Geneva has a lot going for it. Surrounded by Alpine Lake, the city has great outdoor activities, lakes to swim in, and mountains to explore. Geneva is one of the country’s most expensive and luxurious cities, so it’s hard to be a budget traveler here. Most travelers simply pass through, spend a day, and then move on. If you’re on a tight budget, I’d advise doing that. If you have a little bit more money, spend a couple of days.
Hostel prices – Dorm prices in Geneva start around $40 USD per night. A single private room is about $75 USD per night.
Budget hotel prices – Most budget hotel rooms in the city begin at around $100 USD per night for a double room and just go way up from there.
Average cost of food – One of the greatest things about Geneva is its diverse restaurants and cuisine. Food can be cheap here. Many quick-eat shops are cheap and groceries can cost around $55 USD per week. For an average-priced meal, expect to spend $28-40 USD at a restaurants.
Transportation costs – It is $4 USD for one hour ticket that covers the tram, bus, boat, and rail, $8.50 USD for a pass valid from 9 am to midnight, and $12 USD for a 24 hour pass. If you arrive in Geneva by plane, you can get a free 80-minute bus ticket to use from the airport to the city.
Money Saving Tips
Couchsurf – Accommodation is very expensive throughout the country, especially in Geneva. Use the website Courchsurfing (or any other hospitality site) to connect with locals who will give you a free place to stay. I use this method a lot, and there’s no better way to meet locals and save money!
Top Things to See and Do
Attend the Caves Ouvertes – Not only is this one of Geneva’s free annual events, but it supplies you with a spectacular view of the city and a sample of their best wines. It’s a very fun festival.
Enjoy the summer concerts – Geneva is booming in the summer months, especially in June. See the city at its best with the annual Fete de la Musique. A three-day festival, it’s jammed with free nonstop music, and low-cost food of all tastes and flavors. There are ongoing free concerts throughout the summer.
Visit the Jet d’Eau – The city’s most famous monument, it boasts a magnificent fountain worth seeing, photographing, and another free to-do that’s not to be missed. It pumps water up 160 feet in the air and is lit up at night in September.
Explore the Cathédrale St. Pierre – If you’re interested in Gothic architecture, this cathedral is spectacular. Climb the 157 steps in the tower to get a breathtaking view of the city and surrounding countryside.
Visit one of forty museums – With over forty museums to choose from, Geneva offers one for every traveler’s taste. Make sure to visit Geneva’s Art and History Museum or the Red Cross Museum, I like them the best. If you are going to visit a lot of museums, get a city pass so you can save some money. Entrance fees really add up.
Explore the city by boat – Consider indulging in a boat tour of the city. If you don’t want to spend the money, you can also rent a bike which will allow you to sight-see various neighborhoods and travel at your own pace.
Visit the Palais des Nations – Originally built to house the League of Nations, the Palais is worth visiting just to take in the magnificent Assembly Hall, in addition to the large collection of public art, the library, and the landscaped grounds. Passports are required for entry.
Walk through the Jardin Anglais – This is a small garden at the lake where people like to spend their lunch break. There is a very famous Flower Clock in the park. It’s a good place to people-watch during the day.
Visit Mont-Salève – Just outside of the city lies Mont-Salève, this mountain has a wide range of outdoor activities. Spend a day rock climbing, mountain biking, hiking, or cross-country skiing, or come up with your own activity to pursue!
See the reformation wall – This monument lies in Parc des Bastions, and serves to commemorate the main leaders of the Protestant Reformation in Europe – Jean Calvin, Guillaume Farel, Théodore de Bèze, and John Knox. “Post Tenebras Lux” (light after darkness) is inscribed on the monument, which was the motto of the Reformation.
Explore Carouge – Across the across the River Arve lies Carouge, a village within Geneva. Some consider it to be the city’s Greenwich Village, except this place has a Mediterranean touch; it used to be part of Sardinia. Wander around the streets, which are filled with restaurants, bars, and boutiques.
Relax at the Bains de Paquis – This pool was built in the 1930s, but is still a popular place to get a massage, unwind, or swim. The pool is built into the lake, and includes a diving board. You can also do a Turkish bath here.
Go Windsurfing – The lake comes alive in the summer months, and it’s a perfect place to try your hand at wakeboarding or windsurfing. There are schools here that offer rentals and lessons.