Switzerland is widely known for its natural beauty, vibrant cities, and high standard of living. However, when it comes to the cost of traveling and living, many people wonder if Switzerland is expensive. The answer is yes, Switzerland is one of the most expensive countries in the world. This article will cover how expensive Switzerland is and look at the prices of hotels, trains, food, restaurants, and more.
Overview: Is Switzerland Expensive?
According to the Economic Intelligence Unit, Zurich and Geneva in Switzerland are amongst the most expensive places to live in the world in 2022. Rounding up the top 10 were New York, Singapore, Tel Aviv, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Paris, and Copenhagen.1 To analyze data, they calculate using a basket of goods and prices in many cities all over the world.
The high cost of living in Switzerland can be attributed to several factors which include its strong economy and high wages. As such, there is a high standard of living.
The cost of goods and services, including food, housing, and transportation, is significantly higher in Switzerland than in many other countries in the world.
Despite the high cost of living, Switzerland remains a popular destination for many tourists. Its breathtaking mountains, crystal-clear lakes, and cultural heritage make it a memorable destination for many people from all over the world. Those considering travel to Switzerland should be prepared for the high costs and plan accordingly.
Prices of Train Tickets
Switzerland has one of the most extensive railway networks in Europe. It includes thousands of kilometers of train lines operated by the canton governments. The Swiss federal railways are referred to by their acronyms: SBB (Schweizerische Bundesbahnen) in German, CFF (Chemins de Fer Fédéraux) in French, and FFS (Ferrovie Federali Svizzere) in Italian.
Swiss trains remain inexpensive if you plan in advance and buy discounted tickets. Tickets can be bought at the train counter (if open or present), ticket machine, or online at sbb.ch.
Prices for Train Tickets are as follows (as of June 2023):
|Train Ticket, One Way, Not Discounted||Price in CHF|
|Zurich to Lucerne||12.50|
|Zurich to Bern||25.50|
|Zurich to Basel||17.00|
|Zurich to Zermatt||62.50|
|Zurich to St. Moritz||38.00|
|Zurich to Lugano||32.50|
|Geneva to Lausanne||11.40|
|Geneva to Montreux||15.50|
|Geneva to Verbier (télécabine)||29.60|
|Interlaken to Lucerne||16.50|
|Interlaken to Lauterbrunnen||3.80|
|Interlaken to Grindelwald||5.60|
Note: Discounted tickets will have a lower price tag compared to the list above. These are available if booked in advance. These tickets are also subject to availability. So if lots of people have already bought a ticket on your chosen date or time, then you will likely no longer have access to the discounted fare.
Prices of Bus and Tram Tickets
There are two separate bus services that cover Switzerland. The first one is the Post Bus Service. These are typically the yellow buses with the “Postbus” written on them. The second one is the local city or town bus service. Together, these two bus services cover almost the entire country.
Since most bus routes are typically short, a one-way ticket will cost anywhere from CHF 2 to CHF 7 per trip.
In larger cities such as Zurich, Bern, and Basel, they also have trams. These are streetcars that move around the city and stop every several hundred meters.
Prices for Tram Tickets are as follows (as of June 2023):
|Ticket||Full Fare (CHF)||Reduced Fare (CHF)|
|Zurich 24-hour ticket (all zones)||34.40||17.20|
|Zurich 9 o’clock Day Pass |
(valid starting 9 AM)
|Basel Day Pass for the Greater Basel Area||9.90||6.90|
|Bern Libero Day Pass (1 to 2 Zones)||9.20||5.60|
|Bern Libero Day Pass (all zones)||70.40||35.20|
Reduced fare is available for holders of the Half-price travel card subscription and children. The Half-Fare Travelcard allows its holders to travel at half the price on all SBB routes and most other railways. It also covers boats, post buses, and trams. It costs CHF 185 for one year and CHF 165 for succeeding years thereafter.
Prices of Cruising on Ships
Over 140 ships roam the various lakes in Switzerland. The lakes of Zurich, Lucerne, and Geneva have lots of ships moving about from spring until autumn (April until October). Most shipping companies also provide special rides with themes during Mother’s Day, National Day, Sundays, and many more. There are also paddle steamers available in the many lakes.
Prices for Ship Tickets are as follows (as of June 2023):
|Ticket||Full Fare (CHF)||Reduced Fare (CHF)|
|Small Round Trip from Zurich||8.80||4.40|
|Summer Brunch Ship from Zurich||21.60||10.80|
|Big Round Trip from Zurich||26.00||13.00|
|Limmat River Cruise||4.40||3.00|
|Lucerne Day Card||77.00||38.50 (Adult)|
until 16 years)
|Lake Urnen Day Card||45.00||28.00|
|Locarno to Ascona Round Trip||20.00||10.00|
|Locarno to Isole di Brissago Round Trip||34.00||17.00|
Want to check out our post about the different paddle steamers on Switzerland’s lakes? Click here for more on the paddle steamers in Switzerland – Ultimate List of Steamboats in Switzerland.
