When we say Switzerland, images of deliciously melted chocolates and lavish branded watches come to the mind. Besides the luxury of materialistic goods, there are also natural vistas to feast your eyes on. Swiss cities have that alluring ambiance that capture the mind and soul of its visitors, and today we’re picking up Geneva specifically.
Did we mention that it’s also among the five richest cities in the world? That makes Geneva an international city and a worldwide center for diplomacy. No wonder it’s home to the wealthiest watch manufacturers and chocolates brands.
Geneva is a bustling city where culture, history, and enchanting vistas of nature all gather in one place. It’s the second largest city in Switzerland, along which the magnificent the Lake Geneva spans. We will guide you to the city’s top attractions that you can visit while having the iconic Alps proudly standing in the background.
There is so much to do and numerous sights to see. Check out this list of the must-see attractions that you should explore while in Geneva:
1- Do A Cruise on Lake Geneva
This iconic lake had the whole city of Geneva built on its banks, becoming a symbolic signature. You can miss having a tremendous cruise on Lake Geneva where you can navigate through its splendid landscapes. It’s a great opportunity to view the city from different angles and perspectives. Besides having a lake travel, you can get to different parts of the city through motor-launches.
2- Watch the Splendid Jet d’Eau (Water Jet)
The Jet d’Eau is a popular landmark of Geneva that you shouldn’t miss. Located in the southern end of the lake, this mighty fountain takes to the air right from the lake, reaching about 145 meters up. Its height makes it visible from numerous locations in the city. You can also have an up-close view of the jet, but beware as you may get wet, thanks to the wind.
3- Tour Geneva’s Old Town
As we previously mentioned, Geneva is a city of history and heritage. You should head to the Old Town, a historic site in the heart of the city. It is a perfect destinations to all the history buffs, where you can take a walking tour around the cobbled streets. The area possesses a breeze of the ancient times. Across the old town sits St. Pierre’s Cathedral along with other historical landmarks to discover.
4- Explore St. Pierre Cathedral
The St. Pierre Cathedral is the most prominent religious building in Geneva. It dates back to as old as the 12th century, where it used to be John Calvin’s home church. There are also several underground legacies to take a look at. It’s popular among tourist to get on top of the cathedral’s tower to have a full view of the city’s prominent monuments, including the lake and the Alps.
5- Hike to the Top of Mont Salève
Mont Salève is a huge mountain that France share with Geneva. It is also known as the “balcony of Geneva,” for it provides a bird-eye view of the city from a relatively high point. This site is perfect for hikers, given the numerous hiking trails it provides. If hiking is not your thing, you can ride a cable car if the weather conditions permit.
6- Educate Yourself at CERN
Most science lovers pay CERN a visit while on the grounds of the Genevan lands. Being the largest particle physics laboratory, there is so much to learn in the premises. The museum exhibitions offer their visitors educational tours about the works of CERN. You don’t really have to possess an Einstein brain to understand the scientific information being provided in the facility.
7- Take a Walking Tour Around Jardin Anglais
Jardin Anglais is a French term that means the English Garden. It lies too close to the Old Town, stretching around 6 acres along the Lake Geneva shore. This historic park is home to a wide array of various flora and trees.
Besides the magnificent greenery, there are also statues, fountains, and pavilions accentuating the park, and combined with the lovely views of the lake. The Flower Clock is a prominent feature of the park. It was created as a lovely tribute to the prominent watchmakers.
8- Visit the Parc des Bastions (Bastions Park)
Geneva has no shortage of greenery and magnificent parks, which is quite apparent. The Bastions Park is one of the most prominent attractions of the city. It sits in the heart of Geneva, close to the Old Town.
The Reformation Wall is the highlight of the park, serving as a reminder to the honorable figures and events of the Protestant Reformation. Within the wall, you will find statues and images depicting the integral parts of the historic movement.
9- Unravel the Mystery of Carouge – Geneva’s Small Italy
Visiting Carouge municipality is sufficient to live an authentic Italian atmosphere, no wonder it goes by the name “the small Italy.” Carouge is situated by River Arve, which is only a few minutes away from Geneva.
There are so many things to do in here for an enthralling adventure. Swim in the Piscine de La Fontenette, watch a nice theater performance, or visit Cinema BIO. Whichever you choose to do, we promise you an unforgettable vacation at Carouge.
10- Go Shopping at Plainpalais Flea Market
Plainpalais is the biggest farmer market in the city that takes place in Plaine de Palainpalais every Saturday and Wednesday. You can also find it open on the first Sunday of every month.
This farmer market is a haven for bargains hunters since Geneva is a quite expensive city. You can find some real treasures at affordable prices. Even if nothing happened to catch your eye, you can always have a bite of the international street food offered by several vendors.
11- Visit Geneva’s Most Prominent Museums
Geneva is home to numerous museums. It’s easy to expect that in a country full of history, science, and culture. Since there are too many of them, we have gathered for you some of the most prominent ones that you shouldn’t miss. Here is a a narrowed-down list for the prevalent museums to visit:
Museum of Natural History
The Museum of Natural History takes you on a journey through the history of mankind, geology, and everything related to nature. You will observe a wide array of exotic flora and fauna that only grow in Switzerland.
There are also exciting exhibition of wildlife, including marine life and birds. Don’t miss Janus, the renowned turtle with two heads living inside the museum. Besides, there is a whole floor displaying the country’s ecological history.
International Museum of the Red Cross and Red Crescent
You may have always heard about the humanitarian movement of the Red Cross and Red Crescent but isn’t fully aware of their works. The ICRC Museum is here to take you through all the needed details about this movement and its significance.
It has three main exhibitions with high interaction, including Reducing Natural Risks, Restoring Family Links, and Defending Human Dignity. You will walk out of the museum, realizing the significance of their work.
