Experience Transat

How to Visit Zurich on a Budget This Year

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Let’s admit it right away: Zurich doesn’t appear to be the best option for budget-minded travellers. The city is often listed as one of the most expensive in the world… And once you’re there, it’s clear that these lists aren’t wrong. Sandwiches at CHF 20 and hotels at CHF 500 per night are common in the Switzerland metropolis. Of all European destinations, it remains one of the most expensive, and its so-called “budget” spots should be taken with a grain of salt. Prices are indeed relative! The question then arises: is it possible to visit Zurich on a budget?

Here are some tips on how to save precious francs during your stay and make the most of your precious travel budget.

How can I spend less in Zurich? Our useful tips!

  • Zurich is just an hour’s train ride from Basel. It’s a destination served by direct Air Transat flights all summer long. Check the sales page regularly to take advantage of low-cost airfares to Switzerland!
  • There are many easy ways to make the most of your precious travel budget at your destination, such as traveling in the shoulder seasons or using public transportation.
  • At only CHF 29 for 24 hours or CHF 56 for 72 hours, the Zurich pass offers interesting savings. First of all, it provides free transportation from the city center throughout the entire Zurich region. This includes a cruise on Lake Zurich, cable car up the Uetliberg, and a return trip by train from the airport. It also includes free admission to most tourist attractions and extras at participating restaurants.
  • Like many European cities, Zurich becomes a ghost town on Sundays. Most shops and attractions are closed on this weekend day. Plan your schedule accordingly!
  • Water is almost always sold by the bottle in restaurants, so use it sparingly to avoid adding to your bill. Conversely, the city has hundreds of drinking fountains where you can refill your bottle for free.
  • Only have 48 hours in Zurich? This guide offers several activities and restaurants to maximize your time (and money!) in the city.

Accommodation: Zurich hotels on a budget

To stay in Zurich, you’ll need to spend at least CHF 150 to 250 per night for a double room. Even in the cheap accommodations! However, the Swiss transportation system is as efficient as you can imagine. So don’t hesitate to leave the city center and the surroundings of the main station to enjoy the advantageous prices of the outskirts when looking for Airbnb or hotels in Zurich. You may just find the perfect option!

Is it expensive to eat out in Zurich?

When it comes to affordable restaurants, Zurich certainly does not offer the same variety as, say, Berlin or London. Finding a place that offers a meal for two for less than CHF 75 is more of a miracle than a reality!

Below are a few budget restaurants in Zurich:

  • delish – la pinseria: The Sunday meeting place for Zürichers. It serves various pastries and light salads in a sober and modern decor, right in the heart of the old town.
  • Spaghetti Factory: Several affordable variations on the spaghetti theme. Several market inspirations offered between 15 and 24 CHF per dish, depending on the sides chosen.
  • La Stanza: Bright café with a large terrace, away from the crowds of Bahnofstrasse, filled with young locals. Affordable drinks and cappuccinos for only CHF 5.
  • Tschingg: Pleasant European chain offering a pasta dish of the day (with ingredients from local markets) cooked in front of your eyes for less than 12 CHF.
  • Sternen Grill: This almost legendary place attracts both locals and tourists with its high-quality sausages. They are sold between 6 and 8 CHF and served in a casual manner.
  • Café Lang: The perfect place for guilt-free people watching! All in a modern yet cozy setting, complemented by quality coffee and pastries.

Things to do in Zurich on a budget

Thankfully, Zurich offers a range of budget-friendly options that promise a memorable experience without breaking the bank. 

If you’re not afraid of heights, climbing the Grossmünster bell tower (on foot!) costs the small fee of CHF 5 and offers a spectacular view of all of Zurich from 62 meters up.

For the outdoorsy types, Züri rollt provides free bicycle rentals (against a deposit of CHF 20) allowing you to explore the city at your own pace. You can also enjoy a leisurely walk along the Lake Zürich promenade or the Limmat river for some stunning views. If you’re interested in arts and culture, most of Zurich’s museums offer reduced rates or even free entry on certain days. Key places to visit include the Swiss National Museum or the Zoological Museum. 

For the more lazy, head to the romantic Jules Verne Panorama Bar, which is located inside the Brasserie Lipp, and take the elevator to the 10th floor, where, for the price of a coffee, you can get a clear view of the city and the lake of the same name. It’s not uncommon to see Swiss couples there on a romantic date!

Otherwise, the Swiss metropolis is an attraction in itself. Walks along the azure- and emerald-hued lake are free and peaceful, while the steep streets of the old town provide that enchantment so sought after in Europe. There are also many elegantly landscaped gardens, including two botanical gardens and a Chinese garden.

For something a little different, head to Zürich-West, a bustling area in full development, where you can find shops, clubs and pop-up restaurants under the arches of an abandoned railway viaduct or in former shipyards. Change of scenery guaranteed!

Additionnally, there are plenty of either free or tip-only walking tours available in Zurich. It’s the best way to explore the city, discover its highlights, and landmarks locations on a tight budget.

The comments and contributions expressed are assumed only by the author. The recommendations, intentions or opinions expressed are not necessarily those of Transat AT Inc. or its affiliates. See terms of use of the Air Transat website.

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