Geneva is a gorgeous city in Switzerland on the southern end of Lake Geneva, surrounded by the majestic Swiss Alps and the Jura Mountains. The city offers stunning views of the striking Mont Blanc – the highest mountain in Western Europe.
Geneva is the second largest city in Switzerland. It’s a global hub for diplomacy and banking and is known for its scenic position near the Swiss Alps, stunning architecture, French influence and unforgettable charm!
Geneva has world-class restaurants, an array of great hotels and and a lot to do and see. Here’s my ultimate guide to Geneva to help you make the most of your visit to this stunning city.
Top 10 Things To Do In Geneva
Have you been compelled to the wonders of Geneva? Whether your trip is booked or just in your imagination, here are ten things you can do to explore Geneva’s refined character and captivating history!
1) Clamber Up The Cathedral Towers
The grand St Peters Cathedral sits in the heart of Geneva’s old town. The Cathedral’s combination of architectural styles ranging from Gothic to medieval boasts a unique look!
You can admire the divine stained glass windows and quaint chapel decor inside. Undoubtedly, the star feature of St Peters Cathedral is that, for just 7 CHF per person, you can wander up the winding tower steps! All 157 of them.
It sounds like quite the leg work out – because it is – but the astonishing views from the top of the towers make it all worth it!
Feast upon the fantastic birds-eye view of Geneva. Look down at the buildings all huddled together and see the icy mountains blending into the blue sky in the distance. It’s a breathtaking, once-in-a-lifetime sight and worth the climb!
On a sunny day, the open structure of the south tower is beautiful, but on a not-so-sunny day, the enclosed northern tower may be better suited! You can still take in the views from up above whilst being protected from any bad weather.
2) Explore Geneva’s Classic Old Town
Geneva’s old town is an ancient maze of small, cobblestone streets for you to get lost in.
Travelling back to medieval times is like wandering through this classically beautiful town. Enjoy the picturesque squares, twisting tunnels, homely cafes, restaurants, galleries, historical sights and buildings.
There are several great and informative audio tours for you to plug into if you require guidance on seeing the old town’s star features.
Despite the convenience of an audio tour, the way I’d prefer to explore this charming town is to wander around aimlessly simply.
Strolling blindly through exciting new streets lets you pick up on the small quirky things you otherwise might’ve missed.
Stop for a coffee and a bite to eat or do some local shopping – just experience this fantastic town in the most authentic way!
3) The Delicious Choco Pass
If you have a sweet tooth, this one is for you!
The Geneva choco pass is a beautiful way to explore the city while discovering local chocolate makers’ unique insight! Geneva is well known for its delicious chocolate and does not disappoint! A three-hour walking tour of Geneva is also a great option.
Your day choco pass will activate as soon as you enter the first chocolate shop of your choosing, entitling you to a sample plate of what the chocolate masters offer.
Jump from one chocolate shop to the next, exploring Geneva whilst getting in on that tasty chocolate action!
4) Grab A Coffee At Valmandin
Rumour has it that this coffee shop serves some of the best brews in Geneva!
Take your coffee experience to a new level in this quaint, welcoming coffee shop.
Delight in a fresh, artisanally roasted coffee whilst taking a break from exploring the city.
And there’s no need to get sad when you finish your coffee! Valmandin also sells personalised coffee bean mixtures that you can order online to enjoy the exquisite, unique taste long after your trip to Geneva.
5) Water Activities In Lake Geneva
Lake Geneva is magnificent! The lake is the largest body of water in Europe and Geneva sits beside it.
The crystal-clear waters are a playground of fun in the summer, perfect for a casual swim or paddle boarding!
Dive in solo or join in some organised group activities. Group activities are excellent when you don’t have much experience or just want to meet new people and new possible friends; you can take a one-hour Lake Geneva cruise.
If you don’t visit Lake Geneva for the lake itself, then catch a look; you won’t miss it at the impressive Jet D’Eau – literally translating to ‘water jet’.
The tallest fountain in Europe, one of the tallest in the world, hits impressive heights of 140m that you can spot from a mile away. The fountain is a firm staple of Geneva and has been going strong since 1886.
That means your great great great great grandpa could’ve been looking at the Jet D’Eau if he was in Geneva, of course.
6) Bastions Park – Nature In The City
This peaceful park will have you reconnecting with nature in no time.
