Things To Do In Geneva
Settled in a valley at the western border of Switzerland, Geneva is a tranquil setting for a relaxed holiday destination. Its cobblestone avenues are lined with open-air bistros and boutiques. They stand side by side, on the cosmopolitan and elegant streets of this city, with big signature brand shops as well as fine, even exquisite restaurants.
Lake Geneva is surrounded by beautiful mountains, picturesque villages (Evian and Nyon Ivoire), and wonderful cities (Geneva, Montreux, and Lausanne). It is majestic in winter, refreshing in spring, and too crowded in summer. Enjoy a very pleasant walk at nightfall when the city lights are on and the streets come alive with the chic, and sleek, cosmopolitan crowd in Geneva City. Geneva can likewise pump up your adrenaline -- cruising on the lake, taking a Segway ride, cycling, strolling or running in the parks and skiing down the challenging slopes of Mont Blanc are just a few of the things to do in the third biggest city in Switzerland.
When To Go:
The perfect time to travel and visit the city is during the peak season of July- August. The climate is gentle though blustery, and Lake Geneva can be best appreciated through the water sports that you can enjoy doing around these months. Normal winter temperatures run between the upper 20s and low 40s. Summer brings high temperatures in the mid 70s. June brings the most rain to Geneva City.
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In the winter season, chilling winds blow in from the lake and the snow-covered peaks that attract mountaineering fans. Skiing is the best activity during this season, but make sure to book your lodging no less than three months ahead of time. Tour packages, hotel costs, and flight deals are more expensive around Christmas, New Year, and the Easter holiday season. If you travel on a budget, avoid these times and choose to go during the “shoulder months” of July – August.
When in Geneva City, be sure not to miss these things to do and places to see to have a memorable holiday in one of the most beautiful cities in Switzerland...
This is a huge lake with a beach in the center of Geneva. Lake Geneva also has long pier with saunas, and cafes, and the beach is open all year round. The clean water and comfortable wooden decks are good for relaxation. Around the lake you can just walk and enjoy the views. In the waters there is an abundance of swans, geese, gulls and ducks floating close to the shoreline. Along the shores, if you take the boat tour, you can see luxury villas and mansions of world-famous celebrities.
This large lake is the great icon of Geneva. Its size allows each of its guests to enjoy it in their own way: some by boat, others by canoe or by jet ski; moving from one point to another in a taxi boat; fishing, swim in its small beaches or pools; or just sitting and watching everyone else (or sunbathing!) From everywhere you can see the big "Jet d'Eau" whose splendor is shown especially when it is sunny and a small rainbow is created. The highlight of the fountain is its simplicity as it shoots a huge stream of water to 178 feet. On a nice day, the views are spectacular and a boat trip is mandatory. The famous Lake Geneva gives a lot of pleasant experiences. You can feed the swans that come here a lot or take a ride on the waterbus and even swim.
Collections Baur (Musee des Arts d’Extreme-Orient)
The Collections Baur (Musee des Arts d’Extreme-Orient) is a superb museum of great elegance exposing beautifully-colored objects from Asia that are all equally distributed in different rooms according to location and time. The presentation is absolutely flawless and visitors have, for each room, a booklet detailing the works with explanation on the meaning of symbols carved on the objects. It is an excellent tour that combines sophistication and exoticism, and is highly recommended to visit when in Geneva. The collection is fantastic and objects are exceptionally well-highlighted -- especially the large jade vase that sunlight passes through, revealing all the details. The small Zen garden on the ground floor allows you to pause for a while before heading out to check other floors. The Japanese sword collection alone is worth a visit.
The Baur Collection Geneva epitomizes professionalism in presenting its major collections. Each exposure is an exploratory journey that takes you from one discovery to another. Collector coins are displayed with great elegance and finesse, and come from throughout Asia. Guided tours are moments of great pleasure as they have an initiatory character -- discussing an object from the far eastern side of Asia, the staff presents it with utmost skill and dedication. The permanent collection is a treasure in itself. You should plan to spend some time when you visit the museum, which is a must-see when in Geneva.
