Jun 23, 2022
Known as the Capital of Peace, Geneva is a fascinating city in which to enjoy a holiday. Find the best things to do in Geneva, exciting activities, great places to eat and drink, regular events, the best time to visit the city, and much more in our ultimate guide. Planning your holiday itinerary has never been this easy. Our guide includes:
Discover one of Switzerland’s most beautiful cities with us. The guide can be downloaded below and taken with you wherever you go. Happy reading!
Gain a whole new appreciation for Geneva with these fun facts and things to know about the city.
Lake Geneva is Europe’s largest alpine lake
Properly known as Lac Léman, Lake Geneva has a maximum length of 73km, a maximum width of 14km, and covers an area of approximately 580 square kilometres. The lake and its surrounds are popular for boating, cycling, hiking, and swimming.
Jet d’Eau is the city’s most famous landmark
The most famous landmark in Geneva isn’t exactly on land. Instead, it’s the famous Jet d’Eau fountain, which blasts 500 litres of water 140m into the air every second. You can see the fountain from all over the city.
Wristwatches were invented in Geneva
After the Calvinists banned jewellery in 1541, goldsmiths turned their attention to making functional timepieces. The first wristwatch was created by Patek Philippe for Countess Koscowicz of Hungary in 1868.
The Red Cross was founded in Geneva
The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement began in Geneva. The Red Cross was founded in the city in 1863, and it’s still headquartered here. The city’s also home to the Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum.
Geneva is a centre for diplomacy
Geneva’s Palace of Nations, the former home of the League of Nations, is now one of the United Nations’ four major offices. The city remains a choice destination for international diplomatic conferences.
Sometimes the simplest travel tips can make all the difference to a holiday. Use the following hints and tips when visiting Geneva.
Book in advance: Geneva’s popularity as a conference destination means hotels and restaurants fill up quickly, especially during major events. If possible, book accommodation and make reservations at restaurants at least four months in advance.
Walk in Geneva: Geneva has a great public transport system, but you might not need or want to use it all that often. The city covers a mere 15.5 square kilometres, so it’s easily walkable for pedestrians who are looking to stretch their legs, but there’s also great public transport too if you’re tired from all the sight-seeing.
Purchase a Geneva City Pass: If you’re planning to visit numerous attractions, such as the Patek Philippe Museum and Mont Salève, and to join various city tours, consider purchasing a Geneva Pass. The passes are valid for between one and three days, and cost between 26 and 45 Swiss Francs. The pass offers free or discounted entry to 55 attractions and other things to do in Geneva. Three-day passes also offer free access to public transport.
Ask your hotel for your Geneva Transport Card: All hotels, campgrounds, and hostels are obliged to give guests a Geneva Transport Card when they check in. The card offers free travel on public transport.
Choose trams for convenience: If you don’t want to walk somewhere, take a tram, if possible. Trams are the most convenient form of public transport, as buses and water taxis are usually slower. If you’re staying at Fraser Suites Geneva, you’re conveniently near to Geneva Cornavin Train Station which makes getting around on public transport even easier.
If you want to experience Geneva at its best, travel during the small peak season of July and August, as the weather is perfect for all sorts of outdoor activities. Of course, this means paying more than you would at other times of the year and dealing with crowds of other tourists.
You can avoid high summer prices and crowds and still find plenty of things to do in Geneva by travelling during the shoulder seasons of September through November or May and June. If you want to go skiing, travel between December and April, bearing in mind that Christmas and Easter are popular holidays that attract crowds and higher prices.
A cosmopolitan city with ancient origins, there are all sorts of exciting and interesting that await you. Take a look at some of the best things to do in Geneva, Switzerland, for city lovers.
Marvel at the Jet d’Eau: One of your first stops in Geneva should be the Jet d’Eau, as no photo can do justice to the awesome sight of this fountain. Although the feature is now regarded as a decorative fountain and a symbol of the city, the original Jet d’Eau was designed as a safety valve for one of Geneva’s water facilities.
Explore the Old Town: Many of Geneva’s most iconic historical attractions are in the Old Town, which is pedestrian friendly. Stroll along its ancient streets and see sights such as St Peter’s Cathedral (St Pierre), the Reformation Wall, Bastion Park, Place du Bourg-de-Four, Maison Tavel, and the Treille Promenade.
Join a guided tour of the UN Office: The UN plays an important role in the modern world, so take the opportunity to tour one of the organisation’s most important offices. Different types of tours are available, allowing you to focus on the UN’s history, the art and architecture of the building, the UN’s activities, and more.
Cruise on Lake Geneva: See the city from a different angle by going on one of the many cruises operated on Lake Geneva. Depending on your preferences, you can enjoy a one-hour sightseeing cruise or an evening cruise that includes dinner with a stunning view of the city’s twinkling lights.
