Let’s face it. I know it. You know it. Your boyfriend’s Gran knows it. Geneva is expensive. Trop cher. However, it is possible to have a good time there without breaking the bank. So, without further ado, here were my favourite things to do in Geneva on a budget…
Quick facts to know before visiting Geneva:
Population: 197, 000
Known for: Chocolate, headquarters of the UN, watches, luxury goods, global financial centre.
Languages spoken in Switzerland (official languages): French, German, Italian.
Currency Used: Swiss Franc.
Climate: Moderate temperatures throughout the year, particularly rainy in the Autumn.
Consider purchasing a Geneva Pass
If you truly want to visit Geneva on a budget but are considering seeing a lot of museums and attractions while in the city, you may well want to consider investing in a Geneva Pass. Although it is a small cost upfront, this card offers discounts and free passes to over 40 Geneva sights, and even includes transportation.
See the Jet d’eau (quite literally jet of water!).
As boring as this activity may sound at first, it’s actually pretty fun to go and see the iconic Jet d’Eau of Genea. After seeing it for myself, I’m also pretty sure that many people go to Geneva to specifically see this feat of engineering! After all, the Jet is one of the largest fountains in the world.
The first jet d’eau was created in 1886 as a safety valve for a hydraulic plant. The current fountain jets out 500 litres of water per second! If you walk right around the bay until you’re parallel with the jet, there’s a little jetty that goes out into out into the lake and on a windy day, you get soaked by the fountain!
See St Pierre’s Cathedral (free)
Did you know that Pierre translates into Peter in English and comes from the Greek word meaning rock? Founded in the 4th Century AD, between the 8th and 10th centuries, the site was home to three co-existing cathedrals on site.
The current building was constructed in the 12th century and a neo-classical exterior was added six centuries later. Whilst the cathedral itself is free to visit, for an extra 5 euro or Swiss franc, you can go up the tower and witness the most incredible view over Geneva!
Explore the old town (free)
After wandering into the cool cathedral that is St Pierre’s, perhaps you might fancy a walk outside in the sunshine, or seek a few more cool, shady spots. Either way, it’s the perfect time to grab an ice cream and explore what the streets have to offer… After all, Geneva is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Switzerland, and much of what makes it such an attractive destination is its old charm and cobbled lanes.
Go Window Shopping (lèche-vitrine in French)
Literally known as ‘window licking’ in French, of all the things to do in Geneva on a budget, perhaps this is the most unexpected. However, considering that the high street is littered with high-end fashion and designer goods; there is no end to the possibility of things to see.
Perhaps my favourite thing about this particular experience was when I was peering into the shop window display of Louis Vuitton, happily minding my own business when a security guard sidled right up to where my friend and I were standing and simply said ‘Bonjour. Ça va?’.
Walk by the canal in Geneva
I liked doing this as you can look at the water and watch the world go by at the same time. A particularly interesting spot is the is the Hans Wilsdorf bridge. Named after the founder of Rolex, the ‘bird’s nest’ style bridge was built in under three years and it took 1500 tonnes of steel and 1500 tonnes of concrete to construct!