Skiing in Switzerland is undoubtedly expensive. Like, Dear-God-when-I-pay-my-credit-card-next-week-I'm-going-to-sob expensive. While the lift tickets are cheap compared to the U.S., just about everything else: food, accommodation, transportation, costs more.
While I enjoyed skiing in Switzerland immensely, my eight days in Switzerland were by far the most expensive of my entire world trip. So I wanted to lay out exactly how much a Swiss ski holiday will set you back.
How much do lift tickets cost?
Well, let's start with the good news! Lift tickets in Switzerland are relatively inexpensive. I paid 110 CHF ($110 USD) for a two-day lift pass in Gstaad, which comes out to about $60 USD a day. Comparatively, you would pay around $160 a day in Aspen or Vail.
But a one-way gondola ride will set you back about 30 CHF ($30 USD). Ouch.
How much does ski equipment cost?
While I was lucky enough to have my skis comped by a friend, I paid 30 CHF ($30 USD) for snow boots (note- not ski boots) and 20 CHF ($20 CHF) for a sled.
I rented all of my gear from Intersport and was very happy with the service, prices and rentals.
How much does budget accommodation cost?
In Switzerland you will pay around 50 CHF ($50 USD) for a hostel bunk that you will have to make yourself. Luckily, every hostel I stayed in was clean and provided a complimentary breakfast.
Though I did notice that many of the “youth hostels” were filled with families and elderly people. The hostel where I stayed in Grindelwald, The Grindelwald Youth Hostel was inhabited almost entirely by young families! While that would be fine for older guests, I was looking for a twenty-something scene and felt a bit lonely.
How much does food cost on the mountain? And is it good?
The food on the mountain is Switzerland is gourmet. I loved sampling traditional Swiss specialities, from the richest chocolate cake of my life to rolled-up Bergkäse (mountain cheese).
But like ski resorts in the U.S., the food on the mountain is pricey. The soup above cost me 12 CHF ($12 USD)!
Tip- bring chocolate and cheese and munch on them through the day to save on food. Plus, how Swiss is that?
How much does alcohol cost?
While beer is on par with American prices, liquor costs a pretty penny. This “snow bunny” cocktail (Schneehäsli) set me back (or rather, the Swiss man who bought it for me, ha) 8 CHF ($8 USD). And this was an outdoor bar!
Also, is there anything better than tasting a light, crisp local pils while watching clouds slowly drift over the Alps?
What other winter sports are available besides skiing?
Um, I'm just going to go out on a limb and tell you NOT to go snow-shoeing. Because plodding down the mountain while sledders whizz past is maddening. Especially when it costs you $90 a day.
On the other hand, sledding in Switzerland is an absolute blast. It's nothing like sledding in the U.S.
With Swiss sledding, you take an old-fashioned sled, strap on your snow boots and careen down the mountain at perilously high speeds. Love.
This type of sledding would never be legal in the U.S. for liability reasons – you could fly right off the mountain! Which is obviously why it's so exhilarating.
It's important to use sturdy snow boots- the snow-boarding boots I had made it hard to stop as they are so soft and round.
Another high-octane winter activity in Switzerland? Paragliding! While the experience costs around 170-200 CHF ($170-200 USD), the alpine views and adrenaline rush make it worth every franc. Full post here!
Overall, is skiing in Switzerland worth the expense?
Well, I'm not sure. While the alpine ambiance is lovely, I think you could have a similar but cheaper experience in France or Austria.
One huge advantage to skiing in Switzerland over the states is the lack of lines. I waited only a minute or two for each lift- a far cry from the 20-30 minute waits at Deer Valley! Plus, the views of the alpine villages from the slopes is hard to beat.
I spent eight days in Switzerland: two days in Interlaken, three days in Grindelwald, and three days in Gstaad. Interlaken is great for paragliding, but if you want to ski, head to Grindelwald or Gstaad.
I traveled via train between cities which was somewhat expensive but convenient.
I traveled solo to Switzerland, which I wouldn't recommend – I was lonely for much of my trip. If you're splashing out for a ski vacation in Switzerland, bring someone to share it with.
Balmers Hostel was my favorite hostel in Interlaken. It was cute, clean, and centrally located.
Make sure to purchase travel insurance before your trip to Switzerland (especially if you're skiing!). I’ve used World Nomads for years and highly recommend it.