Lined with luscious trees, Bastions Park is ideal for taking a pause from the booming city. Take some time to chill on the grassy banks, grab a drink, read a book – relax! This lovely display of nature is refreshing to see in the city!
Bastions Park isn’t only a beautiful botanical garden; it also holds the grand Reformation wall, where the four leaders of the Reformation stand proudly as giant stone statues. If you are interested in Geneva’s history, then this is definitely something to check out!
To my surprise, there are giant checkers and chess games on the other end of the park! Chess enthusiasts unite because when I say giant, I mean human-sized pieces!
Attracting players and spectators alike, getting involved is a way to have fun with new people or just watch as the thrilling games unfold.
7) The Famous Flower Clock
A Geneva classic selfie spot – the flower clock.
This massive clock tells the real-time and is made entirely of – you guessed it – flowers! This remarkable feature commemorates Geneva’s watchmaking origins and skills and is pretty cool to see!
Built in 1955, the flower clocks fame grew quickly and became one of Geneva’s star features. Interestingly, the clock constantly changes, looking slightly different as varied amounts of flowers bloom and grow throughout the year!
Located in the Jardin Anglais (English gardens), this spot continues to be popular with tourists and locals and is a must-see attraction in Geneva!
8) Joining An Organised Boat Tour
Feel the wind in your hair as you set sail to explore Geneva’s shores.
Boat tours are a fantastic option to explore past Geneva on the calm waters and view the city from afar.
An organised tour is another fun option to meet new people or have a great time.
9) Head Into The Mountains
An admirable feature of Geneva, and a key reason many tourists visit the city, is the sight of the mountains, peaking through behind the buildings. Chamonix Mont Blanc is one of the best places to stay with a cable car to the top of the mountain and a great quaint town to explore and enjoy – you can even take an organised tour.
Geneva is the perfect place to go pre or post-trip into the mountains, only being around a two-hour journey from the city. With easily accessible public transport, you can head out for a day’s adventure and return by evening!
Plenty of routes range in difficulty levels for hiking and mountain biking. One for the genuine thrill seekers, you could partake in paragliding down the mountains – now that is one for the bucket list.
10) Splash The Cash On The High Street
Despite Geneva’s smaller size, the city rivals London and Paris as major shopping destinations.
Packed with over 53 luxury shops and cafes, this is a high street for true shopping addicts. With a mix of wildly exclusive boutiques, high-end brands and exceptionally skilled watchmakers, there is something for everyone’s taste!
Whether you want to splash the cash or casually window shop, this riveting high street is the place to do it!
The Geneva Pass
The Geneva Pass is a must when coming to Geneva for sightseeing and touristy ventures!
It’s a no-brainer, with free admission or discounts on over 50 attractions and activities around Geneva for 24,48 or 72 hours.
Here are some of the things that are included in the Geneva Pass:
- Free admission to all museums and sites.
- Several guides tours through Geneva by train, bus or foot.
- Several Lake Geneva tours.
- One hour of canoeing or half an hour of pedal boating
- Discounts on activities such as segway sightseeing, rafting and other escapades around Geneva.
This pass saves you money while opening exciting new possibilities; it’s an excellent investment for your time spent in Geneva, ensuring you don’t miss out on the best bits!
Top 10 Best Places To Stay In Geneva
Unwinding after a long day of sightseeing and exploring the city is necessary; you deserve to do it in style.
With flashing hotel signs screaming at you around every corner, choosing your perfect accommodation can be overwhelming! So here is a list of 10 outstanding hotels in Geneva, with differing prices and styles; you will surely find your dream hotel here!
1) Suisse Hotel
Hotel Suisse is a small hotel sitting across from the train station may not sound the most appealing, but don’t judge a book by its cover!
This budget-friendly hotel has an ideal central location, only a 5-minute walk from Lake Geneva and a quick walk to public transportation.
The rooms are slightly on the smaller side but are known for their impeccable cleanliness. Suisse Hotel is an excellent option for those on a budget.
Book Your Stay: Hotel Suisse
2) Hotel Bernina Geneve
Hotel Bernina Geneve is a recently renovated hotel that has elevated into a brand-new modern and artsy style!
The low, slanted ceiling in the simple but stylish rooms creates a homely feel, keeping you comfortable with a splash of well-appointed artistic taste.
