For members


13 things that are actually ‘cheaper’ in Switzerland

Switzerland regularly tops rankings of the most expensive countries in the world and it is unlikely to win any prizes for being a budget destination. But not everything in the country costs a small fortune.

An 'open' sign in a shop window.
Surprisingly, some things are actually cheaper in Switzerland.Photo by Mike Petrucci on Unsplash

We asked our readers what they think is actually good value in Switzerland. Here is what you told us.

1) Single-day travel passes from local town halls

Many town halls around Switzerland offer single-day travel passes which allow local residents to travel on almost all of the Swiss public transport network for around 40 Swiss francs. To see whether you commune offers this service, see here.

Readers also pointed out that the SBB/CFF’s supersaver tickets can be good value. And purchasing a half-fare travel card for the rail network is also considered a good investment. This half-fare card provides a 50-percent discount on rail, bus and boat travel across Switzerland. It costs 185 francs for the first year and then 165 francs for subsequent years.

2) Public transport for children

The SBB/CFF Junior travelcard allows children from the aged of six up to the 16th birthday to travel for a whole year for 30 Swiss francs if they are travelling with a parent who has a valid ticket. This Junior travelcard is also free from the third child on. More here

3) Eating at the Migros restaurant

The restaurants of the supermarket chain Migros are, by Swiss standards, a good, cheap place to eat with main course at lunchtime costing around 10 Swiss francs. There is also a reasonable breakfast option with a couple of bread rolls, butter and jam and a hot drink costing around 7 francs.

Another relatively cheap option in Switzerland are the set menus (Tagesmenü/menu du jour) that many restaurants offer at lunchtime.

4) Electronics

Several readers noted the prices for electronics in Switzerland were hard to beat, at least compared to elsewhere in Europe, partly because of the lower value-added tax rate in Switzerland (the standard rate is 7.7 percent).

One reader also noted that the warranty period is good in Switzerland. Two years is standard for new products.

5) Motorway tax sticker

Switzerland’s “spotless” and “top class” roads came in for praise from our readers who said the 40-franc sticker required to travel on the country’s motorway network was good value. There is a link to a map of the roads where this sticker is required here.

6) Schools

Switzerland’s public education system is excellent and – as a couple of our readers pointed out – absolutely free. In fact, this right to an “adequate” and free basic education is even guaranteed in the Swiss constitution.

With childcare also often based on parents’ income levels, this can be surprisingly affordable, as another reader noted.

The right to free, basic education is enshrined in the Swiss constitution. Photo by note thanun on Unsplash

7) University tuition

The tuition fees at Swiss universities are low by the standards of many other countries. At the prestigious ETH technical institute in Zurich, for example, tuition and semester fees total 649 francs a semester. But this has to be balanced against the estimated 16–26,000 francs in study and living costs students spend every year.

8) Good wine and beer

Our readers pointed out that supermarkets in Switzerland sell relatively good-quality wine and beer for much cheaper prices than you’d find elsewhere. 

9) City parking

A few people noted that car parking in Swiss cities is cheaper than “back home” with rates of 1 franc an hour not uncommon.

10) Pool and water park entrance fees

Both single-entry tickets and season passes for outdoor pools are good value in Switzerland, according to readers of The Local.

11) Ikea and H&M

A number of our readers pointed out that clothes at stores like H&M and furniture from Ikea are actually very similarly priced in Switzerland as compared with other countries. With wages, generally higher in Switzerland, this means these products are relatively cheap.

12) Fuel (petrol, diesel and gasoline)

Filling up a tank is surprisingly cheaper in Switzerland than in neighbouring countries, which is unusual, as prices for most goods are lower across the border. 

A reason for this is comparatively lower tax rates on petrol in Switzerland. Only Austria has lower fuel taxes than Switzerland (among Switzerland’s neighbours). 

“German, but above all French, ‘fuel tourists’” get their petrol in Switzerland, Blick reports.

So if you’ve been crossing the border to go shopping, fill up your tank when back on Swiss territory if you want to save. 

READ MORE: Where in Switzerland can you find the cheapest fuel?

13) Fresh air, mountains

Last but not least, many readers pointed out that many of the best things about Switzerland are actually free – from clean air and high levels of safety to the wonderful scenery and the amazing network of public footpaths that allow you to explore the county at a walking pace.

The ‘Blue Lake’ above Arolla in the canton of Valais. Entry cost: zero. Photo: AFP

Member comments

  1. All great points above. I’ll add a small one – the Migros brand Krauter Shampoo is fantastic, and a great value at 1 franc. Our family loves it.

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For members


Reader question: Can I save money in Switzerland by buying products on foreign websites?

With the cost of living soaring due to inflation, many consumers in Switzerland are looking for ways to save money. Could buying goods abroad through foreign websites be a good solution?

Reader question: Can I save money in Switzerland by buying products on foreign websites?

With the Swiss franc still stronger than the euro, ordering your products online from European distributors could indeed be cheaper than paying Swiss prices.

A recent report by the RTS public broadcaster, found that even some Swiss products are cheaper when purchased abroad — for instance, capsules for Nespresso coffee machines cost less on the company’s German site than they do in Switzerland.

This applies to a variety of products, ranging from food and beverages to clothing.

In fact, shopping on foreign platforms became a lot easier for the Swiss in January 2022, when ‘geoblocking’ — the practice that restricts access to Internet content based on the user’s geographical location — was banned in Switzerland.

This means Swiss customers are no longer denied the possibility of buying on foreign shopping platforms.

However, there are things to consider before you go on a shopping spree “abroad”, such as additional charges.

While something may appear to be a really great deal in comparison to Swiss prices, keep in mind that the purchase may be subject to customs duties.

According to the Federal Office for Customs and Border Security (BAZG) “the customs duties are generally calculated according to the gross weight (including packaging), and are often less than 1 franc per kilo. Particularly alcoholic beverages, tobacco goods, foodstuffs, textiles and jewellery items are subject to higher customs duties”.

In other words, before you order something that you think is a really good deal, find out if any additional charges will be due; depending on the amount, the final cost may not make it worthwhile for you to purchase abroad.

The good news is that, as BAZG points out, goods ordered from “countries with which Switzerland has concluded a free trade agreement or from developing countries can usually be imported duty-free or at reduced rates”.

You can find out more information about which countries are included, here.

But you could face other problems as well.

As the RTS reported, while ordering items abroad is easy, having them delivered to Switzerland may not be.

As a test, the RTS team tried to order common products, such an Ikea piece of furniture, a vacuum cleaner, and brand-name sneakers — all of which are more affordable abroad — but discovered that “it was impossible to get these objects delivered to Switzerland”.

That’s because on some shopping platforms a customer can’t change the destination country — it is embedded on the site and blocked.

At some of these  merchants, “the customer is even directly redirected to the Swiss site if an address in Switzerland is indicated”, RTS said. This means you will end up paying Swiss prices.

Sophie Michaud Gigon, general secretary of the consumer protection association FRC, told RTS that some foreign sites have not yet adapted to the law prohibitng geoblocking.

And there is something else too that you should pay attention to online.

Say you prefer to avoid foreign sites and shop in Switzerland instead. This could be a problem as well.

Under the Swiss law, it is possible to obtain a domain name ending in .ch, even though these companies are  located abroad. This has proven to be misleading to many Switzerland-based customers.

That’s why many clients who believe they are ordering from a supplier in Switzerland are actually buying from a foreign company — a fact that they only discover when they have to pay customs duty.

The only way to avoid this trap, according to FRC, is to call the number on the company’s website and ask where they are located.