20 Things To Do In Geneva

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Geneva is one of the largest cities in Switzerland and is situated in the French-speaking part of the country. It is in a beautiful setting by Lake Geneva and is close to the Alps. If you are interested in outdoor activities, enjoy water sports on the lake or head up to the mountains for skiing or hiking. The city has a long history, with a stunning Old Town and plenty of museums to discover. In addition, it has connections with international diplomacy and humanitarianism, and you can visit United Nations buildings during your stay in the city.

Geneva is easy to negotiate by public transport with a system of streetcars, buses, and bus boats to cross the lake. If you are staying in a hotel, you are given a free transport card to last your stay. It gives you unlimited access to the Geneva public transportation system. If you plan on doing a lot of sightseeing, the Geneva City Pass, which is valid for 24, 48, or 72 hours, offers not only access to public transport but reduced prices on tours, entry tickets to museums, and boat cruises. The city has a mild climate, meaning that the historical side of Geneva can be explored year-round. If, on the other hand, you want to enjoy outdoor activities, spring and summer are the best times to visit. I have chosen 20 of the top activities to do in Geneva and hope that these will enhance your stay.

Geneva, Switzerland

20 Things To Do In Geneva

1- Explore The Old Town

Geneva Old Town Panoramic
Exploring the Old Town is one of the fun things to do in Geneva.

The Old Town is one of the oldest and largest in Europe and is the ideal place to begin your discovery of Geneva.

It is filled with narrow, cobbled streets, unusual museums, and historical sites, such as the St. Pierre Cathedral.

The architecture is spectacular, with a mixture of Roman and Neo-Classical styles.

Head to the oldest square in the city, the Place de Four, a meeting place for locals and equally loved by tourists.


Have a coffee or drink and watch the world go by.

Recommended tours:

2- Climb The Towers Of St. Pierre Cathedral

St. Pierre Cathedral, Geneva, Swizerland
Climbing the towers of St. Pierre Cathedral is one of the things to do in Geneva to work off some energy.

Another great way to discover a new city is by viewing it from above.

In Geneva, the best place to get great views is from the two towers of St. Pierre Cathedral.

The views sweep over both the city and the lake.

The South Tower is the best to climb on a warm sunny day as it has an open-air balcony.

There are only 60 steps to negotiate so it’s not a gruelling task.

If it’s raining or cold, head to the North Tower.

It is also worth exploring the cathedral itself, which is the main church in the city.

It was originally built in the 12th century and was then a Roman Catholic Cathedral, but it later became a Reformed Protestant Church during the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century.

The cathedral is a mixture of styles, including Roman, Gothic, and Neo-Classical.

In the basement, you will find mosaic tiles from the 4th century.

One of the most unusual aspects of the cathedral is the seating arrangement.

The pews were carved for each person with every seat being of a different size.

This brings a whole new level to fat-shaming!

Sr Pierre Cathedral is at Cr, de St. Pierre, 1204, Geneva.

3- Visit The Red Cross And Red Crescent Museum

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Geneva is the birthplace of The Red Cross and now houses a museum dedicated to its work and other humanitarian efforts.

It displays a permanent exhibition and hosts temporary displays.

The permanent exhibition is called ‘The Humanitarian Adventure’ and explores such topics as war and natural disasters.

The museum also has three optical theatres where you can learn about how natural disasters can be alleviated.

The theatres also offer interactive games to help you understand how important decisions are made.

The museum houses the original Red Cross document, written in 1864.

This lays out rules governing humanitarian treatment during wars.

The Red Cross And Red Crescent Museum is at Av. de la Paix 17, 1202, Geneva.

4- Visit The United Nations Palais De Nations

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The United Nations was founded at the end of the Second World War and is an international organisation that aims to bring about peace between countries.

It has its headquarters in New York, but there are offices in Geneva in the Palais des Nations, originally the meeting place of the League of Nations in the 1930s.

