One Day Itinerary Geneva – Top things to do in Geneva, Switzerland
Geneva is the capital of the Swiss Canton of Geneva and is located in the south-westernmost corner of Switzerland. It is situated along the banks of Lake Geneva (Lac Léman), at the mouth of the Rhone River, one of Europe’s most important river, originating in the Alps (Valais) and flowing south to the Mediterranean Sea. Geneva is bordered by the Jura Mountains in the west and the French Alps in the east.
With a splendid view of Lac Léman, Mont Blanc, Old Town, Cathedral, gardens, boulevards, Jet d’Eau and numerous other panoramic sights, the city celebrates the pure essence of peace and beauty. It is also called as the ‘City of Peace’ or ‘City of Parks’ as it relishes a tradition of rich architecture and history with green gardens and parks.
What’s the best time to visit Geneva?
The ideal time to visit Geneva is during late spring and summer (May to October), although the tourists are relatively less in winters. The annual festival of Geneva, Fêtes de Genève happens every first and second week of August and ends with a magnificent firework audio- visual show. Also in summers, the city is more vibrant with long sunshine days, street food festivals, club theme nights, comedy nights, after work parties, park festivals and music events. During March, Geneva also hosts International Motor Show, one of the most prestigious platforms for automobile companies to exhibit their new releases, signature models and vision for the future.
Few facts about Geneva:
Geneva is the second largest populated city after Zurich in Switzerland. With a spread of more than 20 international organisations (including CERN, IATA and EFTA) and more than 300 NGOs, the city boasts of European Headquarters of United Nations. Approximate 40% of the population is non-Swiss or expats who come from various parts of Europe and the World.
One Day Itinerary Geneva:
Tour of United Nations
To start a day in Geneva, it is ideal to first attend the guided tour of United Nations where they show the Council Chamber, the Assembly Hall and many other rooms where important world decisions were taken. It costs 12 CHF per adult and the time of the tour can be referred here. Please carry your ID/ passport for entry.
ICRC Museum, Ariana Park and Jardin Botanique
After the tour, try visiting Museum of ICRC (International Committee of Red Cross and Red Crescent) which is right opposite to the public gate of United Nations. It costs 15 CHF per adult. It features the history of this Swiss Foundation and the vision ahead. Read its complete review here.
Enjoy rest of the first half of the day basking in the Ariana park, getting clicked at the Broken Chair and visiting Botanical Gardens (Jardin Botanique) where one can appreciate the wide range of different species of plants. There is also a Green House that has two floors display of cacti sourced from all over the world.
Lunch at Bains des Pâquis
From Botanical Gardens, take a 20-30 minutes’ walk down around the lake side to Bains des Pâquis. Walking around the lake side would also offer an additional opportunity to experience Jet d’Eau, Geneva’s iconic tallest fountain. At Bains des Pâquis, the entry is generally 2 CHF per adult during summers. There, enjoy a spectacular view of the lake and Jet d’Eau, feast on a lavish meal, relax, swim and get prepared to explore the next destination.
Flower Clock and Place du Molard
From there, head towards the Flower clock (L’horloge fleurie) signifying the Swiss watchmaking tradition and excellence. Another few steps and reach Place du Molard where words like ‘Thank you’, ‘Hello’, ‘Welcome’ etc. are written on the floor in UN official six languages- French, English, Spanish, Arabic, Russian and Chinese. It looks even more stunning when it is dark as all these ikons lit up and it looks like as if the city is glittering in its own peace of sheer aura.
After this impressive moment, discover the Old town of Geneva where the narrow rock lanes, medieval architecture and traditional cafes mark its beauty and identity. Check out the Saint Pierre Cathedral, Maison Tavel and the Russian Church. For just 5 CHF, one can climb upstairs at Saint Pierre Cathedral and can witness a 360 degree view of the city with the lake, Jet d’Eau and bridges on one side and Mont Blanc on the other side. At third floor of Maison Tavel, it is a free invite to appreciate the 3D model of city of Geneva in 1850s.
Parc des Bastions
Walk few steps down and then there is Parc des Bastions. The Reformation Wall highlights the period of Protestant Reformation and is one of the famous landmarks of the city. Stroll around the Park, play chess with life size models and enjoy a frozen treat of relishing ice cream. A little break and the day has just the last leg to uncover.
Dinner and Au Revoir!
The day is incomplete without trying the Swiss Cuisine that primarily comprises of Fondue, Raclette and Rosti. There are a number of Swiss Restaurants, pubs, night clubs and bars between Old Town, Cirque and Eaux Vives. Few recommendations would include Les Armures, Cave Valaisanne et Chalet Suisse, The Barber Shop, L’Atelier Cocktail Club, Rooftop 42 and MO Bar.
After a relishing dinner, end the day with wonderful memories of the city by going back to Jet d’Eau to appreciate its beauty in the dark. Adore the city of peace with peace and love.
Insider tips for visiting Geneva:
- A day pass in Geneva costs 8 CHF after 9 am per adult (without the half card). With this ticket, one can travel via trams, buses, yellow taxi boats and trains within Geneva (Like from airport to city and vice-versa). One ticket costs 3 CHF per adult which is valid up to 60 minutes. The tickets can be bought from the vending machines located on every bus and tram stops. It accepts both cash and card. One can also purchase Geneva City Pass that allows discounts or free entry to various museums and public attractions.
- Geneva Airport offers a free ride to its tourists to the city. One can get a free ticket to the city valid up to 80 minutes from the vending machine placed right at the exit of the baggage area. Infact, most of the hotels also offer free day pass to their customers for easy mobility within the city.
- The official currency of Geneva is CHF, but Euro is also acceptable at most places.
- If there is more time in Geneva:
- If there is more time, one can also visit Carouge, a small Mediterranean town built with an Italian inspiration. It is home to distinct cafes and restaurants, fashion boutiques, workshops, classified ateliers and antique stores.
- One can plan a day trip to Mount Salève (in France). The mountain overlooks the city of Geneva and when the sky is clear, one can view the surrounding areas up to 30 kilometers including the Jura Mountains and the Mont Blanc. One can hike, drive or opt for cable car to climb the mountain. The ticket prices can be purchased both in CHF and Euros. The ticket prices can be seen here. Additional activities include paragliding, a visit to Buddhist Monastery and picnicking at the peak of the mountain enjoying a panoramic sight.
- CERN: At CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, physicists and engineers use the world’s largest and most complex scientific instruments to study about the fundamental particles of the matter. The free guided tour of approximately 2 hours features a descriptive video film, machines that were used in the past, scientific devices that are used to determine these particles and also showcase live experiments to explain the processes conducted at CERN. Reservations for tours open 15 days in advance, but an additional tour is open for booking 3 days in advance to allow late bookings.
I hope you have enjoyed my one day itinerary Geneva as much I did experiencing it and writing about it. To get more freshly brewed content on travel, join my conversation on social media. And yes, pin it.