For those traveling through Europe, Geneva, Switzerland is a must-visit destination. Western Europe’s largest lake and highest mountain provide breathtaking views from anywhere in the city and it’s the perfect starting point for the Alps. Arguably the best shopping in Switzerland lines these charming streets and the world-famous luxury watches (made in Geneva, of course) can be found in the many single-brand boutiques. Historically, Geneva has been a symbol of peace and freedom, a mindset that still continues today with the Geneva Spirit.
As the city is almost completely surrounded by France, it’s easily accessible for a weekend adventure. If you only have 48 hours to spare on your journey, don’t fret! It is the perfect amount of time to experience the best sites of Geneva. Below is our recommended two-day itinerary – from the historic Old Town to the famous water jet, Jet D’eau, and activities like Swiss knife making, watchmaking, and even a winery tour.
[infobox]Tip: A multi-day Geneva Pass is a must – it provides discounts and free activities around the city, including free public transport, and ends up paying for itself in just a few hours. Click here for purchase info. [/infobox]
WHERE TO STAY
Le Richemond. Le Richemond is located along the shore of le lac Léman and has been an iconic staple in the heart of Geneva since 1875. Its central location means that nearly everything in Geneva is just a short walk away and the hotel itself is stunning. Each of the rooms and suites comes with a private balcony or terrace overlooking the lake and the only Sisley Spa in Switzerland is also on-site. For a lush getaway, Le Richemond is the best option in all of Geneva. Read all about my stay here.
Bains des Pâquis. Bains des Pâquis is one the most popular places in Geneva so it makes good sense to start your first day here. The man-made peninsula is surrounded by the lake and one of the most popular beaches in Geneva, as well as the easily-recognizable lighthouse at the end and Les Bains (the Baths). It’s a great place to explore during the day but if you visit during the summer, it’s worth getting up early for the concerts they host every morning at dawn.
Turn on the Jet d’eau. The Jet d’eau (water jet) is another iconic symbol of Geneva that represents the city’s dedication to forward-thinking innovations. The water jet was born unintentionally, when a valve from a hydraulic power machine sent water 30m into the air. Today, the water jet reaches 140m and is open to tourists with guided tours April to October on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
Explore Old Town. A walk through Geneva’s Old Town will take you back in time through the history and culture of the city, with many famous sites, including St. Peter’s Cathedral. The Flower Clock, the biggest clock in the world created to represent Geneva’s watchmaking culture, is a unique site as it appears differently throughout the year, depending on which flowers are blooming. The grand Reformation Wall, which pays homage to the large role Geneva had in the 16th Century Calvinist Reformation, is another symbol of peace within the city and a must-see site. The Geneva Pass includes a free mini-train ride through Old Town that slowly passes by all major landmarks with a soundtrack guide.
Swiss knife making at Victorinox or be a watchmaker at Bucherer. After exploring the city by foot, spend the afternoon or evening participating in the activities the city is famous for by becoming a watchmaker at Bucherer or learning how to make a Swiss knife by the original makers, Victorinox.
Explore Geneva’s Wine Vineyards on E-bike. Start your second day in Geneva off the right way – with a mid-morning wine tour through the “Mandement” wine-growing region of Geneva on an electric bicycle. In the midst of exploring the wine vineyards, you’ll also be able to see the beauty and nature of Geneva’s countryside – something many who only visit the city miss out on.
Stand Up Paddleboarding at Tropical Corner or paragliding at Mont Salève. In the afternoon, those who love being on the water should head to Tropical Corner for some stand-up paddleboarding (SUP). Beginners can receive lessons while others can rent equipment for their own SUP session. Those in need of a bigger adventure can try paragliding at Mont Salève, a unique (and exciting) experience as you take off in France and land in Switzerland.
Night party at Les Voiles. Celebrate your final night in Geneva with a night party at Les Voiles – one of the hottest bars in Geneva. Les Voiles sits on the beach with a perfect view of Jet d’eau and an outside lounge area.
Switzerland produces world-class chocolate and wine so it only makes sense for Geneva to have an exciting, up-and-coming food scene, with starred restaurants, international dishes, and the absolute best wine available. The wine is often produced locally and most chefs make an effort to use fresh, local ingredients for all dishes.
Lunch at La Potinière. Take a break from exploring the city to dine at La Potinière. Located in the English Garden, you have a beautiful view while sipping wine and enjoying lunch.
Cocktails at Brasserie des Halles de l’Ile. End an afternoon of exploring with a well-deserved cocktail at Brasserie des Halles de l’Ile.
Gastronomic dinner at Le Jardin at Hôtel Le Richemond. Staying at Le Richemond comes with an additional perk – Le Jardin. Le Jardin takes pride in innovative but simple dishes using local ingredients and an exemplary wine list.
Lunch in the countryside at Café de Peney. Stay in the countryside after the winery tour for lunch at Café de Peney, with a fixed seasonal menu and world-class wines (as one would expect in wine country!)
Rooftop Cocktail to end of the afternoon at 5 Lounge. Relax after an active afternoon of stand-up paddleboarding or paragliding with an afternoon rooftop cocktail at another of the city’s outstanding hotels, Hôtel Métropole Genève.
Restaurant Edelweiss. For a final meal in Geneva, Edelweiss is a must. It may be a bit kitschy but it offers the textbook “Swiss” experience….and excellent cheese fondue.
No doubt, as a cultural, historical, and foodie destination, Geneva truly is a must-visit city in Western Europe and I recommend placing it at the top of your bucket list!
I’m so thankful for having had the opportunity to experience such an amazing city, courtesy of Visit Geneva Tourism. Both the city and the hotel I stayed in holds a very special place in my travel heart and have sincerely earned my highest of recommendations.