You can take a tour of the buildings and learn more about the history of the United Nations, offering an insight into 20th-century history.

The United Nations Building is at the Palais des Nations, 1211, Geneva

5- Hike Or Take A Cable Car To Mont Saleve

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1,400 metres (4,593 feet) above Geneva is Mont Saleve which has spectacular views of the city, the lake, and the Alps.

You can hike up the mountain but if you don’t feel that energetic, there is a cable car which takes you up in a matter of minutes and gives spectacular views on the ride up.

You can simply have a coffee or lunch at the summit, but there is plenty more to do if you feel active.

There are trails to explore, and opportunities to rock climb, paraglide, or bike.

In the winter, you can ski.

5- Take A Chocolate Walking Tour

Chocolates Shop
Joining a Chocolate Walking Tour is one of the delicious things to do in Lake Geneva this weekend.

Switzerland is famous for producing delicious chocolate and you can’t visit without sampling some of the local chocolate in one of the amazing chocolate shops.

Better still, take a guided tour of Geneva and learn about the chocolate culture.

The tour I suggest takes you on a three-hour walking tour of the best shops and cafes.

You can indulge in traditional and modern chocolates, including pralines, truffles, chocolate pastries, and drinking chocolate.

You will learn how chocolate is made, find out about the history of Swiss chocolate, and hear stories about chocolate from your experienced guide.

Recommended tour: Chocolate Flavors Walking Tour of Geneva.

6- Bathe In The Bains Des Paquis

The Bains des Paquis is a beautiful spot with a beach, public baths, and saunas.

It is open all year round and is located on a man-made peninsula which projects onto Lake Geneva.

In the summer, you can lie on the beach and take in the rays.

In the winter, indulge in the Turkish steam room or the hammam, where you can exfoliate with black soap.

Only women are allowed in the baths on Tuesdays and there is always a woman-only section.

The baths have showers, toilets, changing rooms, and sports facilities.

The Bains des Paquis is at Quai du Mont-Blanc 30, 1201. Geneva.

7- View The Flower Clock

The Flower Clock In Jardin Anglais Park In Geneva
Admiring the Flower Clock is on of the iconic things to do in Geneva, Switzerland.

One of the most beautiful things to see in Geneva is the Flower Clock, the Horloge Fleurie, that can be found in the English Garden, the Jardin Anglais.

It is one of the most photographed places in the city.

Switzerland is famous for clocks and the Flower Clock is a splendid symbolisation of this.

It is made up of flower beds in the shape of a clock with thousands upon thousands of flowers.

The flowers change with the seasons, and it is always maintained well.

The Flower Clock is at Quai du General-Guisan 28, 1204, Geneva.

8- Visit The Art And History Museum

Museum Of Geneva, Arnold De Melchtal
Visiting the Art And History Museum is one of the top things to do in Geneva.

The Art and History Museum is the largest art museum in Geneva, housing over 1 million pieces.

The art dates to Ancient times, including Ancient Egyptian sphinxes and pottery and carries on through the centuries.

The Fine Arts section houses paintings dating from the Middle Ages until the 20th century.

The most famous painting in this section is The Miraculous Draught of Fishes, painted in 1444 by Konrad Witz for his St. Peter Altarpiece.

Other works include paintings by artists such as Cezanne and Rembrandt and sculptures by Rodin.

The Applied Art section showcases Byzantine art and icons, as well as weapons from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance.

There is also silverware, tinware, musical instruments, and textiles on show.

The Archaeology section displays Ancient Egyptian art as well as artefacts from Ancient Greece, Sudan, and pre-Roman Italy.

The complete interior furnishings and wooden panelling from some of the rooms of the 17th-century Lower Castle Zion have been built into the museum.

The Art and History Museum is at Rue Charles-Gallard 2, 1206, Geneva.

10- Go Yachting On Lake Geneva

Geneva Lake Scenery, Switzerland
Yachting is one of the lovely things to do in Lake Geneva.

