LBH Guide Steve Owers offers his insight into the 48 in Geneva on a budget.
With 48 hours on my hands, little money and time to kill in this picturesque Swiss city, I set out to explore what Geneva had to offer and found a blend of countries and cultures in an understated city which, despite popular belief, can be enjoyed by the budget conscious traveler.
Arriving in Geneva
The first pleasure of arriving in Geneva is the free public transport that takes you from the airport to the city. With low-cost public transport being a pleasant surprise in a city that is generally regarded as a destination for the less budget conscious traveler, my trip was off to a good start.
For travelers visiting just for the day, the airport and train stations provide useful facilities such as luggage lockers, which provided a welcome opportunity to deposit my main luggage securely for just 10CHF (approx £8 /$10).
Being an international hub of banking and for diplomats, not surprisingly there is no shortage of fantastic accommodation in Geneva, however, cheaper hostels are also available, such as the City Hostel (a convenient 5-minute walk from the train station). With 4-bed dormitory rooms, sheets, towels, and a kitchen and outdoor patio area – the hostel proved perfect for my needs at only 36CHF (approx £28 /$36) per night and is a great way to meet like-minded travelers.
Another bonus of staying at the hostel (or any hotel, hostel or campsite in Geneva) is the free public transport card which entitles you to free travel on buses, trams, trains and the yellow taxi boats (Mouettes) throughout the city. With the cost of travel being a major aspect of exploring a new city – this was a pleasant addition and really summed up Geneva’s attitude toward welcoming visitors to the city.
Things to Do, Places to Go
Like any city, a trip to the Tourist Information Centre will give you lots of ideas on what to do and see. Some of my highlights included;
Lake Geneva (1-3 hrs)
Lake Geneva is 10 minute’s walk from the train station and a must-see sight in Geneva. It is worth walking round to see the iconic ‘Jet d’Eau’, a visual spectacle which shoots water 140 meters into the air. There are many traffic-free walks along the side of the lake with shaded seating and parks where you can stop and people watch.
The Old Town and St Peters Cathedral (2 hrs)
Just off the main shopping street is the Old Town, once the center of the Reformation movement and well worth taking the time to explore. Old Town includes St Peters Cathedral which dominates the area and is worth spending 4.50CHF to climb the 157 steps of the 2 towers where you get great 360 degree views of the city, the lake, and the surrounding mountains.
Yellow Water Taxis (Mouettes) (2-3 hrs)
Free if you have a Public Transport Card and offering 4 separate routes, you can start at the southern end of the lake and zig-zag your way to de Chateaubriand, followed by a walk back to your starting point along the Western side of the lake (1 hr).
Eating Out
Food can be expensive in Geneva, but with a bit of exploring I found a place called ‘Chez Ma Cousine’ on Rue Bourg-de-Four (just behind the cathedral) which served excellent half chicken, potato wedges and dressed salad for 15.90 CHF (approx £13 / $16).
Rest and Relaxation.
If you do find yourself with time and some spare Francs, you might also try out the Bain-Blau hammer and spa, a fantastic world of Jacuzzis, whirlpools and steam rooms – perfect for the weary traveler. 28 CHF (£22/$28).
I was surprised at how much this sophisticated city of international diplomacy catered for the budget conscious traveler, so whether for a short break or if you are just passing through – be sure to see what Geneva has to offer.
I hope you have a fantastic time in Geneva.
Steve Owers