Switzerland has earned a reputation of being an expensive place to visit in Europe. I found this to be true when I visited Interlaken. However, there are some ways to save money on transport, swiss food and accommodation. Here is my money-saving guide to Interlaken Switzerland; Jump to relevant sections by clicking on the links below:
- Save Money on Transport
- Save Money on Accommodation in Interlaken Switzerland
- Save Money on Swiss Food
Swiss Travel Pass or SwissPass
With the Swiss Saverpass also known as the Swiss Travel Pass or SwissPass, you can get unlimited travel on train, bus and boats on the Swiss Travel Network. The passes can be purchased for a duration ranging from 3 to 15 consecutive days or within a month. Prices start from $234 for a second-class pass per adult. If you are staying in Switzerland for less than 15 days then the Swiss Travel Pass or SwissPass is an excellent choice. However, if you are planning to stay longer, then buy the Swiss Half Fare Card that gives you unlimited travel on train, bus and boats for half fare for about a month. Also, you get free access to 500 museums in Switzerland with the Swiss Travel Pass. For more information about the Swiss Travel Pass and Half Fare Card visit: Switzerland by Rail.
Guest Card or Visitor Card in Interlaken Switzerland
Tourists visiting Switzerland are charged an extra amount called the “Resort Tax” or the “Tourist Tax” for every night of their stay which is used to keep up the tourist infrastructure. In exchange for this tax, you get a Guest Card or Visitor Card from the hotel/hostel you are staying at in Interlaken, Habkern or Beatenberg. This card gives you free access to public transport in zone 80 and travel to Iseltwald, Saxeten and Niederried. Further, this card also gives you a fare reduction on the funicular that takes you to the top of Harder Kulm and Schynige Platte. Find more information on the Visitor Card
here: Visitor Card.
*Travel Tip: Make sure you budget for the tourist tax separately. Most hotel accommodations don’t show the tax upfront when you book the hotel but you are charged on arrival.
Jungfrau Travel Pass
If you are traveling only in the Jungfrau region of Switzerland (Interlaken, Mürren, Jungfraujoch and Grindelwald) then this pass is useful. It gives you unlimited travel on all modes of transport and can be purchased for 3, 4, 5 or 6 days. It also gives discounts on some attractions as well. However, this pass is not valid on buses within Interlaken. You can use the Visitor Card for free transport in Interlaken. Find more information about the pass here: Jungfrau Travel Pass.
The Eurail/ InterRail pass is an all-in-one train ticket which gives you the option to hop-on and hop-off trains across 24 countries in Europe contingent to the type of pass you have purchased. I found that this pass is especially useful if your travel itinerary spans 4 or more countries in Europe and your travel plans are not predetermined. There are three options available for Eurail passes : Eurail Saver Pass– explore 5 or more countries, Eurail Select Pass – explore 4 or more countries and the one country pass. Unfortunately, the one country pass option is not available for Switzerland. However, if you are a holder of a Eurail Select Pass or the Eurail Saver Pass, you can get huge discounts on travel, accommodations and attractions in Switzerland.
The SBB APP gives you up to date information on train schedules, platform changes, helps you buy tickets on the go and reserve your seats. It is available for both Iphone and Android mobile phones. It is a very useful app for a frequent traveler; especially the SuperSaver Tickets on the app which can save you up to 50% in train fares.
Google search analytics show that about 132 people every month ask the question – Where to stay in Switzerland. A quick search will show that Interlaken has many high-end resorts and low-budget hostels to cater to everyone’s needs. However, if saving money while having a comfortable stay is your main priority, follow these tips:
Balmers Backpackers Hostel
Balmers Backpackers Hostel is not just an ordinary dormitory style hostel. This hostel is well-known in the backpacker community as a party destination. The hostel hosts its own in-house DJ and guest DJ for a thriving night life scene every weekend. It also has a tent-style village with hammocks, jacuzzi, a bar and a pool. If that was not enough, the hostel has organized activities for every season and the food is also good.
* Travel Tip: Book in advance as this hostel is in high-demand!
Backpackers Villa Sonnenhof – Hostel Interlaken
If you are over the “party party party” phase of your life, and would rather stay at a family friendly hostel that is clean, budget-friendly and comfortable, then Backpackers Villa Sonnenhof is the perfect place for you. This hostel has individually decorated rooms with facilities such as free parking, free wifi, shared tv area, fully equipped kitchen and washers/dryers. A huge perk of staying here is that each guest receives two tokens per night of stay. You can use these tokens towards free laundry and coffee.
Downtown Hostel Interlaken
If you missed out on the two hostels mentioned above, Downtown Hostel Interlaken is another good option. This hostels also has clean rooms, friendly staff and most importantly it is located in downtown Interlaken.
Airbnb and Homestay
With the advent of Airbnb and Homestay, you have more accomodation options to choose from. You can choose to rent a private room or an entire apartment for the duration of your stay. The advantage of Airbnb is that you get to mingle more with the locals and have access to facilities like a fully equipped kitchen and laundry which is a major money saver. If you don’t already have an airbnb account, you can use my link to get $35 off (amount subject to your country of residence) on your first stay off Airbnb . Please note some locations are excluded from this offer.
Travel during the off-shoulder/off-peak seasons(spring or autumn). Most resorts and hotels are open in early spring and cost less due to low demand. Be warned though that the weather conditions may mean that some of the attractions, hiking trails are closed. check out this website for the best time to visit Switzerland.
Swiss Food is very expensive. Especially, swiss food and alcohol in sit-down style restaurants is costlier than in other European countries. Of course, tasting and enjoying swiss food is part of the Switzerland experience. So, occasionally splurge on their amazing chocolates and cheese (Fondue… Yum!). However, for everyday breakfast lunch and dinner try these options:
Eat at Migros or Coop
You can find reasonably priced swiss food at grocery stores such as Migros (not Migrolino), Coop (not Coop pronto), Aldi and Lidl. Migros grocery stores even serve hot food and have an in grocery self-serve restaurant. I ate at a self serve restaurant at Migros in Interlaken; The food was delicious and well-priced.
Don’t buy bottled water
The water from the tap in Interlaken Switzerland is completely safe and drinkable. Fill up your water bottle at the hotel. If the bottle is empty during the course of the day, you can fill it up at these fountains that are located all over Interlaken. These fountains are not just for decoration, they actually are there to give people with drinking water. If the water is not drinkable, then there is a clear warning sign saying ‘eau non potable’. Otherwise, drink away!
Alcohol is expensive in bars and restaurants. So consider buying your beer at the local grocery store mentioned before. Drinking in public is legal in Switzerland. So, find your favourite scenic spot and enjoy your drink.
Cook Your Own Food
Find accommodation with some basic kitchen facilities. Eg. accommodation in hostels such as Backpackers Villa Sonnenhof , Airbnb or Homestays with access to kitchen facilities are excellent options. Instead of spending a ton of money on swiss food in restaurants, cook your own food or make quick sandwiches.
I hope these tips save you money on your travels. If my comments helped you in any way or if you have more tips to add to this list, please let me know in the comments.
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