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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


A whole weekend dedicated to dance will pump energy and rhythm into the city's outdoor and cultural spaces during this year's edition of the Dance Festival, which will be held between 13 and 15 May. Performances, courses and evenings covering everything from hip hop and modern to tango, guarantee that everyone will be pleased. (www.fetedeladanse.ch/geneve)


Head to the pretty Parc des Bastions to ice skate on the outdoor rink that pops up here each winter. Skate hire is available on site, while access to the rink is free of charge. If you'd rather just watch, grab a hot chocolate on the terrace of the lovely pavilion-style café next to the rink.


Take to a Segway to glide around Geneva, seeing the city from a new and fun perspective. City Wheels offers a variety of tours of the city and surrounding area, including one of the Old Town. Private tours are also available. citywheels.ch


Geneva's wakeboarding centre recently opened a new wake cable. Book a lesson in advance or just turn up to tackle the kickers and sliders of this 190m cable right on Lake Geneva. wake.ch

Sightseeing


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.


An annual fixture for more than 20 years, Geneva's international film festival, Tous Ecrans, is on from 6 to 14 November and includes many English language premieres. For more information visit tous-ecrans.com.


Celebrating all things chocolate, the Salon International des Chocolatiers on 10 and 11 October is a chance to meet artisan producers, watch chocolate making demonstrations and, most importantly, take part in tasting sessions. For more information visit www.salondeschocolatiers.com.


Staged in central Geneva and surrounding towns over 16 days during early September, La Batie festival presents an eclectic programme of contemporary dance, music, theatre and visual arts. batie.ch

Key Areas


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.


Make the most of the warm summer nights by heading up the nearby Salève mountain, just a bus ride from the city centre. On Thursdays to Saturdays the cable car's late-night summer opening means you can linger on the mountain top and watch the sun go down over the city below. telepherique-du-saleve.com


With its outdoor swimming pools, beach, sports facilities and park, you could hang out all day at Genève Plage, the city's lakeside summer playground. geneve-plage.ch


The streets and squares of Lausanne, a 40-minute train ride from Geneva, will be alive with the sound of music on 21 June for the Fête de la Musique, a free open-air festival that sees local musicians play live on stages around the city. fetemusiquelausanne.ch

Day Trips


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.


Chocoholics rejoice! Festichoc, the festival dedicated to all things chocolate, happens on 12 and 13 March 2016. Chocolate sculptures competitions, workshops for kids and a visit to the prestigious Favarger chocolate factory are all on the sweet menu. For more information visit www.festichoc.ch.


Take advantage of the Swiss winter and go snowshoeing at family friendly ski resort Les Paccots. Finish the day with a well deserved hearty fondue in one of the local restaurants. For more information visit les-paccots.ch.


Head to the Château d'Oex from 23-31 January and be dazzled by the air shows and hot air balloons that colour the sky during the International Balloon Festival. You can also book your own balloon flight and marvel at the Pays d'Enhaut valley from up above. For more information visit festivaldeballons.ch.


Take a trip down the lake to the pretty town of Montreux, which hosts one of Switzerland's biggest Christmas markets. Browse its 150 stalls for handmade gifts and edible treats while indulging in a vin chaud or three. For more information visit montreuxnoel.com.

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