Geneva is a beautiful city in Switzerland, it’s located close to the French border, which makes it the perfect base to explore the surroundings of both countries. The city is clean, organized and full of history, you realize that in the first steps you take through the historic center.
I did my research before going to Geneva (like I usually do before visiting a new destination), but some things I only discovered when I got there. Here are some general info and a few curiosities that are good to know begore visiting the city.
1. LANGUAGE & CURRENCY
The local language is French, but almost everyone speaks English well. The local currency is Swiss Franc, and cards are well accepted – but I advise you to change at least a little bit of money for small shops. We changed money at the airport (probably not the best rate) because we didn’t want to waste time looking for a place. We were going to stay in Geneva for 24h only.
2. CHOCOLATE EVERYWHERE, THANK YOU!
Chocolate is everywhere, and there are many places to buy those treats. From select stores to supermarkets.
3. TAXES & TIPS
You don’t have to pay extra taxes at restaurants, bars, and hotels. Tips are not mandatory, but you can tip if the service is really good. But if you don’t, nobody will look angry at you – It’s not NYC.
4. FREE RIDES
Your hotel/hostel will give you a free public transportation ticket when you do the check in. You just have to write your name on it, and you are good to go. The card works for trains, buses, and boats (only the public ones). Obs 1: Nobody asked to see my ticket at all. Obs 2: I read about this before going to Geneva, but I was afraid it was not true, so I bought a daily ticket when I arrived at the airport (waste of money).
5. SUPER HYDRATED
Don’t bother buying water, buy only one bottle and then refill it around the city. I’ve never seen a place with so many springs of water as in Geneva. There’s one in every corner.
6. GOODBYE, MONEY! (1)
Geneva is quite an expensive city to eat when you compare it to other cities in Europe. I didn’t want to believe this before getting there… But, yeah, it is! I found out it’s hard to have a meal at restaurants for less than CHF 15 (the currency was close to Euros). I did a research about cheap but good places to eat, and even those options were not that cheap. A good thing to do if you want to save money is to buy food at the supermarket and make a picnic by the lake, those meals can save you some Swiss Francs. But true be told, even the sandwiches from the supermarket were not as cheap as in some other places in Europe (like Belgium, Italy, Germany, Netherlands, France).
7. GOODBYE, MONEY! (2)
Geneva is not a budget friendly city to drink. A glass of wine or a local beer can significantly increase your bill at a restaurant. If you want to save some money while drinking, go to the supermarket. You can get a bottle of wine and enjoy it during the picnic I mentioned above. We tried to order the cheapest glass of wine at the Bains de Pâquis, and we ended up with a shot of wine, seriously. So, if you want to enjoy the nightlife in Geneva, prepare the wallet.
8. CHEAP & FREE ATTRACTIONS
Eating and drinking are expensive, but many of the city’s attractions are cheap or free, which is perfect. Like climbing the St. Pierre Cathedral (CHF 5), and visiting the museums (most of them have free entrance).
9. EVERYTHING IS CLOSED ON SUNDAYS
It’s hard to find supermarkets or stores that are open on Sundays. If you are only spending a weekend in the city, you better buy everything you want/need on Saturday. It’s sad not to find an open place to buy chocolate on Sunday, aka your last day in the city – I’ve been there!
I know some of the topics do not stimulate you to visit Geneve (the worst for me is #6), but hey, every place has its good and bad things, the key is to see the bright side and enjoy the good part (I like #5 and #9). Geneva is a city that I enjoyed visiting, especially because I was not expecting much of it. In general, it was such a pleasant trip.
The prices presented here are from June of 2017 and the currency is Swiss Franc