Introduction to Geneva
One of Switzerland’s biggest cities with international appeal yet a wealth of small town charm has led to Geneva being known as the “smallest of big cities”. The picturesque location surrounded by The Alps makes it the ideal base for a ski break during the winter, whereas the cosmopolitan culture, nightlife and Lake Geneva means there’s plenty on offer to make it a year round city break destination. Regularly voted as one of the world’s best places to live, after you stay in a beautiful Geneva hotel, and immerse yourself in the culture and art you will understand why.
Europe’s largest Alpine lake, bordering France and Switzerland, it is the home of one of the world’s tallest water fountains, Jet D’eau.
The 140m high water fountain is Geneva’s most prominent landmark, with the continuous water jet visible throughout the city.
Home to the oldest place in Geneva, the Bourg-de-Four Square and St Peter’s Cathedral, wander around the maze-like streets of ancient Geneva.
With Lake Geneva and the surrounding Alps, Geneva is one of Europe’s most scenic cities, and the outdoors is a focal point when it comes to activities around the city. Lake Geneva is a hive of activity during the spring and summer months with lake cruises, hot air balloon rides, watersports, hiking and cycle routes or just relaxing on the lake’s beaches. Despite producing some of Europe’s finest wines the vineyards surrounding Geneva are small scale, and often overlooked. There’s a multitude of independent wineries available, offering tours and tastings and celebrated with open wine cellar days.
When it comes to winter in Geneva you can head to The Alps for winter sports including glacier trekking, snowboarding and skiing. Les Houches, Semoens, Le Grand Bornand, La Clusaz and Les Carroz ski resorts are all around an hour away from Geneva.
Geneva is known to be a ‘green city’, with over 25% of the city being parks and green space. These range from Geneva’s Botanical Gardens and Parc La Grange, the largest park in Geneva to the small Jardin Anglais which is home to the Geneva Flower Clock, the largest clock made from flowers and a nod to the watchmaking industry of the city.
Museums in Geneva cover a vast subject range. If you’re interested in history there’s Tavel House, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum, the Carouge Museum and the Natural History Museum. For the arts you have the Modern Art Museum, Geneva Museum of Photography and Ariana Museum (Swiss Museum of Ceramics and Glass) and a number of galleries. You will also find a number of museums catering to special interests such as the ICT Discovery, Patek Phillipe Museum which is a look into the watchmaking industry, and The Olympic Museum amongst others. The headquarters of the United Nations, The Palace of Nations is located in Geneva, here you can take guided tours, view the UNOG Art collection and the monuments in the gardens, many of were gifted to the UN.
Switzerland is proud of its highly efficient public transport system, and to encourage visitors to use the buses when travelling around Geneva, a free daily transport pass is available for those staying in hotels in Geneva.
Geneva has a diverse food scene influenced by the cuisines of France, Germany and Italy. Ingredients you can expect to see featured in a variety of dishes are fish caught from Lake Geneva, Swiss cheese and potatoes. If you want traditional Swiss food in an authentic setting then head to the Old Town, where you will find lots of small French and Swiss restaurants. Fondue is a particularly popular dish of melted cheese, wine and in some cases in Geneva, mushrooms, served with bread.
Switzerland is famous for some of the world’s finest chocolates and Geneva has a number of boutique chocolatiers throughout the city. One particular spot to look out for is Favarger, on Quai des Bergues where they complete the entire chocolate making process from the roasting of the chocolate beans all in store, ensuring the finest quality chocolates. They offer guided tours and chocolate workshops for those looking to find out more about the chocolate making process.
Geneva’s temperate climate offers pleasant weather all year around. Summer temperatures average at a warm 20°c and winter averages at 2°c. Although Geneva has a constant level of rainfall throughout the year (around 9 days of rain per month), the city is one of the driest in Switzerland. A small amount of snowfall is common between December and February.
Geneva can be visited all year around, July and August are ideal if you want to enjoy the outdoor activities on Lake Geneva in the warm weather, but if you’re sticking to sightseeing spring and autumn can be the best times of year with fewer crowds and comfortably warm weather. If you’re visiting Geneva to enjoy the skiing opportunities on the nearby slopes then the typical ski season is from December to April.
Geneva has an exciting schedule of events including the Geneva Music Festival in June and the Geneva Festival in July-August, both offer music, shows, events and a great atmosphere which can make it an exciting time to visit.
Flights to Geneva arrive into Geneva Airport. A flight from the UK to Geneva will take between 1.5-2.5 hours depending on your departure airport. Geneva Airport is just 4km from the city centre with easy public transport connections to help you make the final leg of your journey. Trains run up to every 12 minutes and take just 6 minutes to reach Geneva-Cornavin station from the airport. If you’re travelling into The Alps you may wish to book car hire for your trip in advance.
Geneva Airport is one of the most convenient ways to reach The Alps and as a result it becomes a popular airport during Ski season with airlines operating a number of seasonal flights to Geneva.