AFFORDABLE GENEVA

Affordable for all

There are lots of economic ways of getting to Geneva, travelling around, eating out and enjoying the city. Geneva is affordable for all and to find how view here. For further information on money-saving tips, access here. 

Getting to Geneva

Among European cities Geneva is one of the best connected by low-cost airlines and it is one of easyJet’s main hubs, with flights from/to more than 70 destinations. In addition, Geneva is at the core of Europe’s rail network (https://www.sbb.ch/en/home.html), such as high-speed trains from Paris that reach Geneva in just 3 hours (https://www.tgv-lyria.com/fr/en) and bus routes serving some 20 European countries (http://www.gare-routiere.com/). For those travelling by car, Geneva is conveniently located at the crossroads of the European motorway network.

Accommodation

There are over 2,500 beds in hostels, B&Bs, budget and on-campus accommodation in Geneva as well as Airbnb rentals. Find out more information here.

Free Public Transport

Geneva offers free public transport from the airport, plus free public transport during the entire stay in a hotel, hostel, campus or B&B in Geneva. See the Local Information section for further information.

Food and Drink

The best value supermarket is called Migros, which should have everything you need from packaged food to fresh produce, staple foods, drinks, pre-cooked meals, desserts, toiletries, confectionery and clothes. COOP is another good option although a little more expensive than Migros.

Lidl and Aldi stores are also wildly available in Switzerland, having a great reputation as a cheap place to buy your groceries.

Water fountains are operational most of the year. If ‘eau potable’ is written on them, you can fill up your water bottle. The water is clean and safe to drink.

International fast-food chains, such as McDonalds and Subway, are located around the city centre and are one of the cheapest options. Pâquis and Plainpalais areas of the city have the cheapest fast-food restaurants where you can buy kebabs or a pizza from CHF 10.

There are some excellent burger restaurants such as Inglewood or Holy Cow and if you fancy being healthy with a large salad or enjoy a pizza, La Romana serves food for less than CHF 20, and also hosts karaoke on certain nights. Kebabs in the Pâquis area are another cheap alternative. Also, choosing a fondue deal can be a cheaper option too. Buvette des Bains along the Bains des Pâquis is where they serve traditional Swiss cuisine as well as their famous fondue on the lake. It is a casual restaurant, with a great setting.

The Old Town is a beautiful part of the city that caters for tourists, and fans of chocolate. The prices are a little on the expensive side but the atmosphere is something to experience. There is a restaurant called Chez ma Cousine – Vieille Ville which caters for more of a French style of food, and is recommended by the locals.

The area of Les Grottes is the most affordable area to go for a night out. There, you’ll find reasonably cheap drinks in Pachinko and surrounding bars in this area.

There is an app called The Fork, where you can avail of great deals in Geneva. Find out more information here.

Keep up to date with all events happening in your local area by downloading the Swiss App here.

For additional information on more affordable restaurant options access here.

Free Activities

There is a lot to experience in Geneva that is free. If you have time you could visit:

Cité du Temps is a unique exhibition and event centre in the heart of Geneva and is a symbol of industrial development. Admission is free. Opening hours daily: 09:00-18:00.

Conservatoire et Jardin Botaniques is a living museum, the botanical gardens present a collection of more than 12,000 species. Admission is free. Opening hours: 08:00-19:30.

Globe de la Science et de l’Innovation is an unprecedented visual landmark both day and night. The ‘Universe of Particles’ exhibition on the ground floor takes visitors on an immersive journey into the world of particles, up to the Big Bang. Admission is free. Opening hours: Monday to Saturday: 10:00-17:00, except holidays.

Botanical Gardens offer a variety of indoor and outdoor exotic plants and gardens inspired by various countries around the world. Admission is free. Opening hours daily: 08:00-19:30.

Genève Roule offers free bike rental for four hours. The bicycles are in good condition and come with a lock and small basket. Electric bikes are available for free at Nations, Carouge and Versoix for a cash deposit of CHF100. Price for the rental bikes is free up to 4 hours, then CHF2 per hour.

Jet d’Eau is a large fountain on the edge of Lake Geneva. Originally built as a safety valve for a hydraulic power network, the Jet d’Eau is now the world’s tallest water jet and can reach up to 140m. The jet is now one of Geneva’s most famous landmarks and can be seen from the plane when landing into the city. Admission is free. Opening hours: 10:00-16:00.

National History Museum features animals from around the world, including 8 different species of tiger, a bat expo and a replica of the extinct dodo – this museum is a great way to spend a few hours. Admission is free for most of the exhibitions. Opening hours daily: 10:00-17:00 except Mondays.

The Broken Chair Memorial is a large wooden statue situated across from the European United Nations headquarters at the Palais des Nations. The large wooden sculpture is a poignant memorial to victims of landmines and cluster bombs. No admission required. Opening Hours: Monday-Sunday, 24 hrs a day.

Bains des Pâquis is an artificial peninsula with a lively beach, swimming pool, diving boards, two saunas and a restaurant. There’s space to sunbathe, play games and have fun in the water. If you want to relax and rejuvenate, there are two types of saunas: a Turkish hammam and a Finnish sauna. Admission is free in the winter and CHF2 in the summer. Opening hours: 10:00-21:00.

Cabinet d’Arts Graphiques du Musée d’Art et d’Histoire for all lovers of Graphic Art. Admission Price varies according to the exhibitions. Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday: 11:00-18:00, closed on Mondays.

Free walking tours are a great way to explore the city and learn about its rich history and beautiful architecture. Free Walk Geneva offers two daily free walking tours. The ‘Heart of Geneva’ walking tour from the foot of the Clock Tower, Pont de l’île at Place Bel-Air and explores Geneva’s old town and city centre through the ages. The second ‘International Geneva’ tour departs from the Broken Chair Monument and visits the many international organisations that are based in Geneva. Free tours are tip-based.

Les mouettes are yellow shuttle boats, which form part of Geneva’s public transport system. They offer short journeys between four spots at the edge of Lake Geneva. This is a very cheap way to experience Lake Geneva from the water. Price is CHF3.50 or free with a Geneva transport card.