Skip to Content

7 Essential Tips to Travel Switzerland on a Budget

Save this post for later!

In all of my travels, I have to say that Switzerland is one of the most beautiful and incredible countries I’ve visited. I had to pinch myself several times to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. The lush, green rolling hills and the delicious chocolate had me mesmerized. However, the $17 burgers from McDonald’s and $8 cappuccinos left me a little shocked.

There’s no surprise that Switzerland is one of the most expensive countries in the world. It’s easy to see why many travelers choose to visit this country when they’re older and ballin’ a little more. I had the same thought too but decided to just go for it because I’m in that “YOLO” phase. I don’t really know if that’s a thing still, but we’ll pretend it is.

People looked at us like we were crazy when we told them we were going to Switzerland because of how expensive it is. I was worried too, but I found myself enjoying everything this exquisite country has to offer while being on a small budget.

You might want to pack your bags because it’s totally possible to visit Switzerland without breaking the bank! So, how exactly do you visit without completely depleting your travel fund? Here are seven helpful tips to help you explore Switzerland while being on a budget.

pinnable image for pinterest

This post contains affiliate links to the products that I use and trust. This means that I might receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you) if you make a purchase using any of my links below. See full disclosure here.

1. Accommodation in Switzerland

We all have that image in our heads where we go to Switzerland and stay in a luxurious cabin tucked away in the Swiss Alps snuggled up next to the fireplace. While that sounds like oodles of fun, it’s going to wipe out your budget. Hotels and even hostels are incredibly pricey here. The cheapest hostel we found was $40 USD per person. The cheapest hotel averaged $230 USD per night. I can see your jaw dropping from here.

You have a few options when it comes to saving money on accommodation. You can housesit/petsit for homeowners/pet owners while they’re away. In return, you get a free place to stay. If you’re not into this, Airbnb is another good option.

Pro Tip: If you’re staying near the Swiss border, you can save a ton of money by crossing the border and staying in a bordering country. It’s relatively easy crossing the border within the EU so it’s worth it to do this if possible.

2. Don’t Eat Out

Restaurants are very expensive in Switzerland. In St. Moritz, the cheapest restaurant was charging $30 USD for a simple pasta dish. Even McDonald’s was outrageous. A plain cheeseburger in the States is about $2 at most. This same burger in Switzerland was $6. Making your own meals is the way to go. We actually visited Switzerland after Italy so we brought our own groceries with us. We did take a stroll through the grocery store in St. Moritz and the groceries weren’t too expensive. The meat was pricey though. Our Airbnb hosts actually became vegetarian because meat costs so much. The major supermarkets here are Lidl, Spar, Migros and Coop. I found Coop to be the most expensive. Lidl and Spar were great options because they were reasonably priced compared to Coop and had a good selection.

Pro Tip: If you want to eat out, eat out for lunch when some restaurants have lunch specials. When eating out, stick to ethnic restaurants like Indian, Chinese, Lebanese, etc because they’re cheaper. We had dinner at a small Lebanese restaurant and I got a falafel for $9. It was still expensive, but it was less expensive than other options.

a photo of a lake with a snow capped mountain behind it

Lago di Poschiavo

3. Don’t Buy Drinks

As tempting as it is to participate in the nightlife in Switzerland, it’s not worth blowing your budget on. If you want to drink, buy some booze from the grocery store at a cheaper price. Also, don’t buy bottled water because it’s expensive. Instead, take a refillable water bottle with you. Switzerland does a great job of putting water fountains everywhere. Plus, the tap water in Switzerland is more delicious than any bottled water you can buy there.

4. Don’t Travel in High Season

High season in Switzerland is from July to August when the weather is the warmest and from January to February during the winter months. The winter months are popular for winter sports. That usually means that the country is filled with tourists which means that the prices are higher. A good time to visit is from April to June and September to October.

photo of a frozen lake and snow covered mountains

One of the moments where I had to pinch myself to really make sure I wasn’t dreaming

5. Use Public Transportation

Switzerland has an amazing public transport system. It’s safe and easy to use. The public bus is actually free in some towns in Switzerland. Do a quick Google search to see if the town you’re visiting offers it for free. Either way, public transportation will be cheaper than taxis.

