Geneva travel guide
Set along the River Rhode against a backdrop of the majestic Alps, Geneva is Switzerland's second largest city, and it is also its most chic, cosmopolitan and multicultural. Elegant stores, boutiques, nightclubs, museums and art galleries and a year round calendar of cultural activities make the city a favorite destination for many visitors. The Jet d'Eau - the highest fountain in Europe - will draw you to Geneva's famous lake where a crisp breeze, known locally as the bise or kiss, encourages every kind of water sports enthusiast, from sailors to windsurfers.
Mistakenly considered by many to be the capital of Switzerland, French-speaking Geneva is nonetheless one of the country’s most significant cities and has the second highest population after Zurich. We hope our Geneva travel guide will give you all the travel and tourism information you need if you are planning a visit to this extraordinary city, often referred to as the capital of peace. Housing a number of significant agencies of the UN; the headquarters of the Red Cross and home of the Geneva Convention, this honorary title is unsurprising.
Geneva is also often referred to as Switzerland’s capital of culture. Its Grand Theatre and Opera House have earned it world renown as the venue for some of the world’s most prolific artists. The 1,500-seater venue in the Place Nueve hosts regular opera, ballet and choral seasons. It is a majestic building, with its architecture inspired by the Opera House of Paris. There are many museums offering diverse delights, including an intriguing watch museum (Musée international de l'horlogerie), the International Red Cross Museum and the Jean Jacques Rousseau Institute.
A walk through the narrow streets of the Old Town on the left bank of the Rhône, will yield up many architectural delights, such as the cathedral and town hall as well as well as numerous picturesque buildings, shadowy courtyards and pretty fountains. Admire the famous flower clock (l’Horloge Fleurie), near the Pont du Mont Blanc, whose floral face changes with the seasons, the tiny Ile Rousseau, or indulge in some retail therapy along Les Rues-Basses – Geneva’s fashionable shopping district.
Because Geneva drapes itself like a colourful scarf around the shoulders of Lake Geneva, much of its life takes place on and around this beautiful, glittering Alpine waterway. The Jet d’eau can be seen from a great distance spurting its towering water jet 140 metres into the sky and draws all visitors to it. It pumps 500 litres of lake water per second and is lovely to see illuminated on summer evenings. Geneva is a city of shaded parks and lakeside promenades. In the summer, it blooms into a sea of flowers decorated by 40,000 rose bushes. Ideal for strolling about, the most popular parks are Park la Grange and the Jardin Anglais with its famous clock made of flowers.
Walk or cycle the banks of the beautiful lake, weaving in and out of the many pretty parks and gardens. The scent of roses wafts through the air from the Parc la Grange as do the tempting aromas from lakeside eating placing offering every cuisine imaginable. Alternatively you can wine and dine as you cruise the mighty lake under glistening Mont Blanc and admire the castles and grand houses on the hillside. In winter enjoy skiing or snowboarding weekends or longer breaks at some accessible top class resorts.
At night at least one foray into the Carouge area will be in order. Here you can explore the alternative arts scene of Geneva with its avant garde clubs, bars and nightclubs. Whilst it cannot be argued that Geneva is expensive (rated the fourth costliest city in the world in 2009), the quality of life is exceptional and this will make your visit to Geneva uniquely memorable.