Geneva City Breaks
Our Geneva city breaks take in this beautiful, cosmopolitan city in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, framed by the Alps and situated at Europe's largest lake, Lake Geneva. Geneva has Switzerland's second largest population and is recognised as being one of the world's most important cities for regular meetings of international committees, although Geneva is much more than this.
The city is not only the world capital of watchmaking but also a place of wonderful lakeside parks, world-class cultural events and exhibitions as well as gastronomic delights. It is home to more than 200 international organisations and is widely recognised as the City of Peace. As an open-minded city, Geneva makes its guests soon feel at home.
Did you know?
Mary Shelley wrote her famous novel Frankenstein whilst staying at the Villa Diodati. You're sure to recognise a number of references from the book during your Geneva city break.
Every year, the start of spring is officially announced when the first bloom appears on the Chestnut tree outside the parliament building.
Live like a local
Have an authentic experience by doing some of these typically Genevan activities:
Take to the water in a traditional Belle Epoque era steamship. You can travel across to Lausanne via some of the charming French villages situated on the lakeside.
There have been public baths at this point on the lake since 1890 and they serve as a lively meeting point for locals when the weather is hot. You can take a dip in the water, lounge in the sun or try water sports such as paddleboarding.
Food and flea market
The regular food markers give you the chance to converse with local producers and try some Genevan delicacies.
Swiss Cheese Fondue
Traditional Swiss chocolate
Perch fillets in a white-wine sauce - caught fresh from the lake
- Flight time from London: 1 hour 35 min
- Genève Aéroport: 6km from the city centre; transfer time about 8 min
- Nearest railway station: Gare de Cornavin
- Currency: Swiss franc
Stroll the promenades around the lake, soak up the atmosphere and relax in one of the lakeside parks or cafés. For a unique perspective of the city, take a one or two-hour boat cruise.
The Old Town
Stroll along the cobblestone streets and visit some of the beautiful antique stores located throughout the Old Town. Head to the Art and History Museum or the Maison Tavel, Geneva's oldest house, and go and see Saint Peter's Cathedral.
The United Nations Building and Red Cross Museum
Take a tour of the European Headquarters of the United Nations followed by a visit to the Red Cross Museum across the street.
Located near the fountain at Bourg-de-Four, La Clemence is a popular meeting spot, boasting the largest terrace in the Old Town and a friendly atmosphere.
Popular with the international crowd, the Alhambra is a trendy but friendly bar, spinning world music and serving a full range of cocktails. There are comfortable couches to laze upon and interesting artwork on the walls.
As Geneva's premier classical music venue, Victoria Hall has attracted the finest orchestras from around the world since its inauguration in 1894. The Rococo style building seats 1,850 and is renowned for its exceptional acoustics.
Any overnight stay within the city of Geneva comes with a free Geneva Travel Card. You can use this to travel on any of the buses, trains and boats that are part of the UNIRESO network. What's more, anyone arriving at Geneva airport can enjoy a free transfer into the city centre. This journey takes just six minutes and tickets can be bought from the baggage reclaim hall.
An iconic image of Geneva, the Jet d'Eau has been erupting from the lake since 1891. It shoots 140 metres into the air and gets through 500 litres every minute. Just north of Geneva, Berne's "lac de Neuchatel" is another popular visitor attraction with those arriving in western Switzerland. Our Bern City Breaks offer spectacular views of the surrounding lakes and good transport links to Geneva.
Palais des Nations
The European headquarters of the United Nations is situated within the Parc de l'Ariana. Visitors can take a look inside the Human Rights Room, the Salle des Pas Perdus and the Assembly Hall as part of daily guided tours.
The Globe of Science and Innovation
This globe-shaped landmark gives visitors an idea of the type of work that goes on at the European Council for Nuclear Research (CERN). As well as other interesting exhibitions, 'The Universe of Particles' takes a closer look at the Big Bang and the atoms all around us.
International Museum of the Red Cross and Red Crescent
Geneva is the birthplace of the Red Cross, founded by Henry Dunant. This museum looks at his important work in establishing what is now one of the world's leading charities and also focuses on the emotional side of humanitarian work.
The Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art features works from the last 50 years, with a particular focus on Swiss artists such as Helmut Federle, Sylvie Fleury and Fabrice Gygi. Switzerland's largest art gallery also hosts regular events as part of 'La Nuit des Bains', international artists showcase their work.
A look around the historic Old Town (Switzerland's largest) will uncover the Town Hall. It was here, in the 'Alabama' room, that the first ever Geneva convention was signed in 1864
Discover The City of Parks
One nickname often given to Geneva is the 'City of Parks'. Spend some time exploring Parc La Grange's Rose Garden or the 'Flower Clock' in the English Garden to see the natural side of this beautiful city.
Extending from the banking district to Eaux-Vives, the parallel streets of 'Rue du Rhone' and 'Rue du Marche' make up Geneva's most famous shopping district. Designer retail stores and world famous watchmakers line the streets.
Rue du Mont Blanc
Although not as fashionable as the city centre, there is an equally large selection of clothing and jewellery on display along Rue du Mont Blanc and its surrounding streets. This is the best area to pick up typical Swiss souvenirs.
The Old Town
If you're looking for art or antiques, the Old Town is the place for you. The 'Grand Rue' is the primary shopping street but don't be afraid to discover the Old Town's many winding alleys as well.
Modelled on a Parisian brasserie, this Geneva hotspot is the consummate French bistro serving up all things French from pot-au-feu to charcuterie.
This popular restaurant is housed in a Swiss chalet and features live traditional Swiss music and yodelling every night. Menu highlights include the famous cheese fondue.
Open Cellars Day - 20th May 2017
This is the perfect chance to taste some of the local wines produced on the slopes of Lake Geneva. Wineries, restaurants and hotels will throw open their doors for you to try the vintages for free.
Geneva Street Food Festival - 9th - 11th June 2017
Food trucks and restaurant stalls line the streets to give you a taste of the region and further afield.
Bol d'Or Mirabaud - 16th - 18th June 2017
Competitive sailors from all over Europe take to the lake for the world's largest inland regatta. Teams race the entire length of Lake Geneva and back as the crowds cheer them on from the bank.
Fêtes de Genève - 3rd - 13th August 2017
A party atmosphere takes over Geneva for this 11-day period as a range of festivities is enjoyed on the banks on the lake. Predominantly a music festival, there is also plenty of food to try, activities to take part in and firework displays in the evenings.
The Giants - Royal de Luxe Nantes - 29th September - 1st October 2017
Royal de Luxe have become famous around the world for their giant puppets which act out stories across various different cities. This amazing piece of street theatre comes to Geneva in 2017.
Fête de l'Escalade - 8th - 10th December 2017
This quirky event celebrates the act of a woman called Mère Royaume who, in 1602, protected the city by launching a pot of hot soup at the Duke of Savoy's troops who were attempting to climb the city walls. During the festival, bonfires are lit, there are parades and members of each family smash chocolate pots.