Situated on the banks of Lake Geneva, the city of Geneva is one of Switzerland’s top cities to experience. It’s one of those places that’s simply great fun, especially with all the top things to do in Geneva that seem to be spread all across the city itself.
After visiting Geneva a few times, you would really start loving it more than you would be expected. To be completely honest, before visiting, my first thought was it might be laying in the shadows of other Swiss cities like Zurich. I was so wrong about that.
Thankfully, my prejudiced (and wrong) ideas were quickly thrown out of the window once I got there. Geneva is incredible!
So here we are again with 10 of the most amazing things to do in Geneva, Switzerland. We are sure you will love them all when you visit Geneva on your next vacation.
So let’s dive right into the list.
Popular among the locals as Lac Leman, Lake Geneva is one of the top places and things to do in Geneva. I still remember, when we visited in the summer months, paddle boarding across the lake, sipping our cocktails at Tropical Corner and adoring the best sunset. It really is an amazing place.
Now, Geneva isn’t the only city or town situated on Lake Geneva, if you want to go on a slight exploration (after paddleboarding), head over for a trip over to Lausanne or the astonishing castle of Chillon Castle. It’s amazing.
Afterward, head over to Bayview Restaurant for some of the top (Michelin Starred) food in the city. It’s impeccable, even if a little costlier than some other spots.
Explore Old Town Geneva
One of the top things to do in Geneva is spending a relaxing afternoon strolling the Old Town. With its patched streets, winding roads and cathedrals, it’s a fun of a neighborhood to explore.
Now that you are here, make sure to visit Bourg-de-Four Square (the coldest spot in the city) and grab a coffee and cake at Café de Bourg-de-Four. Also, pop over to St.Peter’s Cathedral and spot the Old Arsenal or Maison Tavel (the oldest private residence in Geneva).
If you wish to stay in the Old Town, check into the utterly beautiful Hôtel Les Armures. It’s huge.
Also, for a great spot for dinner, head over to the Grand Bottle Brothers which serves up some very tasty treats in a lively spot (especially at weekends).
Often referred to as the Balcony of Geneva, Mont Saleve is actually perched within France (overlooking the city). But that doesn’t mean it’s not one of the top things to do in Geneva when you visit.
Based on when you go, you can head over to the cable car to enjoy the sights, cross-country ski (in winter) or paraglide from France and into Switzerland (like we did). It is so much fun, and I will be honest, when can you actually say you landed in a new country by paragliding!
If that doesn’t shake you up, head out on one of the hiking trails or even mountain biking (in the summer.) You might like to go for hiking, mountain biking or paragliding on the warm summer months.
I will be honest, Jet d’Eau is something you can not miss. And you know what, it’s one of the top things to do in Geneva if you want to see the cities most popular landmarks.
Jet d’Eau was not actually meant to be a city feature in its own right. It was made way back in the 19th Century to release water pressure from a hydraulic plant for the city. After the administration realized how much people liked it, they shifted it closer to the city and is now easily seen from the banks of Lake Geneva.
If you wish to get closer, take a stroll along the narrow stone pier that gets nearer to Jet d’Eau. With that being said, if the wind changes, you can dive in for a pretty decent soaking!
The Conservatory and Botanical Gardens are situated in the north of Geneva and really close to the Palace of Nations. Best of all, the Botanical Garden and Conservatory is absolutely free to tourists– which is great.
Now that you are here, you’ll find a herbarium, the ancient rose garden, and the animal park. There are many greenhouses to explore (which are also awesome on a rainy day). With that being said, if you’re not more of a plant person, you might want to give this spot a miss.
Afterward, head over to Birdie for a yummy brunch.
The St. Pierre Cathedral
There has been a spiritual place of worship on this site for about two thousand years, with St. Pierre’s Cathedral built in the 16th Century.
As soon as you get here, make sure to look up at the roofs of Maccabees Chapel, see the chair of John Calvin and climb to the top of the spire itself. Now, the cathedral is completely free to visit but you will need to spend some small change to climb the spire. It’s worth it, nonetheless.
Museum of Natural History
The Geneva Museum of Natural History has to be up there as one of the top things to do in Geneva… more important if you love museums (or with kids). Once here, move over to find the dodo and experience the African collection.
It’s an awesome way to spend an hour if the sky takes a turn for the worse.
The Palace of Nations (Palais des Nations)
Made in the 1920s for the League of Nations, this huge complex is one of the biggest you will find across Europe and now holds the European office of the United Nations.
Once inside, make sure to enter a guided tour of the Assembly Hall as well as the Council Chamber, too. It’s the one and only way to get inside and experience. Alternatively, head over to Musée Ariana or with a visit to the Botanic Gardens that are not much far.
Oh, and for an awesome place to stay in Geneva, check into Hotel N’vY (on Rue de Richemont). It’s an incredible spot!
The Patek Philippe Museum
Let’s get this out straight, it’s likely you’ll only find this fun if you’re into watches? Well, if that is the case, you’ll wanna go to the Patek Philippe Museum that holds some of the world’s best collections of timepieces from all over the ages.
Make sure you go to the antique collections with some exhibits on display from the 16th century. Oh, and just on the other side of the road is the Statue of Frankenstein that you just can not afford to miss!
Once you are out of Geneva, Carouge now makes a district of the city itself. Now that you are here, make sure to stroll around the independent shops and market stalls that call this place home.
Now, the area has a vast history of Italian and Sardinian that shifted to Carouge. This makes for an exciting mix of incredible coffee shops (like Valmandin). For an awesome restaurant, head over to the Le Bistrot Le Lion d’Or for dinner. They offer a creamy risotto that is so mouth-watering.