lso,Located in Romandy, Geneva is the second-most populous city in Switzerland. The city has a long history, going back over 2000 years, and it is considered Switzerland’s most international city.
Set in the French-speaking, southwestern part of the country, Geneva is a major financial hub and the seat of the European headquarters of the United Nations. Geneva is best known as a business hub, but it also offers a variety of other attractions, including wine regions, adventure activities, historical landmarks, many parks and gardens, as well as art and history museum galleries.
Geneva offers a wide range of activities, particularly for the eco-conscious traveler. You can spend the morning strolling in the Old Town and an afternoon out in the countryside, biking, hiking, or tasting locally made wine. There is something for everyone in this vibrant and cosmopolitan city.
Having spent some time exploring Geneva on a recent visit to Switzerland, I found it to be an ideal destination for responsible travelers who are looking for a mix of city exploration and countryside adventures!
Sustainable Travel in Geneva
As a global hub for diplomacy and international organizations, Geneva is committed to sustainable development and environmental protection.
The city operates on the concept of Ecological Transition, which aims to find new ways for society and commerce to function with sustainable responsibility. In recent years, Geneva has also implemented a number of initiatives to promote sustainable travel.
Geneva’s sustainable development goals focus on increasing new electric vehicles, protecting the city’s 20,000 animal species and 1,250 wild plant species and subsoil from contamination and exploitation, as well as sustainable agriculture.
With more and more focus on sustainable development across the country, Geneva is one of the top destinations for those who are looking to explore new ways to travel responsibly.
How To Get To Geneva
Geneva Airport (GVA) is located just outside of the city centre and boasts the shortest airport ride in Europe. You can take any train going to the City Centre from the Airport and find yourself at Geneve Cornavin Station, steps away from Geneva City Centre and Old Town, in just 7 minutes.
There are a variety of ways to reach Geneva from many European cities. Paris has a direct train to Geneva every four hours, and the journey takes approximately 3 hours. The Nightjet train operates daily for overnight travel from Amsterdam, Basel, and Zurich.
Swiss Travel Pass offers the best train travel deals for transportation within Switzerland. The pass also offers a number of perks for travel in Geneva, with discounts on excursions and free admission to over 500 museums in the country, including several in Geneva.
How To Get Around Geneva
Geneva’s sustainable travel efforts start with its efficient transportation options within the city. Geneva’s excellent public transportation system includes trains, buses, and boats. Transportation runs regularly and is very efficient, focused on minimizing CO2 emissions.
In order to entice visitors to use public transportation while in Geneva, the government has launched a FREE Travel Pass that provides free public transportation for the duration of your stay. The pass is distributed through hotels and other accommodation providers and is typically emailed to you 24-48 hours prior to arrival.
Best Time to Visit Geneva
The best time to visit Geneva depends on your travel needs. If you’re interested in outdoor activities and festivals, the most popular time is between late May and early September.
The warmer temperature during these months attracts swimmers to Lake Geneva and makes the festivals more enjoyable. However, if you’re interested in skiing or winter activities, the best time to visit is between December and February.
I visited Geneva in October and found it a lovely time in the city. Despite a bit of rain, the weather was warm and pleasant. It was a beautiful time to explore the countryside and even get out on the water!
Best Things to Do in Geneva, Switzerland
In addition to its business district and bustling Old Town, Geneva is home to a number of natural attractions and cultural experiences. Here are my recommendations for the best things to do in Geneva
1. Take A Guided Walking Tour Through Old Town Geneva
Old Town Geneva is a must-see for any visitor to Geneva. The area is full of beautiful architecture and important historical landmarks and offers an insight into day-to-day life in the city. A guided walking tour of Geneva is a great way to explore the Old Town with a knowledgeable guide by your side.
Your guide will take you through the maze of the narrow streets, highlighting highlights like St. Peter’s Cathedral and the Reformation Wall. You’ll also get an insider’s look at some of the hidden gems of Old Town, like the secret courtyard behind the Hôtel de Ville.
