Budget Travel Zurich: How to Explore Switzerland’s Largest City on a Shoestring

Budget travel Zurich refers to the art of exploring the beautiful city of Zurich while spending wisely. Zurich is a picturesque city, located in Switzerland, that is known for its vibrant culture, cuisine, and stunning landscapes. However, due to its reputation as an expensive city, many travelers shy away from visiting it. Fortunately, with the right tips and tricks, it is possible to experience all that Zurich has to offer on a budget. This introduction will delve into budget travel Zurich, providing useful information on how to save money while still enjoying the beautiful city to the fullest.

Getting to Zurich on a Budget

Affordable Flights to Zurich

Zurich is a popular destination for international travelers, and there are many airlines that offer affordable flights to the city. Some of the budget airlines that fly to Zurich include EasyJet, Ryanair, and Wizz Air. These airlines offer flights from major European cities at a fraction of the cost of traditional carriers.

Alternative Airports

If you’re looking to save even more money, consider flying to an alternative airport and taking a train or bus to Zurich. Some nearby airports include Basel, Geneva, and Friedrichshafen. You can often find cheaper flights to these airports, and the transportation cost to Zurich is relatively low.

Public Transportation from Zurich Airport

Once you arrive at Zurich Airport, take advantage of the city’s excellent public transportation system. The airport is located just 10 kilometers from the city center, and you can take a train or tram directly from the airport to downtown Zurich. The cost of a one-way ticket is 6.80 CHF, and you can purchase tickets at the airport or at any tram or train station.

Budget Accommodation in Zurich

Key Takeaway: You can experience Zurich, Switzerland’s largest city, on a budget by taking affordable flights with budget airlines such as EasyJet, Ryanair, and Wizz Air, flying to alternative airports, and taking advantage of the city’s excellent public transportation system. For budget accommodations, consider staying at hostels, using Airbnb, or camping. To eat on a budget, try street food, shop at supermarkets, or dine at budget restaurants. Exploring Zurich on a budget can be done through free walking tours, free museums, and outdoor activities such as hiking and swimming in Lake Zurich. Consider getting the Zurich Card for unlimited use of public transportation and free or discounted admission to many of the city’s attractions.


Zurich has a variety of hostels that offer affordable accommodations for budget travelers. Some popular options include the Youth Hostel Zurich, the Langstars Backpackers Hostel, and the Zurich City Backpacker Hostel. These hostels offer dormitory-style rooms with shared bathrooms, as well as private rooms for those who prefer more privacy.


Another affordable option for accommodations in Zurich is Airbnb. You can find a variety of options, from private rooms in someone’s home to entire apartments. The prices are often much lower than traditional hotels, and you can save even more money by cooking your meals in the apartment’s kitchen.


If you’re looking for a unique experience and don’t mind roughing it a bit, consider camping in Zurich. There are several campgrounds located outside the city that offer tent and caravan sites. You’ll need to bring your own camping equipment, but the cost of camping is significantly lower than staying in a hotel or hostel.

Eating on a Budget in Zurich

Zurich can be experienced on a budget with affordable flights, alternative airports, and excellent public transportation. Budget accommodations options such as hostels, Airbnb, and camping are available, while street food, supermarkets, and budget restaurants provide eating options on a shoestring. Free walking tours, free museums, and outdoor activities offer ways to explore the city without spending too much. Purchasing a Zurich Card can also provide unlimited public transportation and discounted admission to many attractions. Zurich is a city that can be enjoyed by all, regardless of budget.

Street Food

Zurich has a vibrant street food scene, with many vendors offering affordable and delicious food. Some popular street food options include sausages, falafel, and crepes. You can find street food vendors throughout the city, especially in the Niederdorf neighborhood.


If you’re on a tight budget, consider shopping at the supermarket for your meals. Migros and Coop are two popular supermarket chains in Zurich that offer a variety of affordable food options. You can find fresh produce, bread, cheese, and other snacks for a fraction of the cost of eating out.

Budget Restaurants

While Zurich is known for its high-end restaurants, there are also many budget-friendly options available. Some popular choices include Hiltl, the world’s oldest vegetarian restaurant, and Zeughauskeller, which serves traditional Swiss cuisine at affordable prices.

