Of all the beautiful places in Switzerland, Geneva is still rated as one of the top. Only a few cities are as beautifully situated as Geneva. The city is within day trip distance of Mont Blanc, has a gorgeous rose garden, and sits on the shores of Lake Geneva. It is also the base of the United Nations Headquarters, and you can find many fun facts before visiting Geneva here. So, besides Geneva’s beautiful setting and natural scenery, what else is there to love? That’s where the best things to do in Geneva come in.
Best Things to Do in Geneva, Switzerland
Whether you want Geneva museums or Swiss food, these best things to do in Geneva will keep you entertained and enjoy any visit to Switzerland. This guide covers everything from the Patek Philippe Museum to the Palais des Nations and the Parc de la Grange. Get ready for some serious variety.
Planning Your Trip To Geneva Right Now?
1. Vallorbe Caves
The Vallorbe Caves, aka the Grottes de Vallorbe, are some of the prettiest caves you can visit. This cave system has underground waterfalls, halls, and a subterranean river. If you fancy an outdoorsy attraction, you’ll remember forever, the Vallorbe Caves are the one for you.
The low lighting and miles of underground paths make for the perfect 3-4 hours of entertainment, and just 2 hours away by public transport or 1 hour and 20 minutes away by car. The Vallorbe Caves are convenient and really have that wow factor. If you haven’t visited a cave system before, you need to experience this once. Going caving is quite bizarre to be featured first on a city break list. Still, there you have it – the perfect example of how incredible Geneva is as a city.
2. Broken Chair Sculpture
A giant red chair in the middle of a city center is anything but standard. This sculpture stands a dramatic 12 meters above street level and, as if this wasn’t striking enough, is notably broken. One leg is severed dramatically, showing splintered wood and leaving the chair seemingly precariously balanced on its remaining three legs. So, what exactly is the message behind this contemporary art? The Broken Chair sculpture symbolizes the protest of cluster bombs and land mines. As the European United Nations Headquarters seat, Geneva takes an active stance on humanitarian issues. And the Broken Chair is a much-loved artistic reminder of Geneva’s firm stance.
The Broken Chair is situated next to a pretty fountain. It is well-combined with a visit to its nearby United Nations building. Don’t get us wrong, this is an attraction you should spend at most 30 minutes admiring (and probably more like 10 minutes). However, it is a significant place to visit and understand Geneva’s underlying political and humanitarian values. And besides, who doesn’t love novel sculptures like broken chairs?
3. Musee Rath
Musee Rath is a beautiful art and history museum in a striking building that resembles an Ancient Greek temple. It doesn’t get more stereotypically cultural than Musee Rath; even its exterior is visit-worthy. The museum building dates back to the 19th century, and even if you snap pictures of its beautiful columned entrance, we suggest weaving it into your itinerary. And if you have an hour or two, even better, because that is long enough to wander around inside. There’s a mix of permanent and temporary exhibits, including a recent exhibition on silence. The combination of history and art blends seamlessly, and the fact that it is quite a small collection is perfect for juggling a packed itinerary.
Reaching Musee Rath is a piece of cake. The art and history museum is located in the city center and just a short walk from Place de Neuve station. We’d recommend ending your day with some serene culture, as the museum stays open until 6 p.m. on weekends and 7 p.m. from Wednesday to Friday. Wander through Musee Rath and head to one of the best restaurants nearby.
4. Promenade de la Treille
Promenade de la Trielle is a beautiful walkway in the old town. It holds the surprising title of being home to one of the longest benches in the world. Still, more importantly, it has stunning views of the city below and Geneva’s waterfront. Open 24 hours a day, it is ideal for a sunrise or sunset walk – especially if you can grab a takeout café from somewhere nearby. It is also a stunning midday spot thanks to its shady trees and friendly crowds.
Exploring a city on foot is one of the best ways to experience its unique atmosphere and community, and Promenade de la Trielle is one of the best ways to experience Geneva. Allow an hour or two to enjoy this stunning section of the walkway, and consider combining it with some of its nearby Geneva museums like Tavel House or the Museum of International Reformation. It is easily reached if you are staying centrally. You can catch public transport to Palais Eynard.
