During a break I had before classes started, I planned a long trip to Switzerland for 5 days. There were definitely cheaper options, but Switzerland was the No.1 destination on my travel list, and I was determined to take this opportunity.
Getting to Madrid:
- Salamanca does not have an international airport so I booked my flight out of the Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas Airport (closest)
- If you plan on taking multiple trips to Madrid from Salamanca (either to fly out of the airport or to visit), I 100% recommend the Renfe Abono Pass!
- You can go on the Renfe website (Spain rail system) and purchase an Abono (commuter) Pass, which will be 20€ for unlimited train rides between 2 stations of your choice (I chose Salamanca and Madrid Chamartin)
- TIP: You can buy multiple Abonos if you wish to do multiple trips to and from another destination!
- WARNING: You need to validate your trips using the Abono pass either on the Renfe website or app for the specific rides (date and time) to receive a ticket and seat on the train
- There are 1hr 45min trains but you must validate these rides EARLY (I did it the night before so my only option was a 3hr train ride at 5AM!)
- From the Madrid train station to the airport I took the metro: 5€ (make sure to keep the metro card to use in the future without having to pay for it again!)
- I flew into Zurich airport, and my biggest tip is to book tickets IN ADVANCE before the prices go up! (From Madrid, I found that tickets to either Zurich or Geneva were the most affordable)
- Currency: Switzerland is not in the EU therefore they have CHF instead of Euros!
- To be honest, I did not exchange for any CHF and was fine.
- Grocery/souvenir stores in the smallest villages all took credit cards.
- Even a street donut stand in a small town took credit cards so I personally don’t recommend exchanging too much cash (CHF)
- Cell Service: If you are using Orange like me, Switzerland is not covered since it isn’t in the EU.
- eSIM is the most affordable option if you do it in advance/your phone is compatible with it
- I bought a prepaid SIM card
- I went to Sunrise in the Zurich airport and got unlimited data for 10 days and 20CHF credit for calls/texts (20CHF)
- Swisscom is better for shorter trips (located right next to Sunrise) as they are 2CHF/day for unlimited data but they ran out of SIM cards when I got there around 5 pm
Transportation in Switzerland
- SBB train system was the best public transportation system I’ve ever experienced
- Trains to destinations at least every hour (most were every 10min or 30min)
- Covers trains + cable car rides in most places!
- Getting Friends Pass for Youth allows you to get unlimited rides to literally anywhere in Switzerland for a whole day 80CHF for up to 4 people (only 20CHF/person)
- Definitely take advantage of this even if you are alone, because a single long train ride can go up to 120CHF!
- I really recommend getting individual beds or private rooms (with a group) at YOUTH Hostels
- You can meet other students traveling which is a unique and fun experience
- TIP: Book in locations that are a station or two away from the destination city/village
- Ex. I was stopping in Zermatt for a day but I booked my room in Tasch, a town that was a 10min train ride away for ½ the price (train every 10 or 30 min for 24hr)
- Switzerland is EXPENSIVE (Ex. I was looking for a place to eat and a hamburger was 37CHF)
- My solution: sCoop or other grocery stores
- They sell premade meals (hot&cold) that can either be microwaved or sold warm to eat right away (~5-8CHF)
- If you want to try local food, I recommend street stands or premade local food in grocery stores as they are more affordable than restaurants
I appreciate you for sticking around through such a long blog, and I hope you find the info above helpful! I visited Interlaken, Lauterbrunnen, Zermatt, Bern, and Zurich during my trip and I had a wonderful time.
Until next time, ¡hasta luego!
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Hi! I am a junior studying Education Studies and Psychology on the pre-health track at Amherst College. In my free time, I love to paint scenery, go on long walks, and sing my heart out to my favorite pop songs.