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Cheap holidays in Switzerland: travel economically
You can save a lot on train travelling and lifts. Even drivers have ways to prevent spending too much.
Save on your trip to Switzerland
- A train trip to Switzerland does not have to be expensive. There are many travelling options and rates available. Booking early (preferably 60 to 90 days ahead) helps to get the lowest rates.
- Budget airlines fly to Switzerland as well. A return flight London – Geneva starts at about CHF 95.
- It is good to know about fuel prices before you leave.
Cheap travelling within Switzerland – by train, bus, boat and lifts
Switzerland has excellent public transportation. In fact, a train ride through the Alps is a thrilling event in itself. Regular tickets are quite expensive, but these tips help you save money:
- Plan your trips in advance, or at least try to make an estimation. It provides insight in travelling costs and makes sure that you can optimally profit from free travel days that rail passes provide. Costs of regular train tickets can be found in our online timetable. The rates of cable cars and mountain trains can be found on their websites.
- Regular boat, bus and lift tickets are rather expensive. In most cases, a "Swiss Travel System" rail pass will save money.
- One of the most popular rail passes is the Swiss Pass, offering unlimited use of public transportation throughout Switzerland for a fixed amount. If you only need a few days of unlimited travelling, the Swiss Flexi Pass may come in handy for you.
- If you only have to travel from the Swiss border or an airport to your destination, consider a Swiss Transfer Ticket. It is often cheaper than a regular ticket you purchase locally.
- You may want to make short trips within one region only. In that case, you might consider a regional rail pass.
- For parties of two or more people, Swiss Passes have "Saver" variants, saving 15% on the regular price. You can order one Swiss Saver Pass for two people instead of two regular Swiss Passes, or one Swiss Saver Flexi Pass instead of two regular Swiss Flexi Passes.
- If parents order a "Swiss Travel System" rail pass, they can order along a free Swiss Travel System Family Card that allows children up to 15 years old to travel along for free.
- People up to and including 25 can buy a cheaper Swiss Youth Pass instead of a regular Swiss Pass.
- Consider whether you want to travel in 1st or 2nd class. 2nd class is comfortable and clean in Swiss public transportation, and it is always the most economical option. Some rail passes, such as the Eurail Passes, are available in 1st class only. All "Swiss Travel System" rail passes are available in 2nd class as well.
- Consider how long your rail pass should be valid and choose the cheapest possible option. For example, if you will be travelling for 5 days, you can choose from a 4 or 8 day Swiss (Saver) Pass. If you buy the 4 day pass, this will easily save CHF 200 for 2 people. This is an option if you make a relatively short trip on the first or last day of your stay. A regular ticket would then be cheaper than a rail pass with a longer validity. This also applies if you are travelling by plane and spending a night near the airport after arrival of before departure. You can continue your travelling the next morning. Airport hotels can very often be reached for free. The hotel costs less than the price difference between both Swiss Passes.
Zürich airport hotels
Geneva airport hotels
Basel airport hotels (EuroAirport)
- Plan your route in advance. If you don’t have a rail pass, choose the shortest route suggested by the timetable. If you purchase a rail pass with free travel days, make sure you benefit from them optimally: make long trips and use most cable cars on these days. You can plan your trips with our online timetable.
- Sometimes you can travel for free. Some examples:
- Many towns give their guests a discount card (called "Gästekarte"). It provides discounts on local attractions and, quite often, reduced or free travelling in your resort and its surroundings. You will receive your Gästekarte at your hotel, apartment or at the local tourism office ("Tourismusverein").
- If you stay in a hotel in cities such as Basel and Geneva, you can use the local public transportation for free.
- You may want to travel from the airport of Zürich, Geneva or Basel to a nearby hotel. In most cases, you can use a free hotel shuttle bus or free public transportation.
- Local transportation companies can have their own discounts, dependent on the season. Check whether there are special discounts during your stay. Some examples:
- There is a reduced fare for the first train to the Jungfraujoch (Good Morning Ticket). By the way, this trip is even cheaper if you have a rail pass, such as the Swiss Half Fare Card.
Prices Jungfrau Railways
- With the Jungfrau Railways Pass you can use almost all (expensive) cable cars in the Jungfrau region as often as you like.
Jungfrau Railways Pass
Cheap travelling within Switzerland – by car
Will you be travelling by car during your stay in Switzerland? Please note the following tips:
- Rental cars can be cheap if you pick a small car from a budget company.
- Adapt your driving style to the circumstances, especially if you are driving in the mountains. An adapted driving style helps saving fuel as well.
Tips on driving in the mountains
- Make sure that you are aware of important Swiss traffic regulations. Fines are often high. Some regulations you should note:
More on traffic rules in Switzerland
- if you want to make use of Swiss expressways, you have to purchase a motorway vignette for your car, motor, trailer or mobile home. You can pre–order your motorway vignette so that you don’t have to get out at the border to buy one. Swiss rental cars already have a motorway vignette;
- navigation equipment is not allowed to contain supposed locations of speed measurement devices;
- obey the speed limits. Pay extra attention in tunnels, as lower speed limits apply in there;
- switching on your dimmer signal is obligatory, also during the day.
- Check whether free and sufficient parking space is available at your camp site, apartment or hotel. If not, you can often purchase a parking subscription for the local railway station or another location. This is cheaper and easier than buying parking tickets each day.
- Not all locations can be reached by car. Cable cars and mountain trains are often expensive, but with a Swiss Half Fare Card you pay only half the fare.