We have a small window to travel - beginning of November. Which country is less expensive - Switzerland, Italy or Spain? Cheap flights (EasyJet or RyanAir) are not numerous to/from Switzerland, so that is 1 factor I'm already aware of. But hotels, food...thoughts?
Food is ALWAYS expensive in Switzlerand, but it remains my favorite country to visit. The beauty is just unsurpassed.
From most expensive to least,: Switzerland, then a big gap, then Italy, then Spain. I wouldn't visit Switzerland in November as most of what people go to see there (mountains) have bad weather at that time. Either Spain or Italy would be a better choice.
I love Switzerland year-round, so I may be a bit biased. Spain is the cheapest among the three, as I remember. Even cheaper in less touristy places like Zaragoza, Pamplona, Salamanca, Santiago, San Sebastian, Avila, Costa del Sol is a gorgeous region in the Mediterranean. Valencia, Granada and Seville are slightly more expensive, hotel-wise. Barcelona and Madrid, more so. In Switzerland, particularly Geneva and Zurich, some hotels are cheaper on the weekends. St. Moritz is very expensive year-round. I remember our weekend excursions to St. Moritz, I always almost spend my entire monthly allowance (not including hotel and transportation). If you are going to Switzerland, I'd recommend Bernina Express. Glacier Express will not be operational from late October to early December.
Switzerland is my favorite country too, but it has gotten very expensive. I liked traveling there much better when the Swiss franc was 80 cents. We went four times, in 2001, 2002, 2005, and 2007, but since then we have been traveling elsewhere. Loved both Italy (2010) and Spain (2011), and found Spain to be slightly less expensive than Italy, especially for hotels. Our nice 4-star hotel in Madrid was only 92 euros; a beautiful and very trendy place in Barcelona was 130 euros. You can find nice family-run hostals (not hostels) for around 80 euros for a double room. And the food in Spain is excellent, especially if you like seafood.
Switzerland is by far the most expensive country in Europe, outside of Scandinavia and Monaco. Relying on my imperfect memory and completely unscientific analysis, I would say that only Scandinavia has more expensive lodging, and nowhere will you find more expensive food.
Case in point: on my last (ok, only) trip to Switzerland, a plate of nachos in a cheesy fake Mexican restaurant was 27 euro. So a little over $30. And this wasn't a super touristy town, either. While Swizterland is beautiful, if your budget is tight, you're probably better off skipping it and returning when you can budget a little more money to really enjoy it.
Cheapest place to travel? Hands down, Spain. Because of the recession, many stores and restaurants have discounts (like the coffee, eggs, toast and juice breakfast I had in Cordoba for 2,30 euro). They need cash, and you see sales all over the stores. In addition, nice, clean accomodations can be had for cheaper than anywhere else.
Ordering nachos in Switzerland, or even entering a fake Mexican restaurant there, is probably not a good idea. I have had a nice plate of Rösti natur (a potato dish similar to hash browns but much tastier) for 8 CHF. If you want an egg on top or sausage, maybe 12 CHF. A nice large mixed salad usually runs around 7 to 9 CHF. For 25 CHF, I've enjoyed very nice main dishes like trout, grilled chicken breast, etc. And unlike meals in Italy, that main dish usually comes with sides included on the plate. So we don't think eating is all that expensive in Switzerland, but the lodging definitely is. And on the whole it is far more expensive than either Spain or Italy.
I don't think eating Mexican food in Europe in general is a good idea unless you've thoroughly researched the place before you go. I didn't eat there, I just glanced at the menu from the outside. That said, I don't know where you found those prices, but they are significantly lower than anything I saw in Switzerland. A yogurt cost 8 CHF at the Zurich airport. Now airport prices are inflated, but seriously? The $30 nachos were in Rorschach, which despite being on the Bodensee did not strike me as a particularly touristy town. And they were from the appetizer menu. I'm just saying. I've never gotten the impression that Switzerland is a budget eating kinda place.
Rgardless of the season: A regular hamburger at a Mc Donald's in Switzerland is US$ 2.80. You know what's on the regular hamburger... not a lot... From my experience Spain is a bit cheaper than Italy. Switzerland always is the most expensive.
