A Travel Price Comparison for Switzerland Zurich vs. Geneva for Old Town, Attractions, Food, and Nightlife

Should you visit Zurich or Geneva?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

Which city should you visit? Read on to compare the activities as well as the prices of travel for Zurich and Geneva. We'll break down costs for accommodation, food, transportation and more to help you learn more about these two destinations. Then, you can figure out if either of these two places are accessible based on your travel budget, schedule, and interests. So, let's dig into it.

Zurich

Zurich is a liberal, beautiful, and historic city. This is also a very beautiful destination which attracts plenty of visitors. It's also known for live music, food, and shopping.

Geneva

Geneva is a diverse, international, and professional city. Travelers will also find plenty of sights and attractions here, as it's a big city that attracts lots of visitors. It's a beautiful place to visit, too. And you can't forget about the nightlife, food, and shopping.

Zurich and Geneva: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Good music scene
  • Scenic old town
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Impressive beauty
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Big city activities
Things to Consider
  • Less popular old town
  • Less popular with backpackers


Is there more to do in Zurich or Geneva?

Visitors will generally find more to do in Geneva than Zurich. While Zurich is larger than Geneva, Geneva has more sights, attractions, and activities for tourists. Geneva is very popular for its big city activities, while Zurich attracts visitors for its nightlife, music, historical sights, and impressive beauty. Zurich is more touristy than Geneva and is known for its beautiful setting on Lake Zurich as well as its cafes, restaurants, and high prices. Geneva is famous for its role as a global hub for the United Nations, the Red Cross, and the World Health Organization. It is also well known for The Geneva Water Fountain (The Jet d'Eau).

How is Zurich different from Geneva?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Geneva and Zurich. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Zurich or Geneva?

Zurich
Geneva

Plenty of people visit the excellent sights and museums in both Zurich and Geneva.

Visitors can fill many days exploring the museums and attractions around Zurich. Make sure you check out the Museum of Fine Arts, the Fraum√ľnster, as well as the Swiss National Museum.

Geneva offers many unique museums, sights, and landmarks that will make for a memorable trip. Famous sights and landmarks include the spectacular Water Jet, St Pierre Cathedral, and the Palais des Nations. There are also impressive art and history museums in the city.


Is the Food Better in Zurich or Geneva? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Zurich
Geneva

Both Zurich and Geneva offer a number of excellent restaurants to choose from.

Eating is part of the travel experience when you visit Zurich. Many restaurants have a strong German influence, but you'll also find traditional Swiss dishes such as cheese and chocolate fondue. There are also several Michelin star restaurants in town.

Geneva has a number of nationally recognized food spots and restaurants. The city has an amazing mix of traditional Swiss restaurants as well as diverse ethnic options. Traditional dishes include fondue and raclette, both of which involve the decadent Swiss cheese.

Is Zurich or Geneva Better for Nightlife?

Zurich
Geneva

Zurich is a great destination for nightlife. Also, Geneva is still popular, but not quite as popular for nightlife and partying.

The people in Zurich know how to have a good time. The city has some of the best nightlife in Switzerland. There are a high concentration of bars and clubs around town, or you could check out one of the badis, which are pools that also act as bars during the summer months. They're usually located by the lake.

If you're looking for night time activities Geneva has a few options to choose from. During the day the city is all business, but at night the professionals, interns, students, and NGO workers all come together to enjoy a drink at a bar or dance at one of the city's diverse clubs.

Is Zurich or Geneva Better for Music?

Zurich
Geneva

Zurich is a great destination for live music. However, Geneva is not a live music destination.

Zurich has become a hotbed of musicians and artists. There are many nightclubs that offer a variety of music types including electronic music, rock, and even reggae.

Geneva is not a live music destination.


Is Zurich or Geneva Better for its Old Town?

Zurich
Geneva

Zurich is an unbeatable place for its historic old town. Also, Geneva is still popular, but not quite as popular for its old town.

With a famous historical old-town, Zurich offers plenty to see. The city has an old town that is split into two parts on each side of the Limmat River. The historic districts are filled with churches, squares, and charming areas that are fun to explore. Walking tours are the best way to explore the old town.

Plenty of visitors enjoy exploring the old town in Geneva. The Old Town offers a number of charming streets where you can wander as well as historical buildings including St. Pierre Cathedral.

Is the Shopping Better in Zurich or Geneva?

Zurich
Geneva

Both Zurich and Geneva are terrific shopping destinations.

