Switzerland is a food lover heaven and it is famous for some lip-smacking platters. Starting from Swiss chocolate, Swiss cheese, and also sterling good quality wine, it is all available in abundance in all the food outlets of this city.
If you are planning to eat a good plate of a decent meal, then you can easily face a setback as because the range starts from 150 bucks onwards. Mostly non-veg meals are available which being of that range might not feel cost-effective to you. Eating cheap in Switzerland is not a tough thing.
But it is recommended that everyone must try the signature dishes while being in the Swiss land, especially if you are on a leisure trip and planning to spend more than four days there.
So, how does anyone get all those Swiss goodness into your tummy without burning holes in your pockets by spending hundreds of bucks? There are certain tips to follow which will help you to eat in Switzerland in various ways possible without causing a huge expenditure just on food. If you want to know how to travel in Switzerland on a budget, you need to know from the nooks and corners of the place.
Let us get information on this in a vivid manner. Healthy eating can be cheaper too.
Table of Contents
Things To Keep In Mind While Traveling To Switzerland
# Visa Requirement:
The most important thing that you require to know before you plan a trip to Switzerland is a visa definitely. Please do not keep a double thought regarding this. The visa which is required to enter Switzerland is Schengen Visa.
By the way, a Swiss visa is not made by the Embassy of Switzerland. It is processed through the consulate centers also known as TLS contact. You will receive your visa within a span of ten days maximum.
Security-wise Switzerland is one of the safest countries. If you are a single lady or a teenager, you can generally walk and ride alone. There are hardly any beggars or pedlars around. People are mostly well done thus diminishing the crime rate.
Swiss Franc is mostly used in the country and is popular as CFH (Swiss Franc symbol). Credit cards are acceptable in most of the locations present in the city.
Each region of Switzerland has a different language and cult. But the majority of the people can speak English, mostly in tourist spots. People can communicate in German, Romansh, French, and Italian.
Public transportation is readily available. There are options like buses, trains, and ships which run on proper timetables. Tourists prefer bus and train travel as the view outside is spectacular.
# Best Time To Go:
- June to August – Summer: This time is pleasing and does not make you sweat. You can dress up in cool casuals and roam the city as the temperature is moderate and there’s a breeze always.
- September to November – Shoulder season: This time of the year is pretty as the leaves fall and nature shows deep dark colors like yellow, purple, and brown. Christmas is right ahead. It is the most suitable time of the year for a trip.
- December to March – Winter: If you have the adventure to do then winter is the best time. Skiing and sledging can be fun for you and your travel buddies.
- April to May: This time of the year is best if you are planning to go hiking.
# Nation Food:
- Fondue And Raclette – These are eaten in the winter. People try to consume this in cold months when there’s a scarcity of fresh food. It suits best with liquor.
- Muesli – This is also known in Switzerland as Birchermüesli. It is a sweet mixture that’s named after the Swiss doctor whose name was Maximilian Bircher Benner.
- Röstiis – It is popular all year round and comes in many variations. It is made with grated deep-fried potatoes.
Famous Swiss Food Items That Also Come Within Your Budget In Switzerland
It is one of the most famous dishes in Switzerland. Basically, it is a potato dish where the tuber is sliced in a warm pan and then later slow-baked in margarine or butter. The starch released by the potatoes makes the slices stick to each other and form a coarse galette. It is a preparation made with potatoes that are leftover somehow and eggs and meat slices are seldom added. It is the national dish of Switzerland. Using leftovers is a common trend in Switzerland, especially during winter months when the supply of fresh groceries is irregular due to heavy snowfall.
Cheese is the main ingredient of most of the Swiss recipes that are so popular worldwide. Just like Fondue, Raclette is equally tasty. Raclette is made by placing a piece of cheese on a slow stove until it melts, chefs scrape it onto the serving plates. There are various garnitures which can be complemented alongside, like jerked meat, potatoes, and bacon. To enhance the taste one can take pickles and vinegared onions too. White tea along with this would soothe your digestion and some people also prefer it with a glass of wine. It is preferred warm during the winter months.
