Is Switzerland expensive? Visiting Switzerland is more expensive than visiting other countries; there’s no denying that. So when booking a trip to Switzerland, it’s important to take its travel costs into consideration. Statistically, we can say that Switzerland is the third most expensive country in the world. The average monthly living cost in Switzerland is $2,850 per person. Naturally, that high cost will affect you as a traveler with higher hotel prices, food, and activities. So, to answer your question, yes, Switzerland is expensive. When planning a trip to Switzerland, it is only fitting that you should be wary of budgeting.
However, with careful planning, travelers can visit Switzerland without breaking the bank. Switzerland will never be as affordable as other destinations, but the average person can travel comfortably when taking advantage of booking in advance, using public transportation, and finding accommodation to suit their budget.
Is It Expensive To Visit Switzerland?
A trip to Switzerland can quickly add up when it comes to budgeting. Before traveling, it is important to have an idea of what things cost so you can make your visit to Switzerland more financially feasible – whatever your budget.
Speaking of budgeting, the Swiss Franc (CHF) is a strong currency. It is currently stronger than the USD and the Euro. At the time of writing, the conversion rate is around 1 Swiss Franc to 1.10 US Dollars and 1 Swiss Franc to €1,05 Euro.
In this guide, we’ll look at a cost breakdown of visiting Switzerland. We’ll cover everything – from accommodation costs to food and activities. You may also want to read 10 Simple Ways to Travel Switzerland on a Budget
Cost of Accommodation
Accommodation costs are always one of the significant travel costs, especially in Switzerland. Hotel prices tend to be at least $100 per night in most affluent countries and even more in Switzerland. Especially if you pick a highly sought-after area. If the area is in demand with tourists, hotels have the freedom to hike their average prices.
Luxury hotels in the city center will obviously bump up your Switzerland trip cost. If you want to save money, consider hostels and the possibility of sacrificing a private room experience for a dorm room.
It is a balancing act, and standard rules apply when looking at hotel prices in Switzerland. The cost of your hotel will vary greatly depending on your travel style, where you stay, and what season you visit.
The most expensive places to stay are in most cities in Switzerland like Zurich and Geneva. This is simply because these are the most sought-after areas. Remember, the higher the demand, the higher the average prices. When staying in big cities, you may want to stay a little outside of town. It’s easy to do with Switzerland’s impeccable transit system.
There are a few places in Switzerland that have a reputation for being slightly cheaper, including Appenzell, Jura, and Valais. You will likely escape the higher prices by visiting smaller towns, too, where you are also more likely to get the best deals in the off-season simply because of the fewer tourists.
Location is definitely a key consideration when you research accommodation costs in Switzerland. You should also consider how long you are planning to stay and where you are going to visit. A stay in Grindelwald will be more expensive than Interlaken when visiting Jungfraujoch, but you will be closer to all the attractions.
If you are staying longer in one destination, consider combining a more expensive short stay in the city center and then moving to a less expensive destination outside of town.
Regarding accommodation types, you have the standard three: budget, mid-range, and luxury.
Budget accommodations come in the form of hostels and homestays. You can expect dormitory-style rooms or private rooms in a local home, usually with shared bathroom facilities.
Mid-range accommodation is basic hotel rooms, usually a little out of the city center, to save money. It is important to take transportation costs into consideration if you are staying outside the city.
Luxury accommodation in Switzerland can have seriously high prices – whatever you want to pay, you’ll find accommodation to match it. Luxury accommodation is typically in the city centers for maximum convenience. It has fantastic facilities like pools, spas, and fine dining restaurants on-site.
If you want to stay in Switzerland for a little longer, consider something like Work Away or housesitting. This usually requires a few hours of work daily, providing you with a few free nights’ accommodations as ‘payment’. You’ll have to check visa requirements to see if you are entitled to do so on a tourist visa. Still, as a whole, this is a trendy way for travelers to reduce their costs and lengthen their experience in Switzerland.
We have a few examples of the different accommodation types and what prices you can expect. For budget accommodation, there are hostels like Funny Farm Backpackers in Interlaken. Even as a hostel, it has impressive facilities, including an on-site ski school and an outdoor pool for summer use. You can book a mix of dorm or double rooms with ensuites, the latter of which cost around $120 per night.
Also, in Interlaken, Hotel Chalet Ski is the perfect mid-range option. It has some character, rocketing it into a more mid-range rather than budget category. The chalet dates back to 1862 and still retains its ultra-traditional architecture. Guests can enjoy a sauna and a free pass to use the local buses. This comes at a moderate price of around $150 per night.
