If you are travelling to Geneva, be sure there’s a healthy balance on your credit card as it is one of the most expensive cities in the world. That aside, it also enjoys a wonderful lifestyle and a truly gorgeous setting.
The 2nd largest city in Switzerland (behind Zurich) occupies the place where the Rhone meets Lake Geneva, and is a true city of the 21st century, playing a key role in many of the political and financial forces that control the world.
High powered it might be, and some would say somewhat sterile, visitors who want to uncover the real Geneva will find a treasure chest of delights.
Places to visit
It would be easy to sit on a hotel balcony and simply gaze at the surroundings. Geneva’s location is enviable; the river, the lake, the well laid out cityscape, and the not so distant mountains, present a landscape worthy of a painting.
The city has a depth of Swiss heritage and there are more than eighty listed sites of historical significance in Geneva.
It’s impossible to list all sites of note and interest here, but some of the must-see are:
- the Palais des Nations
- the Tour de L’lle
- the Vieille Ville (Old Town)
- the Place Neuve
The most iconic and the symbol of the city is the Jet d’Eau. The plume of water spurts 140 metres and is marvellous by daytime, but spectacular when illuminated at night. It soaks around it for 0.5kms, so it is best seen from a respectable distance.
Activities to do
One of the best activities in Geneva is simply to go sightseeing – there’s more than enough places and sights to keep avid tourists busy.
For those who wish to see beyond architecture and beautiful city streets, there are excellent museums (including the Red Cross Museum and 16,000 pieces of porcelain/pottery at Ariana).
Visitors should definitely take the opportunity to get out of Geneva into the splendid countryside. One of the easiest trips to make is a short hop over the French Border, to Veyrier. There, you can take a trip on the Telepherique du Saleve (Saleve Cable Car) along a high alpine ridge which affords you stunning views of Geneva, the lake and the Alps, including Mont Blanc.
Geneva is not really a party city, but when it holds festivals it puts on a fine show. Annual events are the three day musical festival in June and the Fete de Geneve, a spectacular week long celebration that boasts some amazing firework displays.
Places to stay
With so many business, diplomatic and financial visitors, there is a plentiful supply of quality accommodation in Geneva, but there are also a good number of hostels that are generally good value, well equipped, clean and comfortable.
Top hotels in the city include:
- the old-European Beau Rivage
- the 17th century Les Armures
- the Des Bergues (where you might find yourself rubbing shoulders with royalty)
If you really want to splash out, the suites at Le Richemond are among the most expensive in the world. For more information please visit the local tourist board
Local foods to try
The Swiss aren’t known for any particular cuisine other than fondue and chocolate, but you’ll find French, German and Italian influences in Geneva, as well as all world cuisines being represented to cater for the international visitors. The cafes and bistros are often a better bet than fancy looking restaurants and you can tuck into raclette, smoked sausages, fish freshly caught from the lake, an immense range of cheeses and crepes (sweet and savoury).
Geneva is probably one of the under-rated beauties of Europe. Enjoy!
For more travelling guides remember to check our travelling guide to France