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Often referred to as Switzerland’s most metropolitan city, Geneva is a lively and bustling destination, with a great international atmosphere. It also happens to be surrounded by the beautiful backdrop of the Swiss Alps, the Jura mountains and Lake Geneva. Combining the slicker aspects of a modern city with a seemingly never-ending range of outdoor activities, Geneva really does offer the best of both worlds.
The Old Town or, Vieille Ville, is a wonderful maze of cobblestoned streets lined with pretty houses and alleys which open up into impossibly charming squares. This is the neighbourhood in which to take a stroll, shoot attractive pictures or sit on a bench and watch people walk by. The Old Town is also home to some great little restaurants, many of which are hidden in beautiful courtyards; why not take a break from exploring to indulge in a platter of local cheeses?
Place du Bourg-de-Four, Geneva’s oldest square, dates back to Roman times and is the heart of Old Town. Do as the locals do and buy a newspaper at the newsstand, sit down at one of the many open-air cafés and take in the beauty of the Medieval fountain, admiring the picture-perfect houses that line the square.
Geneva is located on the eponymous lake, and it would be a pity to visit the city without strolling along the waterfront. Alternatively, why not book a cruise and enjoy the city from the water itself? A large number of ferries cross the lake daily, and several of them offer lunch and dinner cruises for those who want to dine while enjoying their trip. On the way in and out of the harbour, check out the Jet d’Eau, one of the world’s tallest water fountains, which reaches 140 metres. Most cruises are included in the Geneva Pass, while some ferries are free to take with the Geneva Transport Card, which all visitors receive from their accommodation to use for the duration of their stay in Geneva.
Once a Savoyard royal town, Carouge was designed by Italian architects in the 18th century for the King of Sardinia and still retains its noble charm and beauty. Located a stone’s throw away from downtown Geneva, this bohemian district is called the ‘Greenwich Village of Geneva’ because of its boutiques, restaurants, cafés and unique atmosphere. You won’t find any chain stores here, but a lot of quirky shops, design studios and lively bars, perfect for a night out with friends.
If you are looking for the best spot to enjoy panoramic views of the city and the lake, look no further than Mont-Salève. You can reach the summit of the mountain by riding a cable car – the journey up only takes eight minutes, and is included in the Geneva Pass. To reach the cable car, take a direct, 20-minute bus from the city centre (free with the Geneva Transport Card). Alternatively, those who are up for a hike can choose to walk up one of the many trails in the area. Either way, you will be rewarded with an incredible vista of the Swiss Alps around you and of Geneva down below.
Geneva is a great city for those who like to stay active. Around the city, you will find beautiful hiking paths as well as mountain bike trails, from easy lakeside routes to steep tracks that zig-zag up the woods towards the mountain peaks. Those who like water sports will have plenty to try; from sailing and windsurfing to swimming and stand-up paddle boarding, there is something for everyone. If you’re looking to wind down after a long day of exploring, why not check out the yoga workshops by the shore.
Planning a trip to Geneva? Make sure you check out Geneva Live Tourism for helpful hints and tips.
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