As a luxury choice, the Savoy Tower Interlaken offers a more realistic picture of costs. This huge 5-star hotel looks like a fairytale palace with a beautiful backdrop of snow-capped mountains. At around $600 per night, luxury certainly doesn’t come cheap. Still, you get all the benefits of a scenic location and your own apartment-style accommodation with the hotel.
The average budget accommodation consists of a hostel or a homestay. For dorm accommodation, you should budget around $60 or 55 CHF per person. In comparison, private rooms in hostels cost around 108 CHF per night per person ($120). This quickly adds up to an average of 377 CHF – 750 CHF per week. ($420 to $840)
Mid-range accommodations cost more in the region of 135 CHF – 179 CHF per night ($150 to $200) and consist of slightly more characterful buildings or properties with more facilities. You’ll get private rooms, usually ensuite, and good locations. This adds up to around 898 CHF – 1250 CHF per week ($ 1,000 to $1,400).
Luxury accommodation costs more like 540 CHF – 898 CHF per night ($600 to $1,000) with excellently located properties featuring deluxe furnishings and facilities. This totals up to a jaw-dropping $4,200 to $7,000 per week. Luxury hotels certainly come at a cost in Switzerland.
Cost of Transportation
When planning a holiday to anywhere, your initial transport costs will likely take up a considerable chunk of your budget. Depending on where you go, this could be anything from a plane ticket to a train ticket.
You may want to purchase a Swiss Travel Pas. A Swiss Travel Pass includes unlimited travel on public transportation throughout the country and can be booked for 3-15 days. Costs range from 220-490 CHF. The pass also has plenty of perks including free entry or discounts to museums and attractions.
When you visit Switzerland, your main choices will be finding a cheap flight or purchasing train tickets. Both can be expensive, but you can definitely snag good deals by shopping out off-season and using discounts like student cards where possible. Let’s take a look at the initial cost of transport for your trip to Switzerland, aka the price you’ll incur getting there and back.
If you settle on flying into Switzerland, you’ll find cheap flights from all over Europe – usually under $80 for a one-way flight and sometimes under $40. If you are flying to Switzerland from the US, this is a bit pricier, averaging around $300 to $700 one way; exact prices vary based on when you decide to visit. If you choose to take the train, you can get one-way tickets from different destinations in Europe to Switzerland at prices starting at around $30.
The train might be slower, but you get stunning scenery. Plus, the Swiss rail system is very efficient and there is a train station central in every town and city.
And when purchasing tickets in advance, you can snag some really competitive deals. Of course, there’s also the environmental benefit, with public transportation being much better in the battle against global warming. If you are already staying in Europe, we’d suggest heading to your train station and buying a train ticket to get to Switzerland. Check out the Swiss Rail Pass if you are planning to travel a lot.
Needless to say, just getting to Switzerland and back won’t be the only time you need to worry about public transportation. The extent to which you’ll need to budget for local transportation will vary depending on your plans. After all, it depends on where you want to go on your trip to Switzerland – will you be traveling around different towns and cities when you travel to Switzerland? Or will you just be staying put in a single city and using public transport once or twice for airport transfers and a day trip? Your plans definitely dictate your budget, so it helps to compare budgets.
If you want to travel around Switzerland to different cities, we’d suggest budgeting around $150 for a week, including 2 to 3 trips between major cities and also standard bus and tram use. Transport can add up when traveling around Switzerland, which is notorious for sky-high prices on rail travel. As a guideline, it is around $40 per one-way journey between neighboring significant cities, so you can see how it quickly adds up.
If you are planning on traveling around a lot, consider the Swiss Travel Pass. The Swiss Travel Pass gives you unlimited travel on public transportation, be it bus, boat, or train tickets. You also get unlimited travel on panorama trains, free admission to over 500 museums, and discounts on hundreds of attractions. It is ideal for tourists who are intensely traveling across Switzerland. Its rate varies depending on which period you choose. Still, you can opt for anything from 3 to 15 days, choosing between 2nd and 1st class. 6 days in 2nd class is 359 CHR per person, while 6 days in 1st class is 570 CHF per person. (This is roughly $400 and $600 per person)
If you want to just stay in one city, we’d suggest budgeting around $40 for the bus and tram, as well as any day trips. Most cities also have a city card to bundle all your transportation. Lucky you! You’ve hit the low-budget option. Just keep aside a little extra for airport transfers if you need them.
Finally, another option for traveling around Switzerland is by rental car. Rental cars are easy to find and available at all major airports. If you decide against public transport and want a rental car, you should budget around $40 per day for a standard vehicle, not including any necessary insurance policies.