With a knowledgeable guide leading the way, you will have an enriching experience exploring Old Town Geneva.
2. Visit the House of the Future at Berges De Vessy
The House of the Future was established in 2015 as a cultural hub for offering diverse activities, like educational workshops and conferences, to the public. It also has temporary exhibitions that are open to everyone. Be sure to check the website in advance to see which exhibitions will be open during your visit.
Public exhibitions put on by the association always emphasize themes associated with nature, renewable energy, heritage, and the environment– reflecting Geneva’s key values. Tours are perfect for groups and are free of charge for schools, organizations, and public entities.
3. Visit the Quartier Libre
The Quartier Libre is a great place to learn about Geneva’s rich history and culture. Founded by SIG (Services industries de Genève), Quartier Libre offers a diverse range of exhibitions, interactive displays, and educational programs.
Located on the Machine Bridge, Quartier Libre is easily accessible and provides a great opportunity to explore Geneva’s heritage. The exhibitions presented are informative and well-curated, making Quartier Libre a great place to visit for all ages.
Whether you’re looking to learn more about Geneva’s past or simply enjoy a day out, Quartier Libre is sure to provide an enjoyable and enlightening experience.
4. Enjoy the City’s Natural Spaces
Geneva has plenty of options for you if you want to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. Nature in Geneva is just a short bus ride away. The Bois de la Bâtie features an urban forest with a wildlife park, restaurant, and scenic viewpoints.
If you’re looking for more of an adrenaline rush, Parc des Evaux offers zip lining through the forest – one of Europe’s longest at 3km. If you want a more relaxed day trip, the Réserve Naturelle du Moulin de Vert is a nature reserve featuring a 7km hike through the Geneva countryside.
Teppes de Verbois is a reserve with four observatories – perfect for birdwatching. No matter what your preference, enjoying the city’s natural spaces is easy to do.
Note: If you want to explore more of Geneva’s nature, consider getting a Carte Verte. This card gives you free access to public transportation and many of Geneva’s museums.
5. Visit Urban Farms
Looking to get in touch with your inner farmer? Or just interested in supporting local agriculture and sustainable farming practices? Then make sure to check out one of Geneva’s urban farms! at the Jardin des Nations.
This unique cultural space features vegetable gardens, a brewery, and a restaurant, all of which use seasonal, locally-sourced produce. You can buy fresh vegetables directly from the farmers and even learn a thing or two about sustainable gardening practices.
Another great option is the Ferme du Lignon, home to 900 free-range hens. The farm has been producing eggs since 1965 and provides a great opportunity to see how an urban farm operates.
6. Take a Watchmaking Workshop at Initium
You can’t come to Geneva and not learn a bit more about watchmaking! The city has a rich history of watchmaking, and Initium offers visitors the chance to learn more about the art of watchmaking.
The watchmaking workshops provide a hands-on introduction to the process of assembling a real Swiss watch. Under the guidance of their Master watchmakers, you’ll learn how to use tools like screwdrivers and tweezers to put together your very own timepiece.
It’s a unique experience that offers insight into the care and precision of making these beautiful watches. So whether you’re really into watches or are completely new to watchmaking like I was, be sure to check out the watchmaking workshops – you will undoubtedly gain a newfound appreciation for the art!
If you’re interested in learning more about watchmaking, Initium also offers workshop tours. These tours are a great way to see the inner workings of a watch factory and learn about the history of Swiss watchmaking.
7. Get on the Water to Enjoy Lake Geneva
Looking to get out on the water and enjoy some time on Lake Geneva? There are plenty of ways to do it! You can rent a boat, go group paddleboarding, or even ride the mailboat.
The Lake Geneva Cruise Line offers several different cruise options, so you can choose the one that best suits your needs. The Shore Path is a great option for those who want to explore the lake at their own pace.
Clear Water Outdoor offers rentals for kayaks, Stand Up Paddleboards, and more. And if you’re looking to fish, Elmer’s Boat Rentals provides everything you need for a great day out on the lake.
