Geneva, Switzerland’s beloved capital of peace. Popular with both business and leisure travelers alike, the city offers the chance to escape the normal hustle and bustle of a metropolis while still serving up plenty of culture, entertainment and a well-renowned food and drink scene. I’ve been lucky enough to visit the city several times for business, which has allowed me to build up my own personal Geneva city guide.
Whether you’re visiting in the height of summer or the depths of winter, I have the perfect places to make your trip a once in a lifetime experience. Keep reading for my recommendations!
How to get there…
Easily accessed by plane due to its importance across the world, Geneva is the perfect place for a long weekend. Not to mention, visitors are gifted with a free train ticket upon arrival into the airport, taking you into the center in just 10 minutes, what could be easier, or cheaper?!
What to do…
It’s no secret that Geneva is the world’s epicenter of human rights. Home to the United Nations, the CERN and the Red Cross Humanitarian museum. The city gives you a glimpse into human life experiences both past and present.
If speed is more your thing, then be sure to plan your trip around the Geneva Motor show, held annually it’s the biggest in Europe and showcases the newest innovations, tech and from around the world. Sure to satisfy any Carfanatic.
Now Geneva may not be the first place you think of if you’re searching for some summer sun but the city has a surprising amount of activities for those visitors wishing to chase that golden glow.
Situated in Parc Perle du Lac, Ciné Transat is a program of free film screenings under the stars and in one of the most picturesque places in Geneva. With a community feel, the project aims to bring the magic of cinema to everybody and with a karaoke machine on-site, be sure to bring your best and loudest voices. Screenings change daily so it’s best to check what’s on before you go.
Les Bain des Paquis
Okay, so this one isn’t technically seasonal but you can’t argue that it would be better with a little bit of sunshine. A relatively new edition to the city, the man-made beach is the perfect place to spend a lazy afternoon. For those with slightly more energy, there is also a diving board where you can jump into Lake Geneva (Cost €5). With a view of the famous Jet d’Eau and dogs and barbeques also permitted, there’s something for everyone, it’s one of my must do’s when visiting.
Another free event, this time showcasing some of the best music across a variety of genres every day during the summertime. Be sure to check the line-up before booking your trip, the event is hugely popular with musicians across the world. A holiday and your favorite musician? What could be more perfect?
When summer rolls around, Geneva is a hub of sporting activity, attracting some of the world’s best sportsmen and women.
Bol d’Or Mirabaud
Taking place on Lake Geneva, the annual event has been attracting boat enthusiasts from across the globe since 1939. The event is recognized as the most important inland lake regatta in the world. With over 500 boats taking part in the 123km race, it’s definitely worth seeing if you get the chance.
Ah, Tennis. While it may not be Wimbledon, the Geneva ATP remains a firm favourite. Attracting some of the sport’s best talent (the top 250 best players in the world to be exact), it’s sure to be a nail-biting afternoon and who knows who you may run into?
Can’t make it in the summer? Don’t worry there are just as many things to do in the Winter too, here are my top choices…
Visit Mont Salieve
On top of most people’s to-do list when they visit a new place, you would usually find ‘visit a viewpoint’, most people love to climb up high and admire the city from above taking in all the sights that a place has to offer. Mont Salieve is Geneva’s very own viewpoint. Why not take up a picnic and take in the view with a spot of lunch.
Spent the day working up an appetite?
What could be better than refueling with Raclette, the famous fondue style of eating is one of Switzerland’s most famous food traditions. Made from the milk of an Alpine cow, Raclette is a hard cheese, which is then melted in a giant wheel and poured over different foods, cheese heaven!
I know what you’re thinking, we’re not in Germany. But the Swiss Christmas markets are still worth a visit. Given Geneva’s international nature, the markets are a celebration of Christmas treats from across the globe; Mulled wine? Check. Frankfurts? Check. Churros? Check. For the more adventurous, there is also an ice rink, allowing you to spin, twirl and twist to your heart’s content. Perfect for burning off all those Churros! All the vendors are NGO’s, so you can spread a little Christmas cheer.
Following on from the food, a holiday wouldn’t be complete without a couple of drinks…
Unfortunately, this is bar is only open during the summer months but if you’re lucky enough to be in the area, it’s a must-visit. With hammocks and an envious view, it’s the perfect place to watch the sunset and play some bowls, it’s not just for the over 60’s!
Visiting for longer than a weekend? Make sure you tick these activities off your list…
Watch the Sunset from The Mouette
What could be more romantic than watching the sunset from the comfort of a boat? While it may not be the Titanic, the city’s taxi boat service does offer great views of the city and is a novelty way to between different hotspots in the center. And the best part? It’s free!
Rock Climb at Les Bains des Paquis
Want to satisfy the adventurer in you but not quite ready to commit to Mont Blanc? Why not reach new heights in the middle of Lake Geneva. With a platform at the top, it’s a sought after sunbathing spot and great for people watching.
Coined the ‘Greenwich Village’ of Geneva, hop across the Arve river and soak up the charm of Carouge. Its charming streets are crammed full of boutiques, cafes, and bars, it’s unrecognizable from times gone by and is now the ‘place to be’ for young people. There’s also a farmers market every Wednesday and Saturday, a great chance to sample local produce.
I hope that I have shown you that Geneva is truly a year-round city, from free film and concert events in the summer to delicious Christmas markets in the winter the city is a people pleaser.
Have you ever visited Geneva? Would you go back?
* The pictures you see in this post were taken over the course of one year, in collaboration with the Foundation Genéve Tourisme & Congrés.