Cozy cafes, boutique galleries and historical buildings make the maze of Geneva's Old Town the city's top attraction. Taking plenty of stops for coffee (and milk chocolate), you can easily lose a day getting wonderfully lost down picturesque alleyways, admiring St. Peter's Cathedral and watching life go by in the central Place du Bourg-de-Four. Here many traditional Swiss meals can be enjoyed, in cafes such as the medieval inspired Café de Bourg-de-Four.
Hike on Geneva’s local mountain
The mountains of Switzerland have been calling travelers since The Sound of Music, with endless green fields sloping towards quaint country towns, dotted with traditional homes and churches. Geneva's nearby Mont Salève stands 900-metres above the ground, offering all the hallmarks of a Swiss mountain experience, and views to Mont Blanc on a sunny day. Those not fussed on hiking can ascend to the observatory in a cable car, which journeys on a frightful angle from Le Pas de l'Echelle.
See Geneva’s Italian side in Carouge
Geneva’s unique district of Carouge is referred to by locals as 'small Italy,' but the reality is something far more multicultural. Modelled of the French Riviera town of Nice with a population that's 10% Portuguese, Italian architecture and Sardinian heritage is just part of this town's wonder and appeal. Lively restaurants, tapas bars, antique shops, and art studios can all be found here, owing to its nickname of the 'Greenwich Village of Geneva'.
Rummage in the Plainpalais flea market
Books, retro clothes, artworks and vintage bits and bobs make the Plainpalais flea market an essential rummage when in Geneva. A favorite of locals held on Saturdays and Wednesdays from 8am-5pm, it can be teamed with a meal in one of the many restaurants in the area of Plainpalais. Those visiting on Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays can soak up the various aromas of the farmers’ markets, which have many international food stores crammed in for good measure.
Take an iconic selfie at the Promenade du Lac
A 140-meter fountain and distant rolling mountains make Promenade du Lac worthy of a few happy snaps. The lake walk will take you past the ferry terminal and Buste de François Diday monument, as well as the iconic outdoor flower clock of L'horloge fleurie, finishing up at the jetty by Pont du Mont-Blanc bridge - or the Chanel store for those feeling spendthrift.
Stroll through the Bastions park
Giant games of chess, fairytale bridges and magnolias in full bloom make a stroll the the Bastions park the perfect way to romance yourself with the city of Geneva. No matter the weather this area is put to use, but the spring and summer months are when it really reaches its peak. Hire a bike and cycle past the monument of the Confederation Wall - unless you've visited in winter in which case a visit to the ice-rank will be more in order.
Things to do in Geneva
Music & Dance
Music performances, club nights, arts, dance, performances, record fairs and roller-discos are just some of the spectacles that make Geneva an urban wonderland during Antigel Festival. Held in various venues across the city such as Casino Theater and Cave 12, this event will take you on a mystical tour of the city.
The end of a long winter is not the only reason to celebrate in Geneva during April. Another great excuse is delivered in the package of Electron Festival, 6-days of music and mayhem in an ode to contemporary culture, featuring live performances, art installations, workshops, conferences, film screenings and more.
International Exhibition of Inventions, New Techniques and Products
With an interesting line-up of inventions under their belt (think Helvetica font, muesli, LSD and cellophane), there is no better place than Switzerland for the International Exhibition of Inventions, New Techniques and Products. Running for over 45 years this event has grown in size and popularity, now a mammoth display of awe for all who visit.
Écoutes au vert (Listen to the Green)
Held in both Geneva and Berlin for over a decade, Listen to the Green is an outdoor summer festival that crosses the musical spectrum, dabbling in jazz, boogie, disco, folk, rock, African, Caribbean, electronic, and experimental music. With many of the sessions held for free, it's a festival worth timing your trip with.
International Geneva Motor Show
Engine enthusiasts will get their kicks at the International Geneva Motor Show, an event that's been revving up the city for just shy of 90-years. It is held for 10-days in the month of March, drawing in a crowd both local and international.
Top 5 Festivals in Geneva
Sign up for a celebration of innovations or spend 6-days in a mayhem of contemporary culture and music at Electron Festival. Later there will be Caribbean beats to swing to at Listen to the Green and a motor show with a 9-decade history.
International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum
In a study of the human condition, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum in Geneva evaluates contemporary problems faced by humanity through exhibition spaces; defending human dignity; reconstructing family links; and reducing natural risks. A modern and moving museum well-worth exploring.
Palais des Nations
The second most important United Nations office in the world, the graceful creamy building of Palais des Nations sits atop a lush grassy knoll, a hive of activity and important meetings. Access to important chambers of the building is usually open, making for an up-close look into the world of global politics.
Over 20,000 items of ceramic and glass make up the stunning and historic collection of works at Musée Ariana. Portraying techniques from across the globe from the past millennium and beyond, this museum demonstrates the powerful link between cultural identity and the arts.
Roam through the towers of Cathedrale Saint-Pierre, a gothic masterpiece with 9 bells standing proud a short stroll from Geneva's grand lake. Once the great height of the building has been taken in you can disappear into the basement, an archaeological site telling the story of Geneva's ancient religious devotion.
Patek Philippe Museum
Watch aficionados will find great joy here in the Patek Philippe Museum, a time capsule of keeping time dating as far back as the 16th century. Marvel at modern, sparkly masterpieces along with the fascinating antiques, whilst learning the history of the European watch.
Top 5 Museums in Geneva
From marvelling at glass and ceramics to contemplating the human condition, Geneva's museum collection is sufficiently thought-provoking. But one stand-out needs to be on every Geneva sightseeing trip - a trip to the United Nations Palais des Nations.
Swiss cheese fondue
Originally a dish of the peasants that made its way to the international stage through the 70's, the real Swiss cheese fondue could never dip in and out of fashion. A creamy cheese and wine sauce to cover coarse bread, try it in Geneva at Café du Soleil.
Best eaten at Café du Soleil, Place du Petit-Saconnex 6
Evolving from the French word 'racler' meaning 'to scrape', Raclette is simply a variation of cheese heated by fare and scraped onto a plate. It is usually served with mini-potatoes, pickled onions and dried meat, and perhaps a side of herbal tea for good measure.
Best eaten at Restaurant Les Armures, Rue du Puits-Saint-Pierre 1
Seared ormers (sea snails)
So close to the French border it's of no surprise this squirmy critter got over the border, seared ormers or sea snails are a true delicacy in Geneva. They are best sampled in the fancy setting of Bayview by Michel Roth, where meals look more like artworks.
Best eaten at Bayview by Michel Roth, Quai Wilson 47
Tandoori smoke cloud salmon
Indian in Geneva? Yes, please and thank you! Particularly a modern variation like tandoori smoke cloud salmon. Found in the opulent dining arena of Rasoi by Vineet, it can be finished with butterscotch pudding or fennel and avocado sorbet.
Best eaten at Rasoi by Vineet, Quai Turrettini 1
A fritter of fried potatoes - it's as good as it sounds, and can be found all over Switzerland despite once being a basic breakfast of Bern farmers. Cafe du Bourg de Four is renowned for a particularly delicious rösti in almost 10 tasty variations.
Best eaten at Cafe du Bourg de Four, Place du Bourg-de-Four 13
Food in Geneva
Chances are your trip to Geneva will involve a whole lot of chocolate consumption. But in between your cacao dreams there are a few other dishes to squeeze in. Think cheese fondue, fried potato fritters, and an extravagant tandoori smoke cloud salmon.