If you read my blog regularly, you know for sure, we first visited Geneva last year with children. Last weekend, however, I had the rare opportunity to visit her without children, only with a friend. You can probably imagine that the difference in both visits was diametrical. The fact that you can walk through the city without children means that you definitely see more * and you can
drink more drinks walk at your own pace.
*of course, it’s up to you, if you decide to stick it in the first café and just enjoy the atmosphere, then you probably won’t see anything more.
Geneva is the second-largest city in Switzerland after Zurich. For many people, it only serves as a transport city, where they get off the plane and head inland to discover the beauties of Switzerland. But it would be a shame not to stop here and not spend at least one day, or preferably more. Because Geneva and its surroundings definitely have a lot to offer. Geneva offers not only amazing views of the lake but also several unique attractions that you will not find anywhere in the world. Quite surprisingly, many of them are free. You can use this article as a guide to Geneva, which will take you to the most famous places, which are free, but you will also find tips for other day trips in the area.
hese boats represent public transport on Lake Geneva between the four ports in the city center. Since my friend and I both had a Day Pass, so we had free public transport in Geneva. You will receive a Geneva Transport Card when staying at any hotel in Geneva. With it, you will also have free public transport in Geneva.
2. Brunswick Monument
Before arriving at Pâquis port, you will see the Brunswick Monument on the left side of Quai de Mont Blanc. This neo-Gothic mausoleum was built in 1879 to commemorate the life of Charles II, Duke of Brunswick (1804–1873), who bequeathed his property to the city of Geneva in exchange for a monument to bear his name. The monument is a replica of the tomb of the Scaliger family, which was built in Verona, Italy in the 14th century.
3. Jet d’Eau
One of the most famous landmarks in Geneva is Jet d’Eau. The first such water jet was built in Geneva in 1886 to help control and release excess water pressure in nearby hydraulic turbines. The tourist attraction, which is now of purely decorative significance, sprays water to a height of 140 meters, while 500 liters of water flow through the nozzle every second at a speed of around 200 km/h.
If you are anything like me, you won’t be able to stop taking pictures of Jet d’Eau from all possible angles. 😉
4. Jardin Anglais with the Flower Clock
The Jardin Anglais is a relatively small and touristy park on the shore of Lake Geneva. Its biggest draw is L’Horloge Fleurie (flower clock) near the entrance. This is a popular attraction that symbolizes the Geneva tradition of watchmaking and is, of course, another popular photo spot. The floral decoration of the clocks – that actually work – varies depending on the season, depending on how different flower species bloom.
5. “Window shopping” on the Rue du Rhône
Rue du Rhône near the Jardin Anglais is Genevas high-end street. Here you will find boutiques of luxury brands and one can enjoy (and of course shop).
6. Strolling around the Old Town
The Old Town (La Vieille Ville) is characterized by cobbled streets, historic buildings, cafes, and many restaurants. When you walk through this, it feels like walking through a time machine. The charm of the Old Town is hard to resist with each winding turn giving you a
Cathedrale de St-Pierre – St. Peter’s Cathedral
In the middle of the Old Town stands St. Peter’s Cathedral, which was originally built by Roman Catholics and later converted into a Protestant church during the Reformation. Visiting the cathedral is free and the cathedral is open to the public every day. But if you want to climb 157 steps to the tower, from where there is a wonderful panoramic view of the city, you will have to buy a ticket (CHF 5).
As I wrote in my previous blog post, the interesting thing about this place is that in 1864, representatives of sixteen countries signed the Geneva Convention on Human Rights during the wars in the Alabama Room.
Maison Tavel & Old Arsenal
Directly opposite the Town Hall, you will find the Ancient Arsenal – an arcade with five cannons and mosaic frescoes depicting various periods in the history of Geneva. The Maison Tavel, located a few steps away, is the oldest house in Geneva. Today it houses the Museum of the History of Geneva, admission is free.
7. Parc des Bastions & the Reformation Wall
A monument built into the old city walls with “prominent” figures of the Protestant Reformation. The park is a great place to relax, you can play chess with giant figures here.
8 . Pointe de la Jonction
Pointe de la Jonction is a fascinating place where the river L’Arve meets the Rhône. What makes this place interesting is the extreme color contrast between the two rivers. The Rhône is turquoise and incredibly clear, while the water in the L’Arve River seems to be muddy and brown. A better photo would definitely be from the viaduct opposite, where there is a footbridge.
A side note: It is of course fascinating to see the connection of two rivers, but a walk to the place is not exactly what you imagine under the term “picturesqueness and beauty of Switzerland”. Along the bus depot is a narrow beach where the “alternative scene” (euphemism) meets and at home we found out that the place is not quite safe (well, we all make mistakes). So I really recommend taking a walk to the viaduct.
9. Palace of Nations and the Broken Chair monument
Tram 15 will take you here from the train station. The Palais des Nation is the European headquarters of the United Nations and the organization’s second worldwide office. A large chair with a broken leg was placed here as a tribute to the victims of landmines. It was interesting to find out that near this place (in the direction of the railway station) you will find a street named after the first president of Czechoslovakia.
10. Bains des Pâquis
I believe you will be pretty tired at the end of the day. Therefore, it is definitely worth a visit to the Bains des Pâquis, which is located a short distance from the place where we began exploring Geneva – the Quai de Mont Blanc. They offer a great place to swim and hang out.
Where to eat
On the shores of the lake at Jet d’Eau you will find several bistros offering snacks à la sandwich, panini, hamburger, etc. Many restaurants offering a varied menu can be found in the streets of the Old Town, around Place du Bourg-de-Four.
Read my 5 tips for day trips from Geneva
If you are a fan of actress Audrey Hepburn, the name of this village certainly rings any bells. In 1963, Audrey Hepburn bought a late 18th-century homestead called “La Paisible” in this town in the canton of Vaud, which means peaceful or peaceful. In this house, Audrey raised both sons and died here on January 20, 1993.
And how to get here? From Geneva, take the train to Morges (approximately 26-34 minutes – depending on the type of train) and from there take bus line 702 to Tolochenaz, La Plantaz (8 minutes). You get off at the local cemetery, where the actress is buried, and then you can go to the center of the village, from where it is a short walk to her house.
15 minutes by train from Geneva (also on the shores of Lake Geneva) you will find the town of Nyon, whose history dates back to the Roman Empire. More photos and information you can see in a separate blog post.
If you board a CGN boat in Nyon, you will reach the town of Yvoire on the other shore of Lake Geneva in 20 minutes. Yvoire boasts the title of “France’s most beautiful village”. Yes, you can just bounce to France from Switzerland so easily 🙂
The town of Morges is perfect to visit in the spring at the turn of April and May, when the Tulip Festival takes place in a Independence park on the shores of the lake.
Vevey is located on the shores of Lake Geneva and is sometimes called the “pearl of the Swiss Riviera”. It may be in the shadow of the more famous Montreux, but this beautiful city is definitely worth a visit.
So what do you say? Geneva and the surrounding area definitely have something to offer, don’t they? I believe that I will look here again soon because there is still a Botanical garden, a Natural History museum and also CERN left on my list of places I would like to visit here.