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It may not be the first place that you think of for a city break, but Geneva is packed full of places that you’ll want to include on your holiday itinerary. From the heady heights of international politics at the Palais des Nations, to the actually dizzyingly high Mont Salève, there’s something for everyone. Read on to discover 20 attractions that you simply can’t miss out on during your trip to Geneva.
You don’t have to have a degree in particle physics to enjoy CERN. Its Microcosm and the CERN Laboratory are open with guided tours, so all that tough jargon is nicely decoded for you. If you time your trip right (when the particle accelerator isn’t on), you can go inside the Large Hadron Collider.
The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum is a fascinating, yet harrowing exhibition of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and its history. Taking you through some of the most traumatic events in human history, you will leave with a greater understanding of why organisations like the Red Cross and Crescent are needed today.
The Jet d’Eau is one of the tallest fountains in the world, and fires 500 litres of water 140 metres in the air every second. It’s the extravagant symbol of the city that you are likely not to miss, whether by chance or by choice.
Built in the 18th century and designed by Italian architects, Carouge was an independent town that has been encompassed by the city of Geneva. A short trip from the city centre takes you into a Mediterranean feeling town, totally distinct from the rest of Geneva and its environs.
Just outside the gates of the United Nations and surrounded by traffic, is the Place des Nations. In the centre, there is the gigantic Broken Chair built in opposition to land mines, and spread out across the square are choreographed water jets.
A popular place to swim and sunbathe during the summer months and one of the best places for a cheese fondue in winter, the Bains des Paquis are a must if you want to live like the locals on your trip.
The Musée Ariana is the only museum in Switzerland that is dedicated to kilncraft. It has a collection of over 20,000 objects from Switzerland, Europe and countries in the East. Plus, the building is pretty nice to look at.
The former home of Geneva’s botanic gardens still retains a certain charm. Its tree line promenade is a relaxing place to wander through and escape the summer’s heat. There are sculptures dedicated to some famous faces scattered through the park and there is also the Reformation Wall.
Built in 1909, the Reformation Wall is part of the old city walls of Geneva that run through Parc des Bastions. It is testament to the lives of those who shaped the Protestant Reformation. The wall features huge figures of John Calvin, who founded the University of Geneva in whose grounds the wall stands; John Knox, William Farel and Theodore Beza.
Once the largest clock of its kind in the world, until it was trumped in by one in Tehran, Iran. Geneva’s flower clock is made up of as many as 6,000 flowers and pays respect to the city’s watchmakers past and present.
Home to the United Nations Office in Geneva and where solutions to some of the world’s most pressing issues are resolved. The building is not particularly enthralling, but the history behind this building makes Palais des Nations one of the must-see sights of Geneva.
Stroll through Geneva’s botanic gardens and wonder at over 12,000 species of plants, flowers and trees. Each section is laid out according to region, so you can learn about everything that surrounds you. All around is bird song, the buzzing of bees and the trickling of water in this natural escape.
Get yourself lost in Geneva’s old town, a maze of streets filled with cafés, art galleries and little squares that are the perfect place to watch the world go by. Start your journey in the Place du Bourg-de-Four, the oldest place in the city.
The largest park in Geneva boasts the most rose bushes in the city, around one rosebush for every square metre. It’s a little out of the city and close by to the popular Baby Plage. Take the trip, bring a book along and surround yourself in some nature.
Standing in the centre of Geneva’s old town is the St. Pierre Cathedral, which is over 850 years old. It is a building that is steeped in history and is where John Calvin preached for many of the later years of his life. Climb the church’s two towers for spectacular 360° views of Geneva.
The Place du Bourg-de-Four is known as the oldest place in Geneva. In its prime, it was likely used as a cattle market, and stood outside of the city’s main walls. Nowadays, it’s a pleasant place to sit with a coffee or browse the boutique shops that are scattered around the square.
Geneva’s history is kept inside the walls of its oldest house. The Maison Tavel was built in the 12th century by the Maison family and it now houses several floors charting Geneva’s development over the years.
For some of the best views of Geneva and the surrounding mountains, head across the border into France and climb the Salève. From nearby Veyrier, a short bus ride from Geneva’s main station, there is a cable car that climbs to the top of the Salève, or there are plenty of trails for the more adventurous.