Ahhh Switzerland. The land of chocolate, mountains, watches and empty wallets. Yes, Switzerland is well known for its expensive… well expensive everything but Geneva has a lot of things to do for free. Just don't eat and breathe air for a few days, OK? Actually, one of the huge benefits of visiting Switzerland is that you will be given a free travel pass for all public transportation if you book into a hotel in some cities, and Geneva is no different. All prices quoted are in Swiss Francs (1 USD = 0.9 CHF).
Geneva has an array of museums, monuments and special places to visit that will engage your child in knowing more about the world.
1. The Red Cross Museum
This museum depicts what it means to be human and a visit here will broaden the mind of your little ones as it attempts to explain how most people around the world are different but have many commonalities connecting them. A truly inspiring museum that provides audio guides for kids and has a great cafe on the top floor with reasonable prices. Admission is 15 CHF per adult and kids under 12 go free but they also offer a 25% discount for families. Worth every penny.
2. The Patek Phillipe Museum
The Patek Phillipe museum showcases an amazing collection of watches and clocks that will undoubtedly inspire you. The combination of authentic works of art and feats of engineering are unique and spectacular. On every floor there are some screens showing how some of the clocks are made and how they function, which gives children something to look at that is more engaging than the clocks alone. Children under the age of 18 have free admission and an adult ticket is 10 CHF.
3. The Broken Chair
The Broken Chair is a wooden monumental structure placed in front of the United Nations Headquarters in the Place Des Nations. It is missing one of its legs as a way to remember those that have lost a limb due to land mines. It is a reminder of the violence that often plagues our world and is a truly symbolic way of discussing the inequalities of the world with children. It is free to visit and the area near the Broken Chair is a lovely place to rest and run around in.
Do you have a nuclear physicist enthusiast on your hands? Take them to CERN, where scientists are trying to discover the structure of the universe. Did you know that the world wide web was invented at CERN? Me neither! Even grown ups get to learn mind boggling science in a friendly way at this institution. Tours are free of charge but must be booked ahead of time as they are limited.
5. Muséum D'Histoire Naturelle
This Natural History Museum has all of the usual suspects of this type of museum and is therefore likely to enthrall your kids. From dinosaurs, to stuffed animals, to bones, rocks and crystals - it has it all, including a lovely gift shop on the way out. It usually has temporary exhibitions on the top floor and the permanent exhibition on the ground floor. Admission is 9 CHF per adult and fre for under 18s.
6. Jet D'Eau
This famous landmark in Geneva is not always on! On windy days, the fountain is turned off and this is no surprise as the water travels at a speed of 200km/h. The water fountain has been around for over 100 years and can be seen from various points in the city.
7. L'Horloge Fleurie
The famous flower clock pays tribute to the watch making reputation of Geneva and Switzerland. It was created in 1955 and is a popular sight for many who visit Geneva. The clock always looks different as different flowers bloom at different times of the year.
8. Plainpalais Market
This flea market of sorts operates on Wednesdays and Saturdays as well as on the first Sunday of every month. There is street food here and bargains to be bought if you are willing to be patient and haggle.
9. Mont Blanc Bridge
As you cross this bridge you will find the perfect spot for a photo of the Jet D'Eau and Lake Geneva. Make sure you hold on though as on especially windy days, this bridge swings and sways. After seeing the Flower Clock and crossing the bridge, take a right and walk alongside the lake until you reach the Bains Des Paquis, a place where you can swim in the lake in the summer and in the winter and even at night time!
10. Parc De La Grange
This amazing park has beautiful playgrounds for kids and a small paddling pool if you remember to bring the kids swimming costumes. There is a big sandpit and lots of shade here to enjoy during the warmer weather.
So Geneva can be seen on a shoestring! A lot of these places have free admission or free admission for under 18s. Pack picnics and shop in supermarkets for this trip to be easier on your wallet!