Uncovering Europe's best budget hotels since 2001.
By Audrey Sykes—
Let’s get one thing straight about Zurich: There is nothing you can do to avoid expensive costs. It’s the fifth priciest city in Europe, and even simple fares like tram tickets and Swiss chocolate can be a big pinch from any pocket.
There’s not much you can do, but there is some hope. Try these five tips to help ease the spending:
1. Your best food friend: Coop
The dominating Swiss supermarket chain is Coop (pronounced “cope”). Unlike many European grocery stores, Coop stores are quite large and offer lots of variety. It’s the perfect place to peruse an assortment of fine local chocolates (about two bucks a bar), not to mention the ideal spot to shop for meals to go.
2. Buy the ZurichCARD: Save on transportation, food, museums
I’m not usually one to recommend these touristy offers, but the ZurichCARD is your ticket to a cheap weekend in the city. Buy the 72-hour card for $40 or the 24-hour card for $20 and enjoy care-free, unlimited public transportation anywhere in and around Zurich. Not only that, but the card also gives discounts on nightlife admission, free drinks at restaurants and free entrance to all the museums in Zurich. As the Zurich tourism site says, “So much pleasure for so little money.”
3. Eating out? Shop around
I found meals purchased in department store cafes to be freshly prepared and reasonably priced. From coffees and cakes to salads and warm meals, it’s a Euro thing that’s quite enjoyable and tasty. Department store cafes usually have three to five stations offering the five food groups (complete with spice shakers and fresh herb offerings) at a lower price than nearby restaurants.
4. Continuing on to neighboring countries? Save up
Interestingly, Switzerland is surrounded by countries that offer dramatically cheaper prices for many of the things tourists are interested in. Germany, Austria and Italy carry similar mountain and seasonal souvenirs, while France offers even better food at a lower price (Paris excluded). Thus, while in Switzerland, be frugal with spending francs and wait to enjoy a satisfying splurge with a Swiss neighbor on shopping, dining and sightseeing.
Sure, it’s the oldest tip in the cheapo book, but strolling through this walkable city won’t cost a franc. Take in the amazing scenery. The mountains, lake, and old city quarters are best admired out in the fresh alpine air. Winters can bring crisp, clear and sunny days. Bundle up, slap on some shades and get out there! (Just watch for those patches of ice.)