Museum of Far Eastern Art
Although it’s located in a European city, this museum features thousands of works of art from the Far East in Asia. The museum inhabit a townhouse that dates back to the 19th century. Within its archaic walls lie thousands of collections from China and Japan.
These artworks were collected by the Swiss collector Alfred Baur. The museum showcases Asian treasures, including Netsuke, imperial ceramics, sword fittings, and more. There is also this splendid Japanese Stone Garden attached to the museum, where you can steal moments of peace and serenity.
Art and History Museum
The Museum of Art and History is one of the largest in Geneva ever. It houses thousands upon thousands of exhibitions, ranging from the prehistoric ages to our modern times. There are furniture and items in display that trace its roots back to the Middle Ages.
The Miraculous Draught of Fishes, by Konrad Witz, is the most prominent painting in the museum. It draws the attention of most visitors, yet it’s not the only work of art you’ll notice. You will find collections that date to the ancient cultures of Greece, Egypt, and Rome. If you’re more into Renaissance art, you can witness the magnificent works of Renoir and Van Gogh.
Patek Phillipe Museum
Switzerland is the country most famous for making luxurious watch brands. Thus, it makes perfect sense to see watches making statements everywhere in the country. There is even a museum for specifically that matter.
As apparent as it is, this museum is a telling tale of the whole history of Patek Phillipe, the renowned Swiss watchmaker. There is also an exhibition, illustrating the Swiss history of watches from the 16th century until this day. You will also witness the very first watch ever made along with a watches collection, spanning five centuries.
Fire Brigade Museum
The Fire Brigade is a little museum, yet it doesn’t fall short from fascinating you with its quirkiness. This museum maps out the history of Geneva’s fire brigade service. Quite odd, isn’t it? But, we assure you it gets really compelling.
This museum is a project made with passion by experience firefighters and other volunteers. Standing at the door to greet you are real firefighters who had already retired. They walk you around the museum and answer any questions you have. You’ll be hearing tales and experiences from people who actually lived it.
Musée Ariana (Ariana Museum)
Musée Ariana is also commonly known as the Swiss Museum of Ceramics and Glass. It’s the only museum around the whole country dedicated to the industry of kiln craft. The museum features thousand ceramic and glass items that stretch for almost seven centuries.
This destination is perfect for those who admire the artwork of ceramic and the likes. If you are not a fan of what they museum holds, you will still admire its exterior. The building dates back to the late 19th century, and it’s really spectacular to look at.
Museum of the History of Science
Here is one more small museum that will lure in all the science lovers. The Museum of the History of Science inhabits a small villa that goes back to 1830. It showcases a wide array of collections of old scientific instruments. Those items were used by Swiss scholars from the 17th to the 19th century.
The museum also exhibits the natural evolutions of many aspects in science. You will observe how techniques took a huge turn in the modern times in different forms of sciences. These sciences include meteorology, gnomonics, microscopy, and electricity.
Musée Rath (Rath Museum)
Here is the last museum on the museums’ list, it’s Musée Rath. This one is deemed the oldest museum, not only in Geneva but in all of Switzerland. The building dates back to the 19th century, and it bears a great resemblance to the temples of Ancient Greece. Nowadays, this museum holds exhibitions of temporary artwork, displaying both Swiss and International works of art.
12- Observe Geneva’s Development in Maison Tavel
Maison Tavel is one of the oldest houses in Geneva. This affluent building goes back to the 12th century, it used to be home to the opulent Maison family. The first floor showcases a short film that represent the development and evolution of Geneva through the centuries.
The 6-story building represents the luxurious and lavish life of the Swiss elites. Each floor displays a collections of artifacts and objects related to the history of the city. You will find items that go way back to the Middle Ages, and others that date to the late 17th century.
13- Take Tour Inside Palais Des Nations
The Palais Des Nations is the headquarters of the United Nation in Europe and the largest UN center after New York. Despite the confidentiality of this place, it’s open for visitors through guided tours.
Before stepping inside, you will fall in love with the marble-made buildings that make up the Palais Des Nations. Once you’re inside, you will be able to have a splendid view of the Alps while standing in the lobby. You can also access the library that encompasses million copies of different books and journals.
14- Don’t Miss the Broken Chair Sculpture
Across the building of the United Nations, you’ll find the huge statue of the Broken Chair. It sits on the plaza right outside the building, making a statement that you can hardly miss. The chair obviously has one of its legs broken, hence the name. It was designed by Daniel Berset. This huge chair is a representation of objecting to cluster bombs and landmines. The broken leg is a clear depiction of the casualties and injuries that result from acts of atrocities.
It was installed right before the signature of the Ottawa Treaty that failed after many countries retreated. The chair remained in place as a remainder for the whole world that spreading peace is not going to happen any time soon.
15- Take a Look at Place du Bourg-de-Four
The oldest square in Geneva is not just a regular square that you pass by and go on with your life. In fact, Place de Bourg-de-Four may actually be the most charming plaza to ever witness. It lies in the heart of the old town, leading you to several passages into the magnificent ancient streets. Also, this site witnessed history when exiled Protestants took shelters in here during the 16th century troubling events.
16- Live Like a Local in Bain des Paquis
Bain des Paquis is a popular place among both locals and tourists. It is suitable to visit all year round. During the cold days of winter, cheese fondue are served to keep you warm while taking your taste buds on a bewitching journey.
On the other hand, this place make its way among the top tourist attractions for its olympic pools. You can take a nice refreshing dip into the waters during the hot days of summer. Sunbathing is also among the popular activities to do around that place,
There is so many things to do in Geneva and magnificent sightseeings to see. This dazzling city also has something for people from all walks of life. Make it your next destination and check off as many things as you can from your bucket list.