Languages: German, French, Italian, Raeto-Romance
Best Time to Visit: June to September
Time Zone: GMT +1
Driving Side: Right Side
Main Attractions: Lake Geneva, Jet d'Eau, International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum, St Peter's Cathedral, Bastion Park, Place Neuve, etc
One of the most beautiful cities of Switzerland, Geneva is a place meant for those who appreciate natural beauty and love to travel through the confines of time. It is the place where Lake Geneva mesmerizes you with its beauty and International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum impresses you with its amazing exhibits. Situated at the foothills of the snow-capped Alps, Geneva is perfect setting for exploring the simple and rustic lifestyle of the countryside. In short, it is the place where you can have a break from the monotony of daily life and rejuvenate yourself fully. In case you want to learn about the things to do in Geneva, make use of the information given below.
Places to See in Geneva
The most popular tourist attraction of Geneva, Lake Geneva claims the distinction of being the largest lake in central Europe. It is shared by Switzerland and France and lies in the westernmost district of Vaud. The alpine landscape, contiguous wooden chalets, vineyard-covered gradients and azure waters of the lake seem to provide the perfect inspiration to artists all over the world. Combine this with the nearby mountain ski resorts, striking castles and splendid cathedrals and you know why this lake is sure to enchant you.
Jet d'Eau (Water Fountain)
Nobody goes back from Geneva without visiting the magnificent Jet d'Eau. One of the tallest fountains in the whole world, it projects 140 meters into the air. The fountain pumps 500 liters of water per second and carried it into air at the speed of 200 km per hour. Initially a temporary fountain, made to release pressure for hydropower generation on Rhone River, it later got converted into a permanent fixture. The best time to visit Jet d'Eau is in the late evening, when it is beautifully illuminated and looks brilliant against the dark sky.
Geneva is home to a large number of museums, each one of which is worth visiting. Amongst the most prominent ones is International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum. The edifice personifies creativity, in the form of sculpture, installation, photography and film, so as to underline the significance of human rights. It showcases the work done by Red Cross for the victims of war and natural disasters. Then, there is the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, spread over three floors.
The museum displays contemporary art and changes its exhibits as well as interiors three times a year. Only the works of Dadaist Marcel Duchamp remain on display round the year. Museum of Art and History strives to present the passage of western culture and international civilizations. It exhibits around 7,000 pieces, covering the fields of archaeology, fine arts and applied arts. Barbier-Mueller Museum, with artworks and artifacts belonging to civilizations around the world, is definitely a must-see.
St Peter's Cathedral
If you are in Geneva, you must surely undertake a visit to St Peter's Cathedral, which dates back to the year 1160. It almost took a century, starting 1160, to construct the cathedral fully. Today, it looks like a fusion of a number of architectural styles, with Romanesque, Gothic and Neoclassical features. Earlier a Catholic cathedral, St Peter's turned into a Protestant church in 1536. With the exception of the stained glass windows, all the ornamentation was removed. The pinnacle of the cathedral's north tower provides amazing views of Geneva.
If some peace and serenity is what you desire, nothing can be better than the public parks of Geneva. Spread over almost 1/4th of the landscape of Geneva, these parks present the combination of undulating lawns and tree-shaded causeways. The numerous sculptures adorning the parks only add to their beauty. Bastion Park houses the 100-meter Reformation Wall of Geneva, along with the life size chess boards. The famous Flower Clock of Geneva is in English Garden, close to Jet d'Eau. Park Moynier is another park that is worth visiting.
Palais des Nations (United Nations)
Palais des Nations dates back to 1929, when its construction was started, and was built to host the League of Nations. After the dissolution of the League of Nations, it turned into a venue for the United Nations Office at Geneva. Spread over an area of around 45-hectare, it stands surrounded by century old trees. If you are lucky, you might see peacocks running amidst the lush greenery. A tour of the building will include a visit to the council room, adorned with frescoes by José Maria Sert, and the Assembly Hall.
Plaine de Plainpalais (Flea Market)
For all those who love shopping, a visit to Plaine de Plainpalais is a must. The flea market of Geneva, it is best visited on Wednesday and Saturday. This is because, on these days, the market is full of stalls selling items like antiques, vintage clothing, clocks, paintings, records, books, and the like. In other words, Wednesday and Saturday are the days to buy souvenirs from the Flea Market. However, make sure to haggle with the buyers and bargain a little. If you don’t, you will end up paying more prices that what the items deserve.
Those who wish to see the true culture of Geneva should head straight towards Place Neuve. It is the venue of three of the most popular halls in Geneva that host exhibitions and showcase regal performance, namely the Grand Theatre (opera house), Conservatory of Music and Rath Museum. Apart from that, even the architectural beauty of the place is enough to lure visitors. Right in the center of Place Neuve, you will find the statue of Henri Dufour, the Swiss General who presided over the First Geneva Convention.