When I was planning my five-country seven-day fall break adventure, I did not realize I would be spending the final stretch in the most expensive country in the world. I was crazy broke and was ready for a home-cooked meal, not another expensive meal out. Instead of being bummed that I had to budget and miss out on some cool attractions (swiss-army knife making?!), I decided make it a challenge to see all the beautiful budget-free things the city had to offer. I had an amazing experience just relaxing by the lake and enjoying the sunset and walking through the city admiring the colorful old buildings. Here are my budget-friendly activities for this luxury city:
Things to Know:
Currency: Swiss Franc (CHF) many restaurants accept Euros/ 1 CHF ≈ 0.99 USD
Language: Switzerland has three official languages: French, German and Italian but French is the most commonly spoken.
Location: Located 4km from France border, 40 km from Annecy, France
Fun fact: Geneva has the shortest commuting time of any major city in the world.
Things to Do:
1. Check out the Jet d’eau
Although going to see a jet of water doesn’t sound very exciting, it is a great reason to visit the beautiful Lake Geneva. Some other fun facts: it is one of the largest fountains in the world and it currently jets out 500 liters of water per second! Unfortunately for me, the jet was under construction during my visit and it did not get to see this amazing piece of engineering!
2. Snap a picture of the Flower Clock
Since Geneva is known world-wide for its watch-making, it is only fitting that their main attraction is a beautiful clock made from flowers. In fact, the clock changes with the seasons, as they are made of various flowers which bloom in different times in the year.
3. Visit the St. Pierre Cathedral
This cathedral holds an interesting history as it is the church where John Calvin lead the Protestant Reformation. Inside you can still see the wooden chair once used by Calvin during the 16th century! One great bonus is you can climb to the top of the two towers to see incredible panoramic views of Geneva.
4. Have a Picnic in the Park
I must forewarn you that anywhere you will eat out in Geneva will be around 15-20 CHF/euros. The best advice I can give you when it comes to eating in Geneva is to buy your own food from the grocery stores and get creative! I love getting sandwich supplies and fresh fruit and enjoying the city’s scenery and parks.
5. Visit a United Nations Headquarters
The United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG) is the second-largest of the four offices of the United Nations (the largest being in New York, USA). Switzerland prides itself as being politically neutral, so it would only make sense for the European headquarters along with the Red Cross offices be located here.
Located right next to the UN Office is the Broken Chair wooden sculpture. Constructed with over 5.5 tons of wood and built 12 meters high, it is meant to symbolize the opposition to land mines and cluster bombs by encouraging leaders of nations to sign the Ottowa treaty that calls for their banning .
I love challenging myself to budget because it helps me remember that experiences always triumph spending money on unnecessary things. It was great to be able to enjoy the outdoors and the simple things like watching the sunset with good friends. What was your favorite thing to see in Geneva or your impression of the city? Let me know in the comments below!
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