8. Opt for a Gourmet Lake Geneva Cruise
A gourmet cruise aboard the CGN on Lake Geneva is an unforgettable experience. The opulent Belle Époque fleet of ships is some of the most prestigious in the world. A gourmet cruise on Lake Geneva is a true culinary experience focusing on a tasty menu made from regional products. The cruise is a great way to take in the stunning views of the lake while enjoying a delicious meal.
9. Go Rafting Down The Arve River
For an adrenaline-pumping adventure the whole family can enjoy, go rafting down the Arve River with a local rafting operator, Rafting Loisirs.
Rafting is a great way to get outside and explore nature, and the Arve River is the perfect place to do it. The river flows from the Mont Blanc glacier and runs through Geneva before emptying into the Rhône. It has calm and fast waters of average difficulty, so it’s suitable for beginners and experienced rafters alike. A more challenging rafting experience is also available at the nearby Dranse River.
One of my favourite things about rafting on the Arve River was the opportunity to see Geneva from the water. The river flows right through the city centre, allowing you to take in the sights while cruising along in a raft.
Our guide, Axel, was fun and really knowledgeable and shared lots of interesting facts and stories about life in Geneva along the way.
10. Explore The City By Bike
The best way to explore Geneva is by bike. Not only is it eco-friendly, but it’s also a great way to get some exercise while sightseeing. There are plenty of places to rent a bike in Geneva, so you can easily explore the Old Town or go for a leisurely ride through the vineyards.
If you’re not up for pedalling yourself, you can hire a taxi bike to take you on an urban art tour or explore the city’s many parks and green spaces. No matter how you choose to see Geneva, you’re sure to have a unique and memorable experience.
11. Go E-Biking & Wine Tasting
Did you know that more than 30 grape varietals are cultivated in Geneva, Switzerland? With over 100 passionate winegrowers across the countryside near Geneva, there are a number of great wines to be discovered in the region.
An e-bike tour is the best way to explore Geneva’s countryside and a great way to tour the wine country around Geneva. We toured Geneva’s wine country with E-Bike Tour, making our way through beautiful towns and villages en route.
You can join one of their wine tours or go the DIY route and create your own adventure!
12. Take a Sustainable Culinary Class
Those interested in sustainable living and discovering new ways to reduce their ecological footprint will love participating in a sustainable culinary class at Ma-Terre.
The class is the perfect way to learn more about traditional Swiss-style cooking and try your hand at recreating a few local recipes. Not only will you learn how to cook using fresh, locally-sourced ingredients, but you will also discover how to make the most of every ingredient and how to compost your kitchen waste properly.
The delicious meal included in the class price will please even the pickiest of eaters. We dined on delicious lentil salads, frothed over cardon bake, fish pate and much more!
If you’re interested in sustainable living but not sure where to start, check out Sustainability101.org. They have tons of great resources and information on how to live a more sustainable life.
13.Yoga at Bains De Paquis
Yoga at Bains De Paquis is a great way to reconnect with yourself, relax, and recharge while on holiday in Geneva. The sessions are welcoming, nurturing, and open to everyone. They include activities such as movement, deep breathing exercises, and meditation.
14. Take a Chocolate Flavors Tour –
A chocolate tour of Geneva is a must-do for any chocolate lover. Guided by an expert, you’ll get to try unique, award-winning chocolate creations and learn all about Swiss chocolate’s origins, manufacturing, and history.
Our guide, Margaux, curated a fun morning with stops at some unique and renowned local chocolate shops. She shared secrets of the origins and manufacturing of chocolate and the history of Swiss chocolate.
If you don’t have time for a tour but still want to visit some chocolate shops, check out the Choco Pass. The pass gives you access to even more participating chocolatiers and sampling plates.
15. Discover the Versoix Marshes on A Canoe
The Versoix Marshes can be explored by canoe on tour with Rafting Loisirs. The marshes span 5 kilometres and are home to a variety of wildlife, including wild boars and beavers. Pont de Divonne serves as the perfect starting point for this adventure.