5. Chateau de Nyon
Chateau de Nyon is something straight out of a fairytale. The turrets and white exterior are bound to relight your childhood imagination, and it goes without saying that if you visit Geneva with children, Chateau de Nyon is a must. The 12th-century fort was once home to real-life knights, but now its job is to keep that middle-age magic alive. You can wander its historic walkways and halls and admire armor, porcelain antiques, and lingering grandeur. Chateau de Nyon is located just 20 minutes out of Geneva by train and is the ideal day trip to expand your Swiss experience outside the city limits.
This attraction is in Nyon, a tiny, walkable little town along the shores of Lake Geneva. While visiting Chateau de Nyon, allow some time to walk around and see the town’s other attractions. It is home to Musee du Leman and some beautiful gardens.
6. Jura Mountains
The Jura Mountains are the best for outdoor activity and that’s for locals and tourists alike. If you want a day trip out in fresh air, the Jura Mountains are perfect for hiking and mountain biking in spring to late fall and skiing over winter. The mountain range spans the French and Swiss border and is home to the iconic Fort de Joux – a colossal castle dating back to the 13th century. The range is stunning, with sub-alpine peaks and even opportunities for wildlife spotting with a rumored 80 wolves.
It is best to visit the Jura Mountains by car, so be prepared to rent a car in Geneva. Depending on where you go, the mountain range is around 2 hours away from the city center by car. You’ll be driving almost the entire length of Lake Geneva and heading up to the shores of Lake de Neuchatel, a smaller lake northeast of Geneva. The good news is it’s a beautiful drive.
7. Mont Saleve Cable Car
Mont Saleve Cable Car is a hot topic. This attraction has been closed for years to undergo serious renovations. Still, excitingly, it reopened in 2023 and offers stunning rides to visiting tourists once more. The cable car reaches an altitude of 1,100 meters, and the journey only takes 5 minutes, so prepare to make the most of a fleeting experience. It is definitely worth it, though, and Mont Saleve is ideal for enjoying beautiful views of the Mont-Blanc massif. And, if you fancy adding to the adventure, you can enjoy skiing in winter and paragliding, climbing, hiking, and mountain biking throughout the rest of the year.
The’ meeting point’ for the Mont Saleve Cable Car is just 40 minutes from Geneva’s city center by bus. You just catch the number 8 bus from the Mont Blanc bus stop by the lakefront. Alternatively, you can drive or catch a 20-minute Uber.
8. Parc des Eaux Vives
Parc des Eaux-Vives is a beautiful, manicured park outside Geneva city center. The park has been passed down through successive owners and is the ideal place to spend a sunny afternoon. The manor house was built in 1750, and the park was later jazzed up by a designer in 1865 and an engineer in the late 19th century. The grounds are stunning, with acres upon acres of expansive, open lawns with the beautiful backdrop of the Parc des Eaux-Vives mansion. The mansion now houses a fine dining restaurant – so you can always treat yourself to a luxurious meal out if you want the whole Parc des Eaux-Vives experience.
Parc des Eaux-Vives is just a 15-minute drive or bus ride from the city center on the number 2 or 6 bus. It is easy to slot into a busy Geneva itinerary and perfect if you visit in summer or late spring, warmer months ideal for enjoying the city’s green space.
9. Reformation Wall
The Reformation Wall is one of the most poignant attractions in Geneva. Whatever your religion, there’s no denying the impact of religious history on the socio-politics of the world. The Reformation Wall is a massive monument commemorating the Protestant Reformation and the movement’s founders, including the famous John Calvin. While only around 100 meters in length, it really packs a punch, with stunning carvings and historical scenes carved into the wall. The wall is free to visit and is in Geneva’s city center. Drop by for a quick 15-30-minute admire of the carvings and learn more about the Protestant Reformation.
The Reformation Wall is easily reached from anywhere in the city center. It is also well combined with visits to the Musee Rath, Tavel House, and Place du Bourg-de-Four. Get ready for some insightful architecture.
10. International Museum of the Red Cross and Red Crescent
The Red Cross Museum is one of the most fascinating humanitarian museums you can ever visit – and the fact a humanitarian museum is already such a niche category proves its importance. The Red Cross is one of the oldest charities in the world, and its international efforts to support communities in need are astounding. The museum has permanent exhibitions and works with artists to encapsulate the charity’s values and meanings through profound artwork and informative exhibits.
