Some basic costs
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It’ll come as no surprise to learn that Switzerland is expensive. In one recent survey, Zürich (which even the Swiss shake their heads at) was assessed to be twenty percent more expensive than London across the board and almost double the UK average, while another survey found it to be pricier even than Tokyo. However, this gives a somewhat slanted view, since you’re unlikely to be spending like a local, and most places in the rest of Switzerland aren’t very much more expensive than you’d expect for Western Europe. However, Swiss food prices are notoriously high, for no readily apparent reason, and this translates into higher-than-normal restaurant prices. Accommodation costs can go through the roof, but careful choices will keep per-night rates affordable.

At the very lowest end of the scale, if you’re prepared to cut all corners by walking or cycling your own bike around the country, staying in hostels or campsites, and never eating out, you could scrape by on Fr.40–50 (£18/$30) a day; add in one cheap meal and a beer, and Fr.60–65 (£26/$42) is more realistic, while budgeting something for visiting a few sights or museums (average Fr.5–7 (£2.50/$4) per place) would mean you might actually enjoy your trip too. If you don’t have a bike, you’d have to factor in transport costs on top of this (more).

Staying at simple inns or guesthouses in one or two rural areas, avoiding cities altogether, and spending your days hiking or just relaxing in reasonable comfort is unlikely to set you back more than Fr.100/day (£42/$67), but going up mountains – which may be the whole point of your visiting Switzerland in the first place – can wipe out a day’s budget in one cable-car ride. Journeys up the Jungfraujoch, for instance, are roughly Fr.120 (£50/$81), even taking discounts into consideration. Hiking part or all of the way up or down can bring big savings. If you’re planning a skiing holiday, you should definitely book an all-in package from home, which cost a fraction of the equivalent over-the-counter rates.

A comfortable double room in a two- or maybe three-star city hotel is on average Fr.130–160 (£62/$100), depending on the season and the city. Using this kind of accommodation, eating lunch and dinner in moderate restaurants, taking in a scattering of sights, the odd boat trip or train ride, and a luxury or two, amounts to a rough daily average of Fr.160 (£67/$108) per person.

Students (with ID) can benefit from a raft of discounts, principally on admission prices to larger museums and attractions, but also on some resorts’ ski passes – crucially, however, not on public transport within Switzerland. Similarly, children get in half-price or less to many museums, and can travel free with their parents on a Family Card, issued free alongside any kind of Swiss travel pass.

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