A day in Geneva


Nestled on the shores of Lake Geneva and surrounded by the majestic Alps, Geneva is a city that seamlessly blends natural beauty with cultural richness. Whether you’re a history buff, a foodie, or an adventure seeker, Geneva has something for everyone.

For history enthusiasts, Geneva is a city steeped in history, with centuries-old landmarks like St. Peter’s Cathedral and the Reformation Wall. With roots dating back to 58 B.C. as a Roman settlement, Geneva rapidly evolved into a crucial trading hub in the heart of Europe during the Middle Ages. Its prime location made it a sought-after prize, leading to frequent changes in ownership. Despite this, the city ultimately established itself as an independent republic in 1535, solidifying its place in history.

For foodies, the city is a haven for gourmet cuisine, with a thriving restaurant scene and an array of food markets offering the freshest local ingredients. Be warned; Geneva is also renowned for its abundance of tempting chocolate. So get ready to tantalize your taste buds with rich and decadent creations that are sure to make even the most resilient person drool.

Outdoor enthusiasts will love the city’s proximity to the Swiss and French Alps, where they can enjoy world-class skiing, snowboarding, and other winter sports. In the warmer months, the mountains offer an abundance of hiking and mountaineering opportunities. Geneva Airport is an ideal hub, with proximity to many ski resorts (like Tignes and La Plagne) and easy transport options to all of them.

The city is also home to some of the world’s most prestigious institutions, including the United Nations, the World Trade Organisation, and the Red Cross headquarters, making it a hub for international diplomacy and a modern financial center.

Despite its reputation as one of the world’s most expensive cities, Geneva still offers plenty of opportunities for fun without breaking the bank.

Old Town

Start discovering Geneva through the charming, winding streets of Old Town and step back in time to experience the city’s rich history. With buildings dating back to the 13th century, the Old Town is a fascinating mix of medieval architecture, quaint cobblestone alleyways, and quaint cafes and boutiques.

No visit to Geneva’s Old Town would be complete without a stop at one of the city’s famous chocolate shops, where you can sample some of Switzerland’s famous sweets. If you are looking for even more Swiss souvenirs, check out Rue du Marche, Rue du Rhone, and Rue du Mont Blanc.

St. Peter’s Cathedral

Begin your tour at the iconic St. Peter’s Cathedral, the city’s oldest building, and climb to the top for panoramic views of Geneva and the surrounding mountains.

Old Arsenal

This historic building, once a weapons storage facility, now houses the State Archives and showcases the remains of firearms that were used to protect the city. Initially built in the early seventeenth century as a barn, the Old Arsenal was transformed into a weapons depot in 1877. Visitors can explore the outdoor arcade, