Switzerland is a mountainous country in Central Europe known for picturesque lakes, charming villages, unbelievable chocolate, and of course, the Swiss alps.
One of our favourite countries on the planet, Switzerland is home to some of the most photogenic landscapes in Europe. Famous for hiking, biking, climbing, skiing, and paragliding, this place is an adventure lover’s dream.
Keep reading for everything you need to know about planning a trip to Switzerland!
Interactive Map of Switzerland
Switzerland Blog Posts
How to Get There
Switzerland is located in central Europe bordering Germany, Austria, Italy, and France. If you are arriving internationally, you will most likely fly in and out of Zürich. Many people also drive across the borders from neighbouring countries.
Best Time to Travel
Switzerland is an excellent travel destination year-round. Each season has advantages and disadvantages, as outlined below.
Spring(April -June): The flowers are blooming and it is a good time to visit as far as weather and crowds go. It is not ideal for hiking because the alpine snow won’t be melted and some of the mountain huts and gondolas may be closed.
Summer(July-August): The peak summer months in Switzerland, this is the warmest but busiest time to visit. If you can avoid travelling during these months, we would recommend it due to the high volume of tourists.
Autumn(September-October): This is our recommended time to visit! September is usually quite warm and there are far fewer tourists. Although it can be cooler in October and the possibility of snow is higher, the fall colours are stunning!
Winter(November-March): Winter is a popular season in Switzerland for alpine activities like skiing and ice climbing. The temperature across the country varies from -10°C to +5°C, being cooler in the Alps.
NOTE: Some hotels and gondolas close in mid-October.
Average Daily Budget
Our average daily budget in Switzerland was 110 CHF ($117 USD) per person per day. We spent a lot of time camping and cooked at least 1 meal per day. If you are staying in a nice hotel and eating out for every meal, you can expect to spend 200 CHF or more per person per day.
Daily Budget Breakdown:
- Transportation: 30 CHF ($ 32 USD) per person per day
- Food & Drinks: 35 CHF ($37 USD) per person per day
- Accommodation: 30 CHF ($ 32 USD) per person per day
- Tours & Activities: 15 CHF ($ 16 USD) per person per day
From luxury hotels to Airbnbs to camping, finding a place to stay in this country is relatively easy. However, finding accommodation that won’t break the bank is more challenging.
This will most likely be your biggest expense while travelling through Switzerland, but don’t worry! You can find excellent accommodation within your price range if you are willing to get a bit creative.
In terms of hotels and Airbnbs, the earlier you book, the better! We stayed at hotels in Zurich, Interlaken, Zermatt and Grindelwald, and spent the rest of our time camping in a tent. For us, it was the perfect combination!
HERE ARE SOME BASIC PRICES SO YOU KNOW WHAT YOU’RE GETTING INTO:
- Campsite for 2 people with a small tent: CHF 25-50 per night
- Campsite for 2 people in a camper: CHF 55-80 per night
- A 2-3 star hotel: CHF 125-300 per night
- A 4-5 star hotel: CHF 300-1,000+ per night
Here are a few hotels we loved:
Hotel Matterhorn FOCUS: Incredible Luxury in Zermatt, Switzerland!
Hotel Salzano: Authentic Charm in the Swiss Alps!
Boutique Hotel Glacier: Extraordinary Stay in Switzerland’s Bernese Alps!
We would highly recommend renting a vehicle!
Contrary to popular belief, we think that renting a vehicle is the best way to see the country. I know, I know, every other blog post you’ve read says that the trains in Switzerland are fantastic. And they aren’t wrong.
The problem is, they can be expensive and limiting. Here’s what I mean:
- We rented a car for our 3-week trip through Switzerland for CHF 700. We spent approximately CHF 400 on fuel and parking as we toured the country at our leisure. That’s a total of CHF 1,100.
- 2 Swiss Travel Passes, which include unlimited travel via train and bus, for 3 weeks would have been over CHF 1,700! This does not include gondolas and means that you are travelling with far less flexibility.
While it is completely possible to travel through Switzerland via train, we think a vehicle is the best option. Especially if you like to visit places for sunrise, sunset or before the bulk of the crowds arrive, as we do.
If you are not comfortable renting a vehicle OR if you plan to stick primarily to the larger cities and towns, public transportation works, too.
Depending on how long you are travelling for and what you plan on doing, there are three different options we would recommend.
A SWISS TRAVEL PASS
A Swiss Travel Pass gives you unlimited travel in Switzerland by train, bus, boat and public transport in cities. This pass is valid for travelling on fixed and consecutive days with 3, 4, 6, 8 and 15-day passes available.
It also includes free entrance to more than 500 museums and up to 50% off certain mountain excursions. Children and youths under 16 years old are free when travelling with at least 1 adult.
A SWISS TRAVEL PASS FLEX
A Swiss Travel Pass Flex offers the same benefits as a classic Swiss Travel Pass with one key difference. With the flex fare, you can choose non-consecutive days within a month. These travel days can be activated and changed easily online.
A SWISS HALF FARE CARD
A Swiss Half Fare Card entitles the holder to purchase tickets for trains, buses, boats, and a few mountain railways at half price. This discount is unlimited for a 1-month period. It also includes up to 50% discounts on most mountain excursions. Children and youths under 16 years old are free when travelling with at least 1 adult.
Gondolas, gondolas, everywhere!
Looking at all of the gondolas on a map before visiting Switzerland can be confusing and overwhelming. While it took some getting used to, we learned that there are several ways to utilize them during your time in Switzerland WITHOUT spending a small fortune.
While we did not take gondolas every chance we could, there were many instances where they saved us a whack of time and energy.
For more detailed travel information, check out our transportation blog post linked below.
Related Post: Renting a Car VS Trains in Switzerland: What is the Best Way to Get Around?
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