Benefit from the ideal central location, close to the train station and adjacent to a large shopping centre.
Book Your Stay: Hotel Bernina Geneve
3) Hotel Edelweiss
Immerse yourself in the welcoming warmth of an authentic Swiss chalet at Hotel Edelweiss!
The attention to detail in the hotel’s decor is outstanding, curated to look like a traditional Swiss log cabin. If you are drawn to that classic Switz aesthetic, then Hotel Edelweiss may be the one for you.
Book Your Stay: Hotel Edelweiss
4) Hotel Jade
Peace and tranquillity are what Hotel Jade does best.
Inspired by the principles of Feng Shui, an ancestral Chinese scientist striving to optimise energy flow, this hotel offers a calming, aspirational oasis in the city’s heart.
Soothe yourself in the atmospheric zen garden after an active day exploring Geneva.
Book Your Stay: Hotel Jade
5) Hotel De La Cigogne
Hotel De La Cigogne is dripping with elegance and refined taste.
Every room is spacious and uniquely decorated with classic period furniture. This 5-star hotel’s timeless design is carried throughout all aspects, including the mahogany-panelled restaurant that serves exquisite cuisine.
Book Your Stay: Hotel De La Cigogne
6) Beau-Rivage Palace
This boutique hotel is a little more expensive but will have you living like royalty!
Sip your morning coffee on the balcony before the famous Jet D’Eau and the Swiss Alps before unwinding in the hotel’s spectacular private spa. The Beau-Rivage palace is drenched in remarkable style and centrally located to Geneva’s best bits.
Book Your Stay: Beau-Rivage Palace
7) Tiffany Hotel
Tiffany Hotel is a budget-friendly but luxurious boutique hotel. Enjoy modern art nouveau-styled decor, a classic ambience that gives a homely feel to your stay. Those in Geneva for business may reap the benefits of the hotel’s living spaces, like the cosy library.
Book Your Stay: Tiffany Hotel
8) Eastwest Geneva
Eastwest Geneva screams chic with its fashionably minimalistic style and a proper understanding of luxury. Each room is a cocoon of contemporary luxury and art with a lively atmosphere.
Eastwest Geneva strives to give its customers that warm and welcoming feel, with features like a fitness centre, relaxing sauna, an intelligent little courtyard and a patio.
Book Your Stay: Eastwest Geneva
9) Royal Manotel
Affordable elegance at its finest – this upmarket hotel gets it.
Rooms feature rich fabrics, classic period furnishings, collected art, and stylish, marble-swirled bathrooms.
Royal Manotel strives to give you an experience as unforgettable as is comfortable in the spirit of a 19th-century mansion with 21st-century equipment.
Book Your Stay: Royal Manotel
10) Hotel N’vy
Hotel N’vy displays a bright, bold interior filled with unique art and stunning sculptures. The Boho-chic-inspired style and individual eye-to-detail stand out from the crowd for sure. Hotel N’vy is located in downtown Geneva, a 20-minute walk from the city centre.
Book Your Stay: Hotel N’vy
Approved hotels and accommodations in Geneva go out of their way to welcome visitors by offering a transport pass that entitles you to free use of public transportation for the duration of your stay! Buses, trams and boats are free of charge with unlimited usage!
10 Amazing Places To Eat In Geneva
1) Les Armures
Sat in the heart of the old town, Les Armures is a fantastic place to enjoy some traditional Swiss fare. Holding the title of Geneva’s oldest cafe, Les Armures knows good Swiss cuisine, especially the deliciously classic fondue!
A glamorous rooftop oasis is known for its modern fusion food and innovative Japanese cuisine. Izumi’s exciting menu features things like ‘lobster tacos’, ‘sea urchins’, ‘wagyu’ and more. Though it’s rather pricey, dining outside with the breathtaking views of Geneva sounds like a dream!
3) Buvette des Bains
Buvette des Bains is a lakeside restaurant with a rich and varied menu, offering options such as vegetarian, gluten-free, lactose-free and a cheesy fondue that’s to die for. The restaurant’s communal tables create a relaxed and friendly ambience so you can dine comfortably with excellent food and stunning views.
4) Nero’s Pizza
Street food stands in the heart of the city centre, Nero’s Pizza is the ideal break after a heavy shopping trip. The airy yet crispy roman style pizza dough paired with deliciously fresh and handpicked ingredients separate this pizza stand from the rest. Nero’s Pizza also served a range of Italian coffees, the perfect fuel for you to continue splashing the cash on the high street!
