The best things to do in Geneva, Switzerland
Updated: Jan 28
It's been a while since I am living in Switzerland but never had the chance to deeply explore Geneva in details. I had the pleasure to be invited twice by the Geneva Tourism board in 2019 and 2020 in order to get to know better the city and it's hidden secrets.
First of all, some facts about Geneva:
Geneva is the second largest city in all of Switzerland. The first is Zürich.
Geneva and a mix of religions: 50 Protestants, 6 Evangelicals, 55 Catholics, 4 Orthodox churches, 1 mosque, 5 Islamic centers, 4 synagogues, 19 Buddhist centers.
41% of the population of Geneva are foreigners, with more than 190 different nationalities.
Geneva is the gastronomic capital of Switzerland, bringing together 140 ethnic restaurants representing 30 nationalities
It is the headquarters of the United Nations and where the Red Cross was born in 1901.
It is the city where the Swiss watchmaking tradition was born. Headquarters of more than 12 watch manufacturers
And now, my favourite spots and things to do in Geneva:
The Jet d'Eau fountain, located on the Eaux Vives and with jets that can reach 140 meters in height, is one of the most famous monuments to see in Geneva.
In its origins in 1886 it was used as a safety valve for a hydraulic power network, until in 1891 it was moved to its current location to become another of the city's tourist attractions, which we are sure will not leave you indifferent.
This powerful jet of water, which comes out at a speed of 200 kilometers per hour, can be seen from many points of the city and is considered one of the largest sources of water in the world and how could it be otherwise, a of the visits in Geneva that you cannot miss.
A good option to get to know the city and get closer to the Jet d'Eau is to book this tour of Lake Geneva, one of the most beautiful lakes in Europe, or this one that includes a panoramic tour of the city.
About 20 minutes walking along the banks of the Rhône or 10 minutes by tram is The Jonction, the point where the river Arve and the river Rhône meet, where if you go up to the viaduct located in front of La Jonction, you will be able to see perfectly how it is they mix the waters of different colors and currents of the two rivers.
In addition to being able to see this natural phenomenon, this area has been transformed into an alternative space, equipped with hammocks, wooden platforms and a series of beach bars that are ideal for sunbathing, taking a bath or having a picnic on a sunny day.
A walk through the historic center, the Vielle Ville in French, located around St. Peter's Cathedral, is one of the best things to do in Geneva.
Get lost in narrow cobbled streets like Rue de l'Hôtel-de-Ville and Gran-Rue, discover charming squares like Place du Bourg-de-Four and Place du Molard, sit on terraces of historic restaurants and cafes Going into antique shops and art galleries, or simply drinking from its fountains, is a real pleasure for the senses.
Lake Geneva cruise
Geneva is bathed by the largest lake in Western Europe. Lake Geneva is 72 km long and 12 km wide. In fact, it is so large that it occupies the territory of two countries: Switzerland and France. On its banks are other interesting cities such as Lausanne, Montreux or Nyon.
There are many boat companies that navigate the lake with different routes. You can even rent a kayak to ride around the lake at your own pace. Both boat trips and kayak rentals are included in the Geneva Pass.
Art and History Museum
Exhibitions at the Museum of Art and History in Geneva include natural history and archeology, weapons collections, jewelry, musical instruments, icons, and Byzantine art. The painting part covers works from the Middle Ages to the 20th century and features works by, among others, Rembrandt, Witz, Cézanne, Modigliani.
The Museum of Art and History in Geneva was established in 1826, while the new museum headquarters were built between 1903 and 1910. The building was designed by the architect Marc Camoletti. The four-storey building has a square plan with one side of 60 meters and its total exhibition area is 7,000 m².
The facade is decorated with sculptures by Paul Amlen: allegories of art, painting, sculpture, drawing and architecture, in the corners of the building there are allegories of archeology and applied arts.
Watchmaking course at Initium
Initium provides the opportunity to fully immerse yourself in the fascinating world of mechanical watchmaking. Its objective is to bring you closer to the ins and outs of the watchmaker's knowledge, ancestral knowledge that, over time, became the livelihood of an entire region, even an entire country.
The practical and theoretical classes of a master watchmaker will allow you to know the mysterious inner life of a mechanical watch.
With a screwdriver and tweezers in hand, you will soon be able to hear the ticking of the clock that you have composed yourself: an absolutely unique experience.
Far from your daily worries, Initium will make you live an unforgettable experience by allowing you, for half a day or a whole day, to transform yourself into a true watchmaker.
Truffles, chocolates, the traditional Geneva chocolate kettle or an award-winning chocolate cake: on this tour you can discover the best manufacturers in the city and eleven sweet creations in total.
For three hours, you can sample local specialties and explore all facets of the world of Geneva chocolate. The program includes five chocolate manufacturers and pastry shops; including one in which Winston Churchill, Grace Kelly, J.F. Kennedy and Charles de Gaulles sampled delicacies made from cocoa.
The tour is led by a passionate guide, who will reveal to visitors all the secrets of Geneva's chocolate. The program also includes a boat trip and a walk through the old town of Geneva.
Geneva has many things to offer, help me to add more places and activities sharing them on the comments bellow!