Parc La Grange
The Parc La Grange is a few minute's walk from the famous fountain and Lake Geneva. The serene setting overlooks the lake harbor, trees, beautiful rose garden, numerous benches, playground for children, bar, and restaurants. It is a very nice park with a quality landscape. If you are tired of the hustle and from walking around the sights, you can come to the park and just relax, go for a walk with the kids, have a picnic or just sunbathe, take a breath of fresh air or simply lie on the grass. At 2 steps from the park, you can find the city beach and enjoy an afternoon swim. It is right next to two other free parks that you can also visit – the Parc Eaux-Vives and Parc Betrand.
Upon entering (from the Quai Gustave-Ador lake front or from the side avenue called Favre) you can immediately perceive the magic of the place. In fact, you can also discover explanatory panels scattered in the various walkways. They detail the first settlements on the spot -- dated back to 4500 BC -- followed by the Neolithic and Gallo-Roman eras. On top of the hill with stunning views of Lake Geneva, is the nineteenth-century villa of the rich banking family who first lived here. A rose garden is located on the right side of the building. The lawns are immaculate and there is also a field for football.
Bain de Paquis
The Bain de Paquis is a kind of pier that sits on the lake, with each side providing the opportunity to swim and bask in the sun. There are also a hammam (Turkish bath), sauna, and a resident masseur. After a relaxing massage you can dine on salads and a cold plate of Swiss delis. There are plenty of places to sit and eat, a friendly and relaxed atmosphere, and it is an ideal place to unwind overlooking the mountains and the water jet.
To enjoy all the amenities of this beach /pier, you must pay the admission fee at the restaurant. They have excellent food and atmosphere and suitable for all. It is a great melting pot of cultures. In summer and winter, this place has its own identity and unique style, everyone is friendly and there are many cultural events and it is one of the best ways to integrate in Geneva.
Place Bourg du Four
The Place Bourg du Four is a lovely location right at the entrance to the Old Town. It is a simple but special place with lots of great outdoor cafes in summer. It is also close to the great shopping street of Geneva (Rue Mont Blanc). The place is located in the quaint neighborhood of Rovinj and within walking distance of the cathedral (St. Pierre) and the town hall.
There are a couple of cafes, bars and restaurants where you can eat cheaply and comfortably. On the square, there is always something going on even at night, and more on weekends. In the center is a beautiful fountain, so you can sit in the square in fine weather to people-watch or just simply relax.
Archaeological Site at St. Pierre's Cathedral
A talented architect named Charles Bonnet maintains the Archaeological Site at St. Pierre’s Cathedral. He was also instrumental in making it available to the public as a unique surviving collection of medieval artifacts from the sacred time of Geneva’s past. It is located under the Geneva Cathedral (rare Protestant cathedral in Europe), and the archaeological site proves that since ancient times the area was considered "sacred".
It is awesome to walk in space where the ceiling seems low (do not think too much about the building located just above). There is a very good explanation and detailed information about the prospect of future excavations. Combine the tour with a visit to the interior of St. Pierre’s Cathedral located just above. You can see the chair of Calvin and the beautiful room called "Maccabee" that is filled with colorful decorations. You'll love the scenery and the variety of exhibitions presented. A visit to this institution also provides insight into the role of Geneva as the cradle of Protestantism in Switzerland.
Patek Philippe Museum
A visit to the Patek Philippe Museum allows you to discover the extraordinary family history of watch-making in Switzerland. Discover the richness of this watch manufacturer where every creation combines unique art and beauty. It is an excellent museum dedicated to watches and clocks starting from the 16th century and from one of the oldest Swiss brands that produces exquisite timepieces.
Take a journey through the fantastic world and collection of watches. Patek-Phillipe is a wonderful museum that is spread over several floors. Learn about the history of this famous brand, and marvel at the art and beauty of pocket watches and wrist watches from Geneva and other parts of Europe. It is a good museum to take a quiet walk through and a must-see for all watch lovers.
