Give Me Back My Five Bucks

Trip Recap: Geneva, Switzerland

Before we planned our trip to Geneva, we knew it was going to be an expensive trip. But we didn’t realize just how expensive it was until we got there! I’m amazed we were able to get away with spending so little, in such an pricey city.


Accommodation (3 nights): $137.43 – AirBnB
Transportation: $83.76
: $123.48
City Transit: $7.60
Entertainment: $70.35
Miscellaneous: $4.58
TOTAL: $427.20


In the city of Geneva, everything we did was free. We walked around a lot, relaxed along the river, and checked out all the tourist hot spots. The main reason we went on this trip was to go to the 2012 Motor Show. Nic is really, really into cars, and we’re headed to Amsterdam in May for a concert I want to see – so it’s a pretty fair trade. :) Anyway, my ticket to the show was free because someone handed me a free ticket.

We also took a side trip to Chamonix, once we realized how close it was to where we were. The roundtrip train ticket and gondola ride cost just over $70, and it was absolutely worth it. Everything about the city was charming, and the mountains were breathtaking. I would definitely recommend the trip!

Here is a photo I took while at the top of the ski hill:


When we were too late to get a hostel through my HostelBookers sponsorship, all of the hostels were booked solid, and hotels in Geneva were way out of our price range, I turned to AirBnB. For those unfamiliar with AirBnB, basically you are renting accommodation directly from the owner. So whether it’s a room in an apartment, to a house, to a oceanside mansion, you can pretty much find anything you’re looking for, at a variety of different price points.

I’ve used AirBnB before to book accommodation in Toronto, as well as (NYC and Maui), which is a similar service … and I can say that I’ve had nothing but wonderful experiences. This time, we stayed in a town called Annemasse, which is in France, about a 20-30 min. tram ride to the heart of Geneva. The house was centrally located, and our huge room was on the top floor, with a private washroom. We were lucky because Annemasse is also where we had to catch the train to Chamonix, making transportation relatively easy for us.

In order to get to Annemasse from Geneva, you need to take the tram to the Switzerland/France border. From there, you walk across the border and catch a bus on the other side. But because we’re so used to walking around Stuttgart, we just walked to and from the border (about 30 min. each way), saving us bus fare, so we only had to pay for the tram.

I’d definitely stay at this place again if I’m ever visiting Geneva again, and I think we were really lucky that the place was still available when we booked it. At around $90/night, you just can’t beat that price.


Considering that entrees at regular (non-fancy) restaurants were all in the $50-80 range, I think we did a really, really good job at keeping our food costs down. When we first got there, we were absolutely shocked at the price of restaurants. But we found ways around it by buying bread at corner stores in Annemasse in the mornings on our walk into Geneva, and eating at “cheap” places. Chamonix was surprisingly cheap in terms of food, but we bought our lunch from the open market so it was a little pricier than if we had just grabbed a sandwich somewhere. Still, I think we paid $20 for a bottle of wine, tons of bread, meat, and pickled vegetables. So that was pretty good. :)

We also ate a lot of Swiss chocolate. In fact, that’s the first thing we did during our first morning in the city. We headed to a chocolate shop to stuff our faces. So good. :)

Anyway, here are a few photos that I took:



Author: Krystal Yee

I’m a personal finance blogger and marketing professional based in Vancouver. I’m a former Toronto Star (Moneyville) columnist, author of The Beginner’s Guide to Saving and Investing, and co-founder of the Canadian Personal Finance Conference. When I’m not working, you can usually find me running, climbing, playing field hockey, or plotting my next adventure.


  1. Marianne says:

    I’m beginning to feel that reading your blog could get very expensive… If you keep posting amazing pictures like this I will just have to drain the emergency fund and go on an awesome trip! :)
    Don’t worry- I probably won’t do that. Probably.

  2. Frugal Fries says:

    Those macarons look delicious and your pictures are beautiful. It might be expensive, but Geneva looks worth the price tag.

  3. Anna says:

    I don’t think the trip was “expensive” – for each of the 3 nights, you only spent a total of $71.20 each for everything…I can spend that on 2 dinners alone!

  4. Savvy Scot says:

    Great photos and it looks like you had a fantastic trip :)

  5. Modest Money says:

    Yes it looks like you managed to keep spending down despite the high prices. And those are some pretty amazing views from Chamonix. I’m sure Nic really enjoyed the car show too.

  6. jolie says:

    You are getting such varied experiences as you travel about. I love reading each of your updates. I’ve never had a macaron. they look so pretty. What do they taste like?

    • Krystal Yee says:

      They taste like heaven! :) The cookie is light, soft, and a tiny bit chewy. Super delicate, too. I tried to carefully pack some in my suitcase when I was in Montreal over Christmas, and they all broke. But, they were still delicious, haha. The filling is smooth and kind of has the texture of ganache.

  7. Daisy says:

    Wow the photos are so beautiful! You’re getting to be a good photographer :)

  8. SP says:

    This is awesome – I went to Chamonix & Geneva about 2 years ago for our wedding trip. We did a walk from Chamonix to Courmayer, then took the (expensive but WORTH IT) tram thing back to Chamonix. It was absolutely the coolest border crossing I ever did!

  9. Michelle says:

    Sounds like a great trip! I used Airbnb for our Miami trip, it worked out great.

  10. Macarons!! There is this little bakery that sells wonderful macarons near my house, but they are $1.75 each, so it adds up. Are they cheaper in Europe?

    • Krystal Yee says:

      Not really much cheaper. In Chamonix, they were the equivalent of $1.25 each – which is why we only bought 6 and shared them! :) If they were cheaper, I’d have bought a massive box of them, hahaha.

  11. Erk says:

    Are all amounts CAD?

  12. Bridget says:

    wow that looks amazing. I am so jealous of you!! haha and you really did get a great price for such an experience.

  13. Wow, it looks amazing there! I will definitely be putting that on my list of places to go.

  14. jeweliette23 says:

    I lived in Geneva for a semester during grad school. We couldn’t afford to dine out anywhere so we did most of our eating at home. I don’t get why the city is so expensive when it’s the international org workers that live there and the oil tycoons and bankers just visit!

    • Krystal Yee says:

      I don’t know how young people survive in that city, it’s just so expensive! We were only there for 3 days and I was worried about money – can’t imagine living there for an entire semester!

  15. Looks like you had a great time!

  16. eemusings says:

    Wow, those prices are unbelieveable!

    On the other hand, those pictures are gorgeous. Bet the stunning scenery more than made up for it.

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