Perched on the banks of Lake Geneva, the city of Geneva is one of Switzerland’s best cities to explore. It’s one of those places that’s just so much fun, especially with all the best things to do in Geneva that seem to be dotted all across the city itself.
After visiting Geneva a few times, I’ve really come to love it more than I expected. To be totally honest, before visiting, I thought it might be laying in the shadows of other Swiss cities like Zurich. How wrong I was.
Thankfully, my preconceived (and wrong) ideas were quickly thrown out of the window once we arrived. Geneva is amazing!
That’s why I wanted to share some of the best things to do in Geneva that we found on our visits. Honestly, there is something for everyone in the city (or just outside) that I’m sure you’ll love.
Take a look at some of the best things to do in Geneva. You’ll have an amazing time. 🇨🇭
1.) Lake Geneva
known locally as Lac Leman, Lake Geneva is one of the best places and things to do in Geneva. I still remember, during our visit in the summer months, paddleboarding across the lake, enjoying cocktails at Tropical Corner and watching the best sunset. It really is a gorgeous place.
Now, Geneva isn’t the only city or town perched on Lake Geneva, if you want to go on a little exploration (after paddleboarding), take a trip over to Lausanne or the stunning castle of Chillon Castle. It’s stunning.
Afterwards, pop over to Bayview Resturant for some of the best (Michelin Starred) food in the city. It’s incredible, even if a little more expensive than some other spots.
2.) Explore Old Town Geneva
One of the best things to do in Geneva is spend a relaxing afternoon wandering the Old Town. With its cobbled streets, winding roads and cathedrals, it’s a stunner of a neighbourhood to explore.
Once here, make sure to explore Bourg-de-Four Square (the oldest spot in the city) and grab a coffee and cake at Café de Bourg-de-Four. Alternatively, head over to St.Peter’s Cathedral and spot the Old Arsenal or Maison Tavel (the oldest private residence in the city).
If you want to stay in the Old Town, check into the utterly gorgeous Hôtel Les Armures. It’s immense.
Also, for a great spot to eat, gorge at Grand Bottle Brothers which serves up some pretty tasty treats in a lively spot (especially at weekends).
3.) Mont Saleve
Often thought of as the Balcony of Geneva, Mont Salave actually sits within France (overlooking the city). But that doesn’t mean it’s not one of the best things to do in Geneva during your visit.
Depending on when you go, you can pop up in the cable car to enjoy the views, cross-country ski (in winter) or paraglide from France and into Switzerland (like we did). It was so much fun, and let’s be honest, when can you actually say you arrived in a new country by paragliding!
If that doesn’t float your boat, head out on one of the hiking trails or even mountain biking (in the summer) You might like to try hiking, mountain biking or paragliding during the warm summer months.
4.) Jet d’Eau
Let’s be honest, Jet d’Eau is hard to miss. And you know what, it’s one of the best things to do in Geneva if you want to see the cities most famous landmarks.
Jet d’Eau was never really meant to be a city feature in its own right. It was built way back in the 19th Century to relieve water pressure from a hydraulic plant for the city. After the city realised how much people loved it, they moved it closer to the city and is now easily seen from the banks of Lake Geneva.
If you want to get closer, take a walk along the narrow stone pier that gets closer to Jet d’Eau. That being said, if the wind changes, you could be in for a pretty decent soaking!
5.) Botanical Gardens
The Conservatory and Botanical Gardens are perched in the north of Geneva and pretty close to the Palace of Nations. Best of all, the Botanical Garden and Conservatory is totally free to visit – which is great.
Once here, you’ll find a herbarium, the historic rose garden and the animal park. There are multiple greenhouses to explore (which are also great on a rainy day). That being said, if you’re not into plants, you might wanna give this spot a miss.
Afterwards, pop over to Birdie for a yummy brunch.
6.) The St. Pierre Cathedral
There has been a religious place of worship on this site for close to two thousand years, with St. Pierre’s Cathedral constructed in the 16th Century.
As soon as you arrive, make sure to look up at the ceilings of Maccabees Chapel, see the chair of John Calvin and clamber to the top of the spire itself. Now, the cathedral is totally free to visit but you will need to part with some small change to climb the spire. It’s worth it, nonetheless.
7.) Museum of Natural History
The Geneva Museum of Natural History is easily up there as one of the best things to do in Geneva… especially if you love museums (or with kids). Once inside, head over to find the dodo and explore the African collection.
It’s a great way to spend an hour if the weather takes a turn for the worse.
8.) The Palace of Nations (Palais des Nations)
Built in the 1920s for the League of Nations, this massive complex is one of the largest you will find across Europe and is now home to the European office of the United Nations.
Once here, make sure to join a guided tour of the Assembly Hall as well as the Council Chamber, too. It’s the only way to go inside and explore. Alternatively, pop over to Musée Ariana or with a visit to the Botanic Gardens that are really close by.
Oh, and for a great place to stay in Geneva, check into Hotel N’vY (on Rue de Richemont). It’s an uber-cool spot!
9.)The Patek Philippe Museum
Lets put this out there, it’s likely you’ll only find this interesting if you’re into watches? Well, if that’s the case, you’ll wanna check out the Patek Philippe Museum that houses some of the world’s best collections of timepieces from across the ages.
Make sure you visit the antique collections with some exhibits on show from the 16th century. Oh, and just across the road is the Statue of Frankenstein that you can’t miss!
10.) Explore Carouge
Once completely separate from Geneva, Carouge now forms a district of the city itself. Once here, make sure to wander around the independent shops and market stalls that call this area home.
Now, the area has a long history of Italian and Sardinian’s that moved to Carouge. This makes for an exciting mix of amazing coffee shops (like, Valmandin). For a great restaurant, pop into Le Bistrot Le Lion d’or for dinner. They serve up a creamy risotto that is so delicious.