How to save money when travelling in Switzerland you ask? Well, you might have heard that Switzerland is a really expensive place, however, there are methods to save a few bucks. Today, I will show you how to save money and still enjoy your vacations.
First of all, let’s start with how you get here
Travelling to Switzerland
A big chunk of money can be spent on transportation. This is why it is crucial to know the best offers that are out there.
Flights to Switzerland
I have already written an article on How to travel frugally? Top websites to consider when travelling on a budget.
However, here are the most relevant websites:
Both websites show you the best deals and possible tickets. The second one is especially interesting since it has more in-depth information like places to visit.
If you are interested in the Maximum weight and size of carry-on luggage on budget airlines, say no more!
Travelling in Switzerland with public transport
Once you arrive at the airport or a main station, you need to continue your trip until you have reached your destination. In Switzerland, you don’t really do it by car, but by train!
For these examples, I use the path from Geneva to Zermatt, since it’s a very popular one. For all these options, the Swiss use Sbb.ch/en.
There are several ways to buy a train ticket, here are a few methods:
I only want to go from point A to B
Okay, so you want to come to Switzerland for skiing or just to have a nice time in your location, but you won’t go to other cities.
Most expensive option
The most expensive option is a regular Ticket that you buy directly at the train station or online at sbb.ch/en. Normally, the price for 1 adult is 102.- / 112 $ for one way, so you would need to buy it again if you return to the airport.
Remember that on the SBB website you will never see the full price of a ticket, since it thinks that you have a special reduction card, which almost everyone has in Switzerland.
Less expensive option
Luckily, there are a few ways to reduce the price. These options require you to buy around 60 days in advance.
First, you can buy a supersaver ticket up to two months in advance, and the earlier you buy, the cheaper the price is. For instance, I checked the connection Geneva to Zermatt for next month and the ticket costs only 50.- / 55$. However, there is no refund so be really sure that you take that train connection.
Second, you could buy a Saver Day Pass. With the Saver Day Pass you can travel throughout Switzerland for a day on all routes from CHF 52 without a Half-Fare travelcard. So it’s about the same price, but way more convenient. You don’t have a set train connection, but you can choose freely. In addition, you could also explore the surroundings a little bit. Again, this is non-refundable.
Finally, you can clearly see that if you want to save money, the method is always the same. Buy early and accept the risk that you can’t refund. In addition, you have to do more work.
I also want to explore Switzerland
I see, you want to either explore a little bit the other parts of Switzerland or go on a rail-trip. For you, there are a few options:
Swiss Travel Pass
First, the Swiss Travel Pass. These tickets are made for resident outside Switzerland and offer a lot of benefits
- Unlimited travel by train, bus and boat
- Unlimited travel on premium panorama trains (seat reservation fees and/or surcharges apply)
- Unlimited use of public transport in more than 90 towns & cities
- Free admission to more than 500 museums
- Mountain excursions included: Rigi, Stanserhorn and Stoos
- Up to 50% discount on many other mountain excursions
- Up to 30% discount on SBB RailAway offers. Available at all ticket counters within Switzerland
There are two ‘options’. Choose 3, 4, 8 or 15 consecutive days of travel with Swiss Travel Pass. The second option is Swiss Travel Pass flex where you choose a ticket valid on 3, 4, 8 or 15 freely selectable days within one month.
Swiss Half Fare Card and Saver Day Passes
The second option is the Swiss Half Fare Card, where you almost always pay 50% less. It costs CHF 120.– and offers you some benefits:
- Up to 50% discount on travels by train, bus and boat and most mountain railways
- 50% discount on use of public transportation in more than 90 urban areas
In an instant, public transport got cheaper. With this card you should buy a Saver Day Pass. With the Saver Day Pass you can travel throughout Switzerland for a day on all routes from CHF 29 with a Half-Fare travelcard. It offers:
- Whether on SBB trains or trains of other rail companies, on boats, buses, trams or postbuses, the Saver Day Pass opens up a wide range of routes for you.
