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Geneva from the air | © Alexey M/WikiCommons
Geneva from the air | © Alexey M/WikiCommons
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8 Reasons Why You Should Visit Geneva Over Zurich

Picture of Sean Mowbray
Updated: 16 May 2017
Planning a trip to Switzerland but don’t know where to start off? Find out why you should head to Geneva first and Zurich second.

Geneva is a truly international city

Walk down almost any street in Geneva and you’ll hear languages from every corner of the world, all in the space of about five minutes. People from around 190 countries live and work in Geneva. It’s a truly international city, thanks to the presence of the UN, banking headquarters and a whole host of other international companies and organisations. Zurich is a little more Swiss and while it still attracts plenty of foreign nationals, it doesn’t compare to the diversity of Geneva.

Food, food and more food

All those different nationalities have to be catered for and it means you really are spoilt for culinary choice in Geneva. You don’t just have to eat sauerkraut or schnitzel, you can find food from almost every corner of the world all without having to look for it. On top of that, you can always dig into traditional Swiss dishes like cheese fondue or raclette.

To give an example, when standing on Rue de Lausanne, a stone’s throw away from Geneva’s Gare Cornavin, you can choose any number of Indian restaurants, Chinese, African stores, or even sample some Peruvian empanadas.

It’s cheaper

This may be like comparing a Bugatti Veyron to a Porsche but between two of the most expensive cities in the world, Geneva is the cheaper of the two. Hotels, restaurants, bars – you name it, you can shave a little off your budget by spending some time in Geneva. If you’re staying in Geneva for a while you can always save even more by hopping across the border into France and pick up your groceries there.

It’s a gateway to the Alps and more

Geneva is well placed to take you to France or Italy, where you can even travel on a day trip if you get up early enough. Zurich is smack in the middle of Switzerland and while this may not be a bad thing if you want to explore the inner parts of the country, if you are planning to have Switzerland as a stop-over on a Euro tour, Geneva may be the best option.

You can learn about the workings of the world and beyond

If you want to find out what makes the world tick, there is probably no better place than Geneva. You can delve into mysteries of the universe in the morning at CERN, then learn the history of the United Nations in the afternoon. Zurich is home to plenty of museums and has a vibrant culture of its own, but if you want a global perspective, choose Geneva.

The United Nations in Geneva
The United Nations in Geneva | © Sean Mowbray

Geneva is quieter

Zurich’s population is larger and the city has a busier feel to it, whereas Geneva feels more like a large town. The peace and quiet can be good if you are looking for a relaxing trip, but if you’re up for a night out it can be a bit of a challenge.

Lake Geneva is bigger than Lake Zurich

Lake Geneva, or Lac Léman, is far bigger than Lake Zurich. In fact, Lake Geneva is one of the biggest in Europe. All along the shores of Lake Geneva, you’ll be able to gaze in awe at the Alps in the distance and indulge yourself in some water sports during the summer months.

Lake Geneva
Lake Geneva | © Fred PO / Flickr

The Jet d’eau

Literally meaning the water jet, Geneva’s Jet d’eau is difficult to miss as it fires the waters of Lake Geneva 450 feet up into the air. While its purpose is mystifying, it makes for a great photo, particularly at night when it’s fully lit up. Zurich can’t match this.

The Jet d’Eau at night
The Jet d’Eau at night | © Robbie Shade/ Flickr