7 Best Things to Do in Geneva, Switzerland

May 30, 2017

Creators of travel blog GOBeyondBounds explore the best of Geneva's attractions to bring you seven of the best things to do in this incredible Swiss city.

This global city is a centre for numerous international organisations like the United Nations and the Red Cross, and it's no surprise Geneva has been voted the best city for quality of life for expatriates and locals alike. Though there are several other prominent destinations in Switzerland that should be on your bucket list, there's something about this beautiful Swiss gem that European travellers simply can't ignore.

Read on to discover seven attractions in Geneva that will make you love this city as much as the people who live here.

1. First stop: Palais des Nations

Palais des Nations flags in Geneva

The Palais des Nations or United Nations is the heart of the city of Geneva. This should be one of the first attractions you visit in the city, along with the broken chair opposite the Palais des Nations which symbolises the fight against antipersonnel mines. Don’t miss the flags of 192 member states that line the alley through the large entrance of the site. One can also attend a guided tour of the site, which lasts for around 90 minutes and walks you through various missions and activities of the UN. You may also end up witnessing one of the several protests that happen in the space opposite the UN around the broken chair.

2. Wander the Old Town

Geneva Old Town

The Old Town is the most beautiful part of Geneva. The narrow cobblestone streets diverting from the bustling main shopping area of the city will transport you back in time. Pick up some scrumptious street food from the stalls lined up in the market (usually on Saturdays) and start your stroll up the alley into the Old Town. There are gorgeous fountains at every corner and several small cafes tucked away in the age-old buildings. The magnificent 12th century Saint Peter's Cathedral is an iconic landmark and offers exceptional vistas of the city from its towers.

3. Patek Philippe Museum

Swiss made watch

This is a unique museum worth visiting. Swiss watches are famous all over the world and are known for their style and elegance. Patek Philippe Museum displays a collection of exceptionally fascinating masterpieces dating back to the 16th century. A tour of the museum provides an interesting and intriguing insight into the history of watch making and enameling.

4. Take in the beauty of the Parks and Gardens

Geneva floral clock

The city of Geneva is often dubbed the City of Parks. In fact, Geneva is one of the greenest cities in Europe with 20% of it covered in green spaces. There are several parks spread around the city, and along with Lake Geneva, they make for a great spot to unwind from the hustle and bustle of the city centre.

Things to look out for include the famous floral clock of Geneva which is located in the garden alongside Lake Geneva, and the fountain Jet d'Eau. The fountain pumps water up to a height of 140 metres and is a spectacular sight to behold, especially in the evenings when it is illuminated. Several parks host cultural festivals and events across the summer so look out for these too.

5. Giant Chess and the Reformation Wall

Geneva outdoor chess

Parc des Bastions is another park in Geneva, which is also of historical importance. The park is home to the international monument of the Reformation built in 1909 and inaugurated in 1917. The monument is composed of statues of the four great preachers: Guillaume Farel, Jean Calvin, Theodore de Beze and John Knox. At the entrance of the park there are giant chessboards where tourists can enjoy using their brains in a tactical (and extra large) game of chess.

6. Plainpalais Flea Market

Plainpalais Flea Market

Credit: Nicolas Nova / Flickr (CC)

This market at Plainpalais is one of the largest flea markets in Switzerland and has been running since 1970. It sells almost everything including antiques, paintings, furniture, second-hand clothes and other bric-a-brac; you name it, they've probably got it. A visit to the market is a great way to experience the local culture and get some great bargains in the process. You never know - you might find that great vintage item every bargain hunter dreams of.

On Sundays, next to this market is a colourful food market selling vegetables, cheese, flowers and fruits, as well as some scrumptious ready-to-eat street foods like waffles, pancakes and churros.

The outdoor market is open Wednesdays and Sundays from 08:00 to 17:00 all year. 

7. Explore the Neighbourhood of Carouge

Carouge tram in Geneva

Credit: Tom Page / Flickr (CC)

The neighbourhood of Carouge is teeming with great restaurants, boutiques, artisanal shops, cafes and nightclubs. The locals usually visit to unwind and indulge in a shopping spree. The city of Carouge, designed by architects from the Italian city of Turin in the 18th century, has retained its charm, boasting unique architecture of Sardinian heritage and is endearingly known as the "Little Italy" of Geneva. The huge food market in Carouge sells fruit and veg, cheese, honey, fresh bread, flowers, wine and locally made treats, and is reason alone to visit Carouge.

What's your favourite Geneva attraction? Let us know by tweeting us @travioor or post a comment on Travioor's Facebook page.

Rashmi & Chalukya - GOBeyondBounds We are family travel bloggers from Mumbai. We have travelled through 18 countries in Europe, 15 in 2015 alone with our daughter who joined us at an age of 6 months. We share our travel experiences at gobeyondbounds.com.