Prices of Taxis
Taxis in Switzerland are incredibly expensive – definitely one of the most expensive in the world. It might be worthwhile to check the rates beforehand to see how much it would cost. Taking public transport (trains and trams) will definitely cost you much less.
Nonetheless, if you want to take a taxi, you will expect to pay for each kilometer. Not only will you pay for each kilometer. If you order a taxi and let the taxi driver wait, also expect to pay for his or her waiting time.
The final bill typically has the following components as an example:
- Basic Fee per ride: CHF 6.00
- Mileage Fee per kilometer: CHF 3.80
- Waiting time per hour: CHF 69.00
- Additional cost per booster seat (optional): CHF 20.00
Some taxis provide a fixed price from one city to the airport. Here are some sample prices from a taxi company:
- Basel Airport to Zurich Airport: CHF 300.00
- Zurich City to Zurich Airport: CHF 45.00
- Zug to Zurich Airport: CHF 150.00
- Lucerne to Zurich Airport: CHF 200.00
Prices of Using Cable Cars and Mountain Railways
There are over 500 cable cars and mountain railways in Switzerland. Most of them operate in summer and winter except on days with terrible weather. Some of them have a short break after winter (typically a few weeks after Holy Week) and a few weeks after the summer season. Some of them run all year round. Holders of the Half-Fare Travelcard can get some discounts.
Cable cars are generally expensive, particularly the well-known ones such as Jungfraujoch, Zermatt, and those in Engadin.
Prices for Cable Car Tickets are as follows (as of June 2023):
|Ticket||Full Fare (CHF)||Reduced Fare, Teens or Seniors (CHF)||Kids (CHF)|
|Interlaken Ost to Jungfraujoch Round Trip||239.20||119.60|
|Jungfrau 3-Day Travel Pass (without Jungfraujoch)||190.00||145.00||30.00 (6-15 years)|
|Jungfrau 3-Day Travel Pass (with Jungfraujoch)||+ 75 per person||+ 75 per person|
|St. Moritz Diavolezza Return (Summer)||44.00||29.50||14.50 (6-12 years)|
|St. Moritz Surlej-Corvatsch Return (Summer)||64.00||32.00||32.00 (6-12 years)|
|Davos Jakobshorn Return (Summer)||42.00||29.00 (13-17 years)||17.00 (6-12 years)|
|Davos Parsenn Gotschna Day Card (Summer)||46.00||32.00 (13-17 years)||18.00 (6-12 years)|
|Klosters Madrisa Return (Summer)||30.00||21.00 (13-17 years)||15.00 (6-12 years)|
|Flims Laax Falera Day Card (Summer)||51.00||45.90 (seniors, starting 64 years)||25.50 (6-17 years)|
|Zermatt Matterhorn Paradise Alpine Crossing Return (Summer)||240.00||147.50||120.00|
Prices of Hotels and Apartments
Swiss hotels, whether 3-, 4- or 5-star, are generally of good quality. The cleanliness standards are excellent. It is hard to find a bad hotel in Switzerland. Apartments have a similar price range to hotels. Some go for as cheap as CHF 60 per night. And some are very luxurious and cost more than a thousand Francs per night. Apartments do not, however, always have an official classification.
Prices for Hotel Rooms are as follows (as of June 2023):
|Hotel Class||Price Range, Double Room (CHF)|
|Luxury (5-stars)||CHF 250 to CHF 700+|
|First Class (4-stars)||CHF 110 to CHF 500|
|Middle Class (3-stars)||CHF 100 to CHF 400|
|Economy Class (1- to 2-stars)||CHF 91 to CHF 300|
Prices of Restaurants
The Restaurant industry employs some 261,000 employees as of 2018 spread across more than 28,000 hotel and restaurant establishments (see Reference). Restaurants in Switzerland generally provide good food and fast service.
You can expect to pay around CHF 25 for a dish and CHF 5 for one drink in most normal-priced restaurants. However, some will of course charge more and some less. The good thing about restaurants is that they are obliged by law to display their menu and prices outside.
You can decide before entering if you are comfortable with the prices. Excellent restaurants can cost easily CHF 200 per person if you include the full meal (appetizer, main course, dessert) and wine.
Those who want to save money can check out the restaurant’s daily menu (Tagesmenu in German, menu de jour in French). This is served during lunchtime from noon until 2 PM. Together with the house wines (Offener Wein in German, vin ouvert in French), you can get a reasonably-priced meal during lunch. Restaurants also typically half portions for children. Some will even have a separate children’s menu. Children’s portions also command a lower price.
