The answer to “Is Switzerland expensive?” can take a variety of different forms. On the one hand, Switzerland is notoriously one of the most expensive places to visit in Europe. When taking dining, lodging, transportation, and activities into account, a Switzerland trip cost can quickly become a financial burden.
However, with the proper information and preparation before a trip to Switzerland, you might be surprised with just how affordable a visit to this stunning country can be.
Here, we’re taking a close look at just how affordable Switzerland can be with the right tools under your belt. You can enjoy this vibrant country filled with exceptional natural wonders and quaint mountain towns without worrying about breaking the bank.
Switzerland Trip Cost Guide
Travellers to Switzerland will find that the country is more expensive compared to neighboring nations and can expect to spend about $110 to $580 USD per person per day. Keep reading for all the information you may need to know when figuring out the cost of a trip to Switzerland.
Switzerland uses the Swiss Franc (CHF) as its currency, however, all prices here are listed in USD. Historically, the Swiss Franc is about 1:1 with the US Dollar, however, it is always a good idea to keep up to date on the current exchange rates before travelling.
Accommodation Prices in Switzerland
Accommodation prices in Switzerland can vary depending on the time of year you visit. During the peak travel months, usually the warmer summer months, you’ll see an influx in prices representative of a general increase in demand.
However, mountain towns that are popular for skiers and snowboarders are busiest in the winter. Keep this in mind for when you decide what time of year to visit the country.
You may also notice a difference in price between cities. Places like Zurich and Geneva are generally going to be more expensive. Cities and towns that are more heavily trafficked by tourists charge higher prices for their accommodations. Bern is slightly less expensive than Zurich, but not by a large margin.
Switzerland has several options for lodging during your stay, ranging from hostels to high-end hotels. The average hotel is just under $200 USD per night.
If you want a mid-to-nice hotel, you should expect to pay upward of $250 USD per night. You can easily find hotel lodging for $150 USD per night if you make reservations far enough in advance on Booking.com.
The average hostel can range from $50 – $75 USD for a private room or $25 – $35 USD for a dorm room. You can browse hostel options here.
Should you be looking to splurge on your trip to Switzerland, you will easily be able to do so by booking lovely accommodation.
There are several luxury hotels throughout the country that reach upwards of $500 USD per night. The further in advance you book, the more likely you are to find a good deal on your Switzerland accommodations.
Transportation Prices in Switzerland
Like many European cities, Switzerland is easy to get around by train. Main train lines run between major cities such as Bern, Interlaken, Lucerne, Geneva or Zurich with stops at the small mountain towns in between.
Everything from trams to boats are available to visitors, with the most convenient being local and regional trains.
Depending on how long you’re planning on staying in Switzerland, you should consider downloading SRB Mobile–the app for Swiss Federal Railways. This will easily allow you to find trains and book tickets. You can also book in advance on Omio which is convenient if travelling to multiple countries in Europe.
Before we dive into prices, let’s take a quick look at logistics. There are five main classes of trains in Switzerland. InterCity, or IC, services long distances and connects cities across the country.
InterRegio, or IR, connects adjacent cantons. RegioExpress, or RE, are regional lines that don’t stop at all stations, therefore running faster. S-Bahn, or S, are suburban lines that reach urban areas. Finally, Regio, or R, are local trains.
You’ll use any one of these train systems depending on where and how far you’re travelling in Switzerland.
The SBB Mobile app is a great way to purchase and keep track of these tickets. SBB offers supersaver tickets as well as Half Fare Travelcards that can help make moving throughout Switzerland a little lighter on the wallet. If your total travel equals more than $270USD for one month, the Half Fare Travelcard will be worth it.
Remember that supersaver tickets are for a specific train at a specific time. They’re available up to 60 days in advance and are marked by a % inside a black triangle when booking your ticket. Purchasing a rail pass is by far the most cost-effective way to get around the country.
The Swiss Rail Pass is another option. It can be purchased for 3, 4, 8, and 15 days and includes unlimited travel.
It also includes free entry into museums throughout the country. If you’re not planning on using the train much, it might not be worth it. Just do the math for the different transportation options and how you plan to spend your time.
The exact price of Swiss train tickets will be based on the route, not the type of train. Travelling greater distances, like between Bern and Zurich for example, will cost more than hopping a quick inner-canton train.
If you are able to book your train ticket in advance, we recommend trying to reserve a window seat. You’ll quickly be rewarded by stunning scenery as you travel between destinations.
