Whether you love to Ski, or you simply want to visit Switzerland for its beautiful scenery, Switzerland has been a destination that most people want to go to. My self-included. Unfortunately, being rated as one of the most expensive countries in the entire world, many people do avoid visiting, for fear that it’s impossible to do on a budget. Recently, my partner and I went to Switzerland for 5 days. We based ourselves in Lucerne, bought a Swiss travel pass and hopped on any train we could, maximising our days until we were falling asleep standing up! Guess what? We managed to do it on a budget.
Although it might be considered “out of budget” for many, we managed to get our costs down as much as possible. Honestly, the absolute lowest we could. Full credit to my partner here, because a lot of research was involved. Luckily, he loves to research! I… Not so much. Basing ourselves in Lucerne, it opened up a lot more doors for us. Not only in terms of access to beautiful places, but budget too.
Please note that price conversions (hotel) are subject to the value of the Pound/Euro, but this is what we paid:
Flights: £77.50 per person, return
Hotel Apartment: £308
City Tax on arrival: £34 (for two)
Swiss Travel Pass – 3 days: £186 per person
Zurich to Lucerne: Around £15 per person (one way)
Lucerne to Zurich: As above.
Total for two people: £851.50
One person: 425.75 for 5 days.
One of the biggest suggestions I can give you is to be flexible. We couldn’t in this situation, but we made the best of it. Of course, if you are heading there alone I’d definitely recommend heading to a hostel as that could work out cheaper. As we went in December, it was considered “off peak season” so the flights worked out in our favour. Plus, it was December. We wanted it to be snowy, cold and Christmassy!
On this occasion, we wanted an apartment where it had a kitchen. I’d heard that food was the most expensive part of Switzerland, which is usually typical of any European country anyway, but more so here.
We managed to find a studio apartment just 15 minutes’ walk from the train station. This was called: Star Vacation Homes, Lucerne
We booked this through Booking.com, not AirBNB on this occasion. As the AirBNB turned out more expensive. Originally our first flight to Zurich was cancelled and they were really accommodating! So, I definitely recommend them. Especially as there was a supermarket only a couple of minutes’ walk away!
Swiss Travel Pass
So, you’ve got the budget accommodation with a kitchen, budget flights but what else? Of course! The Swiss Travel Pass. This pass is the key to keeping things low cost while in Switzerland. Train travel can get ridiculously expensive if you’re paying return fares. The pass allows you to get rid of that completely. The Swiss Travel pass allows you to travel unlimitedly on a set amount of days. On rail, bus, boat as well as most cable cars to the top of the mountains. The amount of days this can be bought for is 3,4,8 or 15. Due to our plane times, we had 3 days in between so we opted for those 3 days to be covered by the pass and just payed the fare to/from Zurich airport.
I have a whole guide on the Swiss Travel Pass. You can click > here <
Our Spending Budget
We set aside around £300 each. I know I know, a crazy amount. But we really weren’t sure on where the money was going to go. I think we ended up only spending £250 between us both. We only spent money on our supermarket shop and excursions which were not included on our pass. On our last day, we decided to really go “all out” and bought some posh chocolate and some magnets. So LAVISH! Haha.
On our first day, we ended up arriving so late due to our cancelled flight, that we missed all supermarkets being open. Luckily for me, my boyfriend likes to bring his “panic noodles” whenever we go travelling. The “just in case I’m hungry” ones. They came in handy our first night! Supermarkets in Lucerne close around 6pm/6.30pm. Otherwise, we set aside a budget and bought own brand food from Aldi, where we also bought staple items like eggs, bread etc. Things that we could eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Tip: If you’re a plain chocolate/chocolate with nuts or fruit kind of person, buy the budget brand! It really tastes the same!
A typical meal that we had during the week to going “all out” on the last day! (side note: yes I bite my nails, yes it’s gross)
A note about Lucerne
As you know by now, we based ourselves in Lucerne and it was perfect. It felt very central to all the smaller places and mountains we wanted to see. Especially as our accommodation was not far from the train station, as mentioned earlier!
We didn’t really get to explore Lucerne all that much in day time. As our original flight was cancelled, it removed a full day of exploring for us. But what I can tell you from what I saw, it is full of beautiful architecture, small local shops and beautiful views. We walked around the town after getting back from other adventures (that I will talk about soon) but nothing really touristy that I can recommend to you.
That’s all for my post! A short and sweet one. It’s difficult to talk about budget because what might be for me, might be way out of it for you. I hope you enjoyed the pictures of Lucerne too! Apologies that I couldn’t really recommend anything specific. We didn’t get much time to explore, but I’d definitely recommend it as a town to stay.
What do you think? Did this post help you? Let me know in the comments!