A solar electric train is another great way to explore the area and get a different perspective of the marshes.
The train ride takes you along the shores of Lake Geneva, offering beautiful views of the lake and the surrounding mountains. Whether you choose to explore by canoe or train, the Versoix marshes are a unique spot in Geneva worth exploring!
16. Visit the Red Cross Museum
The Red Cross Museum is a must-see for anyone interested in humanitarian work or Swiss history. The museum tells the story of the International Museum and Red Crescent Museum, from its origins in the 19th century to its present-day work.
You’ll learn about the movement’s key moments and milestones and see exhibits on the work of the Red Cross in conflict zones and natural disasters. The natural history museum is interactive and engaging, making it a great place to spend an afternoon. Admission to the Red Cross Museum is free with the Geneva Pass.
17. Take a Guided Tour of Palais Des Nations
The Palais des Nations is the headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva. It’s a large complex with conference rooms, offices, and exhibition spaces.
Visitors can take a guided tour of the United Nations Building, Palais des Nations, to learn more about the work of the United Nations and see some of the interesting architecture and art on display.
19. Visit Patek Philippe Museum
The Patek Philippe Museum is a must-see for anyone interested in watches or the study of time. It tells the story of the company and its impact on the history of timekeeping. Also, the museum features exhibits on the evolution of timekeeping technology and showcases the company’s influence on watchmaking. The Patek Philippe Museum is also home to a collection of rare and antique timepieces, making it a great place to see some of the world’s most beautiful watches.
20. Check out Parc De La Grange
Parc de la Grange is a beautiful park in the center of Geneva. It’s one of the most famous Geneva attractions as it’s a great place to relax or take a stroll and is also home to some of the city’s best museums.
The park is home to the Museum of Ethnography, the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum. There’s also a large lake where you can go for a swim or paddleboat ride.
Where to Eat in Geneva
Geneva has no shortage of fantastic restaurants. Whether you’re in the mood for Swiss cuisine or something more international, you will find a restaurant to your taste.
Here are some of my personal favourites and the best places to eat when visiting Geneva.
If you’re looking for a delicious, vegan-friendly meal, look no further than Cremerie Vegane. This cafe offers a variety of soups, salads, and sandwiches made with fresh, local ingredients. And, with plant-based cheese options, there is lots to choose from for vegans and vegetarians at Cremerie Vegane.
In addition to its savoury options, the cafe also offers vegan ice cream sandwiches and cheesecakes for those with a sweet tooth. So, whether you’re looking for a quick lunch or a tasty treat, be sure to stop by Cremerie Vegane.
Note: The cafe is only open during lunch hours, so be sure to plan your visit accordingly.
Philippe Chevrier is the most renowned Genevan chef. He’s been cooking for over 15 years and has had his own restaurant, Chez Philippe, for 10 of those years. Located in the Passage des Lions, Chez Philippe is a micro-enclave of New York in the heart of Geneva.
The restaurant’s decor is sleek and modern, with dark wood floors and exposed brick walls. The menu features classic French dishes with a twist, like roasted chicken with truffle butter or seared scallops with celery root puree. Grill specialties are popular, but pescatarian and vegetarian options are also available.
Chez Philippe offers an impressive wine list with bottles from all over Switzerland and France.
Café de Peney
Café de Peney is a gourmet restaurant located in the Geneva countryside. The restaurant is open every day from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. from Monday to Saturday and from 10 a.m. on Sunday. Café de Peney offers a variety of cuisine, including French, Swiss, and international dishes.
The restaurant also has a bar and lounge area where guests can relax and enjoy a drink. Daily menu is on offer, featuring locally sourced ingredients and chef specialties.
Note: Make a reservation in advance to ensure you get a table, as the restaurant can get quite crowded.
Hôtel de Ville restaurant
Hôtel de Ville restaurant is a must-visit for anyone looking to experience traditional Swiss cuisine. The father of the legendary brewery Glôzu offers a wide range of Swiss specialties served in an authentic setting.