The Red Crescent Museum is heavily symbolic and conjures some really heavy emotions. We recommend researching the history of the Red Cross and what the charity does before visiting. This way, you’ll get as much out of the visit as possible and have all the necessary background information to understand the more complex exhibits. Overall, though, for charity lovers, Red Cross fans, and creatives, this museum is a wonderfully thought-provoking attraction in Geneva. It is just a 20-minute ride on the 20 bus from the Geneva city center. It is well-combined with its neighboring botanical garden.
11. Place du Bourg de Four
Place du Bourg-de-Four is the oldest square in the city and an absolute must when it comes to choosing the best things to do in Geneva. The square is centered around a single fountain. It has upscale shops and cafes around the edge, with pedestrians constantly bustling around for luxe purchases and quick refreshments. Place du Bourg-de-Four has a lively yet historical atmosphere, and it is one of the best places to experience inner-city, old-town Geneva and the city’s history.
Place du Bourg-de-Four isn’t precisely a standalone attraction. You’ll need to combine it with something else to make it worthwhile. Otherwise, you can just appreciate it in under 5 minutes. We suggest going shopping or sitting al fresco for food or drink in one of its restaurants and cafes. And after, you can take advantage of the square’s brilliant location to explore more of the old town’s attractions and the city centre.
12. Jet d’Eau
Jet d’Eau is another one of these fleeting attractions. This iconic water fountain is right in the middle of Lake Geneva. It pumps water up in a 140-meter arc, impressively pumping out half a cubic meter of water per second. This is a mighty water fountain; even more impressively, it lights up at night. It is Geneva’s skyline attraction – its answer to how London has Westminster and the London Eye and Paris has the Eiffel Tower. It represents Swiss identity and is a massive symbol of pride.
So, how do you see this beautiful fountain? The best way to visit Jet d’Eau is to walk the walkway that juts out into Lake Geneva. You can also take a lake cruise if you’d prefer to experience Jet d’Eau from the water. The fountain is just a 20-minute walk from Geneva city center, so it is easy to add to your itinerary. Remember that sometimes the fountain is turned off due to weather conditions, but you should get lucky as this is rare.
13. Go Chocolate Shop Hopping
When you visit Switzerland, you have to try the chocolate. Geneva is packed with dozens of different chocolate shops, most of which are independently run and have been running since the early 19th century. The country’s dairy links make chocolate a huge deal. And many of these chocolate shops have recipes passed down over generations. It is a definite artisanal process, and just walking into the shops, you’ll soon see how beautiful and artistic chocolate-making is. You don’t have to have a sweet tooth to enjoy this Geneva activity. However, it certainly helps when it comes to the inevitable chocolate tastings.
You can chocolate shop hop by foot with ease, as the leading chocolate shops are scattered at high density through the Geneva Old Town. Pace yourself and pick the best beforehand. You can visit independently, book a chocolate tour, or experience at a specific store.
14. Parc des Bastions
Parc des Bastions is a stunning historical park in the middle of Geneva city centre. It is located right next to Geneva University. So it attracts a regular young crowd of socializers and has a pleasant, friendly atmosphere. There are even giant chess boards – Parc des Bastions has some brilliant vibes for a sunny day out. If you want to enjoy greenspace as a solo traveler, Parc des Bastions is an ideal choice in daylight hours. It is also the city’s largest park within the city center limits. You can always find a quiet spot somewhere, even at peak times.
Parc des Bastions is easily accessed on foot if you are staying in the city center. Alternatively, you can visit using public transport and stop at Place de Neuve station.
15. Saint Pierre Cathedral
Saint Pierre Cathedral is a stunning piece of architecture and one of Geneva’s most revered city landmarks. You can admire the cathedral outside or head inside to embrace ornate architecture, furnishings, and bright stained-glass windows. With high-vaulted ceilings and elaborate décor, it is a beautiful place to stop by and just have a quiet moment of appreciation – whether you are religious or not. Everyone is welcome at Saint Pierre Cathedral, and tickets are moderately priced. You can even head to the top levels for expansive views over Geneva.
