Episode 4 – Meet the bloggers

Hello everyone and welcome to this month’s special episode at Meet the Locals. This time, I interviewed some of my blogger friends from Nomadic Matt’s travel blogging course. I was looking for people who’d been to Switzerland and were willing to share their experience with us.

I gave them a couple of questions, out of which they could choose to answer three. So here it goes.

This month, I interviewed five of my fellow bloggers about visiting Switzerland. Find out what they loved about their trip, what insider tips they have for you, what they did to save money and whether or not they recommend Switzerland to backpackers.

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1. Nate from Travel Lemming

What did you love most about your trip when you were in Switzerland?

It’s hard to compete with Switzerland’s stunning natural beauty. Just driving through the countryside feels like you’re touring a fairytale land. From jagged mountain peaks to glistening lakes, Switzerland is truly one of those places that actually looks like the postcards.

What’s your No. 1 money saving tip for someone who’s going to Switzerland?

Switzerland is enormously expensive. I’ve been to 66 countries, and I can’t think of one that was more expensive, apart from (maybe) Norway.

The biggest cost is likely to be accommodation, so this is an area where you really want to try to find free or cheap accommodation if you can. Have you met any Swiss friends while travelling elsewhere? If so, maybe you can stay with them. If not, maybe this is a good place to give Couchsurfing a try. Or perhaps you can try camping during the summer.

If none of that works, be prepared to budget heavily for accommodation as even hostel dorm rooms can be pricey.

Would you recommend Switzerland to backpackers?

This is a really hard question.

On the one hand, Switzerland is an amazing backpacking destination because of the concentration of stunning sights, the warm and welcoming culture, and the great transportation network.

On the other hand, Switzerland is a terrible backpacking destination because it’s just so incredibly expensive. Truth be told, if I was backpacking Europe on a shoestring, I’d suggest going just about anywhere else. But, if you’re more of the “flashpacker” set, or willing to splurge a little, the country’s beauty will more than compensate for the higher cost.

The Grossmünster in Zurich by the Limmat river before sunset.

The Grossmünster in Zurich by the Limmat river before sunset.

2. Kirsty from World for a Girl

What did you love most about your trip when you were in Switzerland?

As a family travelling through Switzerland, we loved the castles. Even though we’re British and have our fair share of castles at home, Swiss castles perched high on steep Alpine mountainsides are absolutely enchanting.

Some are free and all make fantastic days out for adults and children with their trusty combinations of raucous history, interesting architecture and breathtaking views. We particularly recommend Lenzburg Castle in the Canton of Aargau for its excellent children’s areas and legendary dragon.

What was the best thing you ate during your trip?

Cheese and chocolate!!!

Forget bland American Swiss cheese, real Swiss hard cheeses (like Gruyere, Emmental and Appenzeller) have so much flavour. If you like the gooey, creamy texture of Fondue, you’re sure to love melted Raclette cheese – it’s irresistible.

Like cheese, Swiss chocolate is world famous for a reason – it’s melt-in-your-mouth delicious. The day before we flew home, we stocked up on bags of bargain chocolate at the incredibly aromatic Lindt factory shop in Olten. 

What’s your No. 1 money saving tip for someone who’s going to Switzerland?

We definitely would recommend arranging a home exchange, especially if you’re travelling as a family or group of friends. It’s a great way to save money on accommodation and get a real flavour of Swiss life.

For 10 days, we swapped our terraced house in London for a stunning 5 bedroom eco-house. We used it as a base to explore Bern, Solothurn and as far away as Liechtenstein and Lake Zurich.

Home swapping is great for budget travellers as it means that you’re self-catering. You can stock up cheaply on provisions from budget supermarkets and either cook at home or pack picnics for days out.

Kirsty in at the Lido in Olten with her daughter.

Kirsty in at the Lido in Olten with her daughter.

3. Pari from Traveling Pari

What did you love most about your trip when you were in Switzerland?

There are very few places in the world that can compete with Switzerland in terms of natural beauty. Of course, the beauty of Switzerland is evident in its glacier-fed lakes that show vibrant shades of blue and green and the magnificent Swiss Alps.