See two important Reformation sites: Geneva was a crucible for the Protestant Reformation, one of the most important events in the history of Europe. Visit the Auditoire de Calvin (Calvin Auditorium) to see one of the city’s earliest sites of Protestant worship and formation, and for sharp contrast, St Pierre's Cathedral, which the early Protestants claimed for themselves in 1535. Compared to other European 12th century cathedrals, St Pierre’s is sparse, as the Protestants removed all decorations and artworks.
Geneva’s picturesque buildings and gorgeous setting make it a perfect setting for romance, whether it’s budding or has been kept burning for decades. Discover the top things to do in Geneva for romantics.
Take a dip at Les Bains de Lavey Thermal Baths: Take a day trip to Les Bains de Lavey for a couple’s experience that will leave you with memories to last a lifetime. Dip in Switzerland’s warmest thermal waters, enjoy a range of spa and wellness treatments, eat delicious food, and let panoramic views of the mountains take your breath away.
Ride the Mont-Salève Cable Car: Travel from the Veyrier base station to the Salève ridge (1,000m+) for the best views of Geneva and its famous lake. Make sure you take a camera!
Go on a TaxiBike tour: If you and your partner aren’t in Geneva for long, see the city’s highlights and landmarks while on a TaxiBike tour. These quirky contraptions are an ideal way for couples to take in the sights before heading off for lunch, an afternoon coffee and pastries, or dinner.
Join an Old Town Night Walk tour: There’s something undeniably special about the Old Town after sunset. Soak up the fairy tale-like atmosphere while on a Night Walk walking tour whether you join an official tour or find your own path - you’ll agree it’s one of the loveliest things to do in Geneva at night.
Experience the charms of Carouge: Also known as Greenwich Village, Geneva’s Carouge district is something like a Little Italy. The former trading town has a rich Sardinian heritage, reflected in the old French-Italian architecture and the beautiful streets lined with cafes, bistros, independent shops and boutiques, and studios. Spend a few hours strolling along those streets and experiencing Carouge’s many charms.
Don’t let Geneva’s reputation as a diplomatic centre lead you to believe that it’s a stuffy place. There’s a huge amount that appeals to children and the young at heart. Check out a few of the top family things to do in Geneva or view our more extensive family guide here.
Explore the Natural History Museum: The bulk of the Natural History Museum is devoted to the animal kingdom, but you’ll also find science exhibits. While some of the exhibits are static, many of the others are interactive – and kids love them! Spend some time exploring the wonders of this fantastic museum.
Visit Bioparc Geneve: Formerly known as Parc Challandes, Bioparc Geneve was founded for conservation, research, environmental awareness and education, and pet therapy. Visit the park to closely observe more than 250 animals representing 85 different species while on a guided tour. You might even have the opportunity to help feed some of the animals. The park regularly hosts activities and events, so be sure to check out its calendar.
Mosey on down to Maison Tavel: Geneva’s oldest private residence, Maison Tavel was built in the Middle Ages. After being destroyed by fire in 1334, the Tavel family rebuilt it to create what feels like an urban palace. The house passed through the hands of various families over the centuries before the city of Geneva purchased it in 1963 and converted it into a museum in 1986. Give your children a glimpse into the daily lives of Geneva’s former inhabitants and let them learn about the city’s development in this fascinating six-level building.
Enjoy a chocolate-tasting tour: The Swiss may not have discovered chocolate, but they certainly perfected the art of making it. Book your family on a chocolate tasting tour, visit some of the city’s most renowned chocolatiers, and sample their delectable wares.
Go swimming at Les Bains des Pâquis: If you’re holidaying in Geneva in summer, enjoy the memorable experience of swimming with your family in Lake Geneva. Les Bains des Pâquis offers a lovely 500m beach, and you’ll find amenities such as a sauna, Turkish hammams, wellness treatments such as massage and yoga, activities such as paddle boards and Psychobloc, and a restaurant that serves organic seasonal dishes.
When you’re in Geneva, you’ll see natural beauty in every direction. Here are some of the best things to do in Geneva for the nature enthusiast.
Cycle through the vineyards outside Geneva: The slopes leading down to Lake Geneva between the city and into the Rhone Valley are covered with gorgeous vineyards. Hire a bicycle at Cornavin station and cycle to Satigny village, where you can visit winemakers and explore their caves before enjoying a tasting and a light lunch. Alternatively, take a train to Lavaux, where you can see some of the oldest vineyards in Switzerland.
Go hiking in the mountains: Numerous trails snake along and up the mountains outside Geneva, so whether you’re looking for a brisk walk, an unforgettable run, or a strenuous hike, you’ll find the perfect option. Put on your walking shoes, grab a bottle of water, pack a light lunch, put on that sunscreen, and hit the paths!
