Typical Costs When Traveling
The currency in Switzerland is the Swiss franc (Sfr). Exchange rates are subject to fluctuations, so be sure to check this as your trip approaches. On average, 1 Sfr is equal to about £.83 British Pounds, $1.03 U.S., €,92, and 7.15 Chinese Yuan.
Rail stations and some larger shops, hotels, and restaurants accept Euros. But your change will be in Swiss francs, and the exchange rate won’t be in your favor. So if you’re in Switzerland for more than a day or two, you’ll want to have Swiss francs on hand.
A hostel room will be in the Sfr30–60 a night range (£25-50, $31-62, €28-55, 215-430 Yuan). A budget hotel is around Sfr100 a night (£83, $103, €92, 716 Yuan). A mid-range hotel is about Sfr200 a night (£165, $205, €184, 1433 Yuan). And more luxury accommodations will start at Sfr300 a night (£248, $310, €276, 2150 Yuan) and go up from there.
Airbnb prices average about Sfr90 (£75, $93, €83, 645 Yuan).
Taking yourself out to lunch will be around Sfr25 (£21, $26, €23, 180 Yuan). A dish of the day or fixed two-course menu for dinner will be between Sfr40–70 (£33-58, $41-72, €37-64.50, 287-500 Yuan). A three-course dinner in an upmarket restaurant will start at Sfr100 (£83, $103, €92, 716 Yuan) and go up from there.
Food is relatively expensive in Switzerland, so I’d recommend street food and shopping at grocery stores for some of your meals if you want to save money.
Beers average around Sfr8 a drink (£6.60, $8.50, €7, 57 Yuan). And wine is between Sfr10-25 (£8.25-20.50, $10.50-26, €9-23, 72-179- Yuan). Hostel bars usually have cheaper drinks and drink specials.
Public transportation within a city’s limits is around Sfr4 for a single trip (£3.30, $4.15, €3,75, 28.50 Yuan) and Sfr8 for a round trip (£6.60, $8.25, €7,50, 57 Yuan). If you’re going to use public transportation frequently within one city, you might want to opt for the multi-day pass (available at regular metro kiosks) to save money.
Transportation between cities can range from Sfr50-100 (£41-83, $51-103, €46-92, 358-716 Yuan) depending on how far you’re traveling, whether you’re going via rail or bus, and what class and amenities you want. Renting a car will be about Sfr15 a day (£12.50, $15.50, €13,50, 107 Yuan), and then you’ll need to pay for tolls, gas, and parking.
Taxis in Switzerland are expensive. The initial charge is around Sfr6.50 (£5.25, $6.75, €6, 46.50 Yuan) plus Sfr3.50 (£2.80, $3.60, €3,25, 25 Yuan) per kilometer. A service charge is included in the fare, so you don’t need to tip.
Uber operates in Zurich, Basel, Geneva, and Lausanne. Lyft doesn’t operate in Switzerland.
I’d budget around Sfr50 a day (£41, $51.50, €46, 358 Yuan) for entrance fees, tours, guides, snacks, tips, and souvenirs. If you want to do some adventure activities (skiing, skydiving, etc.), then plan on tripling this daily activity budget.
ATMs are at every airport, most metro stations, and on every second street corner in almost every town and city. They accept most international bank cards and have multilingual instructions. Your bank or credit card company will often charge a 1% to 2.5% fee, and there may be a small charge on the ATM end.
Credit cards are usually accepted at hotels, shops, and restaurants. Visa and MasterCard are the most widely accepted cards.
Hotels, restaurants, bars, and taxis are legally required to include a 15% service charge. So, as a general rule, you won’t need to tip more. The one exception is that hotel and railway porters expect a franc or two per bag.
Suggested Daily Costs
These budget estimates include eating and drinking out at least once a day and factoring in at least a couple of inter-city train rides. Cooking your meals or having picnics will dramatically reduce your daily costs, but you should have at least one authentic Swiss meal and brew!
Lower End: Sfr180 a day (£150, $185, €165, 1290 Yuan). Midrange: Sfr270 a day (£223, $278, €248, 1934 Yuan). Higher End: Sfr600 a day and up (£495, $617, €553, 4298 Yuan).