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Yikes we may be priced out of switzerland!

Hearing the news of the increase of the Swiss Franc I am worried that our family of four might need to reconsider our stay in Lauterbrunnen and instead stay in a less expensive place in Austria. We would like to experience the Alps with outdoor activities and cultural experiences, any suggestions?
Current itinerary: 5 nights munich, 3 nights Lauterbrunnen, 10 nights Italy in May/June.

Posted by
16428 posts

Here's the problem, there is only one Switzerland. They aren't making any new ones. So I say suck it up and enjoy. You're only spending 4 days of your vacation in the CHF zone, and the other 2 weeks in the Euro zone where prices seem to be getting cheaper everyday. Besides, hotels in Lauterbrunnen may have to cut their prices a bit because all of the Euro zone tourists, who are taking an even a bigger hit, might go elsewhere. All in all, the exchange against the USD is now about where it was one year ago, and nobody was complaining then.

Posted by
12794 posts

You start in Munich and plan to move into Italy. From Munich it would make sense to go down to Austria and to the Brenner pass into Italy. The Dolomites are right there and Italy is cheaper than both CH and A. Lauterbrunnen is a detour for your intended itinerary, unless you plan to go into Lake Maggiore area for Italy. It's up to you though, 3 nights is not going to break your bank.

Posted by
2396 posts

I'm with Sam, Switzerland is a pretty unique place. Unless you're planing to move there or stash your ill-gotten gains in one of their banks, it's just a vacation and you can't pinch pennies. You can make prudent decisions and not throw money out the train window, but the trip is gonna cost what it costs.

OTOH, if you watch some travel videos of Austria, their Alps are pretty damn good. You can also sneak up on them from the south from Chamonix in France, or as noted from Italy.

Posted by
10 posts

Well, we certainly don't want to miss out on a great lifetime experience. We are traveling with our sons who are in their twenties and even if we towed a large refrigerator with us, they still would require more food. They also will be very happy to try out a variety of beers. I guess I was thinking that if there was a similar experience in Austria where we could spread our dollar a bit more then it might be something to consider. However, I respect the advice from this well traveled forum and if there is nothing comparable to the Swiss Alps, then we will hand pack snacks, and hopefully keep the appetites in check without breaking the bank in four days. And, yes the euro has fallen a bit since we first planned this trip so things may just even out when we travel to the other countries in the Euro zone :)

Posted by
333 posts

If your budget it tight, I think there are ways to stay within budget without depriving yourself of the Swiss Alps. Perhaps look into hostels as opposed to a fancy hotel, or have a local experience and go to the markets and buy a few meals there and picnic at a park. I have two sons, aged fifteen and twenty. I know what it's like filling their bottomless bellies, lol! Just keep in mind that meat is very, very expensive there and portions are small. You might need to discuss price limits for meals with them when you go out there.

I hope you have a great time wherever you end up going! If you do make it to the Swiss Alps, try to plan a family trip later to Ouray, Colorado (pronounced YOU-ray). They call themselves the "Switzerland of America". One of the most beautiful little gems in the USA!

Posted by
2828 posts

3 nights in Lauterbrunnen are doable if you consider how much time you are spending in Europe (18 nights).

I can't think of an "Austrian substitute" to the the valleys opening into Interlaken because the area is unique in that it offers really a lot of options for different sights and activities within the same region, not requiring you to hop on a car and drive to different places.

Suggestions to bring costs down include looking into a cheaper hotel, and leaving the more fancy eating for Italy, where it is way cheaper.

Now if you are really constrained on money, then you could even try places on the way like Garmisch-Partenkirchen (Germany) or Solden (Austria), which have high mountains and are affordable. Just don't think of them as replacements for what you won't see in Switzerland.

Posted by
12040 posts

I'm going to have to be the opposing voice here. Yes, the Berner Oberland is beautiful, but so are most of the Alps, if slightly less so. I've spent A LOT of time in the Alpine ranges of Switzerland, Germany, Austria and Italy...and although I haven't seen anything quite as stunning as Zermatt or the Jungfrau massif elsewhere, the scenery practically everywhere else is still pretty mindblowing. Plus, since you're coming from Munich and headed into Italy, the Berner Oberland really is kind of a long side detour. If you want to save time and money, just hit the Bavarian-Tyrolean Alps on the way to Italy.

Posted by
3336 posts

The surge in the Franc today will increase prices about 15% against the dollar. You are already spending a wad to go - 15% can be saved by not eating in restaurants and buying food at local stores or staying in less expensive hotels or hostels. Don't skip Switzerland - there is nowhere else like it.