5) Cafe Des Banques
This French-style restaurant takes great pride in its exquisite plating. Each dish is brilliantly displayed, using complex sauces and dressing to create a culinary art experience for its guests. If a fancy dining experience is what you are after, then Cafe Des Banques is precisely where you need to be.
6) Living Room Bar and Kitchen
The Living Room Bar and Kitchen has gorgeous views of Lake Geneva and mountain views paired with a rich menu hosting seasonally inspired dishes, a Living Room Bar and a Kitchen known as gourmet. Simple yet elegant and bursting with creative concepts.
7) Chez Philippe
Chez Philippe is a steakhouse that cooks its astringent steaks over coals to give it the luscious taste it’s known for while offering the perfect wine selection. The lively New York style creates a thrilling atmosphere whilst attentive staff provide exceptional service as you dine.
8) Cafe du Centre
Cafe du Centre is an old-style bistro in the heart of the city centre that focuses primarily on seafood but does offer other classic meat options. They host a Saturday brunch that’s a feast for all senses, serving dishes such as oysters, shrimp, traditional benedict eggs and french toast selections. All whilst giving you an authentic view of the ever-moving city centre.
Don’t be fooled by the simple name; at Windows, you are guaranteed a divine experience.
As one of Geneva’s most highly acclaimed and awarded restaurants, your dining experience is designed precisely to impress. Their varied menu serves international cuisine, and floor-to-ceiling windows show magical views of the beautiful lake and Mount Blanc.
10) Cafe de la Paix
There isn’t a better date night location than Cafe De La Paix, low light, oversized windows and cosy, warm decor – romance is in the air!
A French and European menu is presented in well-thought-out, delectable courses with truly original flavours and a rather interesting wine menu.
When Is The Best Time To Visit Geneva?
During the summer months (June-August), Geneva is a joy to be in. Switzerland’s summers boast plenty of sunshine; the streets are lively with many fun things to do. Summer is when Lake Geneva is at its finest; the sparkling waters invite swimmers, fun water activities and exciting boat tours.
The up in tourism and events taking place during the summer will raise the general prices, so if a cheaper Geneva trip is what you are after, I’d recommend visiting between September and November. The crowds dispersing bring the all-around prices down a bit and the quiet city could make your trip more peaceful.
I suppose that’s down to you to experience the hustle and bustle of sweet Switzerland summer or the calm afterwards.
How To Get To Geneva
Train travel is the most common way to enter Geneva. The city is well connected and the train station is ideally located in the city centre. The Euro-star is favoured by travellers departing from various locations and is rather reasonably priced. You can get from London to Geneva for under £100.
Flying is a very convenient way to reach Geneva. The journey will be considerably shorter, and tickets are relatively cheap, depending on the departure location. Geneva’s airport is easily accessible by public transport and it’s only a 20-minute car ride from the airport into the city centre.
Geneva’s central bus station Gare Routiere has arrivals and departures for local and international routes daily. You can travel to Geneva by bus from France, Spain, Italy, Maroco, Germany, Czech Republic, Austria, Slovakia, Poland, Bosnia, Serbia, Russia, Holland, Belgium and the UK. Buses are an inexpensive way to reach Geneva though the journey may be long.
Geneva is well connected to the rest of Europe by a network of motorways. Motorists can follow the ‘route blanche’ to the outskirts of Geneva. Swiss roads are generally good, but be cautious that mountain routes are windy and narrow. Traffic in Geneva drives on the righthand side.
How To Get Around Geneva
The most convenient and cheapest way to travel through Geneva would be by Tram. The tramways are the main form of public transport in Geneva; they are linked throughout the city, making it super quick and stress-free to get to your destination. Those staying in Geneva accommodation can use their travel passes to use the trams free of charge!
The trams run from 6.00 am to 11.00 pm, depending on the service, and tram stops are scattered throughout Geneva at all the important places. Each visit has a detailed timetable and maps to make navigation easier, and trams come through regularly.
Geneva is a city full of vibrant life and funny quirks. Friendly locals welcome visitors with open arms and offer plenty to ensure you a great experience during your trip!
A thrilling city and a convenient base for nature adventures, a trip to Geneva should be on your bucket list if it’s not already.
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