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Turn your city break into a microadventure

Geneva: Explore the Jura Mountains


Many people head to Geneva to ski in the Alps. But the less-famous mountains to the north of the city, the Jura Mountains, are a peaceful, beautiful gem. There is great mountain bike potential here, following your nose up small tracks and paths into the wooded heights that overlook Lake Geneva. If you’re just after a day’s ride rather than an overnight camp, then consider hiring a guide to show you the best trains (eg bikeswitzerlandrentals.com/rent-a-bike-guide).

Level of Difficulty: Very Hard (if you're going to bivvy - Hard if you just want a day trip outing).

What to pack: Warm clothes (check the weather forecast!), appropriate cycling kit, woolly hat, headtorch, raingear, sleeping bag, mat and bivvy bag.

Best time to go: summer.

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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. 

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Shopping


Advent calendar, Bains des Pâquis (Quai du Mont-Blanc 30, +41 (0)22 732 2974) Geneva's much-loved lakeside bathing resort is open for meals and entertainment over winter but what to do with the 300 changing rooms? Turn 25 into a glorified Advent calendar, of course. Be at the Bains des Pâquis at 7pm December 1-25 when the door of a changing room will be thrown open to reveal an interior decked out by a local artist.


Follow the Geneva Mystery Tour alone or with your friends and try to find Professor Archibald Kymerion. Get your mystery tour book and entry tickets to various museums linked to your investigation from the Geneva Tourism office and discover the Old Town's historical places in an alternative, fun way. http://www.geneve.com


Cruise along the Rhône river to see the region's serene countryside and villages. Reserve your place in advance and head to Quai des Moulins de l'Ile for this three hour cruise. (www.swissboat.com)


Head to Bains des Pâquis or t? Geneve Plage and make like the locals: rent a Stand Up Paddle (SUP) to enjoy the lake during summertime. Either on a group lesson or on your own, this is one of the best ways to experience Geneva's outdoor lifestyle. For more information visit www.bains-des-paquis.ch, www.geneve-plage.ch.


One of the best things to do in summer is have a picnic in one of the city's many parks - it's a great way to slow down, take in the scenery and absorb the local vibe. If you're not a planner, head to the Restaurant du Parc des Eaux Vives where you can get your lunch, glasses and blanket ready to go. parcdeseauxvives.ch


During summer Geneva celebrates its outdoor spaces so why not enjoy a picnic while watching a free movie under the stars by Lake Geneva. Ciné Transat is on from 14 July to 21 August at the Parc de la Perle du Lac. The movies are broadcast in their original language. cinetransat.ch.

Sightseeing


Dinosaurs, at the Musée d'histoire naturelle (Route de Malagnou 1, +41 (0)22 418 6300) Switzerland's largest natural history museum celebrates 50 years at its current site and to celebrate, has called in the big guns. Exhibition includes a remarkable collection of fossils unearthed in Wyoming by Swiss palaeontologists. Free entry.


Don't miss the Geneva lake festival, one of the city's biggest celebrations taking place from 04th to 14th August along the banks of the lake. With culinary creations from around the world, music concerts, dancing, street performers and roller coasters, the festivities culminate with the renowned fireworks display, taking place on 13th August and setting the lake on fire. www.fetesdegeneve.ch


The Tulip Festival is held every spring in Morges, where the Parc de l'Indépendance blossoms with more than 120,000 tulips of 300 varieties. It's a lovely way to celebrate spring along Lake Geneva's charming lakefront. Free entry, 26 March - 8 May, www.morges-tourisme.ch.


One of the world's major motor shows, the 86th Geneva International Motor show will be held from 3 - 13 March 2016. Year after year, the most prominent manufacturers, along with smaller constructors of high performance vehicles, put on a spectacular show and the crowds return faithfully. www.salon-auto.ch.


Discover contemporary art while popping in and out of five cultural institutions and about a dozen galleries during the Nuit des Bains (14 January) in the Quartier des Bains. For more information visit quartierdesbains.ch.

Key Areas


Chocoholics will love the Chocolate Rally of Geneva, happening 1 October. Pick up your chocolate passport and discover delicious creations from 12 chocolate makers, which this year revolve around the theme of cocoa nibs and raspberry. (www.salondeschocolatiers.com)


Splurge at the brand new private baths, Bain Bleu Hammam et Spa at Geneva Plage. The outdoor baths, heated up to 35 degrees, have beautiful views of the lake and the surrounding mountains. The interior baths, steam room, spa and relaxation area are just as welcoming. For more information visit bain-bleu.ch.

Day Trips


It's a three-hour scenic train ride to the car-free alpine village of Zermatt. Even if you're not a skiier, it's worth the trip for the amazing mountain landscapes.


On 24 September experience the désalpe: the alpine cattle descent that is one of the country's oldest traditions. Farmers wearing traditional costumes and cow horns decorated with flowers are among the highlights, as are the sounds of the Alphorn or the alpine choir. For more information visit www.st-cergue-tourisme.ch/fr.


Paléo Festival is one of the biggest highlights of the Swiss music scene. More than 250 concerts and shows take place annually above the town of Nyon, and this year's line up includes Iron Maiden, The Lumineers, Massive Attack and The Chemical Brothers. 19 to 24 July, http://yeah.paleo.ch.


Book your tickets and watch the legendary Bejart Ballet Lausanne performing at Palais de Beaulieu in Lausanne from 7 to 12 June. On this occasion, two choreographies will be presented exclusively: Giorgio Madia's “Swan Song” and Julio Arozarena's "Corps circuit". (www.bejart.ch)


Discover Geneva's countryside by visiting its outstanding wineries during the Caves Ouvertes on 28th May 2016, a true celebration of the Genevan terroir. Taste wines made from the previous year's harvest, learn all the secrets of Swiss wine and pack some bottles to go. There is also food on offer while many wineries provide entertainment for their guests. (www.geneveterroir.ch)


Arguably one of the most beloved Swiss music festivals, the 34th Cully Jazz Festival offers 9 days of toe-tapping music along Lake Geneva. Expect ticketed and free concerts, prestigious musicians and a loyal audience. From 8 - 16 April 2016, www.cullyjazz.ch.

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