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Backpacking in Switzerland

Of course, Switzerland does not exactly occupy the first position on the backpacker-to-do list, but it could. Probably only because the country is too close to Germany, few German backpackers explore it. And yet Switzerland has an incredible variety of cultural, sporting and geographical spots to offer. And not only that. During a backpacker adventure in Switzerland you will encounter several cultures with different languages. Whether Rhaeto-Romanic (what is that anyway?), Italian, French or German, you can deepen your different language skills while travelling through the Alpine republic.

Backpacking in der Schweiz - Bernina Panorama

Backpacking in Switzerland – Bernina Panorama

The geographical offers are as varied as the languages. The route through the country goes from very flat to very high. It’s not for nothing that Switzerland is one of the top winter sports nations in the world. With the sports enthusiasts of Switzerland, you can experience daring adventures in the mountains with climbing and canyoning, on the snow slope with skiing, in the mountain lakes with diving or with paragliding. Deep green lakes are embedded in fantastic bizarre mountain landscapes. Swimming, sailing, surfing, everything is possible.

In Switzerland, a hospitable people awaits you who understand tourism. Only a few countries in the world can offer such a perfect tourist infrastructure all year round. You will certainly appreciate the hearty Swiss cuisine during your backpacker trip. But also shopping adventures in the most expensive shopping streets of the world are possible, if the budget allows it. If not, then simply enjoy window shopping.

Experience nature in the Swiss Jura or in the Swiss Alps with the mountain cantons of Valais and Uri or explore historic cities in the lowlands. You can experience Switzerland by official means of transport or explore the country on foot or by bike. A dense network of hiking and cycling trails runs through the country in all directions. Suitable maps can also be found on the Internet. You can stay overnight at camping sites, youth hostels and other accommodation.

The backpacker adventure, however, is not cheap. Since the Swiss franc has been freely traded, costs have changed dramatically. Only those who book skilfully and travel with foresight can keep the backpacker budget small. But this can be achieved with low-cost transport passes. You don’t have to say anything about the money supply itself, because after all you visit the banking nation par excellence.

Backpacking in der Schweiz - Die Alpen

Backpacking in Switzerland – The Alps

Culture in Switzerland

You don’t have to believe that despite the diversity of languages, all Swiss are multilingual. Many can only speak their own language and often English as well. This also has a direct effect on the culture in Switzerland, which can be quite different depending on where you are. The Swiss are not exactly considered to be the most cheerful people ever. Some even call them cellar laughs. But the Swiss can come out of it. Especially when there is something to celebrate. And the Swiss like to celebrate. Traditional regional festivals line up next to supra-regional festivals such as carnival.

And the Swiss are punctual, too. This is due to Calvinist influence. Yodelling is typical of Switzerland, but today it has lost its significance as a means of communication. The alphorn is still blown vigorously. Take a look at Nendaz, the capital of the Alphorn.

And if you are lucky enough to wear a genuine Swiss watch, you will also have a piece of national culture right on your body. No country builds it better than Switzerland. Let yourself be inspired by the various architectural styles, which are often decorated with magnificent carvings. Another typical feature is the traditional costumes.

There are said to be over 700 different costumes in the different regions. There is no uniform kitchen. That’s a good thing. At least for you on your tour, because you can taste numerous different country cuisines in a quite small area. It’s best to try the cuisine on an alp in the mountains. Alpine farming has a long tradition that goes back several thousand years. Maybe you’ll also meet Heidi and Geisenpeter, two Swiss figures who stand for the Swiss people close to nature.

Backpacking in der Schweiz - Natur und Berge

Backpacking in der Schweiz – Natur und Berge

More Backpacker Information about Switzerland

Switzerland is not a low-budget travel destination. Especially after the decoupling of the own currency from the Euro, it became really expensive. During the high season the prices can increase in the tourist resorts, but you know that from somewhere else too. Between 40 and 70 Euros per day should be enough to make your way through the day and take advantage of the cultural offer. Moreover, take advantage of the over- and regional savings offers. Always remember: stay away from the tourist centres during the high season and look for cheaper restaurant alternatives three corners further.

Switzerland also has a lot of highlights to offer backpackers. Discover them by bike, by train or whatever you like. Depending on the season, think of the right backpacker travel equipment and gear. Choose from cultural, geographical or sporting activities. Or combine them.

Switzerland is not a low-budget backpacker country. If you travel in summer, you may pay proud overnight prices. As always and everywhere, the main season and the absolute tourist magnets apply when it is possible to avoid. Life on the Dutch beaches can be a bit more expensive in summer.