The abundance of shops in Zurich make it a world-class shopping destination. Visitors often buy chocolate, watches, and jewelry in this city. You'll find brand names and luxury items that are of high quality. Each neighborhood has its own character with stores ranging from traditional to international.

Many people travel to Geneva specifically to go shopping. Famous for its posh shops and luxury brands, this city is a popular shopping destination. From chic boutiques to deluxe toy stores, you'll find something for everyone. In particular, the city is known for its Swiss watches, Swiss Army knives, chocolate, and wine.

Is Zurich or Geneva Better for Families?

Zurich
Geneva

Zurich is a great destination for its family-friendly activities. Also, Geneva is still popular, but not quite as popular for its kid-friendly activities.

Zurich is a very family-friendly place to visit. It's a surprisingly mellow city with a relaxing vibe that makes it easy to explore with kids. Popular family-friendly activities include swimming in the Limmat River, sailing on Lake Zurich, and visiting Josefwiese park, which has a large playground.

Geneva offers lots of family activities. This diverse city has a number of chocolate shops, toy stores, and parks where kids can play. They'll be impressed by the Water Jet and there are few places where you can swim in the lake when the weather is warm.


Is Zurich or Geneva Better for Couples?

Zurich
Geneva

Zurich is a great destination for romance. Also, Geneva is still popular, but not quite as popular for its romantic activities.

Couples visit Zurich frequently as it offers plenty of romantic activities. One of the most romantic experiences you can have in town is visiting the Zurich Thermal Baths and Spa. There's an outdoor rooftop thermal pool as well as many ways that you can pamper yourselves.

Geneva makes for a fun place to visit for a couple. Wandering Old Town, sampling Swiss chocolate, and enjoying one of the many ethnic restaurants around town all make for great date activities. Fondue in a traditional restaurant is also a not to be missed experience.

Is Zurich or Geneva Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Zurich
Geneva

Zurich is a good destination for backpackers. However, Geneva is a city with minimal options for backpackers and budget travelers.

Plenty of backpackers visit Zurich. The city has a number of hostels to choose from, but, like most of Switzerland, the city is expensive in general.

Geneva is a challenging destination for budget travelers and backpackers due to the higher prices. The city is often overlooked by backpackers as it is pretty expensive. Many hotels cater to the business traveler crowd, but there are a few hostels to choose from.

Is Zurich or Geneva Better for Students?

Zurich
Geneva

Zurich is an unbeatable place for students. Also, Geneva is still popular, but not quite as popular for its student-friendly activities.

Zurich is a very popular place to visit for students. The city offers a number of unique experiences for international students. The academics are good and the university campuses are nice.

Geneva is a very popular city for students and younger travelers. The University of Geneva attracts many international students and the city is quite diverse. It feels like a mixing bowl of cultures, so students will feel very welcomed and comfortable here.


Is Zurich or Geneva Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Zurich
Geneva

Geneva is a must-visit destination for its public transit. Also, Zurich is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for times when you don't have a car.

Geneva has a world-class public transit network to take passengers everywhere in the city. The very comprehensive system includes trams, buses, and boats.

The public transit in Zurich can get you to most places easily. The system is made up of streetcars and buses.

Is Zurich or Geneva a more walkable city?

Zurich
Geneva

Zurich and Geneva both are excellent when exploring on foot.

Zurich is a very walkable city. There are paths that lead along the rivers and the lake connecting the old town areas to other parts of the city.

Geneva is a very walkable destination. Most areas where visitors spend their time can be easily explored on foot.

For even more information, also check out Is Zurich Worth Visiting? and Is Geneva Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Geneva or Zurich?

How long in Zurich or Geneva?

Visitors can find plenty of fun things to do in both Zurich and Geneva. With generally more activities and things to do, visitors tend to spend more time in Zurich than in Geneva. Usually, 2-5 days is a good amount of time for Zurich, and 1-3 days is enough time in Geneva.

Families should spend more time in Zurich than Geneva. Because of the many family-friendly attractions and fun things to do for kids in Zurich, it's a great place to visit with the whole family.

Couples should spend more time in Zurich than Geneva. You'll find plenty of romantic sights and fun activities in Zurich that are great for a weekend getaway or a longer couple's trip.

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Zurich than Geneva if your budget allows for it. With a larger number of budget-friendly sights, good nightlife, and active things to do, anyone traveling on a budget would have a good time in Zurich.