6. Discover Your Location on Foot

Hiking and walking in Switzerland is fun because the scenery is so pretty. Save some money by hiking and walking instead of using taxis. I’m not going to lie to you- I get faint at the thought of hiking and I didn’t hike all the time when I was there. I took funiculars and took the bus once. But, hiking and walking will allow you to get exercise and save money on taxis.

photo of my husband on a hiking trail

One of the many hiking trails that Switzerland has to offer

7. Buy a Train Pass

The best way to explore Switzerland is via train. The Eurail pass will be your best friend here. It’s a single travel document that lets you travel via train in EU countries. You pay a flat fee for the pass and you can travel to 31 countries without having to buy individual tickets. If you’re 27 or younger, you qualify for a youth discount which gives you 23% off of the standard adult prices.

If you hold a Eurail pass, you get to ride the Glacier Express for FREE. You have to make a reservation and pay a small reservation fee. This scenic route is gorgeous and takes you through 91 tunnels and over 290 bridges. You can also experience a train ride on the Bernina Express. The scenery on this route is truly the most amazing and beautiful scenery I’ve seen during my travels. You’ll pass through mountains and glaciers and through several tunnels. Once again, you just have to pay a small reservation fee.

We paid around $1700 USD for both of our passes which included the price of shipping to our Airbnb. That was for two-month travel through EU countries and first-class seats. We decided to splurge on first class because it was only $2 extra per day per person. Some of the routes we took in Switzerland easily cost $400+ USD. Luckily, we had the Eurail pass so we didn’t have to pay this hefty amount for the trains. We actually got our money’s worth on our Eurail passes by using them in Switzerland alone.

Pro Tip: When using these scenic trains, don’t purchase meals on board. The meals are very expensive. We brought our own snacks with us and it’s totally allowed to do so.

photo of a railroad track in switzerland with mountains in the background and yellow flowers on the green grass

One of my many incredible views from The Bernina Express

Pro Tip: You can save even more money on your trip to Switzerland by using a fare comparison site such as and Skyscanner. These are my go to search engines that help me find cheap flights all over the world.

Pro Tip: Switzerland is a super safe country. But, don’t forget to protect yourself against flight cancellations, unexpected illnesses, theft and more. RoamRight has great customer service and benefits.


Switzerland truly is a magical country and it’s completely possible to visit while on a budget. It’s definitely worth visiting even if you have to make sacrifices on your budget.

Have you been to Switzerland? If so, what did you do to pinch pennies when you were there?

I hope you found this article helpful for planning your trip to Switzerland on a budget. Go explore and have fun! Don’t forget to pin it for later. 

pinnable image for pinterest pinnable image for pinterest

Save this post for later!

Delaney Rick

Tuesday 29th of June 2021

Great tips from you and I do wish I will be able to keep to a comfortable budget for myself too when I visit in May. I realised that you did not mention about getting any passes (i.e. Swiss Travel Pass or Swiss Half Fare Pass). May I know why you did not consider getting that?

Disha Smith

Tuesday 29th of June 2021

Thanks so much for reading, Delaney! Enjoy your trip to Switzerland! I actually got a pass with Eurail. I actually need to add that part to my post so thank you for reminding me to do so. With the Eurail Pass, we did two scenic train rides — the Bernina Express and the Glacier Express.


Friday 13th of November 2020

So how much did your trip cost? First time Considering this trip and I have no baseline for budget.


Tuesday 10th of November 2020

This is very helpful! Planning to visit next year! Just wondering coz I really want to explore Switzerland without spending much. Which Swiss border is more economical to stay?

Disha Smith

Thursday 12th of November 2020

Hi Shie! Thanks so much for reading my post. We stayed in Italy and the food and accommodation were substantially cheaper. I think the French border would be fun as well. Enjoy your trip!

Charlotte Lint

Sunday 15th of September 2019

I am dying to visit Switzerland next spring!

Disha S.

Sunday 15th of September 2019

You will love it!

Alicia Kaye

Sunday 15th of September 2019

Thanks for this post! It's reassuring to know there are some things to stop a trip to Switzerland from breaking the bank! We visit next year! Thanks for sharing :)

Disha S.

Sunday 15th of September 2019

Have so much fun! Thanks for reading!