Of course, the fact that Saint Pierre Cathedral is so beautiful justifies a visit. However, some history also makes it even more attractive to visitors. It was the adopted home church of the leader of the Protestant Reformation, John Calvin, who we mentioned earlier when discussing the Reformation Wall. It is one of the best things to do in Geneva – an essential location for religious history and a considerable part of Geneva’s history.
16. Palais des Nations
If you know just a few things about Geneva already, you will know its importance to the United Nations. The United Nations is a global organization that was founded after WW2 as a way to transcend national borders, ensure humanitarian standards, and protect the safety and best interests of humanity. Palais des Nations is the United Nations Headquarters and where all the international meetings occur. There are 193 countries in the organization, and country representatives travel regularly to partake in meetings that shape how we run the globe. There are over 10,000 meetings here annually – so the United Nations puts the work in.
As you can see, the UN is important, and if you visit Geneva, it definitely warrants a visit. You can actually go inside to visit the United Nations Office and Palais des Nations. Tickets are reasonably priced at around $16, and you can take a guided walking tour of the complex, exhibits, and most essential rooms. A guided tour is the best way to experience Palais des Nations and easily one of the most impressive and the best things to do in Geneva.
17. The Flower Clock in Jardins Anglais
Visiting the famous flower clock is one of the best things to do in Geneva, and you won’t change our minds. The ‘clock’ was designed in 1955 and has been in bloom ever since. The beautiful design uses bright flowers in ever-changing patterns to create the clock face, and it has clock hands made as permanent sculptures. The clock is in the Jardin Anglais, a beautiful park along the Lake Geneva waterfront. You can visit the clock, snap a few pictures, and then wander the trails through the park for an hour or two.
The Geneva Flower Clock is easy to reach from the city center, and it is just a 10-minute walk – which we’d recommend taking as an Uber or driving actually takes longer with traffic. This is the perfect attraction to introduce you to Geneva city life.
18. Geneva Botanical Garden
The Conservatory and Botanical Garden Geneva is this wonderful city’s most beautiful part-indoor, part-outdoor attraction. It is one of the prettiest things to do in Geneva, especially in spring, when flowers bloom. You can admire tons of exhibits, including a stunning rose garden. Even better, entering and taking advantage of seasonal guided tours is free. The Geneva Botanical Garden is the perfect solution if the weather is unpredictable. The conservatory is a beautiful place to shelter from any blustery showers.
You’ll use public transport when traveling to the Conservatory and Botanical Garden Geneva. The botanical gardens are a 40-minute walk away, which we don’t recommend. Instead, hop on the train or tram; you’ll arrive in under 10 minutes.
Quai du Mont-Blanc is an iconic lakefront street outside Geneva’s city center in the nightlife-famous Paquis. The street is lined by beautiful footpaths overlooking Lake Geneva with lovely views. It is also where you can find meeting points for many boat tours – where you can head out to get closer to the famed Lake Geneva fountain and experience Geneva from a different perspective. We’d suggest walking the entire length of the footpaths from Mont Blanc station to Parc Mon Repos. You’ll get an excellent insight into the best Quai du Mont-Blanc views and a quieter experience of Geneva. Pick up a takeout coffee to enjoy as you walk if you can. It only takes 20 minutes or so to complete this walk one way, and it is accessible for wheelchair users and those with pushchairs.
20. International Museum of the Reformation
The International Museum of the Reformation links into the Protestant Reformation that we’ve already discussed. Visiting is one of the most informative things to do in Geneva, and if you are visiting Geneva, learning about its religious history is a really insightful activity to prioritize. The museum is set in an 18th-century mansion – get ready for some serious wow factor. Instead of just looking at artwork like the Reformation Wall, you’ll get engaging exhibits and everything from paintings and artifacts that tell a fuller story of what happened in the Reformation.
Getting to the International Museum of the Reformation is just a 10-minute walk from Geneva city center, so it is an absolute breeze. It is also easily combined with visits to other reformation-related attractions, including St. Pierre Cathedral and the Reformation Wall.