  • How many days in Zurich or Geneva? Ideal Length of Stay
    Zurich 2-5 
    Geneva 1-3

One day in Zurich or Geneva?

Many travelers enjoy the food and shopping when visiting the destination of Zurich. The old town is one of the main draws for visitors. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than one day exploring.

Geneva is a bustling city that offers something for everyone. One day is often enough time to do most activities.


A weekend in Zurich or Geneva?

Zurich is a great place to explore. It is common to spend a weekend here. Don't miss the shopping, as that's what most people do. With all of its activities, you can easily fill a weekend here. Your budget might influence how long you stay.

Geneva is a great place to explore. It is common to spend a weekend here. Don't miss the shopping, as that's what most people do. With all of its activities, you can easily fill a weekend here. Your budget might influence how long you stay.

Five days in Zurich or Geneva?

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Zurich. Don't miss the shopping, as that's what most people do. For many, it makes a great getaway for five days. Make sure you visit the old town while you're here. With all of its activities, you can easily fill five days here. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Geneva. Don't miss the shopping, as that's what most people do. Five days may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.

A week in Zurich or Geneva?

Travelers enjoy the nightlife and live music when visiting the beautiful destination of Zurich. This city offers a variety of activities to choose from. Most visitors spend time around the old town while in the area. Most people find that one week is more than enough time to see everything.

Travelers enjoy the shopping and museums when visiting the classy big city of Geneva. This city offers a variety of activities to choose from. Most people find that one week is more than enough time to see everything.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best Sightseeing Tours in Switzerland, The Best Romantic Tours for Couples in Switzerland, The Best Luxury Tours to Switzerland, and The Best Tours for Seniors to Switzerland.


Which place is cheaper, Geneva or Zurich?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Zurich is $266, while the average daily cost in Geneva is $208. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each destination. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Zurich and Geneva in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Zurich $168
    Geneva $143
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Zurich $336
    Geneva $286
Compare Hotels in Zurich and Geneva

Looking for a hotel in Zurich or Geneva? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options and compare which is best for your budget and travel style.

Hotels in Zurich


Hotels in Geneva


Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world. Compare prices for multiple destinations when planning your next trip.


Our Analysis
We've analyzed the average and typical hotel prices based on guest reviews, star ratings, and hotel amenities here: Zurich Hotel Prices and Geneva Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Zurich $35
    Geneva $9.30
Typical Local Transportation Prices in Zurich

Below are a few samples from actual travelers for transportation costs in Zurich:


  • City Pass (2)
    $28

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Zurich

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Zurich:

  • Airport Zurich Transfer Mercedes E Class 3pax: $126
  • Airport Zurich Transfer Mercedes S Class 3pax: $183
  • Airport Zurich Transfer Mercedes V-Class 6pax: $172
  • Arrival Private Transfer from Zurich Airport ZRH to Zurich City by Luxury Van: $140
  • Arrival Transfer: Zurich Airport ZRH to Zurich in Luxury Van: $98
  • Arrival Transfer from Zurich Airport ZRH to Zurich City in Private Car/Van: $97
  • Departure Private Transfer from Zurich to Zurich Airport ZRH by Luxury Van: $140
  • Departure Transfer from Zurich City to Zurich Airport ZRH in Private Car/Van: $97
  • Noumea Cruise Port to Noumea hotels - Arrival Private Transfer : $72
  • ONE WAY: Zurich Airport (ZRH) to / from Zurich Private Transfer: $84
  • Private Arrival Transfer: from Zurich Airport to Lucerne : $278
  • Private Arrival Transfer: from Zurich Airport to Zug: $260

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Geneva

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Geneva:

  • Geneva Airport (GVA) to Lausanne - Arrival Private Transfer: $54
  • Geneva to Geneva Airport (GVA)- Departure Private Transfer: $55
  • VIP Transfer: $73
  • Geneva Airport GVA to Val d'Isere Espace Killy Arrival Transfer: $78
  • Geneva Airport (GVA) to Verbier - Arrival Private Transfer: $78
  • Private Transfer from Geneva Hotels to Geneva Airport: $87
  • Private Transfer from Geneva Airport to Geneva Hotels : $87
  • Geneva Departure Private Transfers from Geneva City to Geneva Airport GVA: $89
  • Geneva Passenger Transfer to Chamonix Mont Blanc: $89
  • Geneva Airport Transfers : Geneva City to Geneva Airport GVA in Business Car: $89
  • Geneva Airport Transfers : Geneva Airport GVA to Geneva City in Business Car: $89
  • Geneva Arrival Private Transfers from Geneva Airport GVA to Geneva City: $89

Is it cheaper to fly into Zurich or Geneva?