A pleasant way to spend an hour or two is to take a boat trip on Lake Geneva.

Relax, and enjoy the sights of both the city and of the mountains.

The cruise I am thinking of involves sailing by the United Nations Building and the Bains des Paquis while sipping a glass of wine and enjoying finger food.

If you are looking for something more energetic, you can go paddle boarding, foil boarding, or wakeboarding on the lake.

Recommended tour: Geneva: Scenic Lake Cruise

11- Take A Day Trip To Mont Blanc

View Of Geneva, Switzerland
Taking a day trip to Mont Blanc is one of the fun things to do from Lake Geneva.

Mont Blanc is the highest mountain in the Alps and is well worth visiting.

Most of the tours take you first to the resort town of Chamonix in France which is at the foot of the mountain.

You then take a cable car up to Aiguille de Midi from where you will have fantastic views of the Alps in Switzerland, Italy, and France.

Many trips include a ride on the Montenvers rack railway which takes you to the Mer de Glace glacier which is 3,000 metres (9842.5 feet) high and is the longest in France.

The journey covers 4.82 km (3 miles) and travels through glorious Alpine scenery.

When you arrive you can cross the Peak Walk which gives fantastic views of the mountains and the glacier.

Recommended tours: From Geneva: Guided Day Trip to Chamonix and Mont-Blanc.

12- Have A Glass Of Wine At Lavaux Vineyard Terraces

Vineyard Terraces In Saint-Saphorin, Switzerland
Tasting wine is one of the things to do in Lake Geneva.

The UNESCO Terraced Vineyards on the shores of Lake Geneva are renowned all over the world and offer stunning views of the lake and the mountains.

The vineyards showcase a method of cultivating vineyards on steep hillsides which is centuries old.

These terraces were built in the 11th and 12th centuries and have been cultivated continuously since then.

They cover around 830 hectares (2.050 acres) and produce top-quality wines from grapes such as the Chasselas.

This wine is crisp, fruity, and refreshing.

There are many wineries in the area, such as Domaine Bovy and Domaine Henri Croucon which offer tours and tastings.

13- Go Shopping On The Rue Du Rhone

Geneva is a great place for shopping, whether looking for bargains, luxury items, or anything in between.

High-end and luxury shops can be found along the Rue du Rhone which runs parallel to the lakeshore.

Among other shops, you will find many boutiques, such as Boucheron and Zara.

If you are looking for more reasonably priced shopping, head to Rue de Marche and Rue de la Croix-d’Or, which run parallel to the Rue de la Rhône. Here you will find shops such as Footlocker, H & M, and Bershka.

Bargains can be found at the Plainpalais Flea Market, which is open on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Make sure that you have cash as most of the vendors don’t take cards.

14- Tour The Cern Institute

CERN Building In Geneva, Switzerland
Tour The CERN Institute best things to do in lake Geneva.

In the suburb of Meyrin, west of the centre of Geneva, is Cern, the headquarters of the European Organisation for Nuclear Research.

It is the world’s largest physics laboratory and is where many scientific experiments have been conducted.

There is a visitor’s centre with two museum exhibitions.

One tells you about Cern’s current work while the other concentrates on topics such as the search for the Higgs Boson.

There are tours of the institute which are free and last for an hour and a half.

The Cern Institute is at Espl. des Particules 1, 1211, Meyrin.

15- Visit The Botanical Garden And Conservatory

The Botanical Garden and Conservatory is a beautiful space where you can spend a few hours.

It houses around 16.000 plant species, landscaped gardens, and walking trails.

Enjoy the Herbarium which has one of the largest collections of flowers and fungi in the world.

There is an Arboretum, ponds, a rose garden, and a greenhouse housing a winter garden.

Another garden immerses your senses of smell and touch, while there is a zoo with water birds and deer.

The Botanical Garden and Conservatory is at Chem de l’Imperatrice 1, 1292, Geneva.

16- Admire The Jet D’Eau

Jet D'Eau In Geneva
Admiring the Jet D’Eau is one of the things to do in Lake Geneva at night.

