From the lakeside promenades to the stately European home of UN, Geneva is a magnificent, culturally diverse city with a reputation for grand vistas and a strong international influence. Whether you spend your time feasting on Swiss cuisine or strolling through the Old Town, city breaks in Geneva are a real treat.
One of the most dramatic sights in Geneva, and also one of the most iconic, is the Jet d'Eau. This 140m jet shoots up a stream of water at a speed of around 200km per hour. The plume of water was originally an outcome of a pressure release system for a hydropower generator on the Rhône River, but it proved so popular with locals that the city made it a permanent feature in 1891. At night it is lit up and makes a beautiful backdrop for walks beside Lake Geneva. If you walk around the lakeside quay you’ll find a variety of cafés and restaurants, as well as plenty of tour operators offering trips across the water.
The birthplace of the famous Genevan philosopher, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, can be found in the Old Town at Espace Rousseau. Also in the Old Town is the impressive Cathédrale St-Pierre, built in the 11th century and fronted by a lavish 18th century Neoclassical façade. In the 16th century this was where the Protestant John Calvin would preach and if you go inside the church you’ll be able to see his seat. There are stairs in the church leading up the attic and the northern and southern towers – if you’re up for the climb these are a great way to see the varied architecture of the building. You can learn more about the life and work of John Calvin at the nearby Musée Internationale de la Réforme.
First home to the League of Nations and now home to the United Nations, the Palais des Nations is a great place to visit if you’re making a trip to Geneva. There are informative guided tours of the building as well as a vast 46-hectare park to explore, full of ancient trees and peacocks. As well as diplomacy, another highly technical art Switzerland is famous for is watchmaking. The Patek Phillipe Museum is an excellent place to learn about the development of this craft from the 16th century to the present day. If you’d rather see some art, the Musée d’Art et d’Histoire has a fantastic collection and there are a number of temporary exhibitions on show at the Cité du Temps building beside the lake.
Geneva’s proximity to France means there’s plenty of French cuisine available throughout the city, and the international influence of the UN has attracted a number of international restaurants. If you’re looking for something sweet, Crêperie des Pâquis has a variety of crepes on the menu. For lakeside fondue, head to Buvette des Bains, then kick back with cocktails at the stylish Brasserie des Halles de l'Île on an island in the Rhône.