How to Travel to Switzerland in Budget for 10 Days with Comfort

Monday, September 28, 2015

Hello everyone.. How you been doing? I still feel like a dream seeing snow for the first time and able to set foot in Switzerland is my lifetime dream… What could be better to have my honeymoon in Switzerland? Honestly, I didn’t know how expensive is Switzerland until after I purchase the Air Ticket. All in my mind is ,I want to visit Switzerland because the snow mountains is just so beautiful and that I missed this country in my last Europe trip. So long story short, I didn’t think much and purchase my Europe domestic flight to Switzerland without second thought, then when I roughly Google I realize the accommodation and food is very very pricey especially during summer time. I was so shocked and worried looking at all the price. So in order to keep my travelling cost at minimum, I do a lot of research and ask a lot of question in trip advisor forum…

If you know me, I am not those hardcore backpacker style traveller as in I don’t really limit my budget too much. I always feel if I limit my budget too much I cannot enjoy in my trip and will not able to see much in my trip. Off course I won’t go for luxury hotel, I do go to hostel but I avoid sharing bed with stranger as I prefer to have my own privacy. I usually go for private room, most hostel have this type of room and can be cheaper than budget hotel but the bathroom is always sharing type (no private bathroom). So my initial budget for my trip to Switzerland per day for one pax is around CHF 300 and after much research my final cost is only CHF 150. I managed to saved up to 50% of my initial plan.

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So I will share with you some tips how you can maximise your money to get a comfortable travelling experience in Switzerland without the need to stay in dorm bed in hostel or to starved your tummy! I think these tips is also applicable if you are travelling in other country like tips 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 is all same for other country as well.

1. Travel in Shoulder Season

Everyone know best is to travel in low season, but usually there is a reason why it is low season. Low season mean less favourable, in term of weather, festival, tourist crowds or anything at all. Usually the main reason for low reason is the weather where people don’t travel to that particular country. I prefer shoulder season because it is in between where you get the best of both season. You get a nice transition weather and the cost for accommodation and attraction sites are not as expensive as peak season.

The peak season in Switzerland is during summer and also just before the Winter start where people go for Skiing. You may ask why Winter is not peak since it’s great for skiing? In Switzerland. the mountains is covered with snow almost all year long except in Summer maybe less snow. In winter it can be too cold to to travel around and it will be too dark for hiking. Also the day time is much more shorter in Winter. So I went at the transition of spring to summer or around early summer which is early of June. From my research and my experience this is one of the best time to go Switzerland. Why? Because you get to see snow view and some green sceneries as it transform from Spring to Summer. Also the sky is bright in blue with cottony clouds, perfect for photoshoot….

In addition, there is less crowd during this time of the year and hotel & resort is not overly pricey and the weather is not too warm still quite cold. However if you plan to go for skiing then I would suggest to go during March as it’s not overly cold but it’s during Easter so expect a lot of crowd. Look at below picture, the blue sky with snow mountain and green valley look so breathtaking right?

Switzerland1m

2. Book Hotel/ Hostel from Hotel Booking Sites & Opt for hotel with Breakfast Included

I think many of you know that these Hotel Booking sites like Booking.com or Agoda.com has promotion all the time. I always choose those hotel that has promotion instead of those in full price. That way I get a better hotel but pay lesser money for it. Another good tips that I learned while booking hotel for my Switzerland trip is to Book Hotel with Free Cancelation option.Then you can checkout the available hotel when it is near your travel period and compare if the hotel has better price, location and facilities. If it does, cancel your earlier booking and book the new hotel with better deal! Usually, booking site will reduced their room price when the date is near, sort of like last minutes deal. From my experience, Booking.com has the best deal among other hotel booking site for hotel in Switzerland.


Another tip is to book hotel room that includes breakfast. Food in Switzerland can be expensive and if the hotel provide buffet breakfast then it can help save your money…. Even if it require additional CHF 10, it’s better to top it up as you get more value at the buffet breakfast than buying it from Supermarket or breakfast in other restaurant. Get a full breakfast and filled up your tummy so it can last you till late afternoon. By then all you need is some snack (biscuit, bread , fruits or even cereal bar) and then by evening can go for dinner. You actually saved the money for lunch.

budget breakfast in switzerland   Breakfast Buffet Spread in one of the Hostel

switzerland11 Breakfast Buffet in Hotel Matterhorn, Zermatt (one of the best hotel we stayed in Switzerland)

However, if hotel only provide ala-carte breakfast then I would suggest to skip it and use the money to buy ingredients from Supermarket and make your own sandwich.

budget breakfast in switzerland 1 Ingredients we got from local Supermarket

During our trip in Switzerland we stayed in 2 hostel, 1 budget hotel and 1 Hotel. We chose private room for hostel as it is our honeymoon and I dislike the idea of sleeping with stranger in the same room. If you want to further reduce you accommodation cost then go for those dorm bed as they can be much much cheaper. Hostel not necessary cheaper than hotel, you have to keep searching and look up for the special promotion. Or you can even go for AirBnB but I dislike the idea of being host and to me this is not a comfort travel for me... Not to mention couchsurfing definitely not my pick because I feel this is totally not my kind of way of travel I like. However, if you like AirBnB or couchsurfing then you can go ahead with it as it is way much cheaper than hotel or hostel.

Oh one more important tips is that do not choose hotel only solely based on pricing as the location and distance from the train station is very crucial. This is why we did not go for AirBnB because most of the houses located far from train station. Dragging your luggage around not only waste time but also can be very exhausting. Sometime, you need to pay for additional train/ bus ride when the hotel/ house you intend to stay is faraway. So remember to factor in all the cost and time to compare if it worth to save a few franc but spend more time travelling.

3. Buy Swiss Travel Pass

If you want to saved up on your transportation cost then Swiss Travel Pass is the way to go… You can buy your Swiss Travel Pass online at this link. There are a few type of Travel Pass to choose from but for traveller I guess it’s either you buy the Day or Monthly Pass or Half Fare Pass. Now you ask what is the difference in cost? I really can’t tell you because only YOU can tell the difference. This is because it depend on which places you want to go and how many day are you travelling and from there you can determine which passes is more wise to choose. You can get the full pricing on each route on this website and the pricing is fixed so there is no need to purchase in advance. More on how to plan your train ride later…

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There is also full details on available routes to reach your destination how how many time you need to change train.

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In my case, I choose Half Fare Pass because when I add up the overall cost of all my train rides Half Fare Pass is cheaper because we travel for 10days in Switzerland and the nearest is 8days Pass which is insufficient and to add 2 x One day pass on top of the 8days pass is totally not worth it..

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I also prefer to get my passes every time I travel from the counter to ensure I go to the right station and get the timing right. The trains operation in Switzerland is really huge and sometime it’s easy to get confused on the station name and timing. So I chose the Half Fare Card even thought the Day Pass has unlimited rides with just a few more franc….Now let me list down the pros and cons of these passes.

Day or Monthly Pass
  • You get unlimited ride for all the days you purchased. You need not afraid of taking the wrong train which might incurred additional cost.
  • Less hassle as you don’t need to go to counter to queue for tickets
  • Can be more expensive compare to Half Fare Card
Half Fare Card
  • Pay lesser to ride the exact train trip you required.
  • You have to buy the ticket at the counter by using the Half Fare Card and you get 50% off. By that you also get a chance to ask the staff more info on the destination you intend to go and enquire more on which station or platform to go. You save more time by getting the right station instead of just using the Day Pass and taking additional rides for going to wrong station.
4. Plan your Train Ride/ Route Well

It’s really easy to travel in Switzerland using train. The train stop exactly at the attraction site and the walk from station to the attraction site takes less than 15minutes which is really really convenient. There is no need to rent a car really. The train even take you high up to the mountain and then you can transfer to cable car to go to the mountain peak. All the route option, pricing, timing and etc is all available in the SBB website. For example if you want to travel from St Moritz to Diavolezza Peak you may required to take train, walk, bus and cable car all of this is listed in the website. The SBB website covers all the transportation services in Switzerland.

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So with all this details available you can plan your trip ahead. Choose the attraction site that you want to visit on the same route so you can save time as well as money. You do not want to go from one end to another end and then the next day to the middle…. What I do is I list down all the places I want to go and I put into the excel and put in the price. So I can gauge how much money I need to spend for all the rides and decide which Travel Pass to purchase. I also list down the timing to plan my whole day activities. Their timing are very accurate and usually train arrive on time or few minutes earlier.

image example of my Switzerland timetable with timing and pricing

Their train has First Class and Second Class. Always travel with second class if you want to save money. For those famous Panorama Train Ride like Bernina Express, Glacier Express & Golden Pass you need to book in advance to take these train and there is a charge for booking fee. The difference is that these train comes with aircond and has a wider table for you to have your meal and most importantly the panorama window which allow you get a better view. You can see the same view by using the normal train at a cheaper price but you won’t get the benefit I mentioned earlier and in summer these standard train are really hot. Those ride can take up to 8 hours which can be a little discomfort in the summer and if train is packed with passenger it will be even worst. However, there is one good thing about these standard train is that their window can be pull down and you can take nice landscape picture without having the glass reflection. So for me, I choose some shorter route in between using the standard train and those long route I use those express train. Oh ya, Express train travels faster because they only stop on main station unlike those standard train that stop on almost every station. So be wise when choosing the type of train for your destination.

image standard SBB Train seat

switzland8 Glacier Express Train (Panorama Train)

If you need to know more info on train ride and other information on places to visit in Switzerland try researching in TripAdvisor Switzerland forum. I actually ask a lot of question there and the traveller in that forum really help me a lot in planning my trip! I can’t thank them enough.

5. Cook or Make your own food

Like I mention above, buy your own food if your hotel/hostel doesn’t include buffet breakfast. In fact, get all your food and drink supplies from local supermarket… It’s way cheaper…. You can also bring your own food into the train, no restriction of bring outside food at all… This is really great to save more monies!T here is two famous supermarket in Switzerland, Migros and Coop. Migros being the cheaper ones but not many available especial in small village mostly is Coop. When you land in Zurich Airport or Geneva Airport there is Migros available. So first thing when you land is to grab your luggage and then head straight to Migros to get a bottle of mineral water. Their own brand mineral water probably cost less than CHF 0.30 (1.5ml) but if you purchase from those kiosk it cost a minimum of CHF 1.00 (1ml). If you convert to MYR that’s pretty pricey for a bottle of mineral water. Then grab some prepacked food to fill up your tummy or a cup of coffee!

Beside that, you can also get plenty of other food supply from these supermarket to make you own meals. To be honest, almost 90% of my meal are bought at Coop for example like bread and ham to make sandwiches, chickens and pizza to cook in our hostel and also some salad leaves to make a delicious salad.

budget meal in switzerland 1 The meals we cook using all ingredients from Coop

Another tip is get your supplies in the evening if you want to save some money.Usually, Coop will put discount on the food that are about to expired. It can go up to 50% off… Also evening is the perfect time as you has just done sightseeing and on the way back to hotel just drop by coop. Going in the morning can be inconvenient because you have to rush back to hotel to place the supplies back at your room. We don’t choose the food we want but we look at those with discount and then we purchase it. Here is a short video showing some of the offer you can get from Coop supermarket in the evening.



Also in some big city like Bern or Luzern, these supermarket has their own in-house restaurant whereby you can get meal as low as CHF 10. A normal dish outside easily cost CHF 20 and up.

image Coop Restaurant in Interlaken

We actually save up a lot from our meal, actually the big part of saving is from our meal cost. So remember to save up your meal and allocate those money for train ride and accommodation. Reason being is Switzerland food does not really taste very good as compared to other country in Europe. They don’t taste bad just not fantastic either. I love their milk product like fresh milk, cheese and yogurt.. All of these you can purchase from the supermarket they taste equally good and you get to choose the exact type you like. Oh and yes their chocolate are one of the best I’ve tried so far!

6. Bring some dry food supplies from you own country

One thing to save money is to bring biscuit, cereals, 3 in 1 instant drink and instant noodle from your home. These item is really way cheaper to buy in Malaysia than Switzerland. This is a great meal option especially when you are on the go or you are to tired to cook of make food after a long day of travelling. Also these item does not add much weight to you luggage. Just to be sure to remove the external box and slot those small packets or sachets in between your cloths.


7. DO NOT SHOP for anything except for specialty chocolates & cheese

Here’s the thing abut Switzerland, everything is pricey here even the same item is more expensive in Switzerland than other countries in Europe. I would suggest you to buy chocolates and cheese ONLY. Even chocolate are pricier in Switzerland. For example the same Lyndt chocolate we saw in Switzerland is much more expensive than Germany. I am not sure if they taste the same but I guess they should taste the same. The rest of the items like clothing, cosmetic, bag, shoe and anything at all is much much more expensive. Oh maybe you can consider buying watches too… That is what most people buy when they visit Switzerland. I did not buy or went to any watch factories so I can’t advise you if the price is cheaper than elsewhere in Europe.
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8. Use CASH instead of Credit Card & Monitor on the Currency Exchange Rate

Credit card conversion rate can be pricey most of the time. So use cash to pay on hotels, transportation and food as much as possible. Also when changing money in your country make sure to monitor the exchange rate daily or at least weekly. When the currency rate become low but you unsure if it will go down further, change a portion of the money first. It’s really hard to guess if it will go further down or up. Also sometime if you think you can go with the rate then just go with it instead of wasting time to go to money exchanger several time.


There you go, above are the 8 tips you can use to save up some money when travelling in Switzerland. and here is the Break Down of the cost per person that we think is sufficient to travel in Switzerland with comfort. No need to sleep in dorm beds or sleeping in Airport and eat good food (not just cereal bars and biscuit).

Food = CHF 30 (If you want to eat out add CHF 20 per meal)
Transport = CHF 70 ( this cost cover ALL rides to and from all attraction that we went from North to South of Switzerland, almost cover all must visit attraction. This also includes three express train ride, Bernina Express, Glacier Express & Golden Pass)
Accommodation = CHF 50 ( we stay in two hostel, 1 budget hotel & 2 Hotel inclusive of 3 buffet breakfast)
Total Cost Spent PER DAY= CHF 150 per pax
So for a 10 days trip we only spend in total of less than CHF 1500 per person. It might seem expensive to you but trust me this is consider cheap for a comfortable travelling in Switzerland. Why? You can look at below a few link from Google which help to estimate budget per day to travel in Switzerland.


Below are cost advise from one of the traveller in Tripadvisor. He said budget around CHF 100-150 per day (excluding accommodation and travel). ZOMG, that is alot!!


Below are our 10Days itinerary in Switzerland for you to refer in case you wondering what the cost covered.
Switzerland 10D9N Itinerary
Day 1: Land in Zurich, St Moritz. Overnight in St Moritz.
Day 2: From St Moritz to Tirano using Bernina Express. Diavolezza Mountain Peak. Overnight in St Moritz.
Day 3: From St Moritz to Zermatt using Glacier Express. Overnight in Zermatt.
Day 4: Zermatt to Gornergrat Mountain Peak & Klein Matterhorn Mountain Peak. Overnight in Zermatt.
Day 5: Zermatt to Lauterbrunnen. Lauterbrunnen village tour. Overnight in Lauterbrunnen.
Day 6: Lauterbrunnen to Junfraujoch Mountain Peak (Including stopping at Kleine Schedegg & Wengen). Overnight in Lauterbrunnen.
Day 7: Lauterbrunnen to  Luzern using Golden Pass Express. Luzern City Tour. Overnight in Luzern.
Day 8: Luzern to Mount Regis Peak & Luzern City Tour. Overnight in Luzern.
Day 9: Luzern to Bern (City Tour) then to Montreux. Overnight in Montreux.
Day 10: Montreux to Château de Chillon Castle. Leave to Geneva Airport.

Alright, I hope these tips help you in planning your Switzerland trip and has help you save some money to travel further in Switzerland. It is a very beautiful countries that I never regret spending all my money there. Thank you for reading  my long post. See you soon!

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