Opulent Options

Alternate Title: How To Save Money Traveling in Switzerland.

Switzerland is known as being an expensive country to visit. Today, the exchange rate is 1 CHF = 1.14 USD. Or, if you’d rather, 1 USD = 0.88 CHF. The US dollar is weaker than the Swiss Franc. To get an idea of what this means practically, I will quote approximate prices in this post in both currencies.

So, what is expensive in Switzerland? Before I discourage you and say “everything,” know that while you will need a fair sum of money per day, there are ways to minimize costs. That’s the good news!

Bartering prices down won’t work in Switzerland. The marked price is the price you pay. But this is true also for tax and any gratuities, which are already included in the price. This means that the marked price truly is the price you will pay out of pocket. Anywhere.

Well, let’s get to it, then.

Decent hotels for travelers are around 100 CHF/115 USD per night.
The bad news: Lots of hotels charge per person instead of per room and have an additional charge for breakfast.
The good news: Some booking websites have sales you can take advantage of (I hereby publicly apologize  to my high school English teachers for ending with a preposition).

Train tickets.
The bad news: These are expensive. Train times and ticket prices can be found at SBB.
The good news: If you plan on using public transportation frequently, look into buying a rail pass (with Eurail if you are planning on visiting multiple countries or Swiss Travel System if you plan on staying in Switzerland).

Eating out is expensive.
The bad news (for your wallet): The attitude about restaurants is vastly different from my native land. When you go to a restaurant in America, the mentality is along the lines of “get in, get out”. In Europe, especially in Switzerland, it’s different (not better or worse, just different!). When you reserve a table for dinner (always recommended), it’s yours for the night. The server won’t bring you the check unless you ask for it, and you’ll never feel pressured to leave. But, because there is less of a turn-around, prices for the consumer increase.
The good news: There are some “cheaper” options (kebabs, crepes, McDonalds) but beware: even these have their price (for example, 1 cheeseburger at McDonalds = 5CHF/6 USD). Also, La Fourchette offers discounts in the Lausanne-Geneva region! (I just used them for a restaurant in Geneva, positive review to come after A to Z.) If you want to save the most, buy groceries and have a simple meal.

Movie tickets: the last time I went, I think it was 17 CHF/19 USD for one entry.
The bad news: There is an increased fee for 3D.
The good news: This is a one-time fee (at least in Neuchatel)! Just remember your glasses when you want to see a 3D movie, and you’ll be able to pay the normal ticket price.

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