Posted by
328 posts

I agree with the other posters, Switzerland is pretty amazing. Although as you've noted, the trade off is that Switzerland is very expensive even under less fluctuating economic conditions. It's not worth stretching your budget, if it is going to make you feel uneasy about your trip. I think the Austrian Alps are fantastic and make a lot more sense based on the rest of your itinerary. Take a look at the Zillertal ('tal' means valley) - we stayed in Finkenberg but Zell am See might be more what your are looking for with your boys. Although not in Austria, Garmish-Partenkirchen and Berchtesgaden would be worth looking at too. All these will give you a great alpine experience at less that you will be glad you have.

Posted by
7205 posts

Choose a cheaper place to stay like the Chalet Fontana in Mürren. Rooms have shared bathrooms and all is kept spotlessly clean with bfast included. Fontana also has an attached private apartment with 2 bedrooms, private bathroom and full kitchen. That kitchen could save you a lot of money if you stepped outside the front door and across the street to buy food and drinks at the Coop.

Posted by
238 posts

Consider the Valley Hostel in Lauterbrunnen. Our family stayed there a few years ago and it was great. They have family rooms and other configurations. We bought food, beer and supplies in Austria, which was mush cheaper, and used the hostel's kitchen facilities for most of our meals. That saved us a bundle and we met a bunch of other travelers that way and really enjoyed it. It is clean, convenient, helpful and friendly. Staying in Lauterbrunnen is a must and the Valley Hostel is a wonderful experience. Book early as it is very popular.

http://www.valleyhostel.ch/

Posted by
2396 posts

As I've mentioned before, Migros and Coop are more than just great supermarkets they usually have restaurants too. Just walk in with carts and stock up on a day's meals. Also look for buffets, perhaps warn them you're coming :) Food is an expense you can control, lodging and trains not so much.

Posted by
5775 posts

Three nights in Switzerland plus 15 nights in the Euro zone and you are panicking about the Swiss Franc? You're looking at a fifth empty glass vs a four fifth glass full. The USD has been hammering the EUR. So it cost a little more four your three nights in Switzerland but your Eurozone cost is similarly less for 15 nights.

Posted by
9996 posts

What does your Italy itinerary look like? The Dolomites might be a good option for you. We love the Berner-Oberland having been there twice with plans to return, but we also love the Val Gardena in Italy. There your dollar may go further and (IMHO) the food is better. The town of Ortisei makes a great base with hiking on both sides of the valley.

Posted by
38 posts

I stayed at the Pension Gimmewald last summer. It was friendly, convenient for hiking, had amazing views, and was economical. If you're interested, contact them through their website. I can also recommend the Mountain Hostel in Gimmewald for terrific pizza and beer! I will definitely be heading back to both places. Also, I'd cut a night out of Munich, and use it for travel time to Switzerland.

Posted by
3551 posts

For sure try staying at the hostel in lauterbriunnen. They have kitchens facilities and pvt rooms.
Book early to get these gems. I stayed there and was very happy and only my second hostel stay. B Oberland area is so beautiful better now than never.

Posted by
498 posts

Alps have nice landscapes all over; some places like the Berner Oberalp, Val d'Aosta, Dolomites, have even more gorgeous landscapes. Said this, Austria has a generally higher value for money ratio than Switzerland, more so after the increase of the Swiss Franc. The alpine peaks in Switzerland may be more dramatic to see, but the villages in Austria have more flowers by their windows, architectures are nicer, the tourist infrastructure is as good, shops are better and your dollar will buy a better bed in a nicer hotel and a better dinner in a nicer restaurant. - The Dolomites area will be slightly more expensive than Austria, especially in the high season, but has landscapes to die for, and the better restaurants in Switzerland and Austria cannot even be compared with the better restaurants in South Tyrol (that are not cheap). - If your boys are really first class eaters, suffice to say that even cheap places in Austria and Bavaria will be up to the challenge; Swiss beer pales when compared with German beer.

So, while Austria and Dolomites are not a substitute for Switzerland, IMHO they could even be a good idea to start with. I usually spend my holidays around Innsbruck and Salzburg. - I rule out south Tyrol where I spent my holidays when I was a child. - Till a few years ago I spent a week also in Switzerland but I have phased them out. The money spent on a two star hotel in a minor place in Switzerland buys a four star hotel in the Salzburg surroundings. And in Salzburg I get good restaurants, concerts, museums, nice shops and generally a more pleasant stay.

Said this, you won't break the bank for a three days stay. But if you are looking for outdoor activities, these are as good in Ortisei as they would be in Lautenbrunner. If you are looking for culture experiences, these will be better in Munich or Salzburg or Innsbruck than in any place in Switzerland. So what?