Geneva is the second largest city in Switzerland, on the western border of Switzerland with France. Bestowed with beauty from the Alps and gorgeous Lake Geneva, Geneva is a sought-after destination from people all over the world. Known as the most international city in Switzerland, it is also a global international center of commerce and diplomacy, serving as the European Headquarters for the United Nations and seat of dozens of other international organizations.
There is so much to see and do in Geneva, it’s hard to know where to begin. We’ve listed a few ideas for your travels below.
Geneva is a darling city, and you want to get lost while walking around its cobblestone streets. Start your tour in Old Town, a.k.a. Vieille Ville, in the maze of cobblestone roads in Geneva’s historic medieval center. You’ll pass gorgeous squares, picturesque alleys with cafes and restaurants, galleries, museums, and of course impressive landmarks. Don’t miss St. Peter’s Cathedral, The Treille Promenade, Maison Tavel and the Old Arsenal.
The charming Place du Bourg-de-Four is also in Old Town, the oldest place in the city, decorated with medieval fountains and plenty of shops, cafes and restaurants, where you can sit outside and enjoy the view.
Pick a spot at a restaurant on Geneva’s harbor, facing the lake, where you can see the city’s famous Jet d'Eau (Water Jet). It soars close to 500 feet high and is a symbol of the city.
Other places to see include the art and history museum, a.k.a. Musées d’Art et d’Histoire, Quai du Mont-Blanc, and the Palais des Nations (the European headquarters of the United Nations).
Don’t leave Geneva without taking a scenic cruise on Lake Geneva, with the Alps all around you. If you have a bit of time to spare, take the boat to Montreux, at the foot of the Alps. If you’re lucky, you can plan to go during their famous Montreux Jazz Festival, held annually in July on the Lake Geneva shoreline. Another nearby lakeside music festival in Switzerland is called Edge of the Lake, if you keep going east from Montreux to Sierre.
Geneva is a beautiful and unique city that will please just about anyone that dares know it. Check out FareCompare’s Eventurist app and site for exciting details and news on other Swiss festivals.
Foods to Try in Geneva
As any Swiss likely does, start your day with a bowl of muesli. It is simple, healthy and delicious. You’ll want to pack a box to take back home with you, since you can’t find muesli quite like the kind in Switzerland. Another box you’re bound to want to take home with you will be of chocolates. There are the Lindt and Toblerone brands, of course. Geneva is also known for many famous small boutique shops - a.k.a. Confiseries - that you’ll also fall in love with, such as the Du Rhône Chocolatier.
Rösti should be on everyone’s list of dishes to try in Geneva. That is, if you like potatoes. And finally, Geneva sits on the beautiful Lake Geneva for a reason. Try their fish! Specifically, lake perch from Lake Léman is considered a local delicacy.
Shopping and Nightlife in Geneva
Geneva’s shopping can be experienced in a few places, such as Rue du Marche, the chic Rue du Rhône, Rue de la Confédération, and Place du Bourg-de-Four. If you would like to purchase art or are looking for other unique shopping, head to the St-Gervais or Pâquis districts.
Tip: In case you need a watch, this is the place to get one. Watches are Switzerland’s hallmark, and some of the world’s best watchmakers are there. Geneva has a few factories that are world-famous, like Jaeger-LeCoultre and more.
Finally, there is nothing like a great night out in town, and Geneva does not disappoint. You can find all types of culture, from classical and intellectual to hip and underground. If you’re only in Geneva for a few days, Old Town has the answers to both. However, the city really has neighborhoods for all tastes, as well as large music venues in the outskirts of town.
Flights to Geneva
The Geneva Airport (GVA) lies only 2.5 miles northwest of the city center. It is the hub for Swiss International Air Lines, easyJet Switzerland and Etihad Regional, and serves over 15 million passengers each year. The busiest routes from GVA include London, Zurich, Paris and Frankfurt.
Flying to Geneva is simple, and finding cheap flights to Geneva has never been easier. A good rule of thumb for travelers who want to save on their flights is always compare airfares before you purchase. That’s because no single airline always has the best prices. Use FareCompare’s search site to compare and save on your flight. If you know your origin and destination, you can also set a FareCompare airfare alert for your route and let the deals come straight to you!
If there is room to be flexible with your travel plans, remember that a little inconvenience can mean great savings. First, check flights departing from airports a bit farther away from your home city (the savings could make it worth your while). Then, we all know that connecting flights typically come with better deals than non-stop flights. Adding a stop (or two) could save you up to 50%. Finally, always check bigger airports (particularly hubs), which often have cheaper airfares. Don't forget about the trains in Europe - it's easy to catch a train to Geneva from a nearby city.
Are you traveling with a group? For two or more people, try booking just one ticket at a time. Typically, multiple tickets are required to be at the same price in a single transaction. If an airline has only one ticket for $50 and the rest are $100, and you shop for all-tickets-at-once, you’ll end up paying $100 for all of the tickets versus saving on the cheaper available fare.
Once in Geneva, you can get a free 80-minute TPG ticket at the machine at the luggage pick up area, which you can use on the train to the Geneva-Cornavin station and on the bus or tram to any other parts of the city thereafter.