Getting to know Geneva
What you can do for free in Geneva
- Visit MAMCO
Featuring international and Swiss works from the 20th century, up to today, Geneva’s Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art is a fascinating and thought-provoking place that should be on your Geneva holiday to-do list. Good news is, the first Wednesday of every month, there is late opening and free admission from 6 to 9 p.m., with a guided tour starting at 7 p.m.
- Climb up on Mont Salève
Get some exercise, some fresh mountain air and enjoy the stunning views! Mont Salève has numerous hiking and mountain biking paths, as well as paragliding and cross-country ski trails. If you’re not into all that, you can go for a cable car that will drop you at the observation deck.
- Jet d’Eau and Jardin Anglais
The Jet d’Eau, this large, mesmerizing fountain is a symbol of the city of Geneva. It pumps water as high as 140 m and is visible from most parts of the city. The Jardin Anglais is a beautiful public park, located on the banks of Lake Geneva. A quay at the end of the park leads to the fountain. Visitors can also take a look and a picture at the gorgeous Flower Clock or the “L’horloge Fleurie”, a popular attraction and a symbol of the watchmaking tradition of Geneva.
Top spots to visit
- Cathédrale St-Pierre
St Peter’s Cathedral was built in the 12th century, but underwent significant transformations in the 16th century. Visitors can climb 157 steps to reach the top of the north tower, where they are met with an incredible panorama of the city and the lake. The archaeological site below the Cathedral can also be visited.
- Old Town (Vieille Ville)
Geneva’s Old Town is an ancient maze, made of small streets and picturesque squares. This is the place to go if you’re looking for anything from cafés and restaurants to galleries, museums and historical sights. Going there will grant you a pretty amazing look into the into the times of ancient Geneva, about 1000 years back in time.
- Palais des Nations
The Palais des Nations is the home of the European headquarters of the United Nations, also the largest UN centre after New York. Many works of art are also on display there. The Palais des Nations opens its doors daily and visitors can go on some fantastic guided tours.
Hidden spots to visit
- Parc Alfred Bertrand
The peaceful quarter of Champel is where you’ll find this very calm and relaxing park. This is a great spot to visit in the autumn, to be delighted by the amazing colors that the trees wear during this season.
- Pointe de la Jonction
The Pointe de la Jonction is another calm, green spot where you can go to unwind. This place is right where the two rivers of Geneva, the Rhône and the Arve, converge, creating a hypnotic natural phenomenon, known as a two-toned river.
Hidden away, in the Swiss countryside, at the foot of the Jura mountains lies the CERN – short for the European Organization for Nuclear Research. This is the world’s largest physics lab. This is the place where scientists can deduce insights into the Big Bang and the makeup of stars, and even discover new particles. CERN has two exhibitions open to the public, the Globe of Science and Innovation and the Microcosm exhibit. Individual and group tours are also offered Monday through Saturday in English and French.
Some of the best fine-dining restaurants, with menus mostly based on the French and European cuisines are: Intensus, Fiskebar, Bayview and Le Jardin.
Best local cuisine restaurants include Bistrot du Boeuf Rouge, Bistro de la Tour, Cafe du Soleil and Restaurant Les Armures.
Spend less money but still on some great and more diverse food at Parfums de Beyrouth, Chez Ma Cousine Vieille-Ville, La Limite and Le Radar de Poche.
Recommended time for visiting
Although the most crowded period, June to August seems to the best time to visit Geneva. The weather is mild and breezy, there is plenty of sun, but rain is also to be expected.
September to November are great for visiting if you don’t mind a somewhat colder weather, with an average of 10 to 12 degrees Celcius. There are also less tourists during this time, and prices are generally lower.
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