Geneva is one of the most often visited cities in Switzerland. As the second most populous city of the country, it’s a globally important trade, financial and diplomacy center. Hosting the highest number of international organizations compared to any other city in the world, with organizations such as United Nations (European headquarters), World Trade Organization and Red Cross, to name just a few of them. It’s also called a ‘Peace Capital’ and is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world, with over half of its citizens holding a passport from a country other than Switzerland. The city is close to the western border of Switzerland, at the south-western end of Lake Geneva, and offers a great view of the Alps range including Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in Europe. Apart from popularity among businesses and expats, the city is a very popular tourist destination, thanks to its many attractions.
When to visit Geneva?
Although the main city attractions are available all-year-round, Geneva is best visited in the summer – July and August, as it’s the best time to experience both the city and the Lake Geneva. For those who prefer a less crowded time, spring or autumn could be a better choice. On the other hand, for skiing enthusiasts, a trip to Geneva in the winter would be the best idea, merging sight-seeing of the city with visiting the nearby ski resorts and enjoying the Alps.
What are the costs? – Accommodation
Geneva has been numerous times ranked in the top 5 most expensive cities in the world. A night at a hotel in a single room starts at 80 CHF, and dorm prices are around 40 CHF with breakfast included. Typical double hotel room starts at 100 CHF, and that’s only if the hotel is considered a budget one.
A one hour ticket gives the access to the whole public transportation, including buses, trams, rail and boats and costs 3 CHF. A day pass, valid from 9 am to midnight is 8 CHF and a full day (24h) costs 10 CHF. Arriving in Geneva by plane gives an 80-minute free bus ticket – this allows for a quick travel to the hotel and planning the trip from there.
Cost of food
Visiting Geneva on a longer trip, one may be considering buying groceries – that would cost around 80 – 100 CHF a week for basic meal ingredients or 5-10 CHF for premade meals, available at supermarkets. Restaurant prices start at 20 CHF for lunch (with possible discounts of 5 to 10 CHF on specials) and 40 CHF for dinners including a drink.
What to visit? – One of 40 Museums
Geneva is full of different attractions – with over 40 different, top-quality museums, everyone interested in arts, history or wanting to know what Geneva is all about will find something that suits his interests. The most popular museums are Musee des Arts d’Extreme-Orient, focused on the Far Eastern art, the Barbier-Mueller Museum, focusing on art and tribal antiquity and the Museum of Art and History.
Old Town and St. Peter’s Cathedral
While staying in Geneva, one cannot miss the Switzerland most magnificent Old Town, situated in the heart of the city. Filled with Swiss shops and cafes, Geneva’s Old Town is a very good option for a quiet walk along the walls that have witnessed the Reformation movement, to experience a type of relaxed history lesson. The must-see parts of the Old Town are the nearby Bourg-de-Four Square that was once a Roman Forum and the pearl of the Old Town – St. Peter’s Cathedral. This 1,000-year-old monument that took over 400 years to build offers a great view of the area from its North Tower.
The Jet d’eau
The unmissable attraction in Geneva, this fountain shoots the water 140 meters high making it the highest in Europe regarding the water stream height. Situated on the left bank of Lake Geneva, close to the UN headquarters. Despite being visible from almost any point in the city, it’s best experienced just a few meters away from the water jet, giving you a sense of the power of all the water that shoots up into the air.
Palais des Nations
The situated close to the Jet d’eau Palais Des Nations is the headquarters of the UN Office. Built between 1929 and 1938 to serve as the League of Nations headquarters, after the World War II in 1946 became the home to the UN. The second after New York, it’s available for a visit for anyone wishing to do so during a guided tour. After the visit to the Palace of Nations, a popular destination for a relaxing walk is the charming Ariana Park in which the palace is situated.
International Monument to the Reformation (Reformation Wall) and Parc des Bastions
Anyone who enjoyed the Ariana Park will most likely enjoy the beautiful Parc des Bastions, which together with the Reformation Wall commemorate John Calvin and the founders of the Protestant faith. The Reformation Wall, although constructed 200 years after the park, on the 400th birth anniversary of John Calvin, this 30 feet high and 325 feet long wall depicts all of the most important people of the Reformation movement, including Theodore Beza, William Farel, John Knox, William the Silent and many more.
This bohemian district with mixed a mix of Italian and Swiss architecture gives visitors a feeling of being in a totally different country. Many of the tens of stalls, boutiques and bistros offer things not available in the rest of the city. Visiting Geneva without hanging here for at least one evening, preferably spending a night at one of its popular clubs or bars should not be counted as a trip to Geneva at all.
The city is not only about the monuments and building reminding visitors of its interesting history. Switzerland and Geneva particularly boast with a great climate and beautiful nature. The Lake Geneva offers its visitors boat trips with an unforgettable view of the city, Jet D@eau and the mountains. For those who prefer to walk or cycle, promenades along the lake offer amazing view and a relaxing atmosphere.
Close to Geneva and visible from within the city is the highest mountain in Europe, Mont Blanc. A day trip to the village of Chamonix should be scheduled by anyone who wants to see more than just a city. Taste the real Swiss cheese, wine, and chocolate and go for a trip with the Golden Express Train to enjoy the best view of the Lake Geneva possible. To experience yet another view of the city, a visit to another great mountain nearby – Mont Saleve – is highly recommended.
Geneva offers everything that’s Swiss – it is the home to watchmaking, and there are still over 70 watch-making companies present. It’s the best city to taste the real Swiss way of life with the Swiss cheese, chocolate, the Alps, and much more of all that Switzerland has to offer.
Tim Hor is Marketing student that just graduated from the EM Business School in Geneva. His passions are sports, music, travel and much more…