* Swiss Cheese:
It is a variety of cheese that is similar to the Emmental Cheese. It is mostly warm, yellow-colored, and originated in the Emmental district of the Swiss region. Its appearance is distinctive and is found in blocks or round bars. There are holes present here and there in small to medium sizes. These holes are known as eyes. The water content is 37.1 g, protein content is 26.9 g, Fat is 27.8 g, and carbs present is nearly 5.4 g per 100 grams of cheese. A large number of minerals and vitamins are present too and bacteria are used to produce such high-quality cheese.
It is a kind of soft drink that came to prominence in the year 1952. It is produced from whey protein and includes kinds of stuff like casein, lactose, and a plethora of minerals. There are different variations of this drink like Rivella Red, Rivella Blue, Rivella Green Tea, etc. It is everyone’s favorite beverage in Switzerland. Now you know what food they eat in Switzerland.
It is also known as Macaroni du Chalet. Cornette is basically small-sized pasta that is adored in Switzerland when served in baked or slow-cooked form. It is the main ingredient in Älplermagronen. It is the quick version of mac and cheese and is eaten by people who stay near to the countryside. It is served along with apple sauce and fried slices of bacon.
Cheese fondue will always top the best food chart while you are in Switzerland. It is also available worldwide but it tastes best in the Swiss region. It is incredibly popular in Switzerland and people prefer it during the winter months. Bread croutons or fried potato pieces are dipped in warm fondue and then cherished along with a glass of your favorite cocktail or some classic white wine. Black tea can be also enjoyed as it will aid digestion. It is served in a metal casserole with a lighted candle below to keep the cheese warm.
Fried chicken, bacon, or Turkey can be also dipped into fondue and eaten. There is an option of molten chocolate and cheese mixture. Bread croutons can be dipped and eaten with delight. These are some food to eat in Switzerland.
* Swiss Chocolates:
They are produced in large numbers in Switzerland. The cacao beans and sugar are produced in Swiss soil and the total production unit functions there. The chocolates contain milk and popular brands like Henri Nestle and Suchardare everyone’s favorite. There are certain chocolate factories that also allow tourists to get a glimpse of it. Chocolate museums like MaisonCaillerare among the tourist hotspots. The chocolates are known for their smooth texture.
It is also called Mont Blanc. It is made with a chestnut puree and the topping is placed on a base of crisp meringue and some fresh whipped cream. If you are looking for a fast dessert option, then this is your best option as the preparation time does not take much time. The best quality meringues would be textured crispy outside and slimy and soft inside that betters the taste with each bite of it. There are different flavors found like kirsch puree flavor sells like hotcakes.
It is an oatmeal platter served warm or cold-soaked in flavored milk and garnished with nuts and fruits, and berries. It was created by Maximilian Bircher after whom it is named. You can choose your adventure recipe by adding maple syrup, lemon rinds, and apple juice to your plate. Some people prefer to have it with Greek yogurt, it is nutritious and not high in fat and carbohydrates. Oat is a rich source of protein, so you can have it in your breakfast. It is a cooling food, crunchy and chewy.
* Swiss Beers & Wines:
Beer is consumed in gallons as there are beer festivals around the year. The beers available here come in different flavors, like root beer, ginger beer, lemon beer, etc. The alcohol content is around 9-14% depending on the process of brewing. People between the age of 18-and 80, are all beer fans. Wine is used for occasions like weddings, parties, get-togethers, etc. Drinking alcohol in public is allowed in Switzerland. The country has a brewing history and it is key to earning large revenue as well.
* Zürcher Geschnetzeltesbh:
It is a platter that contains strips of fresh veal simmered in a cheesy sauce. It has a connection with Zurich. It is often cooked with a hint of fresh cream. It is thick and full of meat and mushrooms can be also added to the recipe. It is almost like that the texture of pasta. Kidneys of swine and grass-fed cattle can be also put in and are considered to be one of the main ingredients in the dish.