Although Switzerland cannot be equated with France in culinary terms, you can look forward to specialities. A Swiss cheese, a crispy Rösti or a Swiss cheese fondue simply cannot be left behind.

On your backpacker tour through Switzerland you can expect some special features of the inhabitants and exciting insider tips. You can discover Switzerland via the mountains or hike along the well-maintained hiking trails. Biking and adventure sports are also very popular in the Alpine republic.

As a German citizen, you have no stress when entering Switzerland. Pay attention to the valid papers. But even if not everything should be 100%, you shouldn’t encounter too big problems when crossing the border as a German. In Switzerland itself you will find first-class medical care.

Backpacker Budget in Switzerland

Budget in der Schweiz

Budget in Switzerland

If you want to travel through Switzerland without having thought about transport, locomotion or accommodation beforehand, you should carry a big purse with you. You can assume that the standard of living everywhere in the country is generally very high. The country is not only one of the richest in Europe, it is also the most expensive. According to official statistics of the Statistical Office of the European Union (Eurostat), the relative price level is much higher than in most other EU countries. The free exchange rate of the Swiss franc has not exactly improved the situation. According to the price comparison page Numbeo you have to expect the following costs for your backpacking trip:

  • Food for 2 persons middle cash restaurant 92.17 €
  • Food for 2 persons simple restaurant about 20 Euro
  • McMeal or McDonalds 11.98 €
  • Local beer (0.5 litres) 5.53 €
  • Import beer (0.33 bottle) 5.07 €
  • Cappuccino 4.05 €
  • Coke/Pepsi (0.33 bottle) 3.59 €
  • Water (0.33 bottle) 3.04 €

Strong prices for the daily consumption alone. What does the normal transport cost. For the single ticket you have to calculate with the municipal system around 2.70 Euro. A monthly pass comes with 69.13 Euro much cheaper. The taximeter starts at 5.99 €. Each further kilometer costs 3,50 euro. If you should let the taxi wait one hour, that can cost 60 euro. Better you take a domestic flight, it will be cheaper for you. Joking aside. Fortunately, you have options. The all-in-one ticket is the solution for all transport problems in Switzerland. Here’s the link to the Swiss Pass page where you can order the pass.

Bus travel in Switzerland

No matter which means of transport you use, the all-in-one ticket for unlimited travel by train, bus and ship is the best way to get away. With the ticket you can use practically the entire Swiss transport network, which after all includes more than 27,000 kilometers of train, bus and boat lines throughout the country. In the larger cities such as Zurich, you can also look around on the websites or for advantageous city passes.

Domestic fares in Switzerland

For a real backpacker a domestic flight is out of the question. It’s also not worth it because the distances are too short. You lose more time checking in, checking out and travelling to the airports than with other transport options.

Rail travel in Switzerland

The same applies here as for transport by bus. You will benefit from discounts of up to 50%, possibly in combination with the SwissTransferTicket or Swiss Travel Pass Flex with the Swiss Pass

Backpacker Route in Switzerland

The best backpacker routes are certainly not in the Mittelland. You should already be heading towards the lakes and mountains. However, it is also worthwhile to visit the partly quite interesting cities like Basel, Zurich and others. However, this is not cheap. You can decide for a region, which is to be recommended, since nearly all cantons are peppered with highlights or you roughly look in such a way times. Let’s have a look what you should visit in such a short time in Switzerland.

Route 1: Backpacker 15 days short trip

  • 2-3 days each or visit the cities of Zurich, Lucerne, Lugano, Montreux and Interlaken on request.
  • 1-2 days to discover the smaller but picturesque cities of Fribourg, Lichtensteig, Martigny, Solothurn, Stein am Rhein, Murten, Neuchâtel, and Solothurn.
  • 1-3 days visiting Swiss lakes. Among the most beautiful are Lake Constance, Lake Thun and Lake Lucerne.
  • 1-2 days experience the old town of Bern, which is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • 1 day Swiss National Park in the Engadine
  • 1 day with one of the various tourist railways. There are several options, including the Glacier-Express, the Bernina-Express, the Wilhelm-Tell-Express and the Centovallibahn.
  • Experience 2-5 days of Swiss mountain scenery. A must is the journey with the Jungfrau Railway from Kleine Scheidegg through the Eiger and Mönch to the Jungfraujoch. The Matterhorn can also be climbed – partly without equipment. You have a spectacular view from the “Passarelle” over Lake Maggiore and the Maggia Valley.