So, as a whole, for 7 days, we’d budget $400 per person using a Swiss Travel Pass, $150 per person using just a few long-distance public transport journeys, $40 per person for a minimal traveling city break, and $280 when renting a car. Switzerland is definitely expensive compared to other countries in Europe when it comes to travel. It is worth sitting down to compare prices of the different itinerary costs, especially for budget travelers.
Cost of Food
Food costs are one of those things that gradually chip away at our budget. Still, with delicious dishes like cheese fondue you must indulge in Swiss cuisine. The only issue is that Switzerland has sky-high food prices – up to 78% higher than other food costs in Europe. Even fast food is pricier in Switzerland. Whether you buy a soft drink or that delicious cheese fondue, you will pay premium prices. It does vary a bit depending on whether you stay in smaller towns or expensive cities.
Prices vary depending on where you are eating. Are you eating at restaurants? Are you getting fast food or takeout? Or are you going grocery shopping to cook at ‘home’? Whether you are a budget traveler or not, you should know roughly what percentage of restaurant meals you’ll be having if you want to get an accurate food budget. As we said, Switzerland is one of the most expensive country choices when traveling to European countries – it comes with the territory.
As a quick side note, let’s quickly look at the foods that are absolutely worth splurging on when you travel to Switzerland. These are the food and drinks that are traditional or part of the cultural scene in Switzerland, plus a few restaurants you should jot down and visit.
Cheese fondue is the delicious food mentioned above – melted cheese with white wine and dipping bread. It is an absolute must-try when you travel to Switzerland, especially as a warming dish in winter.
Switzerland likes its cheese, that’s for sure. This dish involves melting half a cheese slice and then scraping the melted section onto a plate. Raclette is then adorned with extra ingredients like potatoes and gherkins.
This unusual dish is a dried sausage mixed with pork, lard, red wine, beef, and a bit of sugar for an extra touch. Landjagers were created to fuel those hiking or traveling on foot. Now, they are a tasty treat for anyone who loves trying meat dishes.
A rosti is a huge potato fritter-style dish that is also a bit like a pancake. The potato is mashed to create a pancake-shaped form and then cooked in a pan. It is tasty and warming, precisely what you need in the cold.
Vivi Kola is the Swiss alternative to Coca-Cola and was relaunched in 2010 after pausing its 50-year production in 1980. The draw of Vivi Kola is its 100% natural ingredients – a bit of a health kick for anyone avoiding sugary drinks. You should find it in most grocery stores and corner shops.
Roteli is a bright cherry liqueur with a distinctive taste. If you fancy an alcoholic beverage, this is the one to pick. You should find it in most bars and stores selling alcohol. Read more: 15 Swiss Foods to try in Switzerland or at Home
So now that you’ve got a rough idea of what to eat and drink in Switzerland, what should you budget for food? If you have a tight budget, stick to grocery stores and find self-catered accommodation. Accommodation options like hostels typically offer kitchen facilities, meaning you can cook low-cost meals and keep your food budget low when visiting. A weekly budget when using grocery shops should cost around $60 per week per person.
A more mid-range budget might include 2 to 3 restaurant meals out, while a luxury might be eating out every day. On a mid-range budget, you should budget $60 for a grocery shop and approximately $55 per meal, totaling around $225 for a week in Switzerland.
On a luxury budget, eating out three times a day, you would budget around $20 for breakfast, $30 for lunch, and $55+ for dinner. This would total approximately $735 a week just on food in Switzerland. You should add extra if you plan on drinking or splashing out on fine dining. Read: Stunning St. Moritz – Summer fun in Switzerland
It is easy to see how it all adds up, isn’t it? As we said, to reduce costs, you should try to find accommodation with kitchen facilities. Even having a hotel room with a kettle, fridge, or breakfast included can help, too. How much you budget for food is massively impacted by your chosen accommodation, so pay careful attention to that stage of planning your trip.
Cost of Activities
Finally, here is one of the most fun budget categories to consider – activities. Depending on you as a traveler and where you go, prices for activities vary widely depending on the type of adventure and where it is located. You could find yourself shopping for souvenirs like Swiss army knives at flea markets, picking up precision watches from Geneva, or even going paragliding in Interlaken. You could taste chocolate, go skiing, embark on a guided hike, or visit local museums.
There truly is so much to do and see in Switzerland. The country has beautiful scenery, many mountainous areas, and huge lakes. You certainly won’t be stuck for stunning natural views. Similarly, though, its cities are equally exciting, with many free activities to be enjoyed and free admission to set attractions. Switzerland has a reputation for having expensive cities, but you can find activities nationwide to fit your budget.