Veal is traditionally used because it is a less expensive meat resource. Veal is basically the tender meat loaves cut from the thigh region of calves. The stock is made with wine, and parsley and thickened with flour. It can be sided with rosti or mashed potatoes. Tea, coffee, or white wine can drink along for a delicious supper.
* Famous Movenpick Ice Cream:
The ice cream brand believes in originating the best taste for your taste buds with simple fruity touch to it. They put a secret ingredient in all the ice cream recipes. The recipes are pure, made with care and delight young to old, people of all ages. They come in different flavors, like espresso crocquant, strawberry, raspberry, chocolate, salted caramel, etc.
The ice creams are full of alpine cream as the brand quote. This high-quality and creamier and thicker milk is resourced from the cows which are kept on small farms located in the bosom of the mighty Alps. The milk is resourced from the cows which are kept on small farms located in the mighty Alps.
* Packed Food from Super Market(COOPS and Migros):
The Migrolino and Coop Pronto sell ready meals which can be heated or cooked by the use of the microwave. They have selected products only and do not have a plethora to choose from. The opening hours are long and there are bigger outlets in the heart of the city as well. The stores are open up to 10 PM and remain open on Sundays as well. For Indian travelers, the food might be spicy if they choose from Indian meal options, or else other things have a balanced taste that will suit all tongues. Switzerland food is also available here.
13 Tips For Eating Good Food In Switzerland On A Meager Budget
1. Fine dining in a big restaurant can be avoided–
Eating at a restaurant that is hip would be pocket pinching to you, basically in bigger cities like Geneva and Zurich. A plumpy steak would cost you around 35 CHF to 150 CHF (Swiss currency-Franc symbol), and a bowl of fungi or spaghetti pasta would not be less than 20 CHF (Swiss currency-Franc symbol). MC Donalds can be a moderate option for not a cost-effective one.
A big mac might cost you 12-13 CHF (Swiss currency-Franc symbol). Bras and Grills would be grungier. Meat and egg platters might be costlier than the vegetarian options. The best option would be to buy sausages or a takeaway meal box.
2. Local grocery stores can be a quick buy option–
Grocery stores sell ready-made meal boxes or boxed meals which can be cooked by adding hot water only. There are also options for slices of bread, cakes, pastries, veggies, and fruits which can be purchased directly from the store and used later to prepare a meal. The prices are comparatively cheaper. A nice option to purchase cheap food in Switzerland. This trend is famous for cheap eats in Zurich Switzerland.
3. Pick up food from a supermarket–
One can buy from supermarkets where there are varieties of groceries and raw foods available. Supermarkets in Zurich are big to small.
Hotels provide a microwave and refrigerator for storage so there won’t be a problem for travelers. Supermarkets also sell food of different cuisine like Chinese, Italian, Indian, etc. Beer, packages of drinking water, chocolates, and snack bars are easily available at a cheaper cost. Cooking with the ingredients bought might be a good choice. Daily expenses in Switzerland will be therefore cost-effective.
4. Research in prior before you travel to Switzerland–
One can plan their meals and dining options prior to their visit. Nobody should just walk in blindly into a fancy restaurant. People can get the proper information from websites like Trip Advisor and Google. Soups are of 30 CFH and the side dishes and the main course go up. Eating a fancy meal without feeling sumptuous about it is not a good option.
5. Plan a picnic to the Alps along with packed ready to eat edibles–
Traveling toward the Swiss Alps for the purpose of hiking during the fall or winter is a blissful getaway for tourists and city dwellers. But there are fewer options to eat there as the restaurants or cafes which are located in the mountain are quite expensive than the ones which are in the city area. So, the best idea is to carry packed foods like sandwiches, dried meat, bread, cheese, tea/coffee, and wine along with you to refuel yourself during the trek or hike. It could be easily purchasable from the supermarkets and carried in your backpack without burning holes in your pocket.
6. Enjoy milk products from the Alpanese cows–
The cows in the Alps are kept in small numbers by Swiss farmers and milchers. The cows grow and graze in a no polluted vicinity, therefore their health and milk quality is richer and thicker. Home-made cheese is easily available in the Alpine region as it is made with care and preserved without adding chemical preservatives, that enhance the taste and texture of the cheese. It is a must-try for all-mountain visitors. Eating for cheap is considered as the cost of these cheese comes within your budget if you bring it to compare with other cheese brands.
