Switzerland, the land of neutrality, the safest country in the world, the best watchmakers, and delicious cheese and chocolate fondue. Those are, in fact, stereotypes about Switzerland and Geneva. Some may be surprised to learn that Geneva is not the capital of Switzerland, but that does not prevent it from being one of Europe’s must-see cities. Let’s explore the best attractions to visit in the city, from the breathtakingly beautiful Lake Geneva to historical cathedrals.
1. Lake Geneva
The lake is unquestionably the city’s crown jewel. Its majestic view, with the Alps in the background, is unrivaled by any other city in the world. Boat rides across the lake are breathtaking, and a stroll along its shore in winter is another reason to visit. The ship service, Mouettes Genevoises, has been in operation since 1897. You can rent a paddleboard and take to the water instead of taking a boat.
2. Jet d’Eau
Jet d’eau, which began as a safety measure for the city’s water system, became one of Geneva’s most notable attractions. It can shoot over 500 litres of water per second into the air and reach a height of 140 meters. It’s a beautiful sight to see, but don’t get too close, and if you do, be prepared to get soaked. Bains des Pâquis is a good viewpoint where you can admire the stunning water jet while sipping a cup of hot coffee.
3. Vielle Ville (Old Town)
Vielle Ville, Switzerland’s largest designated historic area, is an ancient town with narrow, steep streets. Getting around on these steep cobblestone streets and stairs is exhausting, but with interesting little corners, fountains, and coffeeshops, as well as the area’s historic values, it will be worth your time.
4. Bastions Park
Geneve can undoubtedly provide visitors with a sense of calm. Bastions Park is a peaceful place to relax in the leafy surroundings and find peace. The park, which is popular among students, has a cheerful atmosphere most of the time. During the summer, you can stop for a coffee in the park, or simply sit anywhere in the park and enjoy the peaceful surroundings. In the winter, a coffeeshop’s terrace is transformed into an ice rink.
A short ride from Geneva’s city center will transport you to another country. Carouge was founded in the 18th century by Italians who migrated from Turin. The architecture in the area is distinctively Italian, with stone arches and red roofs. Wander the street and pick up a used book, an old watch, or watch artisans blow glass or indie tailors. When you’ve had your fill of shopping, the area has a plethora of coffee shops and restaurants serving delectable Italian and Swiss cuisine.
6. Bains des Pâquis
Bains des Pâquis is a wonderful place to pamper yourself while watching the Jet d’eau. This 1930 public bath, located next to Lake Geneva, is a great place for a dip, a sauna, and a great massage, followed by a great fondue or a reasonably priced lunch. The spas in this area are open all year.
Geneva’s easily accessible mountains are a wonderful feature. Salève is a tranquil haven for those seeking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. It is so close to the city center, only one bus ride away, that it is sometimes referred to as Geneva’s local escape, despite the fact that it is actually border France. You don’t have to climb it; there’s a cable car that takes you to the top, where you can continue hiking, picnic, or relax in one of the many coffee shops.
8. Cathedral of St. Pierre
The Romanesque church, which dates back to 1150, is located on the highest point of Geneva’s old town. During the Protestant Reformation, the church was transformed into a Protestant church, with famous preachers such as John Calvin, one of the reformation’s key figures. The church is also known for its extensive underground labyrinth, which dates back to the 4th century and was one of the first Christian sanctuaries.
9. Palais des Nations
Palais des Nations, one of the United Nations’ headquarters, is still in use as a United Nations office. This structure predates the United Nations, dating back to 1930. The complex is used on a daily basis and hosts thousands of meetings each year, but there is an hour-long guided tour available if you want to see inside. The amount of time you have depends on how busy the venue is on that particular day, but it should cover some very interesting chambers.
10. Red Cross and Red Crescent museum
Many international organizations have their headquarters in Switzerland, particularly in Geneva. The Red Cross is one of them, and it is impossible to miss its moving and sometimes stunning exhibition, which highlights the critical humanitarian work of the organizations over the past 150 years. The guided tour, in conjunction with the Palais des Nations, will provide you with an insight into where the world’s most pressing issues are addressed, as well as how past conflicts were resolved.