Geneva has a lot going for it. Surrounded by Alpine Lake, the city has great outdoor activities, lakes to swim in, and mountains to explore. Geneva is one of the country’s most expensive and luxurious cities, so it’s hard to be a budget traveler here. Most travelers simply pass through, spend a day, and then move on. If you’re on a tight budget, I’d advise doing that. If you have a little bit more money, spend a couple of days here and visit all the famous international buildings (the United Nations — formerly the headquarters of the League of Nations — is here), historic buildings and castles, and spend some time on the lake.
Top 5 Things to See and Do in Geneva
1. Visit one of 40 museums
2. Explore the Cathédrale St. Pierre
3. Walk through the Jardin Anglais
4. Tour the United Nations
5. Visit the Jet d’Eau
Other Things to See and Do
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1. Attend the Caves Ouvertes
The name paints a nice picture of what this day is all about as Caves Ouvertes translates into Day of Open Wineries. Not only is this one of Geneva’s best annual events, but it gives you with a spectacular view of the city and a sample of their best wines. It’s a very fun festival to attend that happens around the end of May. Free entry to the wineries. Upon buying a wine glass for 5 CHF, you will get free wine sampling in all participating wineries (which is nearly 90 wineries in/around Geneva!). Get around that day by bicycle or the free shuttles available.
2. Enjoy the summer concerts
Geneva is booming in the summer months, especially in June. See the city at its best with the annual Fete de la Musique. A three-day festival, it’s jammed with free nonstop music and low-cost food of all tastes and flavors. There are ongoing free concerts throughout the summer.
3. Explore the city by boat
Consider indulging in a boat tour of the city. If you don’t want to spend the money, you can also rent a bike which will allow you to sight-see various neighborhoods and travel at your own pace. You can find boat tours starting around 15 CHF. Bike rentals start at 8 CHF for a half-day.
4. Visit Mont-Salève
Just outside of the city lies Mont-Salève, this mountain has a wide range of outdoor activities. Spend a day rock climbing, mountain biking, hiking, or cross-country skiing, or come up with your own activity to pursue!
5. See the reformation wall
This monument lies in Parc des Bastions, and serves to commemorate the main leaders of the Protestant Reformation in Europe – Jean Calvin, Guillaume Farel, Théodore de Bèze, and John Knox. “Post Tenebras Lux” (light after darkness) is inscribed on the monument, which was the motto of the Reformation.
6. Explore Carouge
Across the across the River Arve lies Carouge, a village within Geneva. Some consider it to be the city’s Greenwich Village, except this place has a Mediterranean touch; it used to be part of Sardinia. Wander around the streets, which are filled with restaurants, bars, and boutiques.
7. Relax at the Bains de Paquis
This swimming pool was built in the 1930s and is still a popular place to get a massage or unwind with a relaxing swim. The pool is built into the lake and includes a diving board. You can also get a Turkish bath here. Baths are open daily and cost 2 CHF for entry.
8. Go windsurfing
The lake comes alive in the summer months, and it’s a perfect place to try your hand at wakeboarding or windsurfing. There are schools here that offer rentals and lessons. A 90-minute lesson costs about 45 CHF.