When visiting Swiss cities, you will find that most are easily navigable on foot if you want to save some money. Public transportation in the cities is also robust, affordable and easy to navigate should you need to use this, as well.
Food Prices in Switzerland
The cost of a meal in Switzerland can vary pretty dramatically. There are several restaurants in Switzerland where you could find yourself spending over $50 USD for a single main.
Fast food and grocery shopping will be more affordable options, but still more expensive than your average North American version.
On average, a meal at an inexpensive restaurant will cost around $40 USD. A mid-range restaurant will land closer to $80 – $100 USD per person. Drinks tend to be roughly what you’d pay in the United States or similar countries.
To save money on food you can eat fast food or visit a local supermarket. Groceries will still be more expensive than at home, but it’s often more affordable than eating out every meal.
For example, a regular gallon of milk could cost $8 USD or a dozen eggs might cost over $7 USD. However, you can opt to purchase premade sandwiches for both lunch and breakfast, to cut back on food costs.
Plus, visiting local grocery stores forces visitors away from the touristy areas of town and offers a glimpse into what living in each Swiss city might look like. It gives you the opportunity to try food and brands unique to Switzerland.
To make Switzerland food prices fit nicely within your budget, we recommend eating on the more affordable side for two meals. One meal of the day can be a splurge meal where you carefully select a restaurant to try local and regional cuisine.
You can make adjustments to this food plan depending on your budget for eating out. Make sure to allow some of your budget to try all the unique food Switzerland has to offer.
Activities Prices in Switzerland
Thankfully, because of the huge variety of outdoor activities throughout Switzerland (particularly in cities like Interlaken), there are several affordable ways to explore the country.
If you want to see the main sites of a city without breaking the bank, free walking tours exist in most major cities in Switzerland. These are tip-based tours where you pay the guide what you thing the tour was worth (the tour isn’t technically “free).
If you want a more specialised tour, however, private tours of cities like Lucerne or Zurich cost about $75 USD per person for a one-hour tour.
The Swiss Travel Pass includes free entry into hundreds of museums. Without it, ticket prices range from $15 – $50 USD. Day trips to explore the region you’re staying in will bump up the daily cost of activities, but less so if you purchase a Swiss train pass.
You can get by with about $100 USD to spend on activities. However, if you think you may want to do some last-minute adventuring or sightseeing, consider increasing that number to $500.
Some of the most affordable activities include hiking, walking, and biking. Hiking, usually on the cheaper side, can offer some of the most spectacular views you’ll see on your trip.
Spending a day or two exploring the art culture scene of Basel or the museums of Bern are also great options. Museums are also one of the more affordable activities for your Switzerland trip. For example, the Zurich Finance Museum tickets cost $11 USD.
Entertainment Prices in Switzerland
If you’re someone who enjoys a night out on the town, estimate $50 – $150 USD for an evening of exploring Switzerland’s nightlife.
Tickets to a show average at about $40 USD whereas guided tours, private or group, can vary from $75 – $150 USD per person.
The average evening alcoholic drink can be around $10 to 20 USD. If you want a caffeine fix at a local cafe, this isn’t as cheap as in other European countries, either, with the average price of an espresso drink like a latte or a cappuccino landing at around $5-5.50 USD.
Is Switzerland Expensive? Average Prices in Switzerland
Bear in mind that how much you spend on your Switzerland adventures can vary widely depending on how you plan to spend your time, eat, and sleep.
The amounts listed below are averages. The cost to travel to Switzerland is a personal number that’s entirely dependent on your budget and where you prioritise spending it.
Accommodation: $25 – $230 USD / night
Transportation: $15 – $50 USD / day
Food: $50 – $150 USD / day
Activities: $15 – $75 USD / day
Entertainment: $5 – $75 USD / day
In total, you can expect to spend around $110 to $580 USD per person per day on a visit to Switzerland.
These estimates also don’t include any pre-trip expenses such as airfares or travel insurance. For travel insurance, World Nomads offers flexible and simple travel insurance policies with coverage for more than 150 activities that you can buy or extend while on the road.
So, after diving into all the various expenses of Switzerland, is Switzerland expensive to visit? Generally, yes. Switzerland remains one of the most expensive places to visit in Europe.
The general trip to Switzerland cost remains one of the highest on the continent, but this doesn’t mean you should rule out a trip to Switzerland entirely. The sprawling scenery and intricate history lend to making Switzerland well worth the visit.
Are you planning a trip to Switzerland? Have any questions about these prices in this country? Let us know in the comments!