Prices in Bars and Cafés
Bars are open from morning to midnight and offer some food and drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic). Cafés, on the other hand, do not sell alcoholic drinks.
In Swiss bars, normally you don’t pay as you are served drinks. The bill comes at the end of the evening including all the drinks ordered throughout the evening. The prices are normally CHF 5 per non-alcoholic drink and CHF 7 to CHF 10 per alcoholic drink (cocktail or 1 glass of wine).
Prices of Museum and Art Gallery Tickets
Switzerland has a rich cultural heritage, and visitors can explore this through its many museums and cultural events. Some of the most popular museums are the Kunsthaus Zurich, the Swiss National Museum, and the Swiss Museum of Transport in Lucerne. Visitors can also attend cultural events such as music festivals, theater performances, and art exhibitions.
Prices for museum admission and cultural events vary. Sometimes, you can even get discount cards from your hotel or B&B. but expect to pay around CHF 20-30 for museum admission and up to CHF 100 for some cultural events.
Museum prices vary and can range generally from CHF 10 to CHF 32 per Adult. Some travel cards like the Zurich City Pass offer free entrance to museums for the duration of the card’s validity. It is best to check the museum’s website for more detailed information regarding prices and reductions.
Prices of Cinema Tickets
Cinema prices vary and can range depending on the location and movie. It costs CHF 18 to CHF 30 per Adult.
Prices of Doing Various Sports
Hiking, skiing, and snowboarding will cost as much as you need cable car or mountain railway tickets. Hiking is totally free if you have no need for cable cars and/or mountain railways. Skiing, on the other hand, is normally dependent on using the cable car infrastructure. Please check the Cable cars and mountain railways price list for more information.
If you would like to learn more about how expensive skiing is, you can check out our article here: Think Skiing In Switzerland Is Too Expensive? Here’s How to Enjoy It for Less.
Swimming is generally not so expensive compared to other activities. It costs between CHF 3.50 and CHF 10.00 per Adult to go inside the indoor or outdoor swimming area.
Prices of Goods In Supermarkets
Grocery shopping is also expensive in Switzerland. The biggest supermarket chains in Switzerland are Coop and Migros which typically have high prices. In some smaller towns, they have Volg and Spar.
However, there are cheaper options available at discount supermarkets such as Denner, Aldi, and Lidl.
Switzerland is also well-known for its delicious chocolate and cheese. Swiss chocolate is made with high-quality ingredients and comes in a variety of types such as milk chocolate, white chocolate, dark chocolate, chocolate with caramel, and even vegan chocolates. You can find Swiss chocolate in most grocery stores like Coop and Migros as well as specialty chocolate shops like Läderach, with prices starting at a few francs for a small bar.
Prices for Food bought from Coop are as follows (as of June 2023):
|Milk Chocolate Bar (Lindt)||2.45|
|Gruyère surchoix bar||6.35|
|Evian Mineral Water||1.87 per liter|
|Nestea Iced Tea Lemon||2.50 per liter|
|Coca-Cola Original||3.01 per liter|
|A loaf of bread||3.50|
|Chicken Meat (Packaged, Varying Cuts and Weight)||8.45 – 14.10|
|Fresh Salad (Packaged, Varying Cuts and Weight)||2.95 – 4.30|
- Train prices – https://sbb.ch/
- Zurich ship prices – https://www.zsg.ch/en/
- Lake Lucerne ship prices – https://www.lakelucerne.ch/
- Lake Geneva ship prices – https://www.cgn.ch/de/
- Lake Locarno ship prices – http://www.lakelocarno.com/
- Taxi sample prices – https://taxiwallisellen.ch/, https://www.7×7.ch/
- Jungfrau and Interlaken prices – https://www.jungfrau.ch/
- Corvatsch prices – https://www.corvatsch.ch/
- Diavolezza prices – https://www.diavolezza.ch/
- Davos prices – https://www.davos.ch/
- Flims Laax Falera prices – https://www.flimslaax.com/
- Zermatt prices – https://www.matterhornparadise.ch/
- Saas-Fee prices – https://www.saas-fee.ch/
- Hotel prices – https://www.booking.com/
- Cinema prices – https://www.cineman.ch/
- Prices of goods – https://www.coop.ch/de/
- 1 Marcus, Lilit. These are the world’s most expensive cities to live in 2022. CNN. Accessed on 16 June 2023. https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/world-most-expensive-cities-economist-2022/index.html
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Darla Uhl is the owner of TouringSwitzerland.com. Her home is in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. Having lived almost 20 years in Switzerland, she's traveled extensively all over the country.
Darla's favorite regions to visit in Switzerland include Engadin, Lake Geneva, Bernese Oberland, Ticino, and Valais. She loves spending time with her family, hiking, visiting museums, and reading books.