Don’t be put off by the high prices in Switzerland. With the right planning, this country can be your perfect destination for a European weekend break.
In this entry, you’ll find all the details to how we visited one of Europe’s most expensive countries on a budget, while ensuring a comfortable and relaxing stay as well as a visit to the largest city in the country – Zürich.
Here are the 4 things you need to know to plan an affordable trip to Switzerland:
1. Fly to and stay in Basel
Basel is a city located in north-western Switzerland; doing border with France and Germany.
The reason why Basel makes the perfect stay in this country is because it is located only an hour away train from Zürich, while taking advantage of much cheaper flights and hotels. You could also fly to Basel and take a train to Zürich for your full stay if wished.
However, Basel offers a lovely and relaxed riverside that with sunshine becomes the perfect spot to relax and sun-bathe; as well as a rich cultural city centre with beautiful historical streets to walk through. In contrary to Zürich, Basel will enable you to stay at an elegant hotel with a small budget.
2. Take a train to Zürich for a 1-day trip
You should however still visit Zürich, which, as the largest city in Switzerland, has a lot to offer: A huge park and lake, commercial shopping streets and cultural old town.
Travel Tip: We made the mistake of visiting Zürich on a Sunday when almost everything was closed. If, unlike us, you get the option to choose which day to visit, try to avoid Sundays to make the most of your stay and visit museums, churches, shops and restaurants that were closed when we were there.
You can take a train from the main station in Basel to the centre of Zürich and you will be there in just an hour. There are several trains running at least every hour, so this enables you to plan as wished and do a return trip in the same day.
Travel Tip: You can buy these train tickets online in advance on SBB’s website. When doing so, make sure that you filter by “supersaver ticket” so you benefit from half-price tickets. We bought ours for 10.20 CHF each way (8,6€) , which is only about an eight of what we saved by staying in Basel instead of Zürich.
3. Get a BaselCard
When we arrived at our hotel we found out that we had included a Basel tourism card that enabled us to use the city’s public transport for free during our stay, as well as 1 free cable boat trip and 50% discount to all museums. Thanks to this, we only really had to pay for the food we ate during our stay as everything else was included!
This card should be available to all tourists who stay overnight in Basel as included in the tax you pay during your stay, so make sure you take advantage of it. If you are renting an apartment, ask about it to your host.
4. Eat in Italian restaurants or gastro pubs
We found that Italian restaurants were priced particularly lower than traditional Swiss restaurants. Even though we didn’t get to try traditional Swiss food (because it would have cost us about 100€ per person), we ate really well in multiple Italian restaurants for a decent price!
You too can explore Switzerland on budget. We recommend this trip to anyone who wants a weekend break in Europe. Especially during spring and summer months, the two recommended cities are ideal for a peaceful stay.
You can have a taste of the beauty of Basel and Switzerland in our video blog below.