21. Nyon Roman Museum
We’ve already mentioned Nyon, but the Nyon Roman Museum is so impressive that it deserves a whole section. This museum houses a widely revered archaeological site. Transport yourself back to the Roman era and embrace lingering Italian heritage by walking through Nyon Roman Museum’s collection of ancient ruins. The vast columns and remains are magical to walk through. For any history lovers, this is the most engaging museum you can visit near Geneva. The outside ruins are a charming addition to the indoor section of the museum, which houses artifacts like pottery that were uncovered in the archaeological dig. It is one of the most engaging history museums in Switzerland.
The Nyon Roman Museum is just 20 minutes from central Geneva if you catch public transport. This is half the time it takes to drive to the museum, so choose the quicker and more environmentally friendly option. This is one of the easiest and most rewarding Geneva day trip options.
22. Tavel House
Travel House is a leading museum in Geneva and a personal favorite. The house is a time capsule of medieval Swiss life. It is set over 6 floors with engaging social history exhibits on each one. The house was once the property of a wealthy Geneva resident. Still, now, it has a full-time job educating visitors to Geneva. You can enjoy a mix of temporary and permanent exhibits and immerse yourself in a historical side of Geneva that most modern visitors miss out on.
Travel House has a super exclusive feel, which is hard not to love. It feels like a private museum rather than one of Geneva’s most popular museums, and that is half of its allure. We’ll also add that it is very convenient to visit and is within walking distance of all the major attractions in the Geneva Old Town.
23. Patek Philippe Museum
Patek Philippe Museum is easily one of the most interesting museums in Geneva, which is a huge statement considering its incredible museum scene. The museum houses exhibits telling the story of Patek Philippe – a successful watchmaker who shaped the city’s watch industry. This incredible talent and vocation is one of the most famous industries in Switzerland, and the Patek Philippe Museum showcases one of the significant personalities the city saw, as well as general watchmaking from the 16th century onwards.
The museum is centrally located in the middle of Geneva’s Old Town, so you won’t have any issues visiting, even with a busy schedule. Tickets are really reasonable, too, considering that Geneva is seen as really expensive, costing around $10 per person when you can easily enjoy the Patek Philippe Museum for two hours.
24. Parc de la Grange
Parc de la Grange is one of the fanciest parks in Geneva and a firm favorite amongst locals and tourists alike. The park is next to Lake Geneva and is home to a vast outdoor theatre that comes to life during summer for raging concerts and a brilliant sense of community. If you love music and good views, Parc de la Grange is incredible in summer – just check out the schedule online and see what events coincide with your visit. Even outside of summer, Parc de la Grange is beautiful. You can enjoy a large rose garden and peaceful trails that snake around the park with Lake Geneva views.
25. Musee de Carouge
Musee de Carouge is a tiny addition to Geneva’s beautiful art galleries. It is the perfect solution if you want a slightly off-the-beaten-track attraction in Geneva. The small art gallery hosts temporary exhibitions reflecting unique perspectives and spotlighting lesser-known and local artists. Musee de Carouge does a fantastic job providing a voice to more artists, and the passion behind the project is evident. It is tiny, so you’ll need less than an hour to visit this museum. However, it is well worth a detour from the city center, especially if you are staying in trendy Carouge anyway.
If you are staying in central Geneva, Musee de Carouge is just a 15-minute ride away on public transport or a 30-minute walk. Easy peasy.
26. Lake Geneva
Lake Geneva is always a constant presence in Geneva. But if you want to maximize your visit, take the time to explore Lake Geneva from the water. You can rent a paddleboard, pedal boat, or even try windsurfing or wakeboarding – Geneva is as much a water sporting destination as it is a stereotypical city break. Enjoying watersports on Lake Geneva is the perfect way to get your dose of adrenaline and also have the freedom to explore the lake that makes the Swiss capital as iconic as it is.
Tropical Corner, Wake Up, and Les Corsaires are all brilliant places to arrange watersports activities and equipment rentals. Most of these are just a 15-minute ride away from the city center on public transport.
Visiting Geneva: FAQs
Visiting Geneva is super exciting, and if you tick off even just one of these attractions and activities, you’ll have a fantastic time. Geneva’s fast-paced city center is a total contrast to its beautiful, slow-paced areas of natural beauty. We love its balance and how varied Geneva itineraries are. Before you go, though, check out these FAQs.
