Have you ever dreamed about spending a month in the Alps? Surrounded by mountains and alpine cows, crisp air and colorful wildflowers, days filled with nature walks and walking through charming villages.
Sounds dreamy right? — Sounds like REALITY!
Is Switzerland expensive? Yep. (We spent $6,000 for our 2-week honeymoon here in 2012…) But we actually discovered that a month-long stay in Switzerland is quite affordable!
We had the immense privilege of spending 30 nights in the Swiss Alps May-June, 2021. It was epic. But you’re not here to read about what we did. You wanna know the facts about how to travel Switzerland on a budget. So here are all of the financial details about our month.
Prefer to watch instead of read? Here ya go!
One-month in Switzerland
The two of us spent 30 nights in Interlaken. And we broke down our expenses into 4 categories:
- Food and drinks
- Sightseeing and entertainment
Let’s go through each category and then we’ll share our grand total for one month. But be sure to stick around to the very end and we will share how we actually spent even less than that!
Lodging in Switzerland – $1900
We booked 30 nights in an awesome airbnb in Interlaken for only $1900. That’s less than $450 per week, including the tourist tax (which you have to pay no matter where you stay)! So here’s how we got such a good deal:
- We stayed for more than 28 nights, which gave us a massive 39% Airbnb monthly discount. (We’ve noticed that most Airbnbs in Europe offer a 10-40% monthly discount, and we aim for at least 25% off.)
- We messaged our Airbnb host to ask for a greater discount. Obviously they didn’t give us one because it was already 39% off, but we always ask, and I’d say about half of the time they give us one.
- We stayed in a more residential area instead of the city center. We prefer the quiet suburbs better, it’s also cheaper than the city center, and we were still only a 7 minute walk from the main train station.
Transportation in Switzerland – $930
Here’s the reality: public transportation in Switzerland is expensive! Probably more than elsewhere in Europe.
During our month in Interlaken and the Jungfrau Region, we spent $930 on transportation.
- $409 for our Swiss Half Fare cards
- $138 for train tickets to and from the airport
- $230 for trains, buses, and boats during our stay
- $153 for mountain lifts
I know, not cheap! Here’s how to save money on transportation in Switzerland
- Location. During past trips to the Berner Oberland, we preferred more charming villages like Murren or Gimmelwald. But for this month, it just made practical sense to stay in Interlaken. It has the most well-connected transport system in the region. Staying here allowed us to spend less time and money getting to the most beautiful spots, and more time actually enjoying them.
- Visitor’s Card. An added benefit of staying in Interlaken is that we both received the Interlaken visitor’s card which provided FREE public transportation throughout Interlaken and nearby villages for our entire stay. This card enabled us to reach the Niederhorn lift, the St. Beatus Hohlen Caves, and the super charming village of Iseltwald for NOTHING! On top of that, we could go halfway around Lake Brienz, and one stop more toward the Lauterbrunnen valley before we ever had to purchase a train ticket.
- Sightseeing discounts. These Interlaken visitor’s cards saved us over $400 during our month in Switzerland, but you could gain even greater cost savings if you take advantage of the sightseeing discounts available with the cards!
- The Swiss Half Fare Card. Another way we saved money on transportation in Switzerland was choosing to buy the Swiss Half Fare card. We paid $409 to buy a card for each of us, and then we got a 50% discount on public transportation in Switzerland. After our month in Switzerland, they had completely paid for themselves, and saved us an additional $115. The best part is that we’re now entitled to a 50% off all public transportation in Switzerland for an entire year!
Food and drinks in Switzerland – $900
Is Switzerland expensive? Some things are, like transportation and restaurants. Which is why nearly half of our $900 food and drink budget was spent on groceries.
- Groceries. Buying groceries is way more affordable than eating out in restaurants all the time. We spent $400 for one month of food. Plus, we just love Aldi! Tip: meat can be super expensive in Switzerland so we just ate less meat than normal.
- Restaurants, markets, farm fridges. We spent $360 on restaurants, markets, and farm food. $200 of that was spent on a special anniversary dinner and returning to our favorite restaurant from our honeymoon. But please don’t miss the self-service farms! They are a super cool way to eat local when you’re in Switzerland!
- Drinks. For $145 we had 3 bottles of wine and 4 beers from the grocery store, 9 coffees and 3 juices at cafes, and 5 glasses of wine or beer at mountain huts.
Sightseeing and Entertainment in Switzerland – $22
Before we tell you what we spent on sight-seeing and entertainment, we need to tell you a couple things:
- In our opinion the best entertainment is going for a beautiful hike in the beautiful Swiss Alps! We typically don’t visit museums or do a lot of the extreme sports activities that are super popular in the area, so our “entertainment” budget is really low.
- Also, we’ve been to this area before. So we’ve already seen the Jungfrau and the Schilthorn, two of the most iconic mountains in the area, and we also have visited Trummelbach Falls. So this time we chose to search out some newer experiences that might not be as well know with the tourists.
So that’s why we only spent $22 on sightseeing and entertainment. And that was for a very relaxing day at Blausee.
Obviously if you come to Switzerland for the first time you’re probably going to spend more than we did on sightseeing, and that’s totally okay! We work while we travel, and spend months at a time on the road, so it’s more important to us to find a sustainable lifestyle pace than to experience everything in a single trip.
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Our grand total for one month in Switzerland…
And now the moment you’ve been waiting for! Our grand total for traveling switzerland for 1 month is…
- $1900 – Lodging
- $930 – Transportation
- $900 – Food and Drink
- $22 – Entertainment
- $3742 – GRAND TOTAL
But hold on, because we actually spent even less than that!
And that’s because we saved an additional $1440 using credit card rewards! We won’t go into all of the details, but it’s helpful to know that we saved up enough points through various programs to completely pay for our half fare cards, all of our mountain lifts, $600 toward our airbnb, and $110 of our groceries!
If you’re interested to know more about the credit card strategies we use, let us know in the comments below!
After subtracting credit card rewards, our grand total out of pocket cost was…
$2300 for one month in the Swiss Alps!
So if you’re wondering can you afford to travel to Switzerland or how to travel Switzerland on a budget, you might just need to stay for a whole month!
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