Geneva is a beautiful city surrounded by Switzerland’s Alps. Whether visiting in the winter or summer, there is something for everyone in the “city of peace.”
The outdoor enthusiast will enjoy biking the city streets, strolling in the numerous parks, or relaxing near Lake Geneva. At the same time, history and art buffs can explore countless museums, such as the Red Cross Museum or one of the old castles. It is truly one of the most beautiful cities in Europe.
Although flights to Geneva can be expensive, you can simply fly to Zurich and take the train to Geneva or take a European road trip and take your time seeing all of Switzerland.
This guide on the top things to do in Geneva will help visitors plan their next vacation to Geneva, Switzerland.
Things To Do in Geneva
Get on The Waters of Lake Geneva
Lake Geneva is a large lake that offers beautiful sights with crystal blue water and the Swiss Alps as the backdrop. Visitors can take boat tours, rent paddleboards and kayaks, or even obtain a fishing permit and try their luck catching a trout or bass. Around Lake Geneva, visitors will find historical sites, like Château Chillon, public baths, and many restaurants.
Visit Château Chillon
While at Lake Geneva, do not miss Château Chillon, (also called Chillon Castle). This palace is one of the best-preserved medieval castles in Europe. Château Chillon sits right on the shores of Lake Geneva, and is open to visitors daily. Explore the grand rooms, admire the beautiful gardens, or sip some of Château Chillon’s wine from the castle’s vineyard. During the holidays, Chillon Castle becomes a magical oasis with grand décor and beautiful displays that tourists surely do not want to miss.
Visit St. Pierre Cathedral
St. Pierre Cathedral may not look that old from the exterior’s 19th-century Neoclassical façade, but parts of this religious spot date back to the 4th century. Most of the interior was created in the 12th century, and it espouses a distinctive Gothic style. Visitors can go underground at the archaeological site to view different ancient ruins or climb to the top of the towers to see a breathtaking view of the Swiss Alps. Guests can easily spend an hour or two visiting St. Pierre Cathedral.
Enjoy Cheese Fondue
Fondue originated in Switzerland, so while in Geneva, you must find a restaurant serving this delicious, cheesy dish, especially in the winter. Le Gruyerien in the Plainpalais neighborhood and the more sophisticated Les Armures serve some amazing cheese fondue.
Stroll The Cobblestone Streets of Vielle Ville
Vielle Ville is a historic neighborhood in Geneva with shops, cafes, and a ton of history. Visitors can take their time walking around the winding streets, stepping in and out of small local shops, or sitting outside a small café while people-watching. There are many notable stops to make within this neighborhood.
Maison Tavel, the oldest house in Geneva, dating back to 1334, is a museum where guests can explore some of Geneva’s history. St. Peter’s Cathedral, or St. Pierre Cathedral, is another historical sight to check out in the neighborhood. Make sure to bring walking shoes because the neighborhood is a few hundred feet above Lake Geneva, making it a bit of a hike.
Discover Science at CERN
Science lovers will enjoy visiting CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research headquarters, which is home to some of the world’s most important research. The facility is open Monday through Saturday, and admission is free. Visitors can explore exhibits like the Universe of Particles or tour the facility.
Explore The Patek Philippe Museum
Patek Philippe has a passion for horology, or watchmaking, and has one of the largest watch collections in the world. The Patek Philippe Museum is divided into the Antique Collection and the Patek Philippe Collection. The Antique Collection displays watches as old as the 16th century from different watchmakers, whereas the Patek Philippe Collection shows watches that Philippe designed and created himself. It is perfect for those that appreciate fashion, art, and design.
Walk Around Palais Des Nations
Palais des Nations is one of the most important United Nations offices and hosts over 5,000 meetings yearly. The establishment was built in the 1930s and used to be the headquarters for the League of Nations. Visitors can reserve guided tours of the Palais des Nations where they will learn about the organization’s goals and the events it hosts that foster international relations. Guests will also be able to visit many meeting rooms like the Assembly room or the Salle des Pas Perdus and the Council Chambers. Make sure to reserve tours in advance.
Catch Sun at Bains Des Paquis
Bains des Paquis is one of the best places to beat the heat during the warmer summer. Visitors can enjoy swimming in the public pools near the pier of the west shore of Lake Geneva or take in the inspiring Jet d’Eau fountain. During the winter, guests can still enjoy a hop in the pool before relaxing in the sauna and hammam.
Take in The View of Geneva From The Top of Mont Salève
Mont Salève is a rock mountain that is on the edge of Geneva. Experienced hikers can walk to the mountain peak, almost 1,400 meters or slightly more than 4,500 feet high. If you want to catch the fantastic view but don’t want to take the trek, cable cars will take you up to the top in less than five minutes. On the other hand, if you are feeling extra adventurous, there is parasailing that takes off from the top of Mont Salève. The summit of Mont Salève not only has some fantastic views of the city and lovely cafes to grab some lunch and relax.
Enjoy The Greenery at Geneva’s Conservatory and Botanical Garden
Geneva’s Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is open daily and offers visitors a tranquil oasis from the hustle and bustle of life. Guests can walk around the twenty-eight hectares of land and discover over 12,000 species of plants. Visitors should ensure they check out the herbarium, one of the world’s largest and home to six million samples. Be prepared to spend a few hours walking around the beautiful gardens and relaxing in nature.
The Garden is beautiful anytime, from peak flower season in the summer to pine trees and decorations at Christmas.
Admire Artwork at Art and History Museum
The Art and History Museum of Geneva is home to over one million pieces of art and historical artifacts. Visitors should expect to spend a few hours roaming the museum and admiring everything from historical ancient Egyptian relics to medieval steel armor to paintings from Rembrandt, Vallotton, Pissaro, and many more. Visitors can take a break at the café on the ground floor, and kids can enjoy time at the secured playground. Parents can even leave their children at the supervised playground while they explore the museum themselves.
Stroll Through Plainpalais Market
The Plainpalis Market is a giant flea and farmer’s market. The market is bustling with vendors and marketgoers every Wednesday and Saturday. Visitors can find fresh fruit, cheese, jams, nuts, and other goodies from the farmers and old antiques, books, clothes, and curios from the flea vendors. The Plainpalais Market is the perfect place to pick up an affordable souvenir to bring back home.
Visit The International Museum of The Red Cross and Red Crescent
The Red Cross Museum is a uniquely modern museum that prompts guests to reflect on how humanitarian efforts impact everyone around the globe. Guests will learn about the history of the Red Cross and how the Red Cross helps humanity today. The museum is a thought-provoking experience that strives to leave every guest wondering what they can do to help their society and those worldwide.
Enjoy Some Swiss Chocolate at Maison Cailler
Maison Cailler is the oldest chocolate producer in Switzerland. They have been around for centuries and can enjoy a factory tour. The tour will teach visitors how to make chocolate and give a rundown of the history of chocolate making. Make sure to stop in Maison Cailler’s gift shop to pick up some chocolate.
Final Thoughts On Visiting Geneva
Geneva is sure to enchant you.
If the chocolate alone doesn’t make you happy, the spectacular surroundings will for sure. Whether you love the outdoors or learning about history and art, you will love spending time in Geneva, Switzerland.
This article originally appeared on Wealth of Geeks.
Alicia Richards is the founder of Travels With The Crew. This family travel site is loaded with itineraries, tips for traveling with kids, and travel inspiration. Alicia helps busy moms plan vacations that the entire family will love.