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So, uh.... just how expensive is Switzerland? Any general advice or tips?

My wife and I just got married and will be spending just over a week in Switzerland. This will be our first Swiss visit. Everywhere I look I see folks speak about how extravegently expensive Switzerland is. Can anyone provide an example or sorts to help us prepare? For those who have visited, how much do you generally plan on spending in a "normal" day?

We will be staying 2 nights in Lucerne, 5 nights in Wengen, 2/3 in Bern.

Thanks!

Posted by
7926 posts

When is the trip? Your biggest expenses will be the hotel and transportation to and from and up and down the mountains.

Posted by
20299 posts

Switzerland is kind of like J.P. Morgan's yacht, if you have to ask how expensive it is, you can't afford it.

Seriously though, book all your hotels in advance and you will know your lodging costs. 2 8-day Swiss Travel Passes will cost you about $900, now you have most of your transportation costs covered. The rest of your costs will be meals and other entertainment. If you figure $150 a day for that, it is a controllable variable. Hotel breakfasts, picnic lunches, and only a couple of dining out splurges.

20 years ago, it took 2 Swiss Francs to buy 1 Euro, and prices were fairly equal to its neighbors. 4 month's ago, the Swiss Franc became more valuable than a Euro. So saying everything costs twice as much as it does in Germany, Italy, and France is not too far off.

Posted by
4927 posts

It also depends on your dining styles. Eating out is expensive in Switzerland. To me, it seems that lunches are the same prices as dinners, when we in the US are accustomed to lunches being less expensive. Also, tap water is not served, so bottled water with meals is around 8chf. However, last time we were visiting in 2021, there was no line on the bill for a tip in most places.
If you're attempting to watch the bottom line, buy wine with a picnic lunch or dinner at the local Coop grocery store. Many Coop stores have food courts that are reasonable , that are good for lunch or an afternoon snack, but hot food service usually closes around 4:00pm. In Lucerne, there's also a department store in the old town that has a delightful rooftop outdoor deck attached to their food court. The Coop store in Lucerne also has a food court. In most restaurants, wine is reasonable priced. The Lucerne train station has more reasonably priced food.
Many hotels have a buffet breakfast, so take advantage of that if you can.
Bern has many ethnic options, where food is much cheaper, ( such as kebab stores), and food in the train station is more reasonable. I did take a pix of a Burger King in Bern , outside of the train station, with Whoppers costing 17chf.
Last year, I found the prices of eating out in Germany to be quite reasonable, so perhaps that will even out for you.
Have a great trip. Switzerland is amazing, and for most of us, quite worth the experience.
Safe travels!

Posted by
16507 posts

Swiss hotels and restaurants meet a very high standard and are priced accordingly. We can afford travel in Switzerland by booking self-catering apartments and cooking for ourselves.

Posted by
1443 posts

When the list of “Most Expensive Cities in the World” has Paris and San Francisco beat in the race for the Prize Title by both Geneva and Zurich— that is saying something.
Switzerland has the most expensive train tickets in the world when measured by cost-per-mile traveled. Restaurants are eye-wateringly expensive ( though service is included so no need to tip— if you do, you will not be eating breakfast the following day). Hotel rates are stratospheric as well.

The ubiquitous supermarket throughout Switzerland is the Coop ( pronounced “Co-op”) where you can buy food without having to first apply for a home equity loan.
You can book a chalet or holiday apartment by going to Wengen’s tourism website www.Wengen.swiss. Locals rent out their holiday apartments and cabins on the site and there are some real bargains that you’ll appreciate once you do some research on hotel rates. The added value of having a kitchen makes these a real find.

Posted by
2737 posts

Congrats on the marriage!! Some great tips shared above.

Some specific examples of food costs. (I checked my credit card statement from my trip last year.):

My favorite avocado sandwich at brezelkonig was $9.21. A sit-down meal for just me was typically around $25 - $33. This might be a pizza or a chicken salad and non alcoholic beverage, usually ice tea.

The food quality in Switzerland is above excellent, so I have no hesitation about paying the higher prices.

Hopefully, you can apply some of the tips and have a great trip without stressing about the cost.

Posted by
8183 posts

Instead of traveling to Switzerland, we have always traveled through the Tirol region of Austria. It's essentially the same beautiful mountains (Alps), but it's easier and less expensive to travel there.

We have usually flown into Munich. It's also very easy to get into Northern Italy with straight shot trains through the Brenner Pass at Innsbruck.