In the city centre, at the end of a long jetty at La Rade, you will find the Jet d’Eau, a fountain which propels 500 litres (109.98 gallons) of water per second to a height of 140 metres (459 feet).

It is one of the tallest fountains in the world and one of the most photographed sites in Geneva.

The fountain started as a safety valve for the city’s hydraulic power plant in 1886 and has been in its present position since 1951.

Beware that if you get too close, you will get wet!

17- Enjoy A Cheese Fondue

Cooking Cheese Fondue
Enjoying a cheese fondue is one of the things to do with kids in Lake Geneva.

If you want to indulge in a delicious Swiss dish, sample a cheese fondue.

It was created in the French-speaking part of the country so where better to try it than in Geneva.

A fondue is a steaming pot of melted Gruyere cheese, seasoned with wine, garlic, salt, and pepper.

Although it is sometimes thought of as a rustic dish, gruyere isn’t a cheap cheese so the dish is often served in high-quality restaurants.

One of the best places to try a cheese fondue is La Buvette in the Bains des Paquis.

Other good places to try this iconic Swiss dish are the Cafe du Soleil at Place du Petit Saconnex in the west of the city, and Le Gruyerien in Chemin de la Bissonnette to the east of the centre.

18- Watch The Sunset At Tropical Corner

Tropical Corner is a school for windsurfing and stand-up paddleboarding on Lake Geneva.

When you have enjoyed an afternoon on the lake, head to the terrace with its beautiful palm trees and have a cocktail.

As the evening progresses, enjoy the music played by live DJs.

The best time of the day here is sunset when the lake transforms to a beautiful orange and yellow colour, creating a romantic atmosphere.

19- Take A Day Trip To Chillon Castle

Chateau De Chillon In Montreux Switzerland
Take A Day Trip Trip To Chillon Castle free things to do in lake Geneva.

Chillon Castle rests on a rocky island not far from Geneva.

There has been a settlement here since the Bronze Age, but the current form goes back just several centuries, starting with The Savoy period which was from the 12th to the 16th centuries, followed by the Bemese period from the 16th to the 18th centuries and finally the Vaudas period from the 18th to the 20th centuries. Each period has left its mark.

The castle is surrounded by a moat and is connected to land by a bridge.

It is a building of two halves.

The north served for defence while the south, with its fantastic Gothic windows, houses the former royal residence.

Guided tours are on offer and you will be able to view around 300 artefacts, including furniture, weapons, and armour.

Chillon Castle is at Avenue de Chillon 21, 1820, Veytaux.

20- Visit The Patek Philippe Museum

Switzerland is famous for producing watches and this museum tells the story of Patek Philippe, one of the world’s oldest watch manufacturers.

It also exhibits around 2,500 watches from over five centuries of watchmaking.

One of the highlights is an exhibition of musical watches and portrait miniatures from the 14th century until the 20th century, many assembled in Geneva.

Patek Philippe was set up in 1845 and was a partnership between the watchmaker, Patek from Poland and Philippe from France.

On the ground floor of the museum are reconstructed workbenches with everything needed to make a watch. You can even see a watchmaker working on his craft.

You can take a guided tour of the museum.

The Patek Philippe Museum is at Rue des VIEUX – Grenadiers 7, 1205, Geneva.

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Irena Nieslony
Irena Nieslony was born in Windsor, England but now lives on the island of Crete, Greece, in a small village called Modi near the city of Chania. She has visited 32 countries in Europe, North and South America, Asia, and Africa. Her favourite country is Tanzania as she loves wildlife and was lucky enough to see ‘The Big Five”. She also loves Egypt, as ancient history intrigues her, the southern states of the US and the cities of Memphis, Nashville, and New Orleans for music. She has a B.A. Honours degree in English and Drama from Westfield College, University of London. She has been writing for over 13 years and has 13 novels, 7 short stories and thousands of articles published.