Geneva sparkles as one of Europe’s most beautiful cities – and doesn’t she know it! Geneva has the sort of self-confidence that comes from being gorgeous and loved. It could be perceived as arrogance – especially as she likes to rub it in your face at every opportunity – but actually ends up being rather endearing.
See, under Geneva’s shiny surface there’s plenty of personality that isn’t too hard to reach, particularly if you can speak a little French. Whether you’re getting lost in the maze of cobblestone streets in the Old Town, trying not to gawk at the extravagance of the shops lining Rue de Rive and Rue du Rhone, or soaking up the atmosphere around The Lake, the best way to acquaint yourself with Geneva is to ooze a little pride yourself.
Geneva’s Top 10
10. Carouge The ‘Greenwich Village of Geneva’, noted for its boutiques, art studios and bohemian vibe.
5. Monument Brunswick Stipulating in your will that the city build a mausoleum without any consideration of cost is weird, but Mr B did just that.
9. Eaux-Vives Stay or just pay a visit to this mansion hotel. The traditional Swiss architecture is surprisingly lacking in the rest of Geneva.
4. Quartier des Grottes Thanks to the crazy architects who decided to avoid all straight lines, this area is rather confusing. But the shopping is great.
8. Place Neuve Home to the Grand Opera Theatre, Conservatory of Music, Rath Museum and pricey restaurants. Bliss for culture vultures.
3. Palais des Nations Built to house the UN, passports are required for entry, and any unauthorised wandering will get you the boot.
7. Jardin Anglais Come to see the famous Flower Clock and a bunch of Geneva businessmen eating sandwiches.
2. Cathédrale St-Pierre If you hate stairs, give the tower tour a miss and confine your photo ops to the ground floor.
6. Ile Rousseau Named after Jean-Jacques Rousseau, this island is a sanctuary in the Rhone River.
1. Jet d’Eau This 140m fountain of water is best viewed from a distance – unless you don’t mind getting soaked.
- Cathédrale St-Pierre – This originally Catholic cathedral embodies Reformed tradition. The archaeological tour explains the origins of the cathedral.
- Palais des Nations – This venue is home to a large collection of artwork and beautifully landscaped grounds.
- Maison Tavel – Geneva’s most historic house. Within the house is a large museum, which documents life in Geneva over the centuries.
- Ethnography Museum (Musée d'Ethnographie) – This Geneva museum is home to thousands and exhibits and artefacts.
- Switzerland Visitors Museum (Musée des Suisses à l'Etranger) – As its name suggests, this museum is popular with tourists to Geneva.
Geneva Art & Culture
- Jet dEau – Geneva’s Water Fountain is a 140m wonder and the symbol of the city.
- Natural History Museum – Established in 1966, this popular attraction covers earth science and natural history.
- Grand Theatre de Geneve – An opera house that officially opened in 1876.
- Quartier des Grottes – Interesting shops and even more interesting architecture, including the les Schtroumpfs buildings built in the 1980s.
- Victoria Hall – Individuals looking for a night of classical music should check out Victoria Hall.
- Rue du Marché – Located just five minutes from the train station, this area of Geneva sells everything from souvenirs to household appliances and prescription glasses.
- Rue de la Confederation – An excellent place for those staying only a short while in Geneva.
- Place du Molard – An upmarket, expensive shopping area perfect for window shopping.
- Rue du Mont Blanc – A shopping area popular with tourists to Geneva and home to many interesting shops, including those specialising in traditional Swiss goods.
- Rive Droite – The ideal shopping region for those wish money to spend.
Gay & Lesbian Geneva
- La Bretelle – A gay bar suited to both men and women offers enjoyable live entertainment.
- Le Declic – A much-visited gay dance club.
- L’Evidence – A Geneva club that mostly attracts female clientele.
- Pretexte – A gay disco in which men can mix with other men.
- Sauna Les Avanchets – A men-only sauna.
- Parc des Bastions – A beautiful, tree-lined park featuring huge chessboards and large statues.
- Parc des Eaux Vives – This Geneva park offers tourists promenades and glorious views over the lake.
- Parc de la Grange – This large park contains a rose garden, an ancient mansion and a glorious tree-lined path leading to the Parc des Eaux Vives.
- Bois de la Bâtie - This natural park contains walking trails and a small zoo at the edge of the woods.
- Lake Geneva and Harbour - An important Geneva landmark. The harbour is a huge expanse of water and proves to be a much-loved recreational area with tourists and locals alike.
- Ice Hockey – Home to the Geneve-Servette Hc 2, a professional ice hockey team.
- Rafting – From May through October, raft six waterfalls with rapids on the river Arve.
- Lake Geneva – Enjoy boating, skiing and more.
- Servette FC – Currently in the Swiss Super League, the Servette call Stade de Geneve their home.
- Mountain Sports – Skiing, climbing and snowboarding can be done at any resort.
Howl (literally) a collective goodbye to winter at the Geneva Winter Carnival in February, an ancient masquerade and procession culminating at midnight.
June’s Fete de la Musique is Geneva’s largest music festival, featuring over 100 acts gathered at various locations.
Carnivals, concerts, food and fireworks mark the 10-day Fetes de Geneve in August, capped off with raves on wheels at the Techno Parade.
If you like hippies and communicating with nature, don’t miss the Festival de la Batie in September. The outdoor festival and multimedia event is designed to raise consciousness about the role of art in society.
Commemorating the defence of the city against invasion in 1602, L’Escalade features a race, a torchlight procession of 1,000 marchers in period costume, and pretty much everything in between. December.
When To Go
- Geneva’s high altitude alleviates any extreme weather conditions, meaning summers are warm and winters mild.
- Rainfall can be expected year round, so don’t travel in summer hoping to avoid it.
- Enjoy the sunny days in July and August with the throngs of other visitors doing the same thing.
- Geneva is a public transportation paradise. There are frequent bus, tram, train and boat services to within a block or two of most city locations, and anyone staying at a hotel is entitled to a free daily travel pass.
- Geneva is mostly flat, and biking is a great way to get around.
- If you want to explore the mountainous countryside (and, let’s face it, you do), renting a car is the best option.
Given a beautiful location where the Rhone River snakes out of Lake Geneva, forgive us for being anything but neutral about Switzerland's second-most populous city. While Geneva is famous as the headquarters for a number of notable international organizations and has a civic quality of life that is the envy of the world, first-class tourist allure may be the city's best attribute. Almost 200,000 people are fortunate to call the cosmopolitan destination home.
The Alps, Jura mountains and of course, iconic Lake Geneva, second-largest freshwater lake in Central Europe and frequent muse to writers, artists and composers, provide the Swiss gem with a gorgeous cityscape. The Jet d'Eau is a dramatic sight to behold after sundown, when Lake Geneva is beautifully illuminated. For a memorable experience, it gets no better than a leisurely stroll in and around Geneva's old town, where there are plenty of chic restaurants, bars, cafés and shops to help you blow your budget wide open.
Attractions & Activities
Restaurant & Nightlife
Much like the rest of Switzerland, close proximity to the Alps has a strong influence on Geneva's climate, with a strong winter windchill and mild summers.
- Winter (November to March) -1-11°C
- Spring (April to May) 4-20°C
- Summer (June to September) 10-25°C
- Fall (September to October) 8-20°C
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