- are only available when booking in advance: from 60 days in advance up to the day before travel. They cannot be purchased on the day of travel;
- are available in different price bands with different advance booking periods and availabilities: the earlier you buy, the cheaper you travel;
Still, there are some drawbacks. No travel on premium panorama trains, no admission to more than 500 museums and no Mountain excursions.
So, let’s do some maths and compare
You want to travel a Week (8 Days) in Switzerland. So you buy the for 467.- the Swiss Travel Pass flex.
On the other hand, you could buy the Swiss Half Fare Card (120.-) and 8 times the saver day pass (8×29) for 232.-, which amounts to 362.-, but without the benefits like museums or premium panorama trains.
Finally, it is up to you to decide what is more worth to you.
If you know that you will only visit one or two museums and no premium trains, but only the cities, then you should go for the cheaper option. Note that it is way more time intensive because you have to buy everything separately.
The Swiss Travel Pass (flex) is all-inclusive, easy to buy and you can’t go wrong with it. Personally, I like it since it includes a lot and isn’t so much more expensive.
The last Tip: Children up to 6 years travel for free. Children from their 6th up to their 16th birthday travel free of charge when accompanied by at least one parent holding a Swiss Travel System (STS) pass or ticket. You can get these cards for free on a train station. For more information click here and here.
Accommodation in Switzerland
The question of how to save money when travelling in Switzerland has been partially answered, but there is also accommodation.
Compare prices online and save money
You could go to Google travel or momondo and begin to compare prices.
Yes, you probably heard this one a thousand times, but it is true. If you visit during periods with less tourists, then the prices will be a lot lower. Especially for AirBnB.
Go to places with less tourism
Another option is to go to a city or village near your desired destination. You often get a way bigger house or flat for a cheaper price on Airbnb. Just make sure that it is easily accessible by public transport.
Youth hostel or SAC huts
This section is for people who want to either save money or have an adventure.
The youth hostels are a great way to save money and see wonderful places. Though you have to probably accept to sleep with other people.
The SAC huts are buildings on the mountains and for people who do mountain sports like hiking.
Accommodation can be expensive, but there are options available for only 50.- (Airbnb) a night.
Food and drinks
The next big money burner is probably food and drinks, especially if you eat in restaurants. This is why I will show you a few methods to save money for meals.
Drinking during the day
I recommend using a water bottle and refilling it with tap water, which is 100% safe. Every swiss does the same!
Another option is to drink the water on fountains, since they are almost all safe. If not, you will see a sign as the one in the picture above.
Or you buy water in the supermarket, but please, do not buy drinks in kiosks or small shops, which will rip you off!
Eating during the day
For food, go to the supermarkets Coop or Migros and buy something good and not so expensive. Buy a sandwich or make yourself a meal with bread, butter, meat and more. You can also make a campfire with your family at several places (use google translate) and enjoy a calm evening. You don’t need to go to restaurants, only maybe 1x to eat a fondue or another swiss specialty. These are excellent ways to save money in Switzerland.
If you really want to go to one, then check out tripadvisor for the best one around you and reserve a place a week or so in advance. Just that you know, an evening menu usually costs from 50 to 80.-, which would be enough to feed a whole family for two days.
However, don’t eat in cheaper supermarket restaurants. The food is really just ‘normal’ and not worth the price. Go rather to a Take-away or buy a Döner.
Locations to visit
Most museums have one day every month or week where you can go for free. Here’s a list of the top museums in Switzerland. For example, the very interesting Laténium in Neuchatel is free “Every first Sunday of the month.”
Public Swimming pools
In Bern most public swimming pools are free or very cheap. Or go near the river called Aare in Bern.
But there are way more options. We also have lakes!
An example: You start your day by travelling and visiting the city of Neuchatel (there are awesome museums). You eat something from the Supermarket and continue your afternoon in the city or at the beach. In the evening, you could eat the Cervelat or other sausages on a campfire. That is an interesting day and also very wallet-friendly.
15 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Switzerland
I found this article which shows you the most known locations to visit. If you want to spend a lot of money, you can. However, mind the tips I listed above and try to save money while still enjoying your trip!
Well, enjoy your vacation and until next time