Geneva is a stunning city but it is also pretty expensive (well Switzerland as a whole is pricey) which can be challenging if you’re on a budget! Infact Geneva is one of the most expensive cities in the world. But are there affordable ways that you can enjoy the city? Absolutely yes! Read on to discover how to explore Geneva on a budget – I’ll tell you all my top tips for how you can enjoy Geneva without breaking the bank!
How to explore Geneva on a budget:
Did you know that you can use public transport FOR FREE during your stay in Geneva!
Free Geneva Transport Card:
Whichever accommodation you stay in whilst you are in Geneva: hotel, hostel or even campsite, they will give you a complimentary Geneva transport card so you can use the whole public transport system (buses, trams or trains) for free during the length of your stay in Geneva! How cool is that!!
Free Airport ride:
Also, if you are coming from the airport you can get a free bus/tram/train ride from the airport to your accommodation! Just find the machine at the airport that says “free ticket” before you leave the baggage claim area at the airport, press the button and get your free ticket, valid for 80 minutes!
Free bike rental:
You can also rent bikes for 4 hours for free in the summer from Geneva Roule! Cycling is a great way to see a city whilst saving money AND keeping fit! Check out their locations HERE and click here to download the application page!
Transport can often cost a lot when you are visiting somewhere, but at least in Geneva you can relax knowing that’s one less expense and you can keep within your budget!
Geneva is particularly expensive for food so DEFINITELY check prices before you sit down in a restaurant and order anything! Trying to find reasonably priced restaurants can be very challenging here, and even a kebab at the dodgy looking kebab stand will be expensive!
Meat (especially beef) is particularly expensive in Switzerland (yeh, order a steak in an average restaurant and expect to pay around $50 for it!!), so go veggie whilst you’re here if you can, it will certainly be easier on your purse strings!
Buy food from the supermarket:
Another way to keep the costs down: if you are visiting on a sunny day you will save a LOT of money if you buy food from the supermarket and have a picnic in one of the local parks as opposed to eating lunch in a restaurant! Many people do this during the summer as there is such a nice vibe in the city when the sun is out.
Alternatively if you are staying at a hostel or campsite, buy groceries from the supermarket and cook your food – it will most definitely keep costs down!
Or take advantage of lunch specials:
Of course you’re going to want to eat out (the novelty of picnics and cooking for yourself soon wears off!) so when you do want to eat out, eat out for lunch when you can find lunch specials for around 15CHF. Thai, Chinese or Indian restaurants often have the best lunch offers and offer decent sized portions. Lunch set menus are a lot cheaper than dinner menus and are a great way to get good value for money food!
Or even take the tram to France for cheaper food!
Alternatively just hop across the border to France on the number 12 tram – food is a lot cheaper in the French town of Gaillard!
Limit your alcohol
Alcohol is also pretty expensive here in Geneva (the average beer costs $8)! If you do need to drink, head to a hostel bar where they offer cheap drinks and often 2-for-1 drinks deals.
Turn off your mobile data as Geneva offers free wifi, yay! The network is called: “((o)) Ville-geneve”.
And now for some sightseeing you can do around Geneva for free!:
All of the sites below can be visited easily even if you only have one day in Geneva!
Stroll around Lake Leman, in the centre of Geneva, and you can’t miss the impressive Jet d’eau water fountain. It is probably Geneva’s most famous landmark, with the water jetting a whopping 140 metres into the air. Wherever you view the fountain from it is stunning, but my favourite place to view the Jet d’eau is on the opposite side of the river to the fountain – by the Geneva-Pâquis jetty off Quai du Mont Blanc as you can see all the beautiful buildings behind. Click here for the closest Google maps location! (it is where I took the photos below!).
Promenade de la Treille
Geneva also has the world’s longest wooden bench! Built in 1767, La Treille bench is over 120 metres long. You can find it next to the Old Town of Geneva, in the beautiful Promenade de la Treille. It is set on a hill so the views from here are so beautiful, with the mountains and typical Swiss houses in the background! It is a pretty popular place for people to relax, have picnics and enjoy the beautiful view! Click here for the Google maps location.
Stroll around the Old Town
Geneva’s Old Town is really picturesque and full of history. Stroll around the cobbled streets and beautiful buildings, you can even stop by at one of the many coffee shops. This beautiful fountain can be found opposite Hotel les Armures, off Rue du Puits-Saint-Pierre. Click here for the Google maps location.
St Pierre Cathedral
For a stunning view of Geneva and the lake, head up the tower of St Pierre’s Cathedral. Personally I love seeing a city from above, and this is probably the best place to enjoy a birds eye view of Geneva. Entrance into the Cathedral is free, but if you wish to go up the tower it will cost you 5 CHF. This was actually the only money I paid on sightseeing in Geneva and it was most definitely worth it – the view was stunning and I had it all to myself! The climb wasn’t too strenuous either. Head up the South Tower for the best view (see the picture below).
See the Google maps location of St Pierre Cathedral here.
The Broken Chair art sculpture was unveiled in 1997 and was created to commemorate landmine victims. It has gained worldwide fame and stands at an impressive 12 metres tall with the 4th chair leg being broken halfway up.
It is located opposite the United Nations Building, and the bus will only take a few minutes (remember it’s free with your transport card!), or a walk from the lake takes about half an hour. See it’s location on Google maps here.
So there are my top tips and favourite things to do if you’re in Geneva and you’re on a budget! If you follow them I’m sure you’ll have a great time in Geneva!
If you’ll be travelling around Switzerland and heading to Zurich, check out my guide 24 Hours in Zurich!
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