The fondue is a must-try, and the view of Geneva from the restaurant is simply breathtaking. Whether you’re looking for a romantic evening out or a night with family and friends, Hôtel de Ville restaurant is not to be missed!
La Ferme De Bude
La Ferme De Bude is a family-friendly restaurant located in the countryside of Geneva. The restaurant serves traditional Swiss cuisine in a warm and welcoming atmosphere.
The menu features Swiss favourites, like fondue and raclette. In addition to its savoury dishes, La Ferme De Bude also offers a variety of desserts, such as apple pie and chocolate fondue.
Cottage Cafe is a cozy little cafe located in the Old Town of Geneva. The cafe serves a tapas menu with a unique take on Swiss favourites using fresh, local ingredients. Cottage Cafe also offers a variety of desserts, such as pies and cakes.
EnVie Vegan (Carouge)
Envie is a vegan restaurant located just 15 mins drive from the Geneva City Centre in Carouge, Switzerland. The restaurant is quickly gaining a reputation for its delicious and innovative vegan cuisine. The menu features a wide variety of dishes, all of which are completely vegan and made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients.
The food is flavourful and expertly prepared, and the restaurant has a warm and inviting atmosphere. Envie is BYOB, so be sure to bring your own wine or beer to enjoy with your meal.
Cafe Mutin is another vegan cafe and restaurant located in the Plainpalais district in Geneva. Founded by Maud and Léo, the cafe has a warm, family atmosphere and serves 100% vegetable dishes that change with the seasons.
The menu features colourful creations made from local, organic, and sustainable ingredients that are free from animal exploitation. From Wednesday to Friday, Cafe Mutin offers a lunch special with a dish of the week and vegan burgers accompanied by homemade country potatoes and daily specialties. Dinner menu also features appetizers and/or tapas.
Alive is a restaurant that focuses on healthy, seasonal, and organic food. The ingredients used in their recipes are all-natural and free from harmful chemicals. The menu features superfoods, including chia seeds, acai berries, and quinoa.
Cafe du Grutli
Café du Grütli is a French restaurant located in Geneva, Switzerland. The restaurant is near the famous Le Musee Rath, making it a popular tourist destination. The menu features a variety of French dishes, including tartare, salads, and fish.
The desserts are also a highlight of the restaurant, with options such as parfait, crème brûlée, and cheesecakes. The restaurant’s atmosphere is relaxed and comfortable, with beautiful decor that makes it a pleasant place to dine.
Where to Stay in Geneva: Best Eco Hotels
When it comes to finding a place to stay in Geneva, there are a number of sustainable options to choose from. From eco-friendly hotels to green hostels, there’s something for everyone looking to travel sustainably. Here are some of the best places to stay in Geneva.
Ibis Style Hotel
The Ibis Styles Genève Carouge is a beautiful, one-of-a-kind hotel with both comfort and style at an all-inclusive price. If you want quick access to the city, the hotel is located just 3km from the city centre.
The Ibis Styles Genève Carouge offers Wifi, family rooms, and various other services to make your stay more comfortable. Moreover, it is the perfect place to get an authentic taste of Geneva’s unique charm. Rooms start at just $132 per night.
The Ibis Petit-Lancy is located in a vibrant economy district of the city, just a few steps from public transport with quick and easy access to the airport or city center. The rooms are comfortable and functional, with quality beds and a private bathroom.
The hotel also has a bar open 24 hours for guests and a restaurant serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Wi-Fi is available throughout the hotel. This is an ideal hotel for business or leisure travelers who are looking for a convenient and affordable place to stay in Geneva. Rates start at $138/night.
Hotel Meininger is located on the bank of the Rhone, just a short walk to the city center and all its attractions. Lake Geneva and the Jardin Botanique are nearby, and trolleybus lines make it easy to get around town. Rooms starting at just $129/night.
Have you ever been to Geneva? What other things to do in Geneva would you recommend to first time visitors to the city?
Disclaimer: I visited Geneva as a guest of Geneva Tourism, but, as always, all thoughts and opinions expressed in this article are my own.