Whether you are touring Europe or just Switzerland, Geneva is a mandatory destination on the list. Located in Romandy, the French speaking part of Switzerland, Geneva is multi-faceted in terms of what it has to offer. From international political history to breathtaking confluence of rivers, Geneva has you covered. The city was home to the philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who theorised The Social Contract and is also the place where World Wide Web was founded! Can it possibly get more diverse than that?
The city itself is not too big and I can personally vouch that you can walk from one end to another with ease. However, if you wish to use the public transport, buses and trams run at frequent intervals along all points in the city. Keep in mind that everything remains closed on Sundays, and when I say everything, I mean literally everything including supermarkets! You could find a few stores and eateries open but it would be wise to err on the side of caution. The following are a list of places you can visit and things you can do during your time in Geneva:
Guided Tour of CERN
CERN is the European Organisation for Nuclear Research located in the northwest suburbs of Geneva. It is home to the Large Hadron Collider, which is the world’s most powerful and largest particle accelerator. It is also the place where Tim Berners-lee founded the World Wide Web, which revolutionised the internet and forms the building blocks of what exists today. If this is something that excites you, CERN offers guided tours to parts of their premises. The best part? The tours are free of cost! However, these tours can only be booked on the spot and are always in high demand. On a clear day, you can see the snow capped Swiss Alps in the distance from the tram station at CERN. You can find more information about the guided tours here: https://visit.cern/guided-tours-individuals
Spend the Evening at Jet d’Eau
Jet d’Eau is the famous water fountain situated in Lake Geneva that spouts its froth 140m into air. While it might sound ordinary, the sight of it with the surroundings of the Lake and the city is quite a sight to behold. Pick up a snack with something to drink and you can spend an entire evening just watching this scenery!
Hike to the Top of La Saleve
La Saleve is a mountain located in France, just across the border from Geneva. So yes, you will be crossing the border by foot should you choose to do this hike! A majority of the hike is through the forest and the incline progresses from moderate to steep. The trail meanders through the borders of Switzerland and France leaving your phone buzzing with messages from telecom operators welcoming you to either side! At the top of La Saleve is an Observatory along with a small cafe to relax and refuel yourself. The top offers panoramic views of Geneva and its green surroundings, making it a lovely spot to spend the afternoon. You can reach the starting point of the trek by taking a bus to Veyrier Douane and crossing the border into France. Upon crossing a bridge over the highway, you will see a marked trail starting through the forest. Followl the trail and it will take you all the way to the top!
Take a Stroll through Old Town
With its age-old cathedrals, secret passages, and museums, Old Town is probably the most captivating part of Geneva. The cobble-stoned streets take you back in time and leave you in awe of every street you step into. Visit St.Peter’s Cathedral, Musée d’Art et d’Histoire, International Museum of the Reformation and walk through the secret passages that connect Old Town. While at it, do not forget to grab a quick bite from the pretty cafes and restaurants in the promenade
Visit Palais de Nations
Palais de Nations, originally built for the League of Nations, is one of the major offices of the United Nations. Guided tours are available in 14 different languages throughout the year. The tour will take you through the Palais de Nations and give you insights into the art installations and the history of the United Nations. It is recommended to book your tour in advance as the slots fill up quickly and are often unavailable due to high demand. You can find more information here: https://www.ungeneva.org/en/practical-information/visitors
Spend an Afternoon at La Jonction
La Jonction is the point of confluence of two rivers, Rhône and Arve. What makes this confluence special is the stark difference between the two rivers and the spectacle they create as they merge into each other. Rhône has its origins in the slopes of Aar-Gotthard and carries a deep turquoise colour. Arve on the other hand originated in the Graian Alps and has a deep grey colour as it stirs up rock and sediment along its course. At Jonction, one can see the two rivers meet and their contrasting shades blending with each other, creating a natural wonder for everyone to witness. This makes for a great spot for an afternoon picnic with trees providing ample shade and the colours from the confluence offering a view you can’t resist!
Visit the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum
Located near Palais de Nations, the Red Cross Museum is an interesting point of attraction if you are intrigued by history and humanitarian aid in war torn regions. The museum provides information and insights that help understand the role of humanitarian aid and the challenges faced in the process through a showcase of contemporary art, historical artefacts and photographs. Further information for a visit can be found here: https://redcrossmuseum.ch/
While these are a few of the things you can do in Geneva, there is so much more the city has to offer. You could always spend your time exploring Swiss cuisine (do not miss the fondue!), indulging in some wine tasting or even going on a luxury shopping spree if it suits your pocket! Whatever you choose to do, one thing you can be sure of is that this city by the lake will not disappoint you in the least.