How to Get to Geneva
Geneva Airport is the usual answer when it comes to the question of how to get to Geneva. You can fly directly into Geneva from all over the world. However, you can also take the train if you are visiting from somewhere in Europe. If this is the case, we recommend spending a little bit longer and traveling by rail for environmental reasons – plus you’ll get more of an adventure anyway. You can catch connections from major cities like Paris, and there are even fancy overnight trains with little hotel room-style cabins onboard. Traveling to Geneva by train is the best way if you are already based in Europe, while those overseas can fly directly to its international airport.
Unlimited travel by train, bus, and boat Unlimited travel on premium panorama trains (seat reservation fees and/or surcharges apply) Unlimited use of public transport in more than 90 towns & cities Free admission to more than 500 museums. Mountain excursions included: Rigi, Stanserhorn and Stoos Up to 50% discount on many other mountain excursions Up to 30% discount on SBB RailAway offers. Available at all ticket counters within Switzerland
Where to Stay in Geneva
Anywhere you stay in Geneva will let you enjoy the best of the city’s attractions, and Switzerland has a notoriously high level of hospitality quality. Overall, though, the Old Town is where to stay for a traditional vibe, Paquis is where to stay for nightlife, Carogue is where to stay for a trendy vibe, and the area around Geneve Aeroport is where to stay on a budget. As for hotel choices, these are our top recommendations per budget level:
Where to Eat in Geneva
Swiss food has an outstanding reputation as one of the world’s tastiest cuisines. Switzerland is famed for its dairy products, chocolate, and strong connection to locally sourced ingredients and farmers. You have to try traditional Swiss food when staying in Geneva. You should mainly keep an eye out for cheese fondue, rosti, and – of course – Swiss chocolate. Aside from these top dishes, though, these are the places you should eat at when visiting Geneva:
Vieux Carogue: A beautiful Swiss restaurant with famous cheese fondue and homely vibes. Le Thermometre: An inner-city family-run restaurant with traditional Swiss cuisine with a distinct French influence. Cafe du Soleil: A beautiful cafe with a leafy terrace for warm days.
Best Time to Visit Geneva
Geneva is beautiful all year round, but it depends on your desired experiences and what things to do in Geneva have caught your eye. Winter months like December are the best if you want snow and cozy fires with dipping cheese. You’ll have Christmas markets and a beautiful vibe at this time of year, especially in the old town.
However, if you want to enjoy watersports and hiking, May or September are ideal. These two months are shoulder months, meaning fewer crowds and perfect temperatures. In short, for a cozy winter wonderland, December is busy but worth the trade-off for its atmosphere. May and September are top choices if you want a quieter experience and more free-rein weather (and crowd).
FAQ’s About Things to Do In Geneva
Is 2 days enough for Geneva?
Two days isn’t quite enough to see Geneva. However, if you are on a time limit, two days is enough for 4-5 attractions or 2-3 attractions and a single-day trip.
Is Geneva, Switzerland, worth going to?
Is Geneva more fun than Zurich?
What is Geneva, Switzerland, best known for?
Geneva is best known for its nature and its food scene. It is a beautiful old town yet is also full of green space.
Is Geneva, Switzerland, a walkable city?
Geneva’s old town and city center are very walkable. The rest of the city is accessible by public transport.
Is Geneva better than Zurich for tourists?
Geneva is such an exciting place to visit in Switzerland. The beautiful city is just a dream, with its shimmering Lake Geneva, mountainous surrounds, and an array of day trip opportunities. Whether you decide to indulge in watersports on Lake Geneva or even things like paragliding or just wandering Geneva’s stunning natural history museum, you’ll have a wonderful time in this city. We hope you are feeling inspired and ready for your Geneva trip. You can save a lot on these attractions if you purchase the Geneva Pass, which acts like a tourist membership card, giving you access to many attractions and benefits in exchange for a single one-off payment.
If you are still looking for inspiration on visiting Switzerland, check out these guides on the ultimate Switzerland road trip and things to do in Zurich. Don’t forget to learn about visiting Geneva on a budget – we all know how expensive Switzerland is.