Top 10 Things to See & Do in Geneva on a Budget

October, 2018.

Can you tick the spectacular city of Geneva off your bucket list, without it costing a small fortune? In short, of course! Holiday Autos is here to help. We’ve compiled a list of our top 10 attractions in Geneva, that won’t cost you an arm and a leg.

Geneva skyline by night

Look outside the centre

The beauty of Geneva is not restricted to the boundaries of the city. Getting out and exploring local areas is often the key to finding the most beautiful views. Hiring a car is the best way to escape the tourist-traps of the city centre and get a true feel for the city and culture. Keep reading to discover our top ten things to see and do in this fascinating city.

1. Mont Saléve

Are you a lover of nature? Or simply wish to take in the city from higher ground? Mont Saléve is just a short 30-minute drive from Geneva city centre across the border into France. At the peak of the 1379m mountain, you will be rewarded with spectacular views across the alps and Geneva.

A hiking group, Friends of Saléve, meet every Sunday at 10am for free walking guides up the mountain. If the 3-hour hike doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, you can take a cable car up the majority of the mountain for 10 CHF (Swiss Franc).

Geneva Mont Saleve


Just a 25-minute drive from Geneva centre is the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, CERN. Home to the Large Hadron Collider, CERN has been the centre of many important scientific experiments since 1954. Also, even better, the laboratory offers free guided tours for adults and children over 12.

Whether you’re an avid science lover or simply want to see the impressive Hadron Collider, a visit to CERN is perfect for an interesting and cost-friendly day out in Geneva.


3. Chillon Castle

Do you want to explore the historical side of Geneva? Chillon Castle, located on the shores of Lake Geneva, is the most visited monument in Switzerland. For nearly 400 years, the medieval fortress was the residence and poll station for the Counts of Savoy.

With tickets priced at 6 and 12.50 CHF for children and adults respectively, Chillon Castle is well worth the Francs! Spectacular views and a look into the rich history of the country make this the perfect day out for all the family.

Chillon Castle Switzerland

4. Parc Animalier de la Grande Jeanne

Looking for fun days out for the whole family that will cost next to nothing? Annecy animal park is the one for you. You’ll have to cross the border into France for this trip, costing around €7/8 on the toll road. The park, however, is totally free of charge for both you and the kids.

See deer roaming in their natural habitat or take a walk around the huge park for a relaxing, nature-filled experience.

Parc Animalier de la Grande Jeanne Annecy

5. Bains des Paquis

Bains des Paquis is the perfect place to cool off in the summer or warm up in the cabins in the winter months. The crystal-clear waters of Lake Geneva are open daily, year-round, dependent on the weather and are cost-friendly – only costing a couple of Francs for admission.

Go for a quick morning swim before heading out, or make a day of it with food and drinks available all day at reasonable prices.

Bains-des-Pâquis-Geneva Image by Alexey M, Bains-des-Pâquis-aerial-1, CC BY-SA 4.0

6. Park Pierre Challandes

Geneva on a budget is perfect for animal lovers, with the Park Pierre Challandes zoo just a 20-minute drive away. The park is home to abandoned and neglected animals, who are often not ready to head back into the wild.

The park is open from 9:30am-12:30pm, with the first visit free for all guests. A fun day out for the whole family, interacting with animals, all for free. Sounds good, right?

White peacock Parc Pierre Challandes Switzerland

7. Botanical Gardens

Just a short drive out of the city centre is the unmissable botanical gardens. Whether you’re taking a romantic trip for two or you’ve got the entire family in tow, the gardens have a huge array of plants and collections for everyone to enjoy.

Make a day of the visit, taking advantage of the variety of food and drink the gardens have to offer. There are also rides for the little ones and free Wi-Fi for digital addicts. Visit the shop on-site for eco-friendly souvenirs and herbal teas to take home.

Botanical Garden Geneva Image by Norbert Aepli, Switzerland,, Botanical Garden Geneva 2006 804, CC BY 2.5

8. Geneva’s Old Town

For a touch of history and architecture, the old town of Geneva is certainly worth a visit. Take a trip up Saint Pierre Cathedral for breath-taking views of the city or visit the Maison Tavel – the oldest private residence in Geneva.

Get lost in the maze of ancient streets and houses, complete with quaint shops and restaurants – ideal for grabbing a bite to eat without breaking the bank.

Facade of Saint-Pierre cathedral-Geneva Image by Yair Haklai, Facade of Saint-Pierre cathedral-Geneva, CC BY-SA 3.0

9. Cross the border - Annecy

Food and drink isn’t always expensive in Geneva. It just depends on where you look. If you want to avoid the hassle of searching the streets for cheap food, maybe cross the border into France for a more affordable meal.

Visit Annecy, widely regarded as the most beautiful city in France, and less than an hour’s drive from Geneva. Try the famous French cuisine and tick another spectacular city off your travel list!


10. Favarger Chocolate Factory

Live the life of Willy Wonka with a visit to the nearby chocolate factory. Manufacturing chocolate since 1826, Favarger factory offers guided tours and chocolate workshops for visitors.

Just a 20-minute drive from the city centre, the chocolate factory makes a great day out for the whole family. Visit the factory’s on-site shop to try the local delicacies and fill your car boot with chocolates for later!

Favarger Chocolate Geneva Image by Jose Manuel, Favarger Antique Chevrolet Truck, CC BY 3.0

Car hire in Geneva

There’s no doubt about it – the best way to visit the hidden gems of Geneva is by car. Holiday Autos’ handy car hire comparison site helps you find the best deals for your next trip to Geneva.

We do the hard work of comparing car hire for you. Our car hire experts negotiate exclusive rates with top car hire brands to bring you the best deals. You can even filter by customer rating price and car type. Search and compare car hire brands at to get the best car hire deal today!

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