Exploring Zurich on a Budget

A key takeaway from this text is that traveling to Zurich on a budget is possible by taking advantage of affordable flights, alternative airports, hostels and Airbnb for accommodations, street food and budget-friendly restaurants for food, and free walking tours and outdoor activities for exploring the city. Using the Zurich Card can also provide you with unlimited use of public transportation and free or discounted admission to many of the city’s attractions. With these tips and tricks, you can enjoy all that Zurich has to offer without spending a lot of money.

Walking Tours

One of the best ways to explore Zurich on a budget is by taking a walking tour. There are several free walking tours available, including the Zurich Highlights Tour and the Old Town Tour. These tours are a great way to see the city’s main attractions without spending a lot of money.

Free Museums

Zurich has several museums that are free to visit, including the Swiss National Museum and the Museum of Design. These museums offer a fascinating look at Swiss history and culture, and they’re a great way to spend a rainy afternoon.

Outdoor Activities

Zurich is surrounded by beautiful nature, and there are several outdoor activities that you can enjoy for free or at a low cost. Some popular options include hiking in the nearby mountains, swimming in Lake Zurich, and picnicking in one of the city’s many parks.

Final Thoughts

Zurich is a beautiful city that can be enjoyed on a budget. By taking advantage of affordable accommodations, street food, and free activities, you can experience all that Zurich has to offer without breaking the bank. So pack your bags, grab your passport, and get ready for an unforgettable budget travel experience in Zurich.

Zurich is a city that is known for its high-end shopping, luxury hotels, and gourmet restaurants. However, it is possible to experience all that Zurich has to offer on a budget. In this article, we’ll provide you with tips and tricks for getting to Zurich affordably, finding budget accommodations, eating on a budget, and exploring the city without breaking the bank.

Zurich Card

If you’re planning to do a lot of sightseeing in Zurich, consider purchasing the Zurich Card. This card provides unlimited use of public transportation, as well as free or discounted admission to many of the city’s museums and attractions. The card is available for 24 or 72 hours and can be purchased at any tram or train station.

FAQs for Budget Travel Zurich

What is the best time to visit Zurich for budget travel?

The best time to visit Zurich for budget travel is during the shoulder season, which lasts from March to May and September to November. During these months, accommodation and transportation costs are generally cheaper compared to the peak season. Additionally, tourists are fewer, and the attractions are not as crowded, giving you the opportunity to explore the city at a more relaxed pace.

What are some affordable accommodations in Zurich?

Zurich is known to be an expensive city, but there are still affordable accommodations available. Hostels are a popular option, such as the Langstars Backpackers or City Backpacker, which offer budget-friendly rates for dormitory-style rooms. Another option is Airbnb, where you can find rooms or apartments for rent at a reasonable price. If you prefer traditional hotels, look for ones outside the city center, as they tend to be less expensive.

How can I save money on transportation in Zurich?

Zurich has an excellent public transportation system consisting of trams, buses, and trains, making it easy to get around the city. One of the ways to save money on transportation is by purchasing a Zurich Card, which offers unlimited travel on all modes of public transportation in the city, as well as discounted admission to some museums and attractions. Another option is to rent a bike, as Zurich has an extensive cycling network that covers most areas of the city.

What are some affordable activities to do in Zurich?

There are several affordable activities to do in Zurich, such as visiting the city’s parks and gardens, including the Chinese Garden or the Blatterwiese Park. You can also explore the city on foot, wandering the charming streets and discovering the historic buildings and museums. The Zurich Street Parade is also an annual event that is free to attend, showcasing some of the city’s best electronic music.

What are some budget-friendly restaurants in Zurich?

Dining in Zurich can be expensive, but there are still some budget-friendly restaurants available. For example, you can try the Hiltl restaurant, which is a vegetarian and vegan buffet that serves fresh and healthy food at a reasonable price. Another option is the Wurst & Moritz, which serves authentic Swiss sausages along with a variety of toppings and sides. Finally, you can buy food from the local supermarkets and enjoy a picnic in one of Zurich’s parks.

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