Prices for flights to both Geneva and Zurich change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.





Food
  • Food Meals for one day
    Zurich $61
    Geneva $52
Typical Food Prices in Zurich

Some typical examples of dining costs in Zurich are as follows:


  • Breakfast for 2
    $13

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Zurich

Also, here are some specific examples of food and dining related activities in Zurich.

  • Zürich Food Tour: $100

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Geneva

Also, here are some specific examples of food and dining related activities in Geneva.

  • Geneva City Tour with Cooking Class: $148

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Zurich $35
    Geneva $30

Tours and Activities in Zurich

Some specific costs of activities, tours, and entrance tickets for Zurich are as follows:

  • Self-Guided Reading City Tour in Zurich: $5.73
  • Winterthur Scavenger Hunt and Sights Self-Guided Tour: $16
  • St. Gallen Scavenger Hunt and Sights Self-Guided Tour: $16
  • Zurich Altstadt 2 Scavenger Hunt and Sights Self-Guided Tour: $16
  • Zurich Highlights Self guided scavenger hunt and city tour: $17
  • City e-bike tour: $29
  • FIFA Museum Tickets: $30
  • Zurich City Tour with Audio Commentary: $40
  • Christmas Walking Tour in Zürich: Exploring Holiday Charm: $46
  • Zürich Guided City Sightseeing Tour with Lake Cruise: $50
  • Zurich Highlights City Tour with Lake Cruise: $52
  • Zurich Private Walking Tour with a Local Guide: $54

Tours and Activities in Geneva

Here are a few actual costs in Geneva for available activities, ticket prices, and tours:

  • From Brunswick Monument to the Botanical Garden: A Self-Guided Audio Tour: $6.99
  • Self-Guided Audio Tour to the Many Faces of Geneva: $11
  • Geneva (International District) City Sights Self-Guided Tour: $16
  • Audioguided sightseeing cruise of Geneva: $22
  • (STTG03)Geneva International Quarter & Lakeside Sightseeing Tour: $30
  • (STTG04) - Sightseeing Cruise at Geneva with Wine and Aperitif: $33
  • 2-Hour Small-Group Bike Guided Tour in Geneva: $34
  • Private Tour to Discover Geneva by Tasting its Chocolates: $56
  • The Highlights Tour in a TaxiBike: Geneva : $62
  • Geneva Highlights 2-Hour Introductory Tour: $66
  • Best of Geneva City Tour with optional boat cruise: $66
  • Sightseeing of top Places Tour Electric TukTuk 1H tour: $74

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Zurich $29
    Geneva $22

Sample the Local Flavors in Zurich

Also in Zurich, these are the prices for nightlife and alcohol related activities from various tour providers:

  • eTukTuk Hot Stone BBQ and Wine Tour Zürich: $126
  • Informative wine tasting with Italian appetizers in the secure wine cellar: $159


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Zurich and Geneva, we can see that Zurich is more expensive. And not only is Geneva much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Geneva would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Geneva and be able to afford a more luxurious travel style by staying in nicer hotels, eating at more expensive restaurants, taking tours, and experiencing more activities. The same level of travel in Zurich would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Zurich than you might in Geneva.

If you're trying to decide if either of these two destinations are within your price range, also see Is Zurich Expensive? and Is Geneva Expensive?.


Which is Bigger, Zurich or Geneva?

Zurich has a larger population, and is about 86% larger than the population of Geneva. When comparing the sizes of Zurich and Geneva, keep in mind that a larger population does not always imply the destination has more attractions or better activities. So, always research the type of place that you want to visit along with the activities and attractions that interest you.


When is the best time to visit Zurich or Geneva?

Both destinations experience a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. And since both cities are in the northern hemisphere, summer is in July and winter is in January.

Should I visit Zurich or Geneva in the Summer?

The summer attracts plenty of travelers to both Zurich and Geneva. The summer months attract visitors to Zurich because of the music scene and the family-friendly experiences. Furthermore, the city activities and the family-friendly experiences are the main draw to Geneva this time of year.

In July, Zurich is generally around the same temperature as Geneva. Daily temperatures in Zurich average around 21°C (70°F), and Geneva fluctuates around 22°C (71°F).

