The Top 10 Things to Do and See in Geneva, Switzerland

© AshLM/ Pixabay
© AshLM/ Pixabay | © AshLM/ Pixabay
Sean Mowbray

Wondering how to spend your time in Geneva? Take a look at our run down of the top ten things to see and do during your stay.

Enjoy Lake Geneva

Lake Geneva, or Lac Léman as it is rightfully known, is one the biggest lakes in western Europe and a small snippet of it divides Geneva. In the summertime, the beaches of Geneva are full with sun bathers as the normally frigid water becomes a little more tolerable. Yachters, canoers and water skiers also take to the lake. Bring along your swimming gear in the summer and dive in.

Lake Geneva

Climb the Salève

For some of the best and most accessible views of Geneva and the surrounding mountains, you should head to the top of the Salève. It dominates the skyline to the south and despite looking like a formidable challenge, it is quite an easy hike of no more than 1 to 2 hours. If you prefer a relaxed trip up the cliff side, you can also catch the chairlift (téléphérique) from Veyrier.

Discover the origin of everything at CERN

On the outskirts of Geneva you’ll find CERN and its 27-kilometre ring of superconducting magnets (much of the Large Hadron Collider actually circles into the French countryside). If you time your visit right (when the LHC isn’t switched on) you may get to step inside. But even if you don’t get the chance there is the Microcosm and the CERN Laboratory, where you can discover how the scientists working there are trying to crack the secrets of our universe.

Wonder at the Jet d’Eau

It is hard to miss the Jet d’Eau as it fires water from Lake Geneva 140 meters into the air. It apparently has its origins as a way to release excess pressure from a nearby hydraulic plant and now it’s the unmistakable symbol of the city.

The Jet d’Eau, visible from most places in Geneva

Explore the Old Town

Geneva’s old town is a winding maze of little streets. The best place to start off is Place du Bourg-de-Four, which is the oldest place in Geneva and is now lined with cafés and boutique shops. From any of the streets leading of the Place you can explore the old town. Another must see is St. Pierre’s Cathedral which was built between the 12th and 13th centuries and is the place where John Calvin, the protestant reformer, famously preached.

Pick up a bargain at the local markets

On Wednesdays and Saturdays, Geneva’s Plainpalais square is transformed into a sprawling market place. Almost anything you can imagine is on sale here, from old war memorabilia, to sofas and crystal glasses. There’s also a fine food selection on offer. A little further out of town on the 18 tram line, there is a smaller but just as interesting market in Carouge, the Italian town of Geneva. Here you’ll find fresh produce that’ll be sure to make your mouth water.

Carouge’s weekly market

Take to the Italian side of town

Carouge was constructed in the 18th century by Italian architects and originally it was a separate town. To this day it still feels and looks different from the rest of the city, with the influence of the Mediterranean being far more stronger in both the architecture and the atmosphere. There are shops to explore, bars and cafés to relax in and a totally different side of Geneva to be experienced.

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