My wife and I usually can have an evening meal in the parts of Switzerland we go to for around 24 CHF to 28 CHF. I've never had Mexican food in Switzerland, even though there is quite a lot in the Migros, but have had it in Germany and Belgium (reasonably tasty in Brussels surprisingly but dodgy and expensive at a place in Ghent). We tend to eat Swiss food in Switzerland.
Spain is much cheaper all around. We found Barcelona and San Sebastian expensive but virtually everywhere else was noticibly affordable - both for food, and lodging. Use busses to get around, they're very cheap and nice, for the best budget option. If you drive, the traffic is virtually non-existent outside of a few major cities. If you train, buy tickets well ahead to take advantage of discounts. Switzerland is the most noticibly expensive place in Europe. I have yet to talk to anyone who doesn't see it as the most expensive place (at least in Europe) they've visited. I agree that November is not the time to visit the mountains both for weather and length of daylight. Italy has great history. It's cheaper than Switzerland but definitely higher than Spain - at least for lodging. Traffic is a nightmare inside any city, big or small. For good weather, I'd focus on Southern Italy or Andalucia. Another thing I noticed in Spain was clean bathrooms (you'll find them in Switzerland but rarely in Italy), even at roadside gas stations.
I should add. I've been to Scandinavia. It is expensive, especially for transportation. We found reasonable deals on lodging ($125 for a double vs. many in Spain for half that) and I felt I at least had some decent budget eating choices. In Switzerland, you just can't seem to escape the high prices. Many think it's worth it because it's such a beutiful place to see - maybe not so much in November.
Everything is more expensive in Switzerland these days because of the overvalued Swiss Franc vs. Euro or US Dollar. Between Spain and Italy, it depends on your choices of destinations and, particularly, the amount of fine dining you throw in. Bear in mind, though, that early November is transition season in the Alps, meaning it's too late for "summer" activities but too early for "winter" activities, as mountain towns are changing into winter mode. It is also "most rainy season" in the Southern half of Italy along the Thyrrenean Sea coast.
The time of the year is not that relevant. Switzerland is hideously expensive. To us, Italy, and most of Western Europe
is generally a lot more expensive than Spain. It is cheaper in Italy outside the major cities but often not a lot. We find Madrid and Barcelona to be only marginally more expensive than Andalucia, which is cheap.
Three days ago, on the Geneva>Milan train, I had 2.80 chf burning a hole in my pocket, so I walked to the bar car to see what I could get, the cheapest item on the menu was a coffee for 3.60 chf (about $4).
As an aside, I remember Oslo seeming even more expensive than Switzerland. Like at the harborside restaurants all the main courses were $50. And my friend paid $5 for a bottle of water in a basic shop. But maybe that's on par with Geneva.
SPAIN,, loved it. I have been to Switzerland three times, loved it , but SO expensive.
Italy, very nice, love it too, but found food more expensive then Spain and not that great ( sorry I just find Italian food is not my thing, and yes, I know there is more then pizza and pasta there, in fact best dish I ever had in Italy was in Rome and it was rosemary roasted chicken) Spain has good prices, nice nice people, the town we visited was sparkling clean, the food was good and CHEAP, the wine was even better and cheaper!!
Heidi, I'm currently in Switzerland and I'd forgotten just how terribly expensive it is here. I've had to make several visits to the ATM already and probably will have to do that again. If you're planning to visit the Berner Oberland, November will not be a good time as many of the hotels will be closed. The hotel I'm staying in will close in three weeks and won't re-open until ski season in December. Italy or Spain would be easier on the budget. Happy travels!
Less expensive prob Spain by 15-20% but weather is a factor in Switzerland for Nov. However costs can be managed w/ planning and discipline.also some airfares are less for switzerland than either italy or spain. work out your costs ahead then decide. i would rather stay fewer days but go to where i really want to go.
I am in S Spain right now and out hotels(2-3 stars) have been about 90 e per ni and food is running 20-30 euros for 2 per casual meal.