Switzerland is insanely expensive now – Here are some examples

Switzerland has been a very expensive place for decades now, if not longer. As an independent island toward the south of Europe, prices have long rivalled those in traditionally expensive Scandinavia, but lately, it has broken free to easily be the most expensive on the planet. For the recent movement, the massively overvalued Swiss Franc is to blame, and no one seems to be able to do anything about it.

The largest city, Zurich, has topped both of our lists of the most expensive cities in Europe. Check out the Europe Backpacker Index or the Europe 3-star Traveler Index to find Zurich way out by itself in territory that knocks it off the itinerary of most sane travelers.

And of course lately, things have gotten worse for travelers to Switzerland. The Franc, which for years had been worth around 90 US cents is now worth about US$1.27, with much of that movement coming in just the last few months.

We always track these currency shifts and local prices daily on our City Pages, so check out our main Zurich Prices page for even more details.

Some quick examples:

  • Cheapest hostel bed: US$45.67
  • Movie ticket: US$22.83
  • Big Mac: US$8.50
  • Cheap pint of beer: US$8.88

Prices in Zurich – August 2011

(All prices are in Swiss Franc, converted to US dollars on August 24, 2011)


All things considered, the lodging prices in Zurich aren’t as bad as you might expect, though they are certainly competing with Oslo for the most expensive in Europe.

  • Cheapest hostel dorm bed: City Backpacker/Hostel Biber – 36 / US$45.67
  • Cheapest 2-star hotel: Ziczac Rock – 88 / US$111.64
  • Cheapest 3-star hotel: X-TRA Hotel – 92 / US$116.71
  • Cheapest 4-star hotel: Mercure Stoller Zurich – 196 / US$248.65
  • Cheapest 5-star hotel: Eden au Lac Hotel – 343 / US$435.13


Fortunately, salaries tend to be high in Zurich because now even a short bus ride will cost you over US$5, and everything else is obviously more.

  • Taxi from airport to Zurich city center: 50 / US$63.43 to 65 / US$82.46
  • Airport Express train to city center: 6.20 / US$7.87
  • 3km taxi ride in Zurich: 18 / US$22.84 to 24 / US$30.45
  • Tram/train/bus ride in Zurich: 4 / US$5.07
  • 24-hour tram/train/bus pass: 10 / US$12.67


Zurich’s most popular art museum is now one of the most expensive in the world.

  • Kunsthaus Zurich Museum: 18 / US$22.83
  • Swiss National Museum: 12 / US$15.22
  • Movie ticket: 18 / US$22.83 (13 / US$16.49 for the terrible seats)

Food and drinks

Any budget-conscious traveler is going to need to look into self-catering because even the simplest of meals is insanely expensive when prepared by a Swiss person.

  • McDonald’s Big Mac (just the burger): 6.70 / US$8.50
  • Cheap pint of beer: 7 / US$8.88
  • Sandwich/salad in simple cafe: 9 / US$11.42
  • Single-serving pizza: Margarita 13 / US$16.49
  • Single-serving pizza: Anything with meat 15 / US$19.02 and up
  • Simple Swiss dinner, no alcohol: 18 / US$22.83

Photo by Zürich | Zurich | Zurigo on Flickr

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  1. Lawrence says:

    You are so very right. Maybe check out Oslo and Norway in general for insane prices. I felt like I needed to pay the country to breath their air.