The city of Geneva being a cosmopolitan and an international city has great attractions for the tourists. Geneva is not only rich in wealth but also in diversity, creativity, and history. The financial center is also a hub for many famous watch making brands of the world. The city is beautifully located at the shores of Lake Geneva which is a huge lake and adds to the beauty of the city from many angles.
The romantic promenades of the city with a backdrop of Swiss Alps are surely going to mesmerize you. Geneva has beautiful lakeside parks, museums, amazing architecture, and many other wonderful attractions. The city is also a meeting place for many businessmen, scientists, and officials from the United Nations. Geneva is also known as one of the top rich cities of the world, and also known as one of the most expensive cities as well. Hence, it is always better to do your research and make your budget before traveling to Geneva as a tourist.
Geneva is the 2nd most populated city in Switzerland and is also a worldwide center for diplomacy because of the presence of many international organizations. The city has also been rated as one of the best cities to live in terms of quality of life and facilities.
The list of 25 Geneva Attractions
Old Town – Geneva Attractions
The Old Town of Geneva is the largest historic center of the city where you can find many famous landmarks and places of interest. The famous buildings include the Geneva Saint Peter’s Cathedral, Calvin College, The Reformation Wall, The Tavel House, The Bastion Park and beautiful squares like Place du Bourg-de-Four. The Old Town is lined up with many cafes, shops and has beautiful streets with lots of attractions.
Lake Geneva is obviously one of the best attractions of the city which adds the magnificent natural splendor to Geneva. This lake is the largest in the central Europe and will definitely attract you because of its enchanting atmosphere. You can easily get a boat or cruise to explore this lake and get to know about many other towns and villages that are situated at its shores. The city of Geneva has a beautiful promenade around the lake which is ideal for romantic strolls.
There are so many wonderful attractions around the Lake Geneva that I have written a complete article about the amazing things to do at Lake Geneva. You can check it out and find many amazing and fun activities that you can enjoy at the lake.
Jet d’Eau - Geneva Attractions
Jet d’Eau is one of the most famous fountains in the world which is located at the city center in Geneva. The fountain is a monument that propels five hundred liters of water per second with a speed of 200 km per hour into the air that reaches the height of 140 meters. There is a nice chance of getting wet with the water if you are near the fountain because the wind can bring the water fumes towards you.
The Jet d’Eau has become a landmark and the symbol of the city since it was installed in 1891. The actual purpose of the installation was meant to be a safety valve for the hydraulic power plant. It used to be a 30-meter-high fountain which became a 140-meter-high fountain in 1951 and the city loved the way it looked.
Treille Promenade – Geneva Attractions
Treille Promenade is a famous promenade trail located in the outskirts of the Old Town Geneva. You can easily reach here by walking from the town hall. This is the oldest promenade in Geneva and also famous for having the longest wooden bench in the world. The wooden bench is around 120 meters long, yeah! It is that long. There is also a famous Geneva’s Official Chestnut Tree located at this promenade. The first leaf of this tree announces the spring arrival in Geneva every year.
St Pierre Cathedral
St Pierre Cathedral is the most prominent and famous cathedral in Geneva and its architecture dates back to the 12th century. It was the home of church of John Calvin since 1541 and his personal chair is very well preserved. The recent Neoclassical façade of the building makes it look stunning from the outside. The cathedral itself is built on top of buildings which were even older than the cathedral, and you can explore some of the old remains and learn information about them by going underground at the archaeological site.
The view from the top of the cathedral’s towers is amazing as you can have superb views of the Alps, Jura mountain and the city of Geneva at the shore of Lake Geneva. If you are here in winters, the north towers will be better for you as it is closed room with view. If you are here in summer, the south viewing platform may suit you as it is open air.
Vieille Ville - Geneva Attractions
Vieille Ville is often described as the largest historical center in Switzerland. Vielle Ville is twisted around the hill which was once protected by the defensive walls. The beautiful steep cobblestone streets are amazing where you can find many charming alleys, corners, terraces with viewing platforms, fountains, and historical structures. You will also find many sweet and nice cafes at Vielle Ville scattered around in different corners.
CERN - Geneva Attractions
CERN is one of the famous buildings and a landmark in Geneva as it is the headquarters for the European Organization for Nuclear Research. CERN is the world’s largest particle physics laboratory where historic scientific experiments have been conducted. You can visit the building as there is a visitor center that offers tours of the CERN. You will get to know about some amazing experiments and will also get to tour some parts of the building.
