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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


Founded in 1839, Brachard & Cie (10 rue de la Corraterie) stocks Swiss paper-cut cards, Geneva-based Caran d'Ache art supplies and exquisite stationery.


Couka Poupa (15 rue des Grottes). The owners have been making lollipops and boiled sweets the traditional way since 2015. Whether you stock up on retro classics or try their newest flavours, each fruit rock design is madeby hand. For a master class experience, watch them pull the sugar mass by hand every Tuesday and Friday at 4pm.


For many, the city of Geneva is synonymous to the watchmaking craft. The best way to learn more about it is to take a watchmaking tour of an independent, family owned watch manufacturer. Alpina & Frederique Constant is a great example of the fine Swiss watchmaking. Book well in advance. www.frederique-constant.com


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

Sightseeing


A short train ride from Geneva, “Chaplin's World” in Corsier Sur Vevey is the ultimate museum experience, celebrating the Hollywood icon and devoted family man with a mix of personal memorabilia and reassembled film sets. chaplinsworld.com


"Audrey Hepburn & Hubert de Givenchy, une élégante amitié". Audrey Hepburn's most iconic Hubert de Givenchy original sketches and bespoke haute couture dresses, including the LBD from the Breakfast at Tiffany's opening scene, are on show at the Château de Morges until 17th September (fondationbolle.ch).


Borrow a bicycle from one of Genèveroule's (geneveroule.ch) nine lending stations across town. Come spring, it is by far the best way to explore the city. And if basking in the glorious sunshine while pedalling through town isn't reason enough, the bicycles are free of charge for up to four hours.


The Mapping Festival is Geneva's digital and video arts festival, features architectural mapping on the city's landmarks, A/V clubbing and ground breaking installation art. 11 to 28 May, http://2017.mappingfestival.com/


Located in an impressive building on the banks of Lake Geneva, Ariana museum is dedicated to ceramic and glass artwork. Boasting some 20.000 ceramic and glass objects, it is considered one of Europe's finest museums and is well worth a visit. http://institutions.ville-geneve.ch/fr/ariana/


The city celebrates the new year with the Geneva Lux Festival and Julien Pavillard is its artistic director. When the night falls walk around the city and discover the festive and luminous installations created by Swiss and international artists. www.ville-ge.ch/genevaluxfestival

Key Areas


Head to Cowboy Kurt (rue de Fribourg 8) for the largest choice of leather cowboy boots and authentic western gear this side of Texas. Founder Kurt Hann's larger than life personality is as much of a feature as the unparalleled selection of buckles, hats, jeans and jewellery.


The arty district of Plainpalais is home to one of Europe's largest skateparks, flaunting formidable flows located right at the centre of the Plaine de Plainpalais.


At dusk, cinema-lovers gather at CinéTransat (until 20 August, Parc de la Perle du Lac, cinetransat.ch) for a free, open-air retrospective of much-loved cult movies from the last 20 years. There are also Bollywood and picnic competition theme nights.


Come summer, locals gather at Genève plage's lido (geneve-plage.ch) to enjoy the outdoor pools and giant water slide. The lido still retains a lot of its 1930s charm and is definitely one of Geneva's best spots on a hot summer day. There's a choice of 1, 3, 5 and 10 metre high diving boards into Lake Geneva, while children have a dedicated sand play area and paddling pool.


The bright yellow Mouettes genevoises ferries (mouettesgenevoises.ch, +41 22 732 29 44) provide swift transportation across the lake and striking views of the city from just 2CHF per person.


The newly opened boutique Hygge is a Nordic décor paradise, which transports you to the Scandinavian philosophy of life. Furniture and objects in natural, raw materials and pastel colours, and a deli corner help create a haven of well being. 3 rue des Rois 1204 Genève, http://hygge.ch

Day Trips


One of Switzerland most iconic summer festivals, attracting over 250,000 visitors each year, is the Montreux Jazz Festival. This year it will run until the 15th of July and will feature world class jazz and blues artists, as well as top chart hit singers. If you can't find tickets, head for the Parc Vernex, where the open air Music in the Park line up is free of charge. montreuxjazzfestival.com


The Unesco World Heritage vineyards of Lavaux offer beautiful walking and biking trails, charming wine caves where you can sample the best local wines, plus plenty of charming villages to discover along the way. www.lavaux.com


Head to St Cergue and combine two of the country's winter favourites: snow and fondue. Follow a snowshoeing path, preferably during night, then indulge in melted Swiss cheese at one of the typical Swiss chalets. www.st-cergue-tourisme.ch


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.

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*Prices shown are per person based on two people flying on the same booking. Fees & charges may apply. Min 4 seats available per flight, one way inc. taxes.