Route 2: Backpacker Intensive Trip (up to 40 days and more)

  • 2-3 days each or visit the cities of Zurich, Lucerne, Lugano, Montreux and Interlaken on request.
  • 1-2 days to discover the smaller but picturesque cities of Fribourg, Lichtensteig, Martigny, Solothurn, Stein am Rhein, Murten, Neuchâtel, and Solothurn.
  • 1-3 days visiting Swiss lakes. Among the most beautiful are Lake Constance, Lake Thun and Lake Lucerne.
  • 1-2 days experience the old town of Bern, which is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • 1 day Swiss National Park in the Engadine
  • 1 day with one of the various tourist railways. There are several options, including the Glacier-Express, the Bernina-Express, the Wilhelm-Tell-Express and the Centovallibahn.
  • Experience 2-5 days of Swiss mountain scenery. A must is the journey with the Jungfrau Railway from Kleine Scheidegg through the Eiger and Mönch to the Jungfraujoch. The Matterhorn can also be climbed – partly without equipment. You have a spectacular view from the “Passarelle” over the Lago Maggiore and on the Maggiatal.
  • 1-2 days glacier plateau of Les Diablerets
  • 1 day Trientschlucht on the Mont Blanc Massif
  • 1-2 days whitewater adventure at Saanen/Gstaad in Pays d’Enhaut through the bizarre gorges of Vanel.
  • 1 day visit 200 meter high Simmen Falls
  • Hike a week in Jura & Three Lakes Land

Travel times in Switzerland

You can travel to Switzerland all year round. After all, the country offers a complete tourist programme at any time of the year. On the same alpine pastures that you hike on foot in summer, you can ski down the slopes in winter. As always the old saying applies: There is no bad weather, there is only bad clothing. You should be prepared for extreme minus temperatures in winter, but that’s the way it should be. In warm weather there is no snow. Here is the best webcam gallery in Switzerland. Can you see what the weather is like – myswitzerland

Backpacker accommodations in Switzerland

As befits a world-famous tourist country, Switzerland also has all kinds of accommodation. On your backpacker tour, you can stay overnight in the most fashionable hotels, for example directly on Lake Geneva, or you can look around for cheaper alternatives. As far as staying overnight in a hostel is concerned, you should be prepared for hefty hostel prices. On the backpacker hostel page Hosteworld you can find the average prices for a bed in a dorm in different Swiss cities.

  • €43.78 Zurich
  • €34.94 Geneva
  • €32.27 Lucerne
  • €39.36 Berne
  • €41.10 Basel
  • €45.48 Zermatt
  • €30.62 Lauterbrunnen
  • €43.29 Lausanne
  • €48.83 Grindelwald

But there are a lot of alternatives to hotels and hostels. And with a little luck you can get a bargain or two, especially outside the summer or winter season. Interesting options can be the overnight stay in holiday flats. This is especially worth it if you are travelling with several people. Typical youth hostels – not hostels – are also available in interesting places and cities.

However, you will need a valid youth hostel card to do this. How about an overnight stay on a farm? It can be cheaper if you work something along. Spartan but cheap is the overnight stay in a real Benedictine monastery. One possibility is the Einsiedeln monastery, which has existed for over 1000 years. You can also sleep in lonely mountain huts. Make yourself comfortable with up to 60 other guests in the Jenatschhütte, which lies far away from the Schuss between the Julier and Albulapass.

Camping in Switzerland

Options are campsites that offer a sufficient number of the most interesting sites in all price ranges. However, it is doubtful whether they are cheaper. You can choose whether you want to camp at idyllic lakes or on alpine pastures. However, you should refrain from wild camping when backpacking through Switzerland. The Swiss don’t like that at all. Here are a few useful camping websites


Food & Drinks in Switzerland

Since Switzerland is not a homogenous country in terms of population structure, various cultural influences unite. This means that when backpacking through a relatively small terrain, you will encounter a varied culture and thus also versatile cuisine that offers some world-famous delicacies.

Those who go to one of the fast food chain restaurants in Switzerland, which are definitely available in every bigger city and every tourist place, can miss some culinary delicacies. After a hike or a sporting or cultural adventure, sit down in a rustic hut or tavern and enjoy the original Swiss cuisine, which is made up of elements of German, French and northern Italian cuisine.

Eating in Switzerland

Probably the most famous Swiss dishes are the Swiss cheese, which you can try in many variations, the Rösti and the Geschnetzeltes. The various types of fondue are also really hearty, whereby the cheese fondue with the schnapps variant not only fills the stomach, but also promises a convivial evening. For the sweet-toothed among you, the Engadine nut cake should be a real palate temptation. Fill your stomach with typical dishes like leek noodles with fondue sauce, cheese potatoes and other calorie bombs.

