We were greeted with the vibrant atmosphere stepping outside the railway station—ample of people walking on either side of the road, Trams running frequently. We quickly picked up our car from the rentals nearby the station, to start our road journey of Switzerland. Standing on the pavement, we took a look around the area full of big and small shops, tall buildings of a few known budget hotels. The shining bright day, the busy but yet quiet Mont-Blanc bridge with the magnificent view of Lake Geneva seems extraordinary. This was our first Impression of Geneva. We had some delicious Risotto at our hotel Four Seasons Des Bergues with the enchanting view of Lake Geneva. And made a plan to hit the old city of Geneva first. Free things to do in Geneva will help you make your own free things list and itinerary. And make your trip enjoyable and also save some money.
As Geneva is a commercial centre for Switzerland and a worldwide centre for diplomacy, considering several international organisations including the United Nations and the Red Cross, have their offices here. Geneva is one of the most expensive cities in the world.
The French influence is seen as dominant in Geneva's gastronomy and the language spoken. The town is surrounded by the Jura mountain range and houses many beautiful parks and touches everyone's heart with the immense beauty of Lake Geneva, also known as Lake Leman.
It becomes puzzly to think of the things to do when half the day has passed already. The Old town and the location around Lake Geneva, have many attractions. Which can be covered in one day or less walking around the city.
Saint Pierre Cathedral the first historic site on our list, located in the old town. Walking through the Mont Blanc bridge, we reached the church. What led us to this site was the green pointed spire of the church, which is seen from far away.
Since it was noon, we found the church with lesser crowd. The church vicinity is noticeably calm and gives you that serene feeling. The entrance of the church is splendid, with wide stairs, high pillars and a lavish main door.
The interior architecture of the church is remarkable. The stained glass work is impressive. The church has a few magnificent beauties indoors like the high ceilings bring the touch of medieval times during the renaissance period. A large gold and silver pipe organ located above the entrance looks amazing. The church has a few pretty small chapels on the sides and an outstanding wooden choir stand.
The church was built in 12th Century as a Roman Catholic church but later transformed as a protestant church during the reformation.
You can also climb up the tower for a small fee, to get the exquisite view of the city, Lake Geneva and Jet D'Eau.
There is an archaeological site hidden beneath the church which can be accessed, but if you like to understand the place more, it's better to rent an audio guide.
We also spent some time outside the church chilling on the benches under the trees, absorbing the fresh air of the old town.
While wandering around the city, we saw this neo-gothic-style mausoleum in a small park, Square des Alpes on Quai du Mont-Blanc.
At the entrance, a statue of a huge sitting lion on a big stone welcomes you. The monument is bordered with a water pool, and statues of winged lions are on the four sides of the monument.
Charles II, Duke of Brunswick, granted his entire estate to the city of Geneva in exchange to build this monument in the honour. The monument was made with marble in the 18th Century featuring the Duke's father and grandfather.
We had a first glimpse of the magnificent Lake Geneva while enjoying our lunch at our hotel. The lake's impressive beauty is evidently captivating.
The lake's southern end is surrounded by upscale hotels, plenty of luxury shops, cobbled old town and restaurants.
The lake provides many activities to the locals and tourists. You can take a boat ride and also walk on the shore. Moreover, the pristine water also lets you swim from a few beaches and make available to many water activities.
On the other hand, there are many family and kids friendly parks close to Lake Geneva, offering a quintessential view of the lake.
Located on Lake Geneva Jet D'Eau is a water fountain that shoots 500 litres of water to an altitude of 140 metres. As a massive fountain in Geneva, it is viewable from every side of the city and from the air. Don't just see the Jet from far, get close to it and feel the power it carries. You can reach the attractive fountain through the stone jetty.
Be careful while walking towards the Jet. If you don't want to get drenched, check for the wind direction beforehand. If it's not blowing on the jetty side, you are good to go. However, on our visit to Jet D'Eau, the wind was on the side of the River. But, as we got closer to it, we felt mild water sprinkle on us. The Jet could be observed closely at the end of the Jetty.
Take a stroll at this fashion street Rue Du Rhone. A lane across the Mont Blanc bridge. Switzerland is a costly country and Geneva is no exception. The place has premium brands watches, fashion clothing and so on.
Take a couple walks, or spend family time in these parks. Some of the gardens are facing lake geneva making your time worth spending.
Being in these parks, you may learn about the usual park activities of the locals. We walked around the wooden shore at Park Pavillon Rustique connected to the bank. It's nice to see the locals riding bicycles, walking with their dogs and spending some quality time with their loved ones.
We spent our evening with our friends at Brasserie Lipp for dinner.
The restaurant serves traditional French cuisine and also offers vegetarian food. Restaurant's food and drinks menu is vast, the price is moderate depending on what food you choose. And it is also perfect for a group meal and has a casual ambience. The location of the restaurant is convenient and walkable from our hotel. We walked back to our hotel through the other bridge Pont des Bergues over River Rhône.
Take a few seconds to stay at the bridge and admire the city's dazzling lights on both sides of the Rhône. The watches and other fashion brands are more evident in the evenings with the well-lit banners on the top of the buildings are seen either side of the bridges. Which are not so striking during the day.
Palais des Nation is a square located in front of the United Nations headquarters. Which also houses a prominent landmark called Broken chair.
The Broken chair sculpture is a reminder of people who lost their lives in land mines. This square has bus and tram stops in the court, connecting it to other parts of the city.
You can also enjoy playing under multiple fountains, spread across the square or clicking some Instagram pictures.
Mont-Blanc Bridge is a broad and simple bridge connects the city over the Rhone river. The bridge looks decorated with many flags on its outer wall. You will see the bridge is busy with lots of pedestrians crossing here. There are no special features or architecture on the bridge, but it offers a fantastic spot to have a view of Lake Geneva, numerous boats on the shore and Jet D'Eau.
At the ends of the Mont-Blanc bridge, you can enjoy the sight of a few swans taking a dive.
There are many restaurants on the site, you can explore while walking around the bridge.
We had an early morning train to Paris from Tours. Where in Paris we took TGV Train from Paris Montparnasse to Paris Gare de Lyon. Furthermore, we changed the train from Paris Gare de Lyon to Gare Geneva.
Economy class TGV is quite pleasant. The train also has a pantry in case you would like to have some snacks or coffee.
Summer and spring seasons are an excellent time to visit Geneva. Because these are the comfortable seasons, you may find yourself among vast crowds of tourists. Also, note that rains are pretty common in Switzerland. The day we reached, it was warm and sunny and the next morning was cold and rainy.
If you are travelling with a baby or a toddler, be sure to carry your stroller or a baby carrier. We walked around the city with our 10 months old conveniently. As he dozed off and we could enjoy a nice quiet walk around the lake.
So there you have things to do for free in Geneva. When I first made our itinerary for a day in Geneva, it was a 20 long numbers list. But we also didn't want to exhaust ourselves by running to cover every corner of the city. But the things we did and saw in the town was worthy of giving us the feel of the place.