Geneva must be our favorite city in Switzerland! OK, we can be biased as we live here☺️. Yet, trust us that Geneva consistently appears on the 10 top best cities to live in the world not for nothing! Geneva is renowned for its location on the lake, its international scene, and natural beauty. Here are the 10 best things to do in Geneva if you are planning to spend a day or 2.
Geneva’s famous hydraulic water jet welcomes you even as your plane is flying over the lake, ready to land. The Jet d’Eau was actually created by accident in 1886, when the safety valve designed to prevent overpressure by allowing water to escape, shot a 30 metre jet of water into the air. In 1891, its possibilities as a tourist attraction were recognized and it was moved to its present location. Thus, it takes #1 place on our list of 10 Best things to do in Geneva. Since 2003, it has been shooting the equivalent of four bathtubs of water (132 gallons) into the air every second! It is only turned off in case of frost or strong wind. For special occasions, it is also lit with changing floodlights. Keep your camera on ready mode as you might catch a small rainbow on it.
On your way to Jet d’Eau make sure to pass by the flower clock. It became a key attraction itself and gets redressed occasionally with new flowery designs.
Geneva Old Town and Cathedral of St. Pierre
The cobbled streets and well maintained mediaeval buildings of Geneva’s old town bear witness to a history spanning over two milleniums, though the origins of the town date from at least 58 BC. Must-see places include the Place du Bourg-du-Four (central square and former trading place of the Romans!), the Maison Tavel and the imposing Cathedral of St. Pierre (built 1160 – 1252) where you can climb the internal tower for a rewarding overview of the city. On the other side of the old town you can have a seat on the longest bench in the world (120 meters!) overlooking Parc de Bastion! Don’t forget to pass by “parc de l’observatoire” where you can enjoy a beautiful sight of Geneva downtown and Jet d’Eau, steps away from the shinning golden domes of the Russian church.
United Nations-Palace of Nations
Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum
Being in the country where the Red Cross was founded (and whose flag is the inverse of the Swiss flag) you might consider visiting its museum – Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum. It is highly interactive! One of the most touching parts of the visit was when you could put on the headset and listen to the real life stories of victims of war. The museum is leaves a feeling of appreciation of the efforts the Red Cross & Red Crescent exerts around the world.
Carouge Old Town
Bains des Pâquis
Geneva’s Bains des Pâquis are located on the artificial peninsula in les Pâquis area on the Rive Droite of the lake. They are highly popular with tourists and locals alike, comprising lakeside mini beaches for sunbathing and a quick dip in the summer as well as hammams, saunas and turkish baths for the winter. The buvette serves daily breakfasts and lunch dishes. It will take you a bit of queuing but definitely worth it. In August the locals wake up early to come to Bains des Pâquis for the annual “Aubes musicales” which are early morning concerts of local artists.
For a unique twist to your Geneva experience you should check out CERN (European Commission for Nuclear Research). Founded in 1954 as a joint venture of 12 countries, CERN is less commonly known for creating the www “World Wide Web”! It’s also home to the 27 km long Hadron Collider – the largest particle accelerator in the world. Only two of its exhibitions are open to the public (the “Microcosm” and the “Globe of Science and Innovation”). Tours are available Monday through Saturday, but reservation is highly recommended as it gets filled out quickly!
Plainpalais Flea Market
Geneva’s lovely Botanical Gardens is a must visit place for families with kids, same as for couples on romantic walks or anyone who needs to rest his busy mind and enjoy the tranquility of beautiful nature. Geneva’s first botanical gardens were created in 1817 as an expression of the then prevailing naturalist trend. The garden is home to over 16,000 different species of plants, trees and shrubs blooming at different seasons to ensure the all-year round feast for the eyes. This large museum of greenery is organized through different sectors such as the Greenhouses, Rockery, Arboretum and Winter Garden.