Cheap flights to Geneva
With an old town ripe for exploring, full of winding cobblestone streets, gothic cathedrals and ancient city walls, Geneva has the historic charm that you would expect from any Swiss city. And being at the foot of the Alps, it also has a natural beauty that is hard to beat. Think lakeside promenades, parks and cafes complete with snow-capped mountains and you get the picture. But don’t go thinking this city is all history and no buzz. You’ll be hard pushed to find a more cosmopolitan place in Europe.
Geneva is home to international organisations such as the Red Cross and United Nations, to name a few, and is a modern city full of upmarket restaurants and hotels, with a nightlife that is more pumping than you’d expect. Rooftop cocktail bars, lakeside terraces, live music haunts and techno blaring dance clubs are all here catering to Geneva’s diverse population.
Get to know French-Swiss musical talent by checking out the many performances held as part of Voix de Fête, a Francophone music festival held over several venues in town from 9-15 March. voixdefete.com
Head into the hills to play in the snow around St Cergue, a village in the Jura mountains, just a short hop from Geneva. With snowshoe trails, cross-country-skiing tracks, dog sledding and tobogganing, there's plenty to keep you entertained. st-cergue-tourisme.ch
For a pre-Christmas treat, give your pale winter skin a perk-up at the Sisley spa in one of Geneva's smartest hotels, Le Richemond. A facial in one of its treatment rooms is so relaxing you'll likely fall asleep. The complex also includes a sauna, steam room and relaxation room. Bliss (8 Rue Adhémar-Fabri, dorchestercollection.com).
From mid-November Geneva embraces the chilly days by opening an outdoor ice rink in the lovely Parc des Bastions. Wrap up, hire some skates and try your best not to be outshone by Geneva's ice hockey-loving kids. Entry to the rink is free (Les Bastions, myswitzerland.com).
Make the most of the last days of the summer-bike-hire scheme Genève Roule, which runs till 26 October. Explore Geneva's relatively flat city centre and lake shores on two wheels by hiring a bicycle for up to four hours, completely free of charge. geneveroule.ch
For an active afternoon activity, head to the Parc Aventure des Evaux outside Geneva to climb rope ladders, whizz down zip lines and clamber over trees. Set within a forest, there are 10 different adventure courses of varying difficulty, some suitable for kids. parcaventuregeneve.com
Ogle the latest supercars at the Palexpo convention centre when the world-famous International Geneva Motor Show hits town on 5-15 March. Some 250 exhibitors will be presenting the newest technological advances, prototypes and cars of the future (30 Route François-Peyrot, salon-auto.ch).
Increasingly popular, the annual cross-arts Antigel festival, on 24 January - 8 February, aims to promote local talent through a diverse range of events including music, dance, public art and installations. Last year's event included a mass roller-skating party, bi-plane aerial acrobatics and a promenade performance at Geneva's main hospital. antigel.ch
Celebrating a failed siege on the city in December 1602, the Escalade winter festival (this year on 14 December) attracts crowds to the Old Town to watch torchbearing costumed revellers commemorate the event in a procession. With plenty of hot food and vin chaud to go round, it's a fun way to spend a winter's evening in the city. 1602.ch
It's been 60 years since the founding of the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, better known as CERN. Mark the occasion by visiting its free Universe of Particles exhibition to get your head around particle physics and see the computer the internet was created on (385 Route de Meyrin, cern.ch).
Staged to round off the city's summer festival on 9 August, Geneva's annual fireworks spectacular is an eye-popping affair. Sponsored by some of the world's top financial institutions, a succession of music-set displays light up the lake and the Jet d'Eau fountain, with most of Geneva watching open-mouthed from the shores. geneve-tourisme.ch
There's a party atmosphere on the lakefront on 14-15 June as more than 500 boats take to Lake Geneva for the Bol d'Or Mirabaud sailing regatta. Competitors race the length of the lake (123km) from Geneva to Le Bouveret, with thousands of spectators lining the shores. boldormirabaud.com
This month music stars from all over the world, representing many musical styles, descend on Montreux for the annual Jazz Festival. Even if you don't have a ticket, you can soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the town's tropical micro-climate. montreuxjazz.com
On 20-22 June Geneva's public spaces throng with people enjoying the city's annual free music festival Fête de la Musique Genève. The eclectic programme of 500 events covers jazz, rap, flamenco, rock, classical and more besides, with public participation high on the agenda. Last year's event featured karaoke and piano recitals in the streets. ville-ge.ch
There can't be many better ways to spend a day than by attending the Caves Ouvertes on 24 May, when local winegrowers open up their cellars to visitors. Buy a wine glass for 5 CHF (€4) and use the special shuttle buses to flit between wineries tasting as much as you like. guideduvin.ch
After a winter shut-down, the cable car up to the Salève restarts in April. Just a 20-minute drive from the centre of town, Geneva's local mountain affords wonderful views from its summit. You may even spot Mont Blanc. saleveautrement.ch
Have a boogie in your salopettes at the annual Rock the Pistes festival in the Portes du Soleil ski region on 14-21 March. From Avoriaz to Champéry, the hills will come alive with the sound of music. rockthepistes.com
Take a trip out of Geneva to visit the new Peak Walk. The first suspension bridge in the world to link two mountain summits, it's the latest (free) attraction at ski resort Glacier 3000 and provides a vertigo-inducing view of some of Switzerland's most famous peaks. glacier3000.ch
Head to the resort of La Clusaz to try your hand at "ski joëring", a rather hairy activity in more ways than one. Wearing skis and holding on to a harness attached to a horse, you'll be whisked around a snowy field by your enthusiastic equine guide, much like an extreme version of walking the dog. aravis-passion.com
On a clear autumn day take in the stunning panorama from the summit of Rochers-de-Naye, accessed by mountain railway from Montreux, an hour from Geneva. Linger for longer at the top by staying the night in a Mongolian yurt. goldenpass.ch
A 5km amble through the Lavaux vineyards above Montreux tasting food and wine along the way, La Route Gourmande is a hugely popular annual event held this year on 13 September. Get there from Geneva on the train (best not to drive), which takes just an hour. routegourmande.ch
The blissful Lavey-les-Bains spa, around an hour from Geneva, boasts the warmest thermal water in Switzerland. Relax in the outdoor pool's massage jets and jacuzzi bubbles with a view of the surrounding mountains. The only downside? Having to get out. lavey-les-bains.ch