Palais des Nations
Palais des Nations is a wonderful complex that was built in 1930s as the headquarters for the League of Nations (the predecessor of United Nations). Currently Palais des Nations is the second most important office of the United Nations in the world after New York. The building is always in use because it hosts a huge number of international meetings, but you can also take a guided tour of the building. The tours of Palais des Nations are offered in around 15 different languages where you can see many parts of the building depending upon which are empty, and which are in use. You can learn about the building, its architecture, its history, history of UN, history of League of Nations and the Ariana Park which is a 45-hecters park that surrounds the Palais des Nations.
Broken Chair Sculpture
You will also notice a giant 12-meter-high wooden chair next to the United Nations Headquarters. The chair has a broken foot and is placed in the Nations Square. It was placed in front of the Palais des Nations to symbolize the fight against the use of anti-personnel mines. The Broken Chair Sculpture has been sponsored by the Handicap International.
Bains des Pâquis
Bains des Pâquis is a traditional socializing place for the people of Geneva and has an important place in the city’s lifestyle. This is an ideal swimming place in the heart of Geneva with a very friendly and joyful atmosphere. You can see people from all ages and groups who come here to relax and socialize. The admission cost is around 2 francs and the site offers many other facilities like sauna, steam bath, Turkish Hammam, massages and nautical activities. Bains des Pâquis is located along a pier on the west shore of Lake Geneva and also hosts some cultural events in summer.
Mont Salève - Geneva Attractions
Mont Salève sometimes becomes magical when you can still see sunshine and blue skies on it while other parts of Geneva are cloudy. Mont Salève is also known as the balcony of Geneva and is around 1400 meters high. You can reach the summit of the mountain by a cable car which will take you up within 5 minutes. If you like to hike, you can also reach the top of Mont Salève by a well-marked hiking trail.
You will have some stunning views of Geneva and surroundings from the top of the mountain. The surrounding mountains and Lake Geneva provide wonderful scenes to the visitors. On a clear day, you can see up to Mont Blanc from the summit of Mont Salève. There are some cafes and restaurants on top where you can have food and drinks while sitting and admiring the amazing views around Geneva.
Botanical Gardens- Geneva Attractions
The lovely Botanical Gardens of Geneva are located between the Lake Geneva and the Palais des Nations. You can easily reach here by walking from the United Nations headquarters, so it is also a nice idea to put it on your visit list with the Palais des Nations. There is a small Japanese garden and many greenhouses that reproduce various climates that create magical effects on the plants.
The park contains almost 1400 plant species which are collected from different parts of the world. There is a nice metal and glass house that has a winter garden in it. You will be amazed by more than six million specimens in the garden’s herbarium catalogues. There is one part in the park which is a special theme garden which features such plants that evoke our senses of touch and smell. Moreover, there is also a zoo in the park for conservation purpose.
International Museum of the Reformation
International Museum of the Reformation is located next to the Cathedral of St Pierre and was originally the home of John Calvin. The museum describes the defining chapters of the city’s past and tells us the story of the Reformation. You can watch a 15-minutes movie that outlines all the driving forces of the Reformations. You will also find many manuscripts, printed materials, paintings, and engravings related to the times and scenarios of reformation.
Art and History Museum
Art and History Museum is located in the center of the city and hosts a lot of exhibitions of fine arts, archaeology and applied arts. The museum specializes in the Genevan and Swiss art and showcases some amazing works by Jean-Étienne Liotard and caricaturist Rodolphe Töpffe. There is also an amazing draft of fishes from the 15th century at display. You can also view some nice textiles, silverware, and musical instruments in the section of applied arts. There is a 3000-years old Egyptian mummy in the archaeological section.
Natural History Museum
Natural History Museum of Geneva is one of the largest Swiss history museums in the country and was opened in 1960s. You will find various historical objects and discoveries including the specimens of insects that were collected in the 18th and 19th century. The top two floors of the building cover everything from geology to astronomy while the first three floors of the building are dedicated to animals. You will be surprised to meet Janus, who is a spur-thighed tortoise with two heads. Janus was born in the same museum in the incubator in 1997.
Musée Ariana - Geneva Attractions
Musée Ariana is a unique museum about ceramics and glassware located near the United Nations Headquarters. This museum was opened in 1880s by the famous art collector Gustave Revilliod and he named the museum after his mother. The museum has a collection of around 20,000 pieces of glassware and ceramics that are from 12 different centuries and collected from around the globe. You will find almost all types of porcelain and pottery that are collected from different parts of the world.