7. Eat from the farms of local farmers when in the mountains–
Farmers who stay in the mountainous region or the foothills of the Alps grow organic vegetables and fruits which taste nice and are healthy enough. They cost lesser than that sold in the supermarkets, even though there is an option of homestay, which includes food and lodging. So, it is recommended to eat from the local farmers directly as the food is tax and duty-free and organic at the same time.
8. Savour some Swiss sweet treats sold by local chocolatiers (delicious chocolates, Nusstorte, or some homemade Meringue)–
Local chocolatiers sell handmade and good quality white, dark, and milk chocolates. They are very cheap and cheapest than the already cheap ones like the one that is sold by Migros and Coop. It is within the range of 0.5 Swiss Francs. They come in different shapes, sizes, and packaging. Nusstorte is also a common cheap food sold by them. It is a sweet pastry filled with nuts and chocolate chips. It is a good option for cheap food in Switzerland. A dinner in Switzerland can end with a bar of chocolate.
9. Try hard drinks from the public fountains–
If you love to have some hard drinks while traveling, then this tip is definitely helpful for you. When it comes to the popular Swiss drinks, the country will surprise you with its large variety and high-quality alcohol. Drinking alcohol is very common in Switzerland, especially at family get-togethers, social rituals and at weekends.
So don,t be confused while buying alcohol in Switzerland! Obviously, it depends on what you choose and from where you are buying your hard drink. Actually, everything is expensive if you buy it from popular bars, pubs and restaurants. If you are staying in a resort or mountain hilly area, the price of the alcohol will be much higher. You can buy from the local supermarket like Denner, Coop etc.
Note: All supermarket doesn’t sell alcohol. So check properly before buying alcohol from the supermarket.
10. Selection of suitable drinking water–
The drinking water can be selected as per your taste. There are options available ranging from mineral-infused water, tonic water, herbal water, and mountain spring water apart from the regular tap and pumped water. One can select as per their budget and choice but it is recommended that fountain and tap water drinks during your visit to this country as it will save a lot of cash just for the purpose of drinking.
The packaged drinking water with added minerals can be very pricey while you travel around and do your sightseeing. Thus it is recommended that you drink water from the public fountains as the water is clean with a balanced ph. that won’t cause any digestive disorder. The water is also free from all kinds of toxins like arsenic, bromine, etc. The fountains are available in almost all the famous and well-known spots throughout the city.
11. Tipping at restaurants might not be a necessity-
Tipping in places to eat in Switzerland can be avoided or excluded from your eating dates as the tips are mostly an extra cost that might pinch you. The tax that you would pay, a part of it would go into the fund of the workers who work serving and cooking for guests. The fund that is collected is equally distributed among the employees so that there are no issues related to partiality. This is the policy of the best restaurants, so eat heartily without feeling the need to tip after your meal is over.
12. Go for a treat at the local Christmas market–
The local Christmas market during the holiday season sells some amazing food items at an affordable price. The foods which are commonly sold during this time are chocolates, sweetened plum, cherries, cakes, pastries, and cookies. Most of the food items are homemade and then sold locally thus the cost is not as much as that of the elite brands. Tourists can enjoy and hog on these food items and save a lot without failing to enjoy and make merry.
13. International fast food at a pocket-friendly price that everyone can have–
Mc Donalds, KFC, Biggies Burger and Pizza Hut have chains of food counters and restaurants spread all across the city. The food items like pizza, burgers, french fries, pastries, or your favorite mojito are all available without much price difference that is charged in most of the cities. So, you can definitely eat at an affordable cost from these fast food brands. The quality is kept best and the taste is always intact. A burger would cost around 2-4 CHF (Swiss currency-Franc symbol). So it is not going to choke you with the thought of heavy expenses. It is an option for cheap food in Switzerland.
