Switzerland is France, Germany and Italy all rolled into one small, beautiful country but despite its size it is one of the more expensive places to visit in Europe.
The good news is there are a plenty of free - or at least very cheap - things to do on your Swiss adventure.
Switzerland may be a landlocked country better known for its winter snow activities but there are many freshwater lakes and rivers to enjoy during the summer months from May to September. Some of the lidos (lakeside beaches) charge a small entry fee but there are still places you can go for no cost at all and it is a great way to escape the summer heat.
Krattigen is a quiet holiday resort, approximately 13km southwest of Interlaken. Ideally situated on a hill with views overlooking Lake Thun, the Strandbad Krattigen offers free lake swimming.
Lake Geneva is about 80km long, 16km across at its widest and over 30m deep in parts. Along the lake shore, adults and children sunbathe or jump off the rock walls and stone steps that lead down into the water.
Another option is to head to the capital of Bern and float down the River Aare. Entry to the Marzilibad (just below the Parliament building) is free, the only thing you need to pay for is a locker if you have valuables. The strong current will take you from one end of town to the other with minimal swimming effort. This is a great way to view the sights of the city, including Bern cathedral.
If swimming isn’t your thing, Switzerland offers some grand churches and cathedrals from Lausanne to Zurich and entry to most of them is free. You may need to pay if you want to climb some of the cathedral towers but you can admire the architecture for nothing.
My favourite city in Swizerland is Lucerne. Mt Pilatus, the magnificent mountain that looks down on the city, is a great day excursion and there are a few ways to get to the top. One is by taking the steep cable car for a fee but you can hike to the top for nothing. It will take about five hours of easy walking before reaching the spectacular 360-degree panorama of the alpine ranges, the Black Forest and the view over six lakes.
Also in Lucerne is the Musegg Wall, a series of nine towers that form part of the rampart walls surrounding the city. In summer, three of the towers are open until 8pm and admission is free.
In the centre of town you can find Lucerne’s most famous monument, the Lion Monument, which commemorates the fallen Swiss guardsmen who died in 1792 during the French Revolution.
Each February cities all over Switzerland come alive with Fastnacht. This is the Swiss carnival and is the largest festival in the country with parades, amazing costumes, masks and talented musicians marching through town. I can highly recommend heading to one if you are there at the right time. The biggest takes place in Basel where you can enjoy the songs and dance for three days. Best of all, it won’t cost you a cent - unless you want to dress up!
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