Parc de la Grange
Parc de la Grange is located at the shore of Lake Geneva and is the largest park of Geneva. The beautiful park has been laid out over lovely terraces with staircases that provided superb viewing platforms from different angles. This park’s land was initially a residence of the wealthy family in Geneva and was gifted to the city by the last owner of this land. There are also two theaters in the Parc de la Grange which are laid ideally because of the setting of the landscapes of the park. There is a rose garden in the Parc de la Grange which grows around 10,000 rose bushes in the summer.
Jardin Anglais - Geneva Attractions
Jardin Anglais (The English Gardens) is a famous public garden for tourists and residents because of its proximity to the Lake Geneva and many shaded areas. Jardin Anglais is ideal for short and romantic strolls and is a relaxation point for the locals.
There is a beautiful flower clock in this park which has the backdrop of the Jet d’Eau fountain which makes it one of the best photography spots in Geneva. The park also has the National Monument of Geneva which commemorates the date when Geneva also became part of Switzerland in 1814. The park also hosts some public music events in summer where you can enjoy some traditional swiss music. There is also a crossing bridge over the Lake Geneva at the end of the park which is called Mont-Blanc Bridge.
International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum
As the name suggests the museum focuses on the appreciation of humanitarian work done by the International Red Cross and Red Crescent. The museum was opened in 1988 and then it was again remodeled and re-opened in 2013. A humanitarian adventure section was also added in the museum which is very innovative and interesting. The museum has three main sections which are about Defending Human Dignity, Reducing Natural Risks and Reconstructing Family Links. All these sections were beautifully designed by world’s leading exhibition designers.
Parc des Bastions
Parc des Bastions is an interesting place to visit if you want to see large life-sized chess boards or want to play ping pong. The park is located next to Place de Neuve and also has the oldest university building inside. This park also takes part in the international Fête de la Musique by hosting concerts in every June. In winters, the park provides an ice rink where the visitors and kids enjoy practicing skating.
Quartier des Grottes
Quartier des Grottes is one of the most affordable places to live near the center of the city in Geneva. The area is very different than the rest of the posh areas of Geneva because it used to be the home of anarchist communes and squats in the 1960s. Quartier des Grottes has been changed a lot in the recent years but it still showcases some of the old history through its streets, walls and residents. The attractive part of the area are the old houses with twisting and colorful fronts. The area also has many interesting corners, cafes, shops and has theaters and cinemas across the streets.
Plainpalais Market - Geneva Attractions
Plainpalais Market is the main flea and farmers’ market of Geneva which opens on every Wednesday and Saturday and on first Sunday of every month. This market is a great visit to get into the deep cultural roots of the Geneva city and to hunt for items for which you can bargain for good prices. The market is full of stalls where you can buy a lot of stuff including homeware, clothing, jewelry, books, handicrafts, and antiques.
Museum of Far Eastern Art
Museum of Far Eastern Art is a great place to admire the collection of Alfred Baur who brought a lot of Far Eastern art in Switzerland. He was born in 1861 and worked in a trading company which allowed him to visit Far Eastern countries. He collected many Chinese and Japanese items as he had a very good idea for the valuable items. His items included the Chinese jade, porcelain, swords, woodprints, and miniature sculptures. The collection has been expanded after many donations were presented to the museum over the time.
L'Escalade - Geneva Attractions
L’Escalade is the annual event of Geneva in which the city commemorates the defense of the city when it was attacked by the Duke of Savoy’s army in 1602. The troops of Duke of Savoy attempted to break into the city at the night of 11th and 12th of December after midnight at 02:00. A humble cook Catherine Cheynel saw the troops sneaking into the city by scaling the walls and unloaded a pot of hot soup on them. The noise alerted the guards of Geneva and a catastrophe was prevented. L’Escalade starts with the victory celebrations and parades from the closest weekend to 11th of December.
International Motor Show
International Motor Show is held in Geneva in March, every year, and is one of the most prominent motor shows of the world. This show is hosted at Palexpo in Geneva and is considered as one of the most impressive cars show in the world. There are many other car-shows which are much larger than the International Motor Show of Geneva, but it got its fame from the high-end and exclusive brands that only showcase their products in this motor show. From the latest models to the concept cars, all big manufacturers participate in this motor show.
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