Geneva took me by surprise. It was four nights and five days of twists and turns — each moment surpassing the other. In a city commonly known as a business destination, I’m here to tell you that is it is so much more.
Arriving into GVA, the quick ride into the city had you in the heart of the city in no time. Geneva has a cosmopolitan edge, yet with its proximity to the alps, there’s the ability to be in nature within minutes. It was the day I went wine tasting that it dawned on me how Geneva has the best of both worlds — in one breath I was in the city and the next, in the sprawling vineyards in the countryside. It truly was incredible.
Switzerland has been and remains a country I’ve adored, and Geneva affirmed that even more. The rich culture, the endless adventure, and surprises found make Geneva an incredible destination.
The First-Timer’s Guide to Geneva, Switzerland
What to Know Before Visiting Geneva, Switzerland
- Direct flights are readily available into Geneva (GVA)
- Getting into the city is incredibly easy, with a direct train that takes 6 minutes. You can collect a free ticket at luggage claim to get to the central station in Geneva.
- When staying at a hotel, you get a complimentary Geneva Transport Card that gives you access to the bus and rail system in Geneva. (Access is from the day you check-in until end of the day you check out.)
- Once on ground, the city is easily walkable.
- 3-4 nights is a great amount of time to see Geneva in-depth, giving you the opportunity to explore the area.
- The Geneva Pass is worth getting as it provides access to 31 attractions free of charge, with free public transport included as well. You can get one for either 1, 2, or 3 days.
Where to Stay in Geneva, Switzerland
- Hotel Beau-Rivage: A privately owned hotel, Beau-Rivage sits lakeside with unparalleled views over Geneva. World-class service, luxury amenities, and well-designed rooms make the hotel one of the top stays in the heart of the city. Footsteps from Old Town and the center of town, its location provides an opportunity to dive into the best of Geneva.
Where to Eat in Geneva, Switzerland
- L’Adresse: Winding up stairs, this hip restaurant sits inside a clothing boutique. Doubling as a restaurant, the menu features local cuisine elevated with modern flare.
- Le Chat Botté: A Michelin-star restaurant, the inventive menu by Dominique Gaultier is approachable and refined. One of the best meals had in Geneva, the flare of the Mediterranean atmosphere combined with French technique, makes for a memorable evening.
- Birdie Coffee: Come here for a local coffee shop that serves Australian-style espresso and a light menu for lunch.
- Le Réservoir: An airy space with favorites like terrine, tartares, and more.
- Stettler: Head here for those looking to indulge in the local chocolate and be sure to pick up a tasty gift. You can also request a chocolate workshop that gives you a backstory of chocolate making in Switzerland, and gives you the chance to create your own chocolates!
- Cottage Cafe: A quaint space, this tapas-inspired menu has a wide range of choices. Be sure to try the asparagus plate and sample local cheeses and charcuterie.
- Alma Restaurant: A trendy restaurant that features a Peruvian-inspired menu.
- Edelweiss Restaurant: Switzerland is home to fondue, and Edelweiss serves up a wide range of fondues and local dishes, in a lively, Swiss-themed restaurant. In addition to dining here, you can also choose to have a fondue cooking class, where you learn how to make it — see here.
What to Do in Geneva, Switzerland
- Explore Old Town: The charm of Old Town is hard to resist, with each winding turn providing a postcard moment. Be sure to visit the Cathédrale Saint-Pierre Genève and climb the stairs to the top of the tower for an unparalleled view over Geneva.
- Stroll through the International District: Walk through one of the most important locations in Europe, the headquarters of the UN.
- Go wine tasting at Chateau du Crest: Geneva boasts a wide range of wines produced in Europe, and with plenty of wineries to choose from, and this one showcases a wide range of local wines.
- Mount Salève: Take the cable car up for stunning views over Geneva. Mount Salève is actually in France, and you can can paraglide (with a guide) from France into Switzerland!
- Soar above Geneva with Swift Copters: To see Geneva from another view point, take a scenic helicopter ride over the mountains.
- Visit the MAMCO: For the modern art lover, this museum features a mix of contemporary and modern art.
- Visit the Red Crescent Museum: A very sobering museum that goes into the incredible work of the Red Cross.
- Cruise to Hermance Village: Across the lake, you can take a boat over to the charming village of Hermance. Making a great afternoon trip, be sure to book lunch at Quai d’Hermance for a yummy sampling of local cuisine — order the perch!
- Farmer’s market in Carouge: On Wednesday and Saturday mornings, head to the quaint town of Carouge for the local farmer’s market where you can grab fresh produce, pastries, and more. Afterwards be sure to take a stroll through town where there’s a wide range of local boutiques.
- Relax at Bains Bleus: For those looking to experience a Swiss spa, this iconic spa on the lake is a perfect way to spend a morning. Soak in the baths, take a treatment, and experience a traditional hammam.
- Take an electric bike tour through the countryside: Go for the afternoon for a picturesque ride in the vineyards, and enjoy the fresh air in the region that is the third largest producer of wine in Switzerland!
*Bon Traveler was welcomed as a guest of Geneva Tourism. As always, all opinions are own.