However, I’m also talking about the beauty of the villages and towns themselves. I spent an evening just strolling around the quaint town of Interlaken. I marvelled at the beautifully decorated chalets with colourful flowering plants adorning the windows, the grape vines on the fences hanging with unripe grapes and the rolling green meadows.

The villages and towns by themselves brought a sense of joy and peace that is unforgettable.

What’s your No. 1 money saving tip for someone who’s going to Switzerland?

Switzerland is an expensive place to visit. Most tourists spend on two main items: transport and food. However, there are some discounts that tourists can avail depending on the place they are visiting.

For example, if you are staying at Interlaken, Brienz, Habkern or Beatenberg, you can get a Guest Card from the hotel/hostel you’re staying at. This card is free and saves you 50% on public transport and gives you a fare reduction for the popular tourist attractions Harder Klum and Schynige Platte.

Also, a Swiss Half Fare Card gives you 50% off on public transport and on mountain excursions.

Cheap food is hard to come by, so plan on cooking your own meals. With the advent of Airbnb and Homestays, it’s possible to do that and cut some cost. Some of the hostels mentioned below also provide kitchen facilities.

Another tip would be to eat at Migros Restaurants. The food is delicious and well priced.

Would you recommend Switzerland to backpackers?

I would definitely recommend Switzerland to backpackers. Many people think that backpacking in Switzerland is difficult as it’s so expensive. This is true to some extent and I have to say that it’s a bit difficult to stay on budget here. Nonetheless, there are some great resources available for a backpacker.

For example, the Balmer’s Hostel in Interlaken is famous for providing amazing nightlife activities, DJs, good food and planned activities for every season. There are other hostels and campsites such as the Matterhorn Hostel in Zermatt or Interlaken Youth Hostel.

If you’re looking for a family-friendly hostel, choose the Backpackers Villa Sonnenhof – Hostel in Interlaken. A great perk of staying here is that every guest is given two coins for each night they stay at the hostel. These coins can be used to get free coffee and for laundry.

Interlaken

“There are very few places in the world that can compete with Switzerland in terms of natural beauty.” – Pari

4. Sara from The Bag Under The Bed

What was your favourite place in Switzerland?

My favourite place in Switzerland was Geneva. I particularly enjoyed the lakefront with its stunning Jet d’Eau and the visit to the CERN. I liked the fact that the entrance is free. You only have to book your visit well in advance. I think it’s very remarkable that everybody can have access to such a unique place and enjoy a guided tour, in many different languages.

What was the best thing you ate during your trip?

I ate different delicious foods including Raclette. I love cheese. Also, typical Swiss chocolate is one of the best in the world.

Was there something that really put you off or you wish you’d known before you went to Switzerland?

I wish I had known in advance about the necessity of having a vignette (toll sticker) when you drive on the highway. When you’re planning on travelling cheap and set your budget, it’s important to consider this for your costs.

Sara in front of the Jet d'Eau in Geneva.

Sara in front of the Jet d’Eau in Geneva.

5. Devon from Devon meets World

What did you love most about your trip when you were in Switzerland?

The colour of their rivers and lakes was astounding. It actually took my breath away when I first saw how beautiful the shades of turquoise and cyan were as they sparkled in the sunlight.

What’s your No. 1 money saving tip for someone who’s going to Switzerland?

Eat at gas stations. When I visited Lucerne, I reunited with a high school friend who was a Swiss native. When she invited us to her home to make dinner, we went shopping for the ingredients at a local gas station. We were even able to buy quality-grade meat here.

It was much cheaper than eating out at restaurants or even chowing down at our hostel. I would have never thought to look for delicious food at a gas station.

Would you recommend Switzerland to backpackers?

Yes, I would definitely recommend Switzerland to backpackers because Interlaken is home to my favourite hostel in the world – Balmers. I visited Interlaken in June, so we were able to lounge in the hammocks and snack on warm grilled cheese in the fresh, summer air. The chilled-out staff were also extremely gracious in helping us book a canyoning excursion on very short notice.

Devon chilling out in Interlaken.

Devon chilling out in Interlaken.

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