After a hard hike through the Alps, you’ll surely regain your strength quickly. But you’ll have to get used to a little language when talking to Swiss people about their cuisine. Ever heard of croissants and nut salad? Or would you have known that a chicken is a rabbit?

By the way, a Güggeli is not a drink, but a chicken. And when someone talks about Knöpfli, he doesn’t mean shirt or trouser button, but orders Spätzle. It is worth ordering a Schoggi Mélange in a café. This is a hot chocolate with a icing on the cake. And here are two more terms you should know. Znüni is a small snack in the morning, while Zvieri is something similar in the afternoon.

Drinking in Switzerland

The range of beverages on offer in Switzerland is not quite as diverse as Swiss cuisine. We don’t know why Switzerland has never developed into a real wine country like Austria or Germany. However, there are good wines in the Alpine country, but nobody knows them. You can find wine-growing regions in almost all cantons.

Beside the numerous imported beers, you can also take the Swiss lager, which is a bit milder than the German Pils. And then there’s the schnapps. To enjoy and clap your way through, you’ll find distilled cherry schnapps and other fruit schnapps, such as Pflümli schnapps or Gravensteiner apple brandy. You also know Jagertee.

Backpacker Trips, Tips & Highlights in der Schweiz

Switzerland is not just a country that offers numerous cultural highlights. You can also travel the country adventurously, comfortably, contemplatively or intensively. The Alpine Republic is a true trekking and hiking paradise. In addition, cyclists will get their money’s worth. The whole country is crossed by well-developed cycle and hiking trails in all directions, which you can partially or completely tear off when backpacking through Switzerland. Free map material can be found on or here the information on the long-distance hiking trail network.

All paths are well marked and there are accommodations along the routes depending on your budget. You can hike the Trans Swiss Trail from Porrentruy to Chiasso or try the Alpine panorama trail Rorschach – Geneva. The alpine pass route from Sargans to Montreux on Lake Geneva is a bit more challenging. At Wanderland on the website you will find highlights on hiking routes, canoe routes, cycle routes, mountain bike routes, skater locations and lots of transport information.

Backpacking in der Schweiz - Kultur und Tiere

Backpacking in Switzerland – Culture and Animals

Backpacker Highlights in Switzerland

Among the absolute top backpacker tips are not only the sporting activities, you should definitely set aside a portion of your budget for a few train tours. Some of the most spectacular railway lines in the world lead through Switzerland. You can choose between the Albula/Bernina railway line, the Glacier-Express, the Bernina-Express, the Wilhelm-Tell-Express, the Montblanc-Express and various mountain railways that take you up to famous Swiss mountain peaks.

Shopping for Swiss watches is not included in the backpacker budget, but if possible, then look around for the world-famous watch classics on the spot. One of the backpacker highlights is certainly to get a taste of the Heidi and Geisenpeter feeling in a remote mountain hut. At on the website, you’ll not only find the most important travel information about Switzerland, you can also download a few useful apps.

Backpacker insider tips in Switzerland

Not an absolute insider tip but a must for active backpacking fans is the Trek Via Alpina Green Trail. You can hike through Switzerland and Lichtenstein in 14 days. Everything about the route from Rätikon through Central Switzerland to the Bernese Alps and further details on A culinary insider tip is the chocolate train, which takes you along the Swiss chocolate factories in a stylish old Belle Epoque Pullman wagon from 1915. Not quite cheap, but certainly unique.

Backpacker Visa and Vaccinations in Switzerland

As Switzerland is not part of the EU and therefore has not agreed to the Schengen Agreement, this does not mean that you as a German citizen have to expect more problems when entering the country. But make sure during your backpacker trip to Switzerland that your papers are fully up to date in order to avoid problems. But even if your papers are not up to date, you can usually expect little stress from the authorities. According to the Federal Foreign Office, you will need the following entry documents in order to enter Switzerland without any problems. German citizens can enter Switzerland with the following documents:

  • Passport: Yes
  • Temporary passport: Yes
  • Identity card: Yes
  • Temporary identity card: Yes, must be valid.
  • Children’s passport: Yes
  • Still valid child ID according to old model: Yes

Important also: Every child needs his or her own ID document. Further information on important entry and residence issues can be found here at the Foreign Office

Medical information & vaccinations

There are no exceptional epidemics or tropical diseases to be expected in Switzerland. However, every backpacker should still have sufficient vaccination protection. The vaccination programme of the Robert Koch Institute is recommended. And you should have a good health insurance for foreign countries in case of emergencies.Save