we needed and much more. I think I love this area more because you could easily reach the highway.
As a means of transport, we used our car. I think it’s natural to say that public transportation is like Swiss watches: perfect and always on time. But expensive. As a reference from Küsnacht to Zürich, by bus, we paid 6.80 CHF/person for one way. Check their website for more information on rail passes: www.sbb.ch/en.
I personally prefer the car, because you can visit more in a day, with less money. Gasoline costs somewhere around 1.60 CHF/l.
Underground parking in cities like Zürich, Bern, Lucerne, cost about 4 CHF/hour, but you can easily find parking for 1CHF/hour outside big cities.
I recommend you buy the parking disc, which will offer you free parking for a limited time. We paid a couple of francs and we got it from the Migros supermarket. The paring disk can also be used in France or Italy.
Driving in Switzerland
If you are going to use the highway you need a vignette, which can be purchased for one year only and it costs 40 CHF.
Maximum speeds: motorways 120 km/h, highways 100 km/h, other roads outside built-up areas 80 km/h, towns 50 km/h.
Driving in Switzerland is relatively much smoother than in other countries. I am not talking about the rush hours in the big cities, you can’t escape that in any part of the world.
There are very few trucks on the highway compared to the EU countries, and people are driving within the limits imposed by the law. There are lots of radars, so you can easily wake up with a fine in the mail in no time if you exceed the limit.
Other than that, driving through Switzerland is a pleasure indeed, the scenery is amazing, everything is so green no matter the season. One thing that we found odd, was that we hardly spot a car not being from Switzerland. But we never had a problem on the road, even with a foreign car number, we never felt like outsiders.
How much it costs to eat out
A lot. With pizzas starting from 20 CHF, you can imagine. In fact, the only time we ate out was on the very first day we arrived. Because it was Sunday and all supermarkets were closed, we went to a restaurant to get some pizza and, yes, the prices are double than in other EU countries nearby.
We bought food from the supermarket and cooked at home, 3 meals a day. In our mini trips, we would take sandwiches and fruits with us (even water) or buy something on the way from a supermarket. I just could not bear to spend so much money at a restaurant.
No worries, many people do the same. Picnic in front of the lake with a bottle of wine, prosciutto, and Swiss cheese. Mmmm !!!
Regarding supermarkets, we recommend ALDI or LIDL. They have the same prices as in EU countries for most of their products. Migros and Coop are more expensive.
We spent somewhere around 100 – 150 CHF/week, for 2 people and we ate delicious food every day, no limits. The photos below are from ALDI.
Credit cards and ATMs
We used Revolut to pay and also to withdraw money from ATMs, because it has a good currency exchange, and we never had any problems. We used it at supermarkets, gas stations, parking lots.
1 CHF = 1.03 $ or 0.93 €
You know some German and you think you can manage your way in Switzerland? Think again! Say hello to Swiss German :)) Just search for a video on Youtube and you will understand what I mean.
But still, no worries, I never saw a country with so many English speaking people. ANYONE speaks English, better than you probably do.
How much is a trip to Switzerland?
So how much does it costs after all? Let’s have a quick summary for a month and you can adjust it to your needs afterward:
Accomodation: 2500 CHF
Food: about 500 – 550 CHF
Gas for our trips: 240 CHF + one time 40 CHF viggnete
Gas to Zürich and back to our home country: 300 CHF
We reach a total of around 3600 CHF/month for 2 people.
We did not go shopping, as everything here is more expensive than in the EU. Even during the promotions season, things are still more expensive.
So we conclude the first part of this post: How much does a holiday in Switzerland cost? I know this is often the first question you ask yourself when you start planning a trip.
Now it’s time to dive into the heavenly places you should add to your list when visiting Switzerland. Check out my Top Places you can’t miss in Switzerland.
Have an amazing day!