Posted by
177 posts

Hi Coltrane!

Congrats on your marriage. May it be a long and happy one.

I might suggest you let us know where you plan to travel and for how many days at each stop. The forum members are so good about helping travelers and this information may help them help you.

My husband (of 40 years) and I traveled to Switzerland end of April first couple weeks of May this year. I don't know how much we spent per day. However I can give you some info re out costs.

We purchased two 15 day Swiss Travel Passes because we wanted flexibility with our travel days. No time spent purchasing tickets on a daily basis. We are not persons who enjoy visiting a lot of museums. But when we do the pass has always covered the entrance fee. We enjoy riding the trains and boats on the lakes. So some days seeing the sights from trains and boats was how we spent much of our day. We definitely get our money's worth with the train pass.

Our lodging was not high priced (for Switzerland). Breakfast was included in the price of all lodging. All breakfasts were excellent. As I care for my frail elderly Mom we paid extra for rooms that had no cancellation penalties until a week or two before check-in.

In Nyon we stayed right in town at a small place at a price of 190 Chf/night for two nights. It was less on a previous trip, but there was a film festival in town at the time.

In Brienz we stayed at a slightly bigger hotel but in a lesser expensive room not in the main part of the building. The cost was 720 Chf for 6 nights (120 Chf/night). The bathroom was shared but only with one other room. There was never a problem with the bathroom being available to us.

The next place was in a hostel located on Lake Luzern. We paid extra to stay in a 400+ year old part of the hostel. Bathroom was just around the corner. We had a view of the lake. Cost was 500 Chf for 5 nights (100 Chf/night).

The night before flying out of Zurich we stayed at the Budget Ibis Zurich Airport in Glattbrugg. The room was small but had everything we needed. Breakfast was excellent. Cost was 141 Chf (this cost included breakfast). Room would have cost less without breakfast. The tram stop we needed to get to the airport was almost directly across from the hotel. The airport was two stops away

Meals were our biggest daily expense. My husband really enjoys eating out. Most days we enjoyed our main meal at lunchtime. My husband always had a beer or two. I mostly drank iced tea, a soft drink or occasionally a glass of wine. We do not eat at expensive restaurants. That being said our main meal ran about 100 Chf each day. Our most expensive and highest quality meal was a mid-day meal at the Steinbock in Brienz. We always have a meal there when in Brienz. We typically spent a little money for a snack and beverage in the evening.

We ate several meals on the boats. The quality was good and the prices reasonable (for Switzerland). It was a pleasure to enjoy a leisurely meal while gazing at incredibly beautiful scenery.

Of course, shopping costs will vary. We always buy a few gifts. For ourselves, we often purchase souvenirs at second hand shops, flea markets or thrift stores. I will admit to purchasing a tablecloth for myself at a souvenirs shop in Brunnen.

I hope you find this information helpful. My husband and I are frugal travelers. As a newly married couple you may wish for a more expensive experience. Or not.

Happy planning and happy travels. Do let us know how your trip goes.

Traveler Girl

Posted by
869 posts

Switzerland and Norway are the most expensive countries I have visited. Food and lodging are high in both. In both countries, very noticeable higher cost of restaurant meals and alcoholic beverages.

In Switzerland, the cost of train tickets on the private railways in the Jungfrau region is shockingly high to me, but swallow hard and pay up for what may be a once in a lifetime opportunity to go to the Jungfraujoch.

So if you avoid sit-down restaurant meals, and don't order alcohol with meals, you can save money by buying picnic supplies at the Co-ops. But if the goal of your trip is to see and do everything in the mountains above Wengen, the train costs can really add up, so budget for that. Lodging is tough, though, very expensive no matter what you do about it.

Posted by
785 posts

We love Switzerland and plan to return next year for our third trip together (my 4th). And yes, it is expensive and as others have noted, the dollar is doing us no favors right now against the Swiss Franc. A few suggestions based on our experiences:

  • Get a Swiss Travel Pass and use *$##! out of it! I wish you were spending two weeks there because the 15-day pass works out to be the cheapest per day for a couple. But I think you can still wring value out of the 7-day. By this I mean, use it as much as you can every day. Go everywhere. Do everything. Ride the boats. Go the museums. Take a train ride just to go up into the mountains, have a cappachino, and ride back. The more you do, the more you are saving train fares, boat fares, museum admissions, etc. At Swiss prices, it doesn't take long to exceed the value of the pass each day. I assume you are young and this is your honeymoon. Be young and go dawn to dusk, and then some!
  • Consider apartment rentals or hotel/apartments--anything with a kitchen. A home-cooked dinner in, with ingredients from the supermarket will save you big bucks. Same with wine--get local wines (they are fantastic) and drink them in rather than out in restaurants.
  • Go ethnic. Certainly harder in Wengen, but in Bern, cheap eats are similar to the U.S. -- Thai, Vietnamese, Middle Eastern can often be delicious but more affordable
  • Go to the markets. In addition to fresh raw ingredients, almost every outdoor market these days has food trucks. Look for the one with the longest line! One of our best meals in Switzerland was a Thai food truck in Basel's market square. Also semi-prepared foods are a great way to go if you have a kitchen (see above).
  • Stick with beer and wine. If you go out at night (or heck, during the day) locally-produced Swiss beer and wine is usually no worse than similar elsewhere in Europe. I'm not talking the Michelin restaurants, but simple mom-and-pop restaurants and local corner bars don't gouge on beer and wine. Cocktails, on the other hand... Save it for when you get home!

Hope these help!

Posted by
33005 posts

I see the references to Coop cafes. The other major supermarket chain is Migros, and they too do hot and cold food in a cafeteria setting - excellent (a little heavy on the fried side) quality, good portion size, nice atmosphere. And really fresh. Don't miss the desserts. There is a big Migros at Interlaken West station, a big Coop at Interlaken Ost station. The smaller Coop stores in Lauterbrunnen, Wengen and Mürren don't have room for a cafe.

The department store in Luzern mentioned above is Manor. Their restaurant is called Manora. That's the one on the roof in Luzern.

There used to be many more Manoras but many have suffered during covid and only the store survives many places.

Posted by
850 posts

Research the various train passes thoroughly, and compare your various options. There was a sale on the Swiss Travel Pass a few months ago, so be on the look out for any future sales. Yes, the passes are expensive, but part of the trade off is that you will not need a rental car. There is a FB group called "Switzerland Travel Planning Group" that may be helpful for your planning. Our hotel in Wengen included breakfast and was 210CHF per night. One way that we save money when traveling is to usually choose a room that may not have a view, since we spend so little time in the room. As others have mentioned, pick up supplies for a picnic lunch or dinner. Have a memorable honeymoon!

Posted by
249 posts

It is the unbelievably skyhigh exchange rate of the Swiss franc to the dollar, as well as high labor costs, that makes that country so expensive. When I went there as a student (long ago) all I could afford was McDonalds (and even that was pricey), then much later on, on a business trip let's just say, I was very glad my employer was paying for it! I actually didn't think Norway was all that bad, comparatively. Your honeymoon is obviously special, if Switzerland is your dream go for it if you can afford it, just put a mental block on what that dinner just cost you. As others have said, the neighboring countries have Alpine beauty for much less expense.

Posted by
578 posts

We basically never ate out in Switzerland on our trip last year, as we had kitchen access almost all the time. Had the Swiss travel pass for 15 days consecutive and heavily used it. Found a great apartment through the Wengen website and one in Lucerne area thru Airbnb. Our thoughts were don’t skimp on seeing the amazing natural beauty, do skimp on things like cuisine and staying in real elegant places.

Posted by
15 posts

I have also always heard Switzerland is really expensive. That's why I nevever visited it. I have always wanted to visit it, I already know a few places I want to see there, but I just know there's no point in going there until I have enough money.

Posted by
33005 posts

Switzerland doesn't have to be ridiculously expensive if you don't let it.

Posted by
6960 posts

Honestly... I find that the price gap between touristy regions of the US and Switzerland is closing. I am in coastal Maine right now, all nice restaurants have $30+ entrées excl. tax and tip, and hotel rooms are $250+, or even $350+ in Portland. Those are basically Swiss prices...

Posted by
350 posts

@Nigel wrote:

Switzerland doesn't have to be ridiculously expensive if you don't let it.

This made me chuckle. I'm thinking, how about visiting Switzerland in the summer and claim a park bench for several nights? There, that solves the expensive lodging problem. I jest, but really, that is one possible way. Or, pack a tent and camp in hidden areas?

Posted by
33005 posts

having taken multiple trips to Switzerland - different parts - I have always come in on budget. Careful where we eat, careful where you stay, careful with transport - I have never gone home feeling broke. really