Located next to the famous Lake Geneva and surrounded by the Alps and the Jura Mountains, Geneva is distinguished by its internationality: the European headquarters of the UN, the Red Cross, and the World Health Organization are located in the city. The Swiss city provides a balance of city life and outdoor adventures. Uncover Geneva with this Finnair travel guide.
Sights in Geneva
Cruise ships take passengers on tours on Lake Geneva all year round. Onboard the ship you'll have a perfect view of the Jet d'Eau fountain, which shoots water up to a height of 140 metres. In the summer, you can take a swim in the lake from the beach by the Bains des Pâquis spa, plus hiking, biking, boating and golfing are other popular activities in the area. The winter months provide great opportunities for skiing and snowboarding. The best ambience in restaurants can be found in the mediaeval old town. The beautiful Place du Bourg-de-Four, in the vicinity of the magnificent Cathedral of St. Peter, is one of many spots to enjoy a rest. Alternatively relax in one of Geneva’s lovely parks, such as Parc de la Grange and Parc des Bastions. Be sure to visit the Jardin Anglais Park, which has an enormous flower clock that changes colour with the seasons. The Musée d'Art et d'Histoire offers art enthusiasts the chance to see works by Cézanne, Van Gogh and Picasso, and you can soak up the Italian vibe in Carouge. Visit the Palais des Nations and the Museum of the International Committee of the Red Cross for a sense of the city’s diplomatic and humanitarian heritage.
Things to See and Do Near Geneva
- Téléphérique du Salève – Located just across the French border, this cable car offers sweeping views of Lake Geneva and the Alps. At the top, you’ll find many walking trails.
- Lausanne – Sitting at the northern end of Lake Geneva, a day trip to Lausanne lets you explore a charming historical city as well as being able to easily access the world-class skiing areas of the Valais.
- Lavaux – Dotted by quaint villages, the region of Lavaux is an ideal destination for wine enthusiasts. Visit World Heritage Sites, enjoy the vistas over the vine terraces and sample locally produced wines.
Shopping in Geneva
In addition to large shopping centres that are brimming with a vast array of goods, Geneva also boasts a large number of independent stores that sell products a bit different to the norm. Swiss watches, jewellery, chocolates and wine are especially abundant, and cuckoo clocks can make for an unusual gift.
- Rue du Marche – One of the busiest streets in Geneva, you’ll find almost anything you could imagine here, from household appliances and homewares to books, toys, clothing and souvenirs.
- Quartier des Bains – A hip and trendy part of the city with a strong arty vibe, there are many unique boutiques and fashion stores here.
- Rue du Rhône – Here you will find many high-end stores selling designer labels and expensive watches.
- Les Enfants Terribles – Offering a unique retail experience, you’ll find a cross between a vintage emporium and a workshop in this cool shopping outlet.
- Globus Geneva – Among Geneva’s busiest department stores, where contemporary and trendy fashions sit alongside timeless classics.
Food and Drink
With around 40% of the population made up of expatriates, the cuisine in Geneva is culturally and ethnically diverse. Of course, you’ll still find all the favourite Swiss dishes too. The city is often said to be the food capital of Switzerland.
- Fondue – A famous Swiss delight for cheese lovers, dip bread and other items into a large pot of melted cheese for a warming communal meal.
- Raclette – A type of semi-hard cheese made from unpasteurised cows’ milk, which is melted in pots under a grill and served with a variety of grilled meats and vegetables.
- Rosti – Eaten across the country, this potato fritter is commonly served with fried eggs and spinach.
- Chocolate – No mention of Swiss food would be complete without the addition of chocolate. Swiss chocolatiers are renowned for being among the best in the world.
- Wine – Geneva is the third-biggest wine-producing area in Switzerland and there are many local makes to try, including those made from chasselas, gamay and pinot noir grapes.
Transport in Geneva
Public transportation is efficient, modern and reliable in Geneva. Navigating the city by various modes of transport is easy, and visitors staying at a hotel or hostel can enjoy free public transportation on many trains, trams and buses for the duration of their stay.
- By foot – Geneva’s Old Town is a great place to explore on foot, with many major sites all within close proximity of each other. Some roads, however, can be steep. In general, Geneva is fairly pedestrian friendly, though the changing road names can be confusing for some visitors.
- By bicycle – Most of Geneva can be cycled around without too many challenges. With the exception of the Old Town, much of the city is flat. There are several bicycle rental shops around the city.
- Buses – Tickets for buses in Geneva must be bought in advance. Note that older ticket machines do not have change. Various routes run around the city and surrounding areas and services are frequent.
- Trains and trams – Tram lines operate across the city and suburban trains are a great way to reach places farther afield.
- Boats – Operating every ten minutes during the daytime, boats cross the lake between Pâquis station and Eaux-Vives.
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