The Geneva Pass: Inexpensive Adventures in Switzerland2 min read
Geneva, Switzerland, is often ranked as one of the world’s most expensive cities. However, it’s also considered a great travel destination since it’s near the Swiss Alps, the chocolate it produces has an amazing reputation, and it’s home to the United Nations.
As a student traveler, I prioritize places that won’t break my bank. Nevertheless, thanks to some cheap round-trip tickets and the Geneva Pass, my friends and I were able to explore the lake town on a budget. This article gives you the details on how to take a serendipitous hiking trip into the nearby French mountains for free using the pass.
The Geneva Pass provides:
- Unlimited free public transportation surrounding Geneva (including to and from the airport)
- Free kayak and pedal-boat rental on Geneva’s stunning lake
- Six free city tour options
- Free cruises around Lake Geneva
- Free access to Geneva beaches
- Free entrance to several museums
- One free cable car ride up and down Mont Salève
- Discounts on countless activities
Anyone can buy a Geneva Pass online. I bought a $40 two-day pass, which was perfect for my weekend trip. Just remember to print out your pass ahead of time.
When we arrived in Geneva, my friends and I knew we wanted to hike Mont Salève. The mountain is considered the “Balcony of Geneva” due to its mesmerizing views. The mountain has countless hiking trails, as well as a few dining options. I suggest the L’Observatoire – the employees are friendly and the mulled wine is a great way to warm up if you’re hiking in the winter months like we did. However, make sure to bring cash!
In order to get to the base of the mountain, you take the 8 “Veyrier Douane” Bus from Geneva until its very last stop. The bus’s last stop is right before the French border. This means that once you hop off the bus and walk towards the mountain, you’re in France!
There are two ways to reach the top of the mountain: first, using the Téléphérique du Salève for free with your Geneva Pass, or tackle the 2-hour hike from the bottom to the top. We chose to take the cable car approach up and down the mountain, and hiked the various trails at the top of the mountain for several hours.
Our trip up Mont Salève is one of my favorite memories. We chose a snowy day to visit the mountain, which felt like a winter wonderland scene in a Disney movie. The rest of our Geneva trip was also spectacular; I highly recommend the guided walking tours, visiting the Bains des Pâquis (a beach offering many water sport activities and a fun bar), and sitting along the lake while enjoying some chocolate delicacies. In the end, it’s always up to the traveler to make the most of their destination, and the Geneva Pass sets you up for success no matter what budget you’re on.