Barbier-Mueller Museum (Musee Barbier-Mueller)
It's simply amazing how many interesting pieces there are in this small museum. The Barbier-Mueller Museum (Musee Barbier-Mueller) is actually divided into two sections; one for ancient art and one for primitive art. There is a notable collection of statuettes from the Cyclades and the Middle East, not to mention the pieces from the Villanovan, Romans, Egyptians, or the extraordinary Apulian era. In the basement you can find rare objects, masks and shields from Africa and a lot of charming pieces of artifacts from New Guinea. It is all presented and illuminated with great care, which is a real treat for photographers because you can freely take pictures and it's all worth it!
Parc Des Bastions
This is a park with lots of greenery, various trees and exotic plants, and frequented by many people, including the chess and checkers players you will see at the beginning of the park -- which is also the park of the faculty of letters. Attention should also be given to the historic Wall of Reformation; it will contribute to your the elements that distinguish Geneva City from other major cities in Switzerland.
The Parc Des Bastions is a pleasant park in the center of the city. Inside you'll find lots of shaded areas and a hilarious series of boards painted on the asphalt with huge chess pieces. Don’t forget to play and have fun.
Musee International de la Reforme (International Museum of Reformation)
The Musee International de la Reforme is great for those who love the history of the Protestant Reformation in Geneva. There is a room dedicated to the French Reformation and other interactive rooms where many theologians including Calvin and the philosopher Rousseau discuss the issue of the election.
At the end downstairs, more exhibits highlight the period of modern reform. See how the Reformation came about -- the sequence of the story, and why it is significant until today. It is a fascinating, interactive museum, and you can go back several times (entrance is free) while in Geneva City.
To visit the Eglise Russe, just walk up from the Old Town and venture into the beautiful residential streets in the neighborhood. You will certainly catch a glimpse of the golden domes and want to pay a quick visit. It is said that this church was built with the help of Russian Tsar Nicholas II. The interior has recently been rehabilitated and the air is filled with the smell of incense and the presence of the typical icons on the walls. There is a beautiful icon of the Madonna and Child located on the side of the church.
Built in the mid-nineteenth century, the Russian Orthodox Church of Geneva is really fascinating and worth a visit because the area in which it is located is one of the most beautiful and chic in the city. Surrounded by buildings and very nice well-kept homes, its golden spires are recognizable even from the high streets of Geneva. Its dimensions are modest, but the interior is nice, well decorated, and fairly ornate. It is an impressive place of worship that must not be missed when in Geneva.
UNOG (United Nations Office at Geneva) - Palais des Nations
The UNOG (United Nations Office at Geneva) - Palais des Nations guided tour lasts for about an hour: you will go through the Hall of Human Rights and Alliance of Civilizations, the Hall of Assemblies, the Palace of Nations, and the Council Hall, decorated with murals by José Maria Sert that symbolize the peace and progress of mankind.
This is the official headquarters of the United Nations, where the offices and classrooms represent the global village and try to give a semblance of governance for all its member nations. With all the limitations and the shadows on the actual effectiveness of the United Nations, the Geneva headquarters represents an important part of human history starting from the second half of the 20th century. If you have children it is very educational. It has a beautiful park and impressive main entrance with all the flags of the world flying.
International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum
The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum is basically divided into three sections and a different person handles each part. Each zone explains the history and operation of the Red Cross. It is unlike any ordinary museum where you can see artifacts and objects of interest, rather it dwells more on touching the heart and human emotions by the variety of situations and exhibits presented. For those who care about social awareness and what is going on with the rest of the world this place is a must. Most of the images are shocking and will grab you by the throat at times. It is a sad museum that extends the vision of the Red Cross. Go and explore with an open heart.
Most of Geneva's best attractions are totally free. Be in awe of the Jet d'Eau fountain, hang out in Place du Bourg-de-Four and check out the gift shops along the Rue Mont Blanc. If you love history, explore the Reformation Wall or combine that with a visit to the International Museum of Reformation. Furthermore, if you are a fitness health buff, the city is an ideal choice. You will find options from strolling along the well-paved promenades and running in parks like the Parc Eaux-Vives and Parc Betrand, to cruising in Lake Geneva and skiing the busy iced slopes. And come summer, the locals and foreigners flock into Geneva’s beaches or dive into the crystal clear waters of Bain des Paquis. Geneva is indeed a spectacular spot to stay physically active.
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