Saving Money On Your Trip

This may sound harsh, but if you’re on a very tight budget, don’t go to Switzerland. Prices are terrifying for anyone who’s not coming from New York, San Francisco, or Reykjavik, and even hostel stays and basic groceries will bankrupt you faster than you expect. But if you’re willing to spend around 150CHF a day, you’ll find you get more for your money here than elsewhere: no shoddy accommodation, no wasting hours waiting for a bus or train, very few “tourist traps.”

  • Many towns and regions, including Geneva, the Engadine and the entire canton of Ticino, offer hotel and holiday rental guests free public transit and steep discounts on attractions. If you’re traveling around a lot, it might therefore be cheaper to stay in a hostel or Airbnb than couch surf. Check your destination’s tourism website for the latest deals.
  • In summer, head for the ski slopes. Resorts like St. Moritz, Davos-Klosters, and Arosa are dramatically cheaper (though still not “cheap”) during the warmer months, and overnight guests receive free transit on mountain railways and cable cars, a deal that could save ambitious hikers hundreds of francs.
  • You can save a bundle simply by eschewing accommodation in your chosen resort for one of the villages right near it—Le Châble instead of Verbier, for example, or Samedan instead of St. Moritz. Your surroundings will likely be more atmospheric, and Swiss public transit will get you into town in minutes.
  • If you can, cook your own dinners and pack picnic lunches. Larger cities and towns have weekly farmers markets that are fun to peruse, but supermarkets like Coop, Migros, and Spar carry local products as well. Just remember to stock up before all the shops close on Sunday.
  • We mentioned this in the last chapter, but it bears repeating: Unless it’s an emergency, don’t buy bottled water! Swiss tap water is delicious and free-flowing, and if you carry a reusable canteen on a city walk or an alpine hike, you’ll be able to refill it from one of the country’s thousands of public fountains.
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Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.