The standard cost of sightseeing and enjoying tourist activities in Europe is around $200 for a weekend city break or $500 for a week if you take guided tours and day trips. That is for neighboring countries rather than Switzerland specifically, though, so what should you budget when planning a Switzerland-specific activity budget?
The good news is that it doesn’t have to break your bank account, as there are plenty of free entry things to do in Switzerland. You could hike or even visit a museum with free admission – especially if you invested in that Swiss Travel Pass we mentioned earlier in the transport section.
However, if you want to tick off any bucket-list experiences, like paragliding, you’ll easily set aside $100 to $200 per experience. And even certain museums can quickly add up with entry prices of around $15 to $20 per person. If you are going for a week-long summer vacation, it is easy to see why Switzerland is deemed an expensive country. There are just so many activities to be tempted by – like paragliding and day-tripping to Mont Blanc on guided tours. Your budget will massively vary depending on which of these experiences and activities you choose to fill your itinerary with when visiting Switzerland.
The photo above is from our time in Grindelwald Switzerland. Read more here.
So, how do you overcome this? We’d suggest going through all the bucket lists but “boujee experiences”, like skiing, going to the top of Jungfraujoch or the Matterhorn and Mont Blanc. Really get to grips with which ones you’d love to do, and then strike off the ones you aren’t absolutely sold on. Then, you can look at the more affordable options, like the Lindt Home of Chocolate Museum at $15 per entry, and go through the same process.
By now, you’ll have a list of activities you’d like to do. Line it up next to your ideal budget and see if you need to cross any further activities off, and then just fill in your itinerary gaps with free things to do. It is worth adding that you can make some things cheaper by opting out of expensive tours and taking yourself there independently on local transportation.
So how much should you budget for a week? We’d suggest $500 to $600 per week if you want one guided day trip, one bucket-list experience, and a daily ‘affordable’ activity like a $15 museum. If you wish to explore independently and enjoy daily affordable activities, a budget of $200 to $300 should suffice for a week. And finally, if you are just sticking to free and a few affordable activities, you could get by on $100 to $200.
The photo above is from our time in Basel Switzerland. Read more here.
A Budget For 1 Week
Is Switzerland expensive? We all know that it can be. If you are visiting for a week, there are a few factors that will impact your Switzerland trip cost. A 1-week itinerary is lots of fun, but equally, there are a few things to weigh up. Let’s take a quick look at these factors before diving into your overall budget for 1 week in Switzerland. See more about our time in Zermatt
First, where do you want to stay? Staying in the city center in major cities is bound to spike your accommodation prices. Similarly, will you be staying in luxury, mid-range, or budget hotels?
All of these accommodation categories will impact how much you need to budget for a week’s accommodation in Switzerland. Let’s say you are staying in the city center. These are the rough costs:
Budget: $630 Mid-range: $1,200 Luxury: $5,600
Transport varies drastically depending on your itinerary. For instance, you could travel all over Switzerland, racking up an expensive train ticket bill. Or you could stay in the city center, only paying for airport transfers at around $40. A Swiss Travel Pass costs around $400 for 6 days, while a rental car costs $280 for a week, and the average budget for someone traveling to a couple of places in Switzerland is $150.
As an average, we’d say budget $200 for general transport within Switzerland. Your flights or train then cost as little as $200 if you are traveling within Europe or $500 if you are traveling from further afield, like the US.
Transport with flights from Europe: $400 Transport with flights from the US or other: $700
Food will depend on where you plan on staying on your trip to Switzerland. Will you stay in a hotel that has a fridge and complimentary breakfast? Will you find an apartment or hostel with kitchen facilities? It is your call, but your budget is up for debate, depending on your choice.
A budget traveler would likely cook mostly grocery-bought meals, a mid-range would eat out a handful of times a week, and a luxury traveler is likelier to dine out for every meal. Let’s take a look at the budgets:
Budget: $60 Mid-range: $225 Luxury: $735
Finally, activities are a big deal. Again, this depends on what sort of traveler you are. Will you go on a budget and mostly enjoy free activities? Mid-range and enjoy a few low-cost and free activities? Or luxury and splurge on loads of bucket list experiences and guided tours? Let’s break it down:
Budget: $150 Mid-range: $250 Luxury: $550
So, what should you budget for a week in Switzerland?
If you travel on a budget, expect to spend $1,500 per person with flights from the US or $1,000 with flights from Europe. If you travel on a mid-range budget, spend around $2,400 per person with flights from the US or $1,900 with flights from Europe. On a luxury budget, you should set aside $7,500 per person including flights from the US, or $7,000 with flights from Europe.
A Budget For 2 Weeks in Switzerland
As you can see, the weekly budget in Switzerland varies drastically depending on your choices, so it is a good idea to always factor in extra costs and budget some extra money. It is easy to see why so many people ask whether Switzerland is expensive – just look at how high that luxury budget can get. What about for a fortnight, though? How much does it cost to travel to Switzerland for two weeks?
Let’s break it down:
Budget travel around Switzerland for 2 weeks costs $2,300 with flights from the US or $1,800 with flights from Europe. Mid-range travel around Switzerland for 2 weeks costs $3,700 with flights from the US or $3,600 with flights from Europe. Luxury travel around Switzerland for 2 weeks costs $14,300 with flights from the US or $13,800 with flights from Europe.
If you are traveling from the US, it is probably more cost-effective to stay longer in Switzerland or venture on to other neighboring European countries. This way, you get more bang for your buck regarding those steep US flight prices. Those traveling on a budget will notice little difference in their 2-week versus 1-week budget, as their main costs are transport, such as flights and accommodation. You can see how, while Switzerland does get expensive on a mid-range and luxury scale, it can easily be explored on a budget.
Is Switzerland Expensive: FAQs
Is Switzerland expensive? We think we can probably agree that’s a yes. Your Switzerland trip cost will be much higher than if you visited other countries like Poland, Germany, Austria, Croatia, or Slovakia – all neighboring countries. But with the proper understanding of the cost breakdown of a trip to Switzerland, you can plan ahead and choose your trip type accordingly. As long as you are mindful of what causes price spikes, you’ll have an easy time budgeting.
Before you go, though, let’s take a quick look at the main FAQs.
How expensive is Switzerland for tourists?
Switzerland is expensive for tourists. You can expect average nightly rates of 200 to 300 Swiss Franc – approximately $220 – 330 USD on a mid-range budget. Eating out is also costly, and you should save money by shopping at grocery stores.
How much does a meal cost in Switzerland?
The average meal costs around 50 Swiss Francs – $55. That would be dinner at a mid-range restaurant, including a round of drinks. Lunch is slightly cheaper at around 30 Swiss Francs – $33.
Is food and drink expensive in Switzerland?
In short, food and drink are more expensive in Switzerland. In fact, a staggering statistic is that food costs 78% more in Switzerland than anywhere else in the EU. There’s no point denying it – you will spend much of your budget on food when you travel to Switzerland. However, it is worth noting that if you don’t eat meat, you could drastically reduce your food bill. Meat is the main food product that spikes food budgets in Switzerland. A win for vegetarians and vegans, right?
How expensive is Switzerland compared to the US?
Switzerland is much more expensive than the US. The stats don’t lie, and according to World Data.info, the average price of Switzerland’s goods is 31% more expensive than the US. While in Switzerland, the average income is higher, this plus doesn’t tend to trickle down or apply to tourists. So, if you are planning to travel to Switzerland, just know there will likely be a discrepancy and a need for budgeting.
To Conclude: What To Budget When Visiting Switzerland
A meal in Switzerland: The cost of a meal at a standard restaurant can range from 20 to 40 CHF for a main dish. A three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant can cost over 100 CHF.
Daily budget in Switzerland: Visitors should budget approximately 100 to 200 CHF per day, considering meals, transportation, and accommodations. This varies greatly depending on the type of travel and level of luxury.
Reasons for high costs: Switzerland’s high living standards, salaries, strong currency, and price levels contribute to its expensiveness. Additionally, import costs for goods and high-quality services drive prices up.
Food and drink prices: Grocery shopping can also be pricey, with basic items costing more than the EU average. Dining out, alcohol, and coffee tend to be expensive, reflecting the overall high cost of living.
How much it costs to visit Switzerland massively depends on your travel style – will you use local transportation? Will you get self-catered accommodation so you can save money with grocery shopping? There are tons of small choices that you can make that directly impact your budget.
It is true that Switzerland costs more to visit than most other countries. However, you now know how to make your visit affordable, no matter your budget. It is helpful to break down the individual cost categories; this way, you can plan ahead and keep your spending exactly where you want it.
Are you getting excited about your trip? You absolutely should be. You can check out our guide on things to do in Grindelwald and things to do in Zermatt. You should also check out our guide to road-tripping in Switzerland. Have a wonderful visit, and don’t forget to not let budgeting detract from such a fantastic experience. Moderation is vital when budgeting and managing trip finances.