How I Afforded Traveling to Switzerland as a 25 Year Old
- by Ari Travels
There is a reason that Switzerland is as expensive as it is…. I mean it’s one of the world's most beautiful places to travel to. With that, comes a high price but don’t feel like you still cannot come here because I traveled for a week in Switzerland and only spent $50-$55 per day which included meals, accommodation, transportation, and activities. Normally accommodation alone in Switzerland can rack up your credit card to a whopping $200 per night just for a 2-star hotel room! Crazy, I know! If you want to enjoy Switzerland as I did without the high price tag, reach out to me and I am happy to give you all my budget tips and tricks in detail to help you plan an affordable trip to beautiful Switzerland. Because after all, it is possible to still have the best time here without breaking the bank.
Choose one or two Destinations
I know this can be hard but pick two destinations max. Anywhere you go in here you will not be disappointed. I would highly recommend going to Lauterbrunnen for 3 days from Zürich and then on your way back from Lauterbrunnen, stop in Interlaken and explore there for a day or two. Interlaken is on the way to Zürich from Lauterbrunnen which makes for an affordable round trip.
Take the Train
When traveling here, you will most likely land in Zürich and take the train to a more village from the Zürich Airport or the Zürich HB station. Never ever take a taxi, they are SO expensive. Switzerland is a very safe country so walking from the train station to your destination will be fine. The Switzerland rail system is so easy to navigate and normally on time, although once and a while one could be late which could cause a missed connection. Don’t worry because there are trains operating all day, every 10 minutes or so! Choose to leave for your destination at the earliest train time in case you miss a transfer you can hop on the next one. The workers are normally very understanding if you miss a train and won’t charge you if it’s the train's fault for being late to the connection.
Download the free SBB app which provides all the train times and gates/platforms for easy navigation. Locals here are very friendly so if you have any questions, just go up to someone and ask. They will help you!
Take the Bus Within Town
Once you are at your destination, if you want to get from place to place and don’t feel like walking, the public bus is pretty affordable and easy to navigate. Most villages in Switzerland are easily walkable though. The most I had to walk was about an hour and a half from point A to point B.
Whatever you do… never taxi or Uber! Its literally money being thrown away!
Book Accommodation in Advance
If you are not a planner, you better become one if you want to travel to Switzerland for cheap. Planning Switzerland in advance is a must. If you don’t plan in advance you will risk paying high prices for accommodation. I booked my hostel two months prior to my trip. Just because I was curious, I looked at the price a week prior to my trip and noticed that it doubled in cost! Booking in advance will be your biggest money saver. You’ll thank me later!
Where to Stay
Stay at Schutzenbach Backpackers & Camping hostel. They have a full kitchen, discounted activities, free wifi, friendly staff and are located in the heart of the Lauterbrunnen valley.
Switzerland's wall plugs are different from the rest of Europe, but this hostel provides the right ones for you to charge and use your electronics for free.
PS: The beds are the comfiest I have ever slept in and the views are unreal. It’s a perfect place to sit and enjoy a cup of morning coffee before your hiking adventures.
For other budget accommodation, use booking.com for the best prices
Pay in Local Currency
When paying with card, the machine will ask if you want to convert to USD or stay in local currency. Always choose the local currency to avoid extra fees.
With that being said, You can use your credit card in Switzerland mostly but be aware of foreign transaction fees. Use a card that doesn’t charge them such as the Capital One Journey card.
I would recommend you still carry cash because I noticed some places only take cash if it's for a downpayment for an excursion. I have also noticed sometimes their machines for the trains and buses won’t take US credit cards, so it's safe to have a debit card to withdraw cash if you need to. The Charles Schwab Debit Card is perfect for withdrawing cash from ATMs because it is free to use and reimburses all ATM fees at the end of the month which has probably saved me several thousands of dollars.
For a SIM card, Download the Airalo App
Normally, local SIM cards will save you money, but that’s not the case here. Local Sim cards are expensive to get here. Use an eSIM such as Airalo. It will save you a lot more money than buying a regular SIM card at a shop. Airalo is an app that allows you to have affordable cell data plans all over the world without needing a physical Sim Card which is what makes using your phone without wifi extremely convenient. Use my code ARIAHN516 for $ off!
Choose Affordable Hikes
Unfortunately, you can’t even start most hikes in Switzerland without taking a gondola (a mountain tram) up the side of the mountain to get to the starting point. I suggest asking your accommodation what the cheapest hike is for the Gondola and they will tell you. Every hike is so beautiful so you will be happy regardless choosing one that doesn’t cost as much as the mountain tram.
I did the Lauterbrunnen > Mürren > Gimmelwald hike and it only cost $16 vs some of the hikes cost over $75 because you had to take multiple gondolas up and down.
Stock up on Groceries and Cook your own Food
The local grocery store is called Coop Foods. They are everywhere between the cities and the little villages. They have affordable groceries and pre-made meals too. ! I was finding pre-made meals here for less than $5.
Make sure your accommodation has a kitchen so you don’t have to eat out. Eating out in Switzerland can cost a fortune.
Drinking in Switzerland is another easy way to go over budget. Have a sober week! Plus, hikes are no fun when you’re hungover!
Between visiting lakes, walking around the picturesque villages, and hiking. Traveling to Switzerland is a lot more affordable as long as you do it right. For more budget tips on traveling to this iconic country, don’t be afraid to give me a call! Switzerland will not disappoint and it’s definitely worth the money to come here, especially if you’re not spending a fortune.