A splendid Swiss city

If you haven’t been there, Switzerland’s ‘second city’ may appear to live in the shadow of its larger sibling, Zurich. However, anyone who’s visited for even a few hours will realise that this utterly charming and modern city has an identity all of its own, feeling traditionally Swiss at times and Mediterranean at others. Although you’ll be able to tick off all the Swiss essentials – fondue, skiing (on nearby mountains), and chocolate.

Geneva holidays offer visitors far more than just the obvious. For example, the city is a great hub for shopping and it boasts an impressively varied choice of dining options. Then there’s the thriving contemporary arts scene and a surprisingly vibrant nightlife offering, from big-name DJs to jazz. Anyone wanting to get active will also feel at home in Geneva. Warmer months mean outdoor swimming at the city beach and baths, Bains des Paquis, and hiking in the hills and mountains surrounding the city.

When the temperature drops, swap hiking boots for ski boots and take advantage of the nearest slopes, around an hour away from the city. The streets are simple to negotiate, making holidays to Geneva a perfect option for everyone, from couples wanting a weekend getaway and families searching for an easy holiday to solo and business travellers, all of whom will concur that Geneva more than holds its own against Zurich, Basel or Bern.

All resorts in Geneva

Three tips for a top trip

Enjoy free transport
If you’re staying at a hotel, you’re entitled to a Geneva Transport Card, which allows free use of the public transport system (bus, tram, train and even boat).
Visit Carouge
Get away from the tourist hotspots by crossing the Arve river into pretty Carouge. It’s an area with a strong Italian influence that has cafés and shops lining the streets.
Hop on a bike
Geneva is designed with cyclists in mind. There are numerous bike-hire docks around the city, with some giving free rides for the first few hours of a trip.

Best attractions to see in Geneva

Jet d’Eau

Reaching up to 140-metres high, this huge fountain is one of Geneva’s most famous landmarks, made even more impressive by having mighty Lake Geneva as its backdrop.

Palace of Nations

The European headquarters of the United Nations is worth seeing even without the (popular) guided tour, if just to glimpse the flag-lined entry road and Broken Chair sculpture outside.

Bastions Park

This green space enclosing the university is a delight all year. It acts as a hub for locals to jog or cycle around, or they can play on giant chessboards.

Your Geneva questions, answered

It is possible to eat and drink at certain restaurants and bars in the city on a budget if you do some internet research beforehand.

Fondue (a pot of melting cheese into which bread pieces are dipped) is popular in winter, but it’s possible to find it at other times in some traditional restaurants.

The best time to visit Geneva is generally during the summer. The weather at this time is warm, with temperatures reaching highs of 28℃ in the day, making it ideal if you want to enjoy the many outdoor activities and water sports. However, the temperature can drop in the evenings and rain isn't uncommon, so don't forget to pack a jumper and coat.

You’re most likely to see snow in winter between December and February, but a smaller amount of snow often falls in November and March as well.

Geneva is perhaps most famous for being the financial centre of Europe. The city is also home to several international organisations, including the World Health Organisation, the Red Cross and the World Trade Organisation. The city is equally well known for being on the banks of Switzerland’s largest lake. The lake is a popular destination for water sports, while the scenic surroundings make it a perfect for hikers.

The city of Geneva is in Switzerland. It can be found in the southwest of the country and is close to the French border. The city is on the banks of Lake Geneva, which covers both Switzerland and France. French is the most commonly spoken language in Geneva, though German, Italian and English are also used.

As Geneva is quite small, many of its most famous locations can be visited in just a couple of days. However, if you really want to get to know Geneva, a week should be enough as this allows plenty of time to explore the city’s museums, much-loved restaurants and family-friendly water sports. If you stay longer, the Swiss Alps and Jura Mountains, as well as the French border, are all only a couple of hours’ drive away and make a great day trip.

Geneva has several traditional dishes. Cheese fondue is enjoyed across Switzerland, and Geneva is no different. Served in a pot known as a caquelon, fondue is often made moitie-moitie – half-and-half – and is typically a mix of Gruyere and Fribourg Vacherin cheeses. Geneva is also home to the traditional longeole sausage, the original recipe for which dates to the 18th century. It is made with pork flavoured with fennel seeds. A trip to Geneva wouldn't be complete without trying the nation’s famous Swiss chocolate, and the city has many chocolatiers.

Geneva has a selection of great areas to stay depending on budget and preference. The city’s old town has plenty of good hotels as well as charming restaurants and upmarket boutiques. Popular with Geneva’s young university crowd, Plainpalais is ideal if you're seeking nightlife while sticking to a budget. Close to Lake Geneva, the Eaux Vives neighbourhood is a good option for families after a relaxed environment while still being close to the centre.