With its cosmopolitan vibe, particular landscape and international reputation, Geneva is a city-break you won’t want to miss!
Home of global organisations such as the United Nation, the Red Cross or the World Bank, Geneva is the second largest city in Switzerland and the headquarters of luxury jewellery and watchmaking industry.
Known as the Capital of Peace, Geneva has a thriving community of people from all over the world and if that doesn’t provide enough temptation, you might want to know that is also home of world-renowned chocolate makers.
Located nearby Jura Mountains, with the famous Mont Blanc in the background, Geneva is a lakeside city that will impress you!
Like the jewellery making industry that is fostering, Geneva is a precious gemstone on its own!
Beautifully residing by the edge of one of Europe’s largest alpine lake, this city accomplishes something very unique in my opinion: to combine vibrant, busy city life with amazing nature around it.
If you are travelling from far, the best way to get to Geneva is by plane. Geneva International Airport is located 4 kilometres away from the city and is easily reachable by train, public bus, shuttle or taxi. One of the transport facilities this city offers its travellers is a free ticket for public transport from the airport for 80 minutes. The UNIRESO ticket can be obtained from a ticket machine located at the baggage reclaim area and you must provide your valid plane ticket.
However, I strongly recommend coming to Geneva by train, as the service is very good, reliable and gives you the change to see more of the beautiful landscape around.
The main train station, Cornavin, is conveniently located in the heart of the city and well connected by public transport with the neighbourhoods around.
However, if the weather will allow it, I strongly recommend renting a bicycle to get around, from one of renting centres in Geneva. All you need is an I.D. and a deposit of 20 CHF that will be returned when you bring back the bike. You will enjoy this way four hours of free riding around the city.
Even though my time in Geneva was limited, I really enjoyed discovering this city and here is my list of “must do” as a tourist:
Stoll along Lake Leman. Its clear blue water with the mountains in the background is mesmerising.
If you’re up for the challenge, there is a long walk by the edge of the lake until the Botanical Gardens. Here you can admire the architecture of the surrounding building whilst enjoying the beautiful scenery.
Visit Geneva’s famous landmark, Jet d’Eau. The water stream project 500 litres of water 140 meters in the air is one of the symbols of this city. It also provides a good background for photography lovers.
Take a free “Hearth of Geneva” guided tour. It takes place every day from 11 o’clock and the meeting point is in front of the “Tour de L’ile” .You can enjoy a two hours tour through the Old Town with its picturesque street.
Visit Patek Phillipe museum of watchmaking. Here you will discover exquisite articles of Swiss craftsmanship dating back to the 16th century. The admission to the museum is 10CHF for adults and free for children under 18.
Visit the Botanical Gardens and Conservatory which covers 28 hectares located between park de L’Ariana and Geneva Lake. With an astonishing location, it is a living museum that comprises of over 14.000 specimens of plants from all over the world. Make sure to take time to visit the Japanese Garden and the Winter Garden. Being an entirely organic public garden, with restaurants, and even a wonderful playground for children is definitely an important landmark of Geneva.
Visit the historical public baths in Geneva called Les Bains de Paquis. Located on an artificial island on the right side of Lake Leman, they have been build in 1872 and are very popular among the locals. Providing the best location for swimming during the summer, sauna in the winter, massage, and hammam, Les Bains de Paquis play an important role in the social and cultural life of Geneva’s inhabitants. Definitely, you must check it out.
Look for a bargain at Plainpalais flea market. Taking place every Wednesdays, Saturdays and on the first Sunday of the month, is the largest flea market in Swisserland and dates back to 1970. Here you can find everything from household items, vintage clothing, Bric-a-Brac, jewellery or antique furniture.
Visit the famous Cathedral Saint Pierre. It was build in a gothic style with an added neo-classical facade and is around 850 years old. It is now a part of the Reformed Church and also the place where John Calvin preached.
Do visit the two tall towers and climb up the stairs and you will have a spectacular view of Geneva.
Take a boat cruise on the lake. You can enjoy an elegant cruise on Lake Leman at the board of one of Belle Epoque Steamboats in service. These elegant boats are operated by the Compagnie Générale de Navigation (OGN) and, as the name suggested the Belle Epoque era before the First World War. Regular boat cruises sail from April till October and offer its passengers spectacular sightseeing. During the winter months, there is a reduced service but you can take a ferry instead.
Passenger ferries are in service all year round and provide a good connection to the small cities around the lake.
A cheaper way to cruise on Lake Geneva is to use waterbuses or as they call them in French, Mouettes Genovese. They are part of Geneva transport network and enables you to cross from one side of the lake in style and in a matter of minutes.
Also worth visiting are the Natural History Museum, the Art and History Museum, both of which have free entrance.
Geneva is also a gourmet heaven for foodies everywhere. You must definitely try their local specialities: cheese fondue, bircher muesli, swiss chocolate, swiss cheese.
Throughout my stay in Geneva, I have been impressed by this city that dazzles you with its spectacular landscape and sophisticated air.
Its mix of old and new architecture, green spaces and most of all, its welcoming attitude towards foreigners makes Geneva one of my favourite city-brakes.