The second largest city in Switzerland, Geneva is a cosmopolitan center as at home with its deep dedication to the arts as it is with its focus on cutting edge science. A city with ancient Roman origins, Geneva fully embraces its modernity, offering visitors a refreshing range of sights to see and experiences to enjoy.
Wander Through Geneva’s Old Town
With cobblestone streets, sidewalk cafes, interesting boutiques and little museums, the Old Town is the bustling heart of the city and the perfect introduction to Geneva. The Cathédrale St-Pierre is the main architectural attraction, a medieval conglomeration of styles that features an impressive neoclassical front entrance. Visitors can tour the inside for free and enjoy the ornately painted ceilings and elaborately carved wood organ while listening for its nine bells to sound each quarter hour.
Go Straight to the Top
Stunning at night and even more spectacular during the day, the Salève cable car gives visitors a jaw-dropping, expansive view of the city, Mont Blanc, and Lake Geneva. The sparkling lights of Geneva are an enthralling sight at night; during the day, the snowy peaks of Mont Blanc in the distance are an iconic sight. The staging area for the cable car is also perfect for picnics and hiking, where visitors can enjoy the stunning view from the hilltops.
Celebrate the Arts and Sciences
There’s no shortage of museums in Geneva. The excellent Museum of Natural History maintains exhibits on dinosaurs, mammals, insects, birds and other creatures both local to Switzerland and the wider world. Art aficionados will enjoy perusing collections at the Museum of Art and History, highlighting collections from ancient Egypt to the modern era. For those who love physics, a visit to CERN, the world’s largest machine dedicated to colliding subatomic particles at high speeds, is in order. Visitors can enjoy exhibits dedicated to educating the public and can even attend a tour with prior notice.
Live Like a Local
If you’re lucky enough to visit Geneva during one of its famous events, you can mingle with the crowd and take in the whole spectacle. Three days in June are dedicated to the Fête de la Musique music festival, where there’s no genre too obscure to be found playing somewhere in the city. Over 40 stages feature live performances, and there’s also an endless array of stalls selling local delicacies. In August, the Fete de Geneve celebrates the city with fireworks shows and cultural exhibitions. In between festivals, head to one of the city’s green spaces on a weekend, like Parc de la Grange with its views over Lake Geneva and the Jet d’Eau fountain, to appreciate the beauty the way the Swiss do.
Be Sure to Sample the Local Cuisine
Switzerland is known for its delicious fondue, and there’s no shortage of places in Geneva where visitors can try authentic favorite dishes. The Paquis district is a great area to find little eateries dedicated to traditional Swiss cuisine. As a testament to French gastronomic influence in the region, you can also find little creperies selling both sweet and savory crepes. Just south of the Old Town area, Plaine de Plainpalais is a vibrant spot for nightlife, with many bars where you can try Swiss wines and beers.
Take Something Home With You
Chocolate, wine, watches and knives are all traditional Swiss souvenirs and things Switzerland is famous for. But much of the shopping in Geneva is dedicated to the fun and funky as well. The Rue du Marché district has a good range of shops selling all kinds of things, from electronics to toys and everything in between. Another fun area to window shop is Rue du Rhône for upscale items. Shops for signature Swiss chocolates are scattered all around the city, and in a pinch, some quality chocolates can also be found in the local supermarkets.
In the end, no matter what you choose to do with your time in Geneva, I am sure you will enjoy it. It’s a gem you just have to see while in Switzerland!