Spending time (and money!) in Switzerland

Switzerland is a country that has a reputation for a few things:


While most of these stereotypes exist, the only real one we encountered were the mountains upon mountains upon mountains. Majestic mountains that took our breath away and provided us with many humbling, vulnerable moments as we realized just how small we were in the grand scheme of creation. The only thing that would have made our time in Switzerland better would have been if we ate cheese and chocolate fondue on the mountain while watching Heidi, checking our watches every minute while we whittled away a wood carving on our Swiss Army Knife!

We've tried to intentionally create our itinerary this trip to have the cities we visit be no more than 3 hours away. Any longer than that in the car and we start to get stir-crazy and take for granted the scenery we pass through. Our drive from Freiburg to a town just outside of Zurich called Winterthur was just about two hours, and we had a lovely stop at "Europe's largest waterfall" (The Rhine Falls) on the way. Although it wasn't as big as say, Niagara Falls, it definitely was a cute place to stop, walk around, and take a picnic as a great "rest stop" before getting into Zurich. It's not a place you need a day trip for by any means, but very much worth an hour-long visit as well (and they have ice cream!)

Rolling hills and forests for miles

The Rhine Falls

My chauffer extrordinaire...

Our ultimate destination in Switzerland were the Swiss Alps, but to get there we would need to pass through the Zurich area. An old school friend of mine relocated 7 years ago to Winterthur just outside of Zurich, so it was the perfect opportunity for Timothy and I to pop in the area for a quick visit of two nights. Molly and her husband graciously hosted us in their quaint Swiss apartment and we bonded over shared meals and touring the land they call home.

On the second day in Switzerland, we visited an alpine peak called the Santis, which is 8,000 feet up in the air. In order to reach the top, you must first take a cable car, or you can adventurously hike up 5 - 6 hours along the trails like the intrepid climber you must be. We opted for the cable car. Riding an aerial tram is such a surreal feeling because #1, if you have claustrophia, you will likely not be comfortable whatsoever because they jam people in like sardines, exceeding their maximum load limit quite regularly. Combine that with a fear of heights, and basically you should just close your eyes for the entire ride. Except then you'd miss the incredible views! A better idea would be to grab onto the hand of someone you love (or even a stranger), take deep breaths and know that you're going to be okay. Just trust the Swiss engineers.

Once to the top, I experienced a lightheaded sense of awe that I have never experienced before. Maybe I should take up mountain climbing more often because the views from the Santis were absolutely incredible and unbelievable. You could see Italy, Germany, France, and Lichtenstein all from where we stood, and the sense of humility was stunning as you quickly realized your place in this world. The ride up to the Santis, while expensive at 40 Swiss Francs per person, was absolutely worth every cent (says my husband, which is saying a lot!).

I was actually extremely nervous here. I promptly ran for the fence line to grab onto again! 

We hiked around a bit, had lunch, and just savored the views until it was time to descend the mountain. Our plans took us into Zurich where we meandered the streets, indulged in a Starbucks (even Molly gladly partook as her American roots got the best of her!), and had more "pinch me, I'm in Europe" moments. Zurich reminds me a lot of Stockholm, but I think I prefer Stockholm more. Shhhh, don't tell anyone...

I collect Starbucks mugs from every city... I am that tourist...

Starbucks... you sneaky sneaky...

It was nice having someone along who could take our picture together!

One thing I am completely baffled by is the price of goods and food here. Using a USD barometer in terms of how much something costs in the US (a piece of pizza, a coffee, a shirt, some groceries), I have found London, Sweden and countries using the Euro to be relatively on point, give or take a dollar. However, the price of things in Switzerland are just exorbitant. I truly don't know how the people live and eat here, unless their salaries are just much higher in comparison to the US. For example, a tall cup of coffee at Starbucks is 5.60 CHF. The people are paying 5.60 for a cup of coffee! Then, translate that into USD and we're talking about $6.00. A sandwich we ate was 12 CHF. Pasta was 20 CHF. We have just come to terms that Switzerland is sooooo expensive and not budget friendly to the common people by any means. I think especially since the Euro is low right now, it's hard for other Europeans to travel to Switzerland since it means they'll be paying a lot more than they are used to. It feels like gross inflation to me (and I know they have social services, etc.), but Sweden also has the same services and taxes, and the price of their goods were normal and average ($2 for a coffee, $20 for a sweatshirt, $4 for a slice of pizza, etc. which included their VAT tax).

I do love Switzerland and all it's glory, but our budget is ready to go back into the euro-zone!

Next up: A post dedicated to why I am a baby wuss and can't handle flies and hiking, even in Europe.


  1. UGH I wondered if the prices in the Zurich airport truly reflected Switzerland. They wanted like $50 USD for A COFFEE MUG. That part aside, is Switzerland worth it would you say?

    1. Hmmm. Tough question. I guess it depends on how much money you want to spend and what you really want to see in Switzerland. I think the Swiss have higher salaries in general so a $50 coffee mug or a $6 drip coffee at Starbucks doesn't feel like very much to them as it does to us. However, 1 CHF is about $1.10 US. Which means that when I went to Starbucks and saw 6.50 CHF for a tall coffee, I actually had to pay around $7 for that coffee. $20 for macaroni and cheese at basic places, $10 for wine. So if you really want to ski, see the Alps, be in the mountains, hike, etc., then I definitely recommend a visit, no matter the cost. If you like good wine and good food, I'd more recommend the Rhine region of Germany or northern Italy. Switzerland is beautiful, don't get me wrong, but Germany and Italy are just as good and the Euro to Dollar is AMAZING right now. Maybe at least drive through Switzerland for a couple of nights if you really want to see it, en-route to Germany, France or Italy.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Blogging tips