Geneva is ranked as one of the most expensive cities in Europe, alongside other destinations in Switzerand like Zurich and Basel,

But it is surprisingly not that difficult to plan a city break to Geneva and avoid breaking the bank.

There are lots of things to see and do even if you have a smalll budget and a lot of popular tourism destinations are also totaly free.


How to Get to Geneva

Gevena has fantastic transport links and you can fly from major European and worldwide destinations, arrive by train, car or the cheapest option is via bus.

Lots of low cost European airlines like Easyjey and Ryanair offer flights, book in-advance to secure the best deals or travel out of the main summer/Christmas season for the cheapest prices.

Geneva airport is around 4km from the city centre and can be reached by public transport: train, bus, taxi or shuttle. Bus is the cheapest option.


Where to Stay

Accommodation in Geneva is likely to be your biggest outgoing, but there are lots of places to stay, from luxury hotels, to budgets b&b's and hostels. Similar to flights, reserve accommodation in-advance and avoid busy peak tourism seasons for the best prices.

If you stay centrally most of the main tourist attractions can be reached on foot which can save you money on public transport. 


Free and Low Cost Activities in Geneva 

If you are planning a city break to Geneva and want to save money these are the locations and activities you should check out.


1. Take a Walk Through the Old Town

Geneva Old Town

Stroll up and down winding cobbled streets filled with historical buildings, cafes, restaurants and galleries.


2. Free Geneva Sightseeing Tours

Like most cities in Europe, you can book free sightseeing tours in Geneva. These are free with an optional donation at the end and you wil get to visit some of the most popuar tourist attractions and learn more about the places you visit.


3. Visit Jet d’Eau

Geneva fountain

Take a trip down to Lake Geneva to see one of the city’s top attractions, the famous water jet shooting 500 litres of water 140 metres up in the air, it is hard to miss! You can walk right up to it and even under it and it is completely free. Lighting up at night it is worth a visit once it has gone dark.


4. Hire a Paddle Boat

No yacht or chauffer? You can hire a paddle boat on Lake Geneva and spend time seeing the city from there. You can also take a number of water taxis across the lake too.


5. Try Some Local Swiss Chocolate

Swiss chocolate shop

Visit some of the local boutique shops in the city and sample some of the best chocolate in the world. 


6. Rent a Bike

By avoiding taxis and public transport you won’t only be helping your health but also your bank balance.

With designated bike lanes and wide pavements it is encouraged, but if it is too energetic you could always walk along the lakeside walkway’s and see the city that way.

Lots of Switzerland tour companies are offer bike tours and city sightseeing excursions which are reasonably priced.


7. Take the Cable Car up Mount Saleve

Cable car up Mount Saleve

Take a trip 1,100m up Mount Saleve on the Téléphérique du Salève (Cable Car) and get the best views of Geneva and the surrounding region.

The scenery is spectacular and once at the top you can grad that amazing Instagram photo, watch people paraglide off the mountain, or take one of the hikes or designated walking routes.


  • Adult single €13, return €18
  • Concession single €9, return €12
  • Child single €4,50, return €6,50
  • If you buy the Geneva City Pass it is free.


8. Play a Giant Game of Chess in the City Park

Have a game with the locals or one of your family/friends, the chess and checkers games in Parc de Bastions are free and a lot of fun.


9. Visit the United Nations ‘Palace of Nations’ Building

United Nations ‘Palace of Nations’ Building

Whilst in the same area you could also see the broken chair sculpture and the Red Cross Headquarters.


10. Visit the St Pierre Cathedral

Geneva St Pierre Cathedral

Take a walk up the tower and see one of the best panoramic views of the city.


11. Expore the City Parks and Gardens

Geneva Travel Shoestring

There are so many parks in Geneva you will be spoilt for choice, take a picnic and enjoy the scenery. You could also walk round the city and see if you can find the flower clock.


12. Go to Special Events

Geneva Regatta

There are lots interesting facts about Switzerland and depending on what time of year you visit Geneva there might be a number of events that are worth going to, including the Geneva Festival, the open air lakeside cinema, the film festival, the chocolate festival, Swiss National day and the annual Regatta.


Plan a Cheap City Break to Geneva

Despite many reviews saying otherwise, you won’t need an extra bank account or Swiss gold to see the city. There are lots of sightseeing activities which are free or don't cost a fortune. If you like the idea of staying in Geneva search seasonal jobs in Switzerland. Or to see more of Switzerland or the surrounding countries check out Europe tours.

By Nicola Shonick