Day trip to Chamonix-Mont Blanc: A 75-minute journey from Geneva by motorcoach, the French alpine village of Chamonix is an excellent choice for a day trip. See Europe’s highest mountain, Mont Blanc, from below, explore the village’s ancient streets, pop into local shops, sample produce such as cheese, charcuterie, and mountain honey. End your day in the village with raclette or a fondue in one of the village’s many welcoming restaurants. Please note that this day trip will take you across the Swiss-French border, so ensure you have the appropriate travel documents.
Spend a day at Glacier 3000 and Montreux: Take a day trip that departs from Geneva’s main bus station and head into the Alps. Take the cable car to Glacier 3000, which is an incredible 3000m above sea level. Ride on a snow bus across the ice to see the Quille du Diable peak, ride the Alpine Coaster toboggan run, cross the Peak Walk suspension bridge connecting two mountain peaks, and enjoy lunch at a restaurant with incredible views. On the way back to Geneva, stop at Montreux and enjoy the arty town’s unbelievable microclimate in which Mediterranean plants thrive.
Enjoy kayaking on Lake Geneva: Hire a kayak (or a canoe or a paddle boat) and spend some time getting active on Lake Geneva. Find out more about what you can do at Lake Geneva here.
The cultural activities you can enjoy in Geneva are seemingly endless. Check out our picks of some of the best things to do in Geneva for culture fans.
See the Patek Philippe Museum: As mentioned, Patek Philippe created the world’s first wristwatch. No visit to Geneva is complete without visiting the Patek Philippe Museum. View one of the world’s most important horological collections, comprised of some 2,500 watches, automata, precious objects, and portrait miniatures in enamel.
Discover Chateau de Chillon: Head to Chateau de Chillon, a castle perched on a rocky island near the shore of Lake Geneva and spend a few hours uncovering its secrets. Surrounded by a natural moat, the castle was built in the 12th century and underwent various alterations and renovations over the following centuries. There are more than 300 items on display in the castle, many of which were found during archaeological excavations in the castle.
Explore the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum: The Red Cross and Red Crescent is respected around the world for its humanitarian and medical assistance in all sorts of circumstances. Learn, reflect, and engage with its exhibition, the Humanitarian Adventure, which includes three themed areas, namely Defending Human Dignity, Reconstructing Family Links, and Reducing Natural Risks.
Attend a performance at Victoria Hall: Built in the 19th century by the British consul as a gift to the city of Geneva, Victoria Hall is one of the city’s preeminent concert halls. Enjoy a guided tour of the building or take your experience up a few notches by attending a concert.
Visit the Olympic Museum in Lausanne: Hop on a train and head to Lausanne, a city on the shores of Lake Geneva and home of the Olympic Museum. The museum has a permanent exhibition of thousands of items that tell the story of the modern games, and it hosts temporary exhibitions.
Fantastic events focused on sport, culture, and other facets of life take place annually in Geneva. Consider timing your visit to coincide with one of these top events.
Geneva Marathon: Held every May, the Geneva Marathon sees professional runners compete alongside enthusiastic amateurs. Even if you don’t participate, the atmosphere and the entertainment you can enjoy as a spectator make attending this event worthwhile.
Geneva Music Festival: Held annually in June, the Geneva Music Festival features performances across a wide range of genres by international and local artists. If you love live music, this festival’s the place to be.
Bol d’Or Mirabaud: The world’s most prestigious inland regatta, the Bol d’Or Mirabaud takes place on Lake Geneva every June. Watch sailboats try to outrace one another and soak up the atmosphere of the accompanying nautical-themed festival.
The Geneva Festival: Held every August, the Geneva Festival is a spectacular celebration of food and music, made livelier by fairs, parades, and fireworks. If there’s one event to attend in Geneva, this is it.
The Christmas Festival: Every December, Geneva overflows with festive cheer, thanks to the Christmas Festival. Enjoy various activities and events. The International Christmas Market fills Fusterie Square with arts, crafts, and seasonal food and beverages, the open-air skating rink at Place du Rhone offers fun for the whole family, and the Christmas Tree Festival presents international artists’ takes on a festive favourite.
Geneva Airport is 4km from the city, and there is a number of public transport links you can use to travel from the airport to your hotel. The train journey from the airport to the central station, Gare Cornavin, takes six minutes.
If you opt for the bus, the journey to downtown Geneva will take approximately 20 minutes. You also have the option of taking a shuttle or a taxi.
Getting around Geneva is something you’ll never struggle to do, thanks to the Geneva Transport Card you’ll receive when you check in at your hotel. The card offers you free transportation on:
As mentioned, the small size of the city makes it easy to travel on foot.
Located in the prestigious shopping and business district of Rue du Marché in the heart of the city, Fraser Suites Geneva is close to the Old Town, Lake Geneva and the Jet d’Eau, St Pierre’s Cathedral, and other attractions.
Our Gold Standard furnished suites offer generous living space. Find everything that you would need from a holiday and enjoy breath-taking views and fun activities for the whole family.