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TRAVEL NEWS

How the strong Swiss franc is making holidays abroad cheaper

After the gloomy news about various disruptions marring vacation travel this year, there is one bright spot: Switzerland’s currency.

How the strong Swiss franc is making holidays abroad cheaper
Holidaying abroad is cheaper thanks to a strong franc. Photo: Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels

Recent news reports have focused on the negative aspects of foreign travel this year, with inflation and rising fuel costs causing the price of air tickets to soar.

Add to that other inconveniences such as flight delays and possible strikes – and holidays all of a sudden don’t seem so restful.

School holidays: Where are Switzerland’s traffic and airport delays the worst?

However, some positive developments are emerging as well: the franc has strengthened 10 percent against the euro, which means vacationing in most European countries this year will be cheaper for people who earn their salaries in Switzerland.

This applies to the most popular holiday destinations such as Italy, France, Portugal and Spain, among others. In those countries, you will spend less on accommodations, food, entertainment, and other expenditures than people living in the eurozone.

Right now, 1 franc will buy you 1.009 euros, so if you exchange 1,000 francs, you will get 1,009 euros. On the whole, this amount will buy you more in eurozone countries than in Switzerland.

Experts say you can save even more if you drive to your destination abroad rather than fly.

“Travel by car is very attractive today, A litre of petrol costs 2 euros in France, or just under 2 francs, compared to 2.3 francs here”, according to John Plassard, investment specialist at the Mirabaud bank.

READ MORE: Reader question: Can I leave Switzerland to fill up my car in Germany?

But that’s not all: as the franc has also strengthened against other major currencies like the US dollar and British pound, you will get more bang out of your money in some countries outside Europe as well.

You can see the current conversion rate between the franc and other currencies here.

Why is the Swiss franc so strong even amid international turmoil?

Paradoxically, geo-political upheavals, such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, are the major reason for this phenomenon: foreign investors view Switzerland as a safe haven in a turbulent world.

Its stable economy is also a plus, while the low national debt and the current account surplus are also contributory factors in the strength of the franc. 

READ MORE : Parity with the euro: Why the Swiss franc is now so strong

Can the strong franc offset inflation and travel woes?

The franc’s strength can only be “felt” abroad, not while spending money in Switzerland, so the degree to which it can offset overall cost of living increases is minimal. 

With inflation on the rise — having reached 3.4 percent in June, up from 2.6 percent in April — the cost of living is continuing to rise in Switzerland.

This increase concerns a variety of products, ranging from energy to food, and there is no relief in sight for the foreseeable future; in fact, Swiss authorities say that prices will continue to climb.

READ MORE: Seven products that are becoming more expensive in Switzerland

On the travel front, aside from the above-mentioned strength of Swiss currency once you actually get to a foreign country, expect cancellations of flights, chaos at airports, and delays in air as well as on the road.

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TRAIN TRAVEL

Five European cities you can reach from Zurich in less than five hours by train

Switzerland is a beautiful country, but it also has a great location right in the centre of Europe, making it an ideal starting point for train travel. Here are five destinations you can reach in less than five hours from Zurich.

Five European cities you can reach from Zurich in less than five hours by train

As summer is still in full swing and there are many vacation days (or free weekends) to enjoy the sunny weather, it’s not the wrong time to do some travelling. Switzerland is a beautiful country, but it’s also centrally located in Europe. This means that many major European cities are reachable in just a few hours.

If you are located in Zurich, for example, then you are very near Germany, France, Italy, Liechtenstein and Austria. In less than five hours, visiting beautiful cities in these five countries is possible by taking a comfortable train ride.

So, select your final destination, get your ticket, and enjoy the ride.

READ ALSO: Switzerland’s ten most beautiful villages you have to visit

From Zurich to Strasbourg

It will take you just about 2 hours and 30 minutes (including time to stop and change trains in Basel) to get from Zurich’s mains station to the beautiful and historical city of Strasbourg, in northeast France.

Prices vary depending on several factors, but we found one-way tickets for just around CHF 23 on a Friday.

From Zurich to Munich

The capital of Bavaria can be reached from Zurich’s central station on a direct train in just 3 hours 30 minutes, allowing for short stays.

Munich may seem quite far away on a map, but the fast trains without stopovers actually make the journey quick and pleasant. We found one-way tickets for around CHF 70 on a Friday trip.

From Zurich to Vaduz

The capital of Liechtenstein is easy to reach in less than 2 hours from the Zurich central station. In fact, some journeys will take just about 1 hour and 30 minutes.

The lovely town bordering Switzerland has many tourist attractions, from its pedestrian historical centre to castles and parks. Train ticket prices always vary, but we found tickets for a one-way journey on a Friday costing CHF 20.

READ ALSO: Travel: What are the best night train routes to and from Switzerland?

From Zurich to Milan

Depending on the train you take, you can get from Zurich to Italy’s fashion capital in three to four hours with a direct train.

Before 2016, when the Gotthard Base Tunnel was opened to rail traffic, a trip from Zurich to Milan took an hour longer. It’s possible to find tickets for about CHF 70 for a one-way trip on a Friday.

From Zurich to Innsbruck

From Zurich, it is possible to hop on a direct train and, in just over 3 hours and 30 minutes, arrive in the beautiful town of Innsbruck, in the mountains of Tyrol.

Ticket costs vary, but we found tickets for a relatively short-notice one-way trip on a Friday (without discounts) for CHF 84.

READ ALSO: Five beautiful Swiss villages located near Alpine lakes

Cost:

Fares depend on several factors, such as time of the day and day of the week when you travel.

While a rock-bottom cheap fare may be available one day in the morning, it won’t necessarily be offered the next day (or week) in the afternoon, or vice-versa.

Prices also depend on whether you are entitled to any discounts and which wagon you choose.

If you are interested in travelling farther afield, including with night trains, or if you are in other Swiss cities, these articles provide more information:

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