Best Super Markets That Sell Budget Foods In Switzerland
1. Popular Super Markets In Switzerland –
- Migros- It is considered a cheap grocery store in Switzerland. It is a national supermarket with more than a hundred stores all across the nation. There are small stores in stations, city hot spots, and airports.
- Coop– It is a large national supermarket chain located in the Swiss region. It is almost more or the same as Migros. There are significant differences though. The main difference is that they have wine to sell as well.
- Denner- It is popular as it sells goods at large discounts. It is the Swiss third-largest supermarket just after Coop and Migros. It is also the second-largest seller of wine and distilled beverages.
- Spar- It is a Swiss multinational retail chain that originated in the Dutch region. It supplies support services and operates food retail stores as well. It is people’s favorite grocery brand and sells goods at an affordable cost.
- Volg- There are almost 580 Volg stores present all across the city as well in the countryside. It offers a range of products starting from fresh produce to other food items and articles of home and body care.
2. Discount Super Markets in Switzerland –
- Lidl- It is delivering freshness since 1973 too at a discounted rate for fruits and vegetables at a 10-15% discounted rate than other big supermarkets. The labelled products are quite less priced. They eliminate all extra costs and boost the concept of Taking our “Bring your own bag”.
- Aldi Suisse- This brand is a leading retail chain and is marketed by the ALDI SUD Group. Their unique selling proposition is that most of the food items that they sell are showcased in the best manner possible and keep prices lower than other Switzerland supermarket prices.
3. Organic Super Markets in Switzerland –
- Manor- It is a Swiss departmental store chain and is headquartered in Basel. It is well known for selling organic cheap food in Switzerland. Brown rice, muesli, and even root beer are available here from organic brands.
- Globus- Globus sell clothes, upscale goods, organic cosmetics, and household supplies. They are a conglomerate of Signa holding and are popular among the Swiss and European visitors for the range of organic food and personal use items at an affordable cheap rate.
- Alnatura- It is a chain of organic food items. It also produces organic food for other food retailers after being founded in 1984. They perform in a sustainable way and aim to reduce the carbon print. They sell cheap food in Switzerland, and textiles as per the ecological aspects.
Tips To Be A Smart Shopper While In A Swiss Supermarket
- Carry some coins:
This is a smart idea as there are services and products which are sold for just a few cents. So, carrying coins would help the seller and you to quicken the process of your purchase, thus would save a lot of your valuable time. There is an option of coke stations here and there, so in case you want to refuel and have cheap food in Zurich, use these coins.
- Bring your own bags:
If you are going to shop and pick from a supermarket or a local store, do carry your own cloth or paper bag. You can also carry a large shopping bag in case you are planning to shop in bulk. Bags are mostly chargeable; this will help you to save some extra bucks in case you have a budget constraint on cheap food in Switzerland.
- Keep in mind about the opening & closing:
Do your thorough research before traveling to a supermarket or a local retail store for Switzerland food. The opening and closing hours may vary from store to store. So a good knowledge in prior would help you to buy without facing harassment or hassle. You can easily take out time for shopping without being violated and buy cheap food in Geneva as well.
- Sale of beverages:
Selling hard drinks is permissible only at a few stores, mainly FL shops or large supermarkets. So, do not expect that you can buy alcohol or hard drinks from just anywhere. Instead try to buy in bulk beforehand, so that you can consume without any issues and in abundance. Drinking is commonly practised in most Swiss towns, as it complements the cheesy food and platters well. So try to buy the hard drinks from the local stores.
Food culture in Switzerland is aligned with milk and cheese, grabbing a meal at an affordable price is quite rare if you are planning to eat out at a restaurant. So, try alternative methods instead which would be affordable for you and won’t burn holes in your pockets. Geneva and Zurich have nice eating options at an affordable cost if you research properly and then visit.
The food prices in Switzerland would be ranging between 10-12 CHF (Swiss currency-Franc symbol) if you buy items from supermarkets or a local food store. There are options for healthy cheap food as well as Switzerland has large supermarkets that sell organic food items as well. Budget travel to Switzerland can be planned this way.