People are often attracted to the plentiful sunshine in Geneva this time of the year. In Zurich, it's very sunny this time of the year. Zurich usually receives less sunshine than Geneva during summer. Zurich gets 241 hours of sunny skies, while Geneva receives 285 hours of full sun in the summer.

In July, Zurich usually receives more rain than Geneva. Zurich gets 89 mm (3.5 in) of rain, while Geneva receives 61 mm (2.4 in) of rain each month for the summer.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Zurich 21°C (70°F) 
    Geneva 22°C (71°F)

Should I visit Zurich or Geneva in the Autumn?

The autumn brings many poeple to Zurich as well as Geneva. The shopping scene, the music scene, and the natural beauty of the area are the main draw to Zurich this time of year. Additionally, many travelers come to Geneva for the city's sights and attractions, the shopping scene, and the natural beauty of the area.

Zurich is around the same temperature as Geneva in the autumn. The daily temperature in Zurich averages around 13°C (56°F) in October, and Geneva fluctuates around 14°C (56°F).

In the autumn, Zurich often gets around the same amount of sunshine as Geneva. Zurich gets 120 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Geneva receives 127 hours of full sun.

Zurich usually gets less rain in October than Geneva. Zurich gets 70 mm (2.8 in) of rain, while Geneva receives 78 mm (3.1 in) of rain this time of the year.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Zurich 13°C (56°F) 
    Geneva 14°C (56°F)

Should I visit Zurich or Geneva in the Winter?

Both Geneva and Zurich are popular destinations to visit in the winter with plenty of activities. Many travelers come to Zurich for the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine. Also, many visitors come to Geneva in the winter for the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine.

Geneva can get quite cold in the winter. Be prepared for some very cold days in Zurich. In the winter, Zurich is cooler than Geneva. Typically, the winter temperatures in Zurich in January average around 3°C (37°F), and Geneva averages at about 4°C (39°F).

Zurich usually receives less sunshine than Geneva during winter. Zurich gets 55 hours of sunny skies, while Geneva receives 62 hours of full sun in the winter.

In January, Zurich usually receives more rain than Geneva. Zurich gets 77 mm (3 in) of rain, while Geneva receives 55 mm (2.1 in) of rain each month for the winter.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Zurich 3°C (37°F) 
    Geneva 4°C (39°F)

Should I visit Zurich or Geneva in the Spring?

Both Geneva and Zurich during the spring are popular places to visit. Many visitors come to Zurich in the spring for the natural beauty. Also, most visitors come to Geneva for the activities around the city and the natural beauty during these months.

In April, Zurich is generally around the same temperature as Geneva. Daily temperatures in Zurich average around 12°C (53°F), and Geneva fluctuates around 11°C (53°F).

In the spring, Zurich often gets less sunshine than Geneva. Zurich gets 150 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Geneva receives 174 hours of full sun.

Zurich usually gets more rain in April than Geneva. Zurich gets 79 mm (3.1 in) of rain, while Geneva receives 65 mm (2.6 in) of rain this time of the year.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Zurich 12°C (53°F) 
    Geneva 11°C (53°F)

Typical Weather for Geneva and Zurich

Zurich Geneva
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 3°C (37°F) 77 mm (3 in) 4°C (39°F) 55 mm (2.1 in)
Feb 5°C (40°F) 70 mm (2.8 in) 6°C (42°F) 54 mm (2.1 in)
Mar 8°C (46°F) 72 mm (2.8 in) 8°C (47°F) 62 mm (2.4 in)
Apr 12°C (53°F) 79 mm (3.1 in) 11°C (53°F) 65 mm (2.6 in)
May 16°C (60°F) 101 mm (4 in) 15°C (60°F) 85 mm (3.4 in)
Jun 19°C (66°F) 100 mm (3.9 in) 19°C (66°F) 75 mm (3 in)
Jul 21°C (70°F) 89 mm (3.5 in) 22°C (71°F) 61 mm (2.4 in)
Aug 21°C (69°F) 104 mm (4.1 in) 21°C (70°F) 75 mm (3 in)
Sep 18°C (64°F) 79 mm (3.1 in) 18°C (65°F) 75 mm (3 in)
Oct 13°C (56°F) 70 mm (2.8 in) 14°C (56°F) 78 mm (3.1 in)
Nov 7°C (45°F) 82 mm (3.2 in) 8°C (46°F) 70 mm (2.8 in)
Dec 4°C (39°F) 83 mm (3.3 in) 4°C (40°F) 57 mm (2.3 in)