Mountains, chocolate, Rolex watches, and cheese. These are just a few of the things that Switzerland is known for. But, you know what else Switzerland has a reputation for? Being an incredibly expensive travel destination. However, thanks to so much natural beauty it makes sense that people want to go. So, how much does it cost to go to Switzerland? Read on to find out.
For the purpose of this article I’m going to suggest 1 week in Switzerland. It’s a small country but there are a number of places worth visiting. That said, as I indicated above, it’s pricey so you do need to be selective about where you stop. One week in Switzerland will give you a chance to see the highlights and get a feel for the country without completely draining your bank account.
Local transportation $400
Food and drink $350
Random spending $200
Total US $3,725
The above estimate is in American dollars, so please use xe.com to find out the average costs in your home currency. Please note that this guide is based on the costs of a single person, so if you are a couple make sure to double those estimate (except for hotels).
If you’re Canadian, you may want to consider applying for one of the best travel credit cards in Canada to help offset your costs by collecting points. For example, the American Express Gold Rewards Card gives you a signup bonus of up to 30,000 American Express Membership Rewards points which have a minimum value of $300 (potentially more if you transfer your points to Aeroplan or Marriott Bonvoy). There’s also the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite card that has no foreign transaction fees and it comes with airport lounge access.
Flights to Switzerland are common enough for those coming from North America, though they may require one stopover. Switzerland is a year-round destination so you don’t have to worry about seasonal routes. However, the typical holiday and summer seasons do tend to see higher costs (as with most other destinations).
On average, you can expect to pay about $700 for a return flight from North America to Switzerland.
Switzerland does have a range of accommodation options in most bigger cities (e.g. hostels to luxury hotels). However, as it is an expensive country their definition of ‘budget’ will likely be different than yours.
The average cost of a mid-range hotel in one of Switzerland’s main cities is about $225. I personally prefer to book my accommodations via booking.com since I can quickly compare all the various room types.
Checkout the following cities to quickly browse accommodations:
Insider tip: The longer you stay in a hotel, the more likely you are to get multi-night deals which can save you money. Consider picking one place to use as your base for your stay then doing day trips to explore the surrounding area. Remember, Switzerland is a small country.
If you have the right credit card, you can save a fair amount of money on hotels. Americans should strongly consider the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card since you can earn up to 125,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy points. Plus, get complimentary Platinum Elite status with your Card for the 2021 status year (apply by Jan. 13, 2021).
Canadians should consider the BMO World Elite Mastercard since it typically has a sign up bonus worth more than $200 and the annual fee is normally waived for the first year. There’s also the Marriott Bonvoy American Express which gives you 51,000 Marriott Bonvoy when using a referral link. That’s enough points for up to five free nights at some hotels which could easily have a value of over $650.
When it comes to getting around Switzerland, using their train system is best. It’s quick and easy to get around to the big cities but also many of the smaller towns as well. Public transit in Switzerland is actually pretty decent and takes away the stress of driving somewhere foreign.
There is a Swiss Travel Pass available to tourists. These come in 3,4, 8, and 15 day timeframes. The pass is good for unlimited travel on train, bus, and boat as well as public transit within the towns. Additionally, it includes free admission to 500 museums across the country. The only catch is that pass needs to be used consecutively. So if you got the 4 day pass you need to use it 4 days in a row, you can’t spread it out throughout the week. That said, if you do plan on a few busy day trips then it might be worth it.
The 4-day pass is $306 and you will probably want to add another $100 or so for the remaining days (including fare to/from airport). If you plan on shorter, closer day trips to where you are staying. Then the pass may not be worth the money. It’s worth doing some planning on your own ahead of time to compare pricing.
Thankfully, this is part of your budget where you can potentially catch a bit of a break since so much of Switzerland’s charm is found in its natural beauty and picturesque towns. Of course, there are lots of paid activities here as well.
As mentioned above, if you get the Swiss Travel Pass, that includes free entry to hundreds of museums. Day trips are more budget-friendly if you do them on your own (especially if you are getting the Swiss Travel Pass). However, there may still be some attractions or activities you would like to try. For example:
- Day Trip to Grindelwald and Interlaken from Zürich
- Day Trip to Mount Titlis with Cable Car (Zurich Departure)
- Jungfraujoch Day Tour from Zurich
Unsurprisingly, these types of activities are pricey. Many start at about $100, so I suggest putting aside an extra $500 for attractions if these are the types of things you want to do in Switzerland.
Food and drink
Meal costs, like everything else in Switzerland, have a higher price tag. On average you can expect to pay about $50 a day if you are looking to eat on a lower budget.
- Breakfast – $10
- Lunch – $15
- Dinner – $25
To be clear, even fast food such as pizza and burgers can be expensive. $50 is a good estimate to budget, but you could easily spend more if you eat at a few restaurants. You could reduce your costs by stopping at grocery stores to prepare some meals. I highly recommend this, especially for breakfast.
However, even though food is one place you can reduce your spending, I wouldn’t do it just for the sake of saving money. You already know Switzerland is an expensive destination, so just budget accordingly.
As with every destination how much guide, I suggest have a bit of extra money set aside for random spending. This could be for souvenirs, an unexpected cost, a night out etc. I recommend having an extra $200 on-hand for Switzerland just in case. Unless you plan on doing some watch shopping, then you’ll need to add a couple of 0’s to that estimate!
So, how much does it cost to go to Switzerland? Based on my estimates, you can expect to spend about $3725 for 1 week in Switzerland. Clearly, this is a pricey destination, however, using the tips and advice I shared throughout this article, you can find some ways to cut down some of these costs.
Or, just accept that it is what it is. Switzerland is a beautiful place with a lot to offer so you do want to make sure that, if you are going, you make the most of it. For more inspiration, check out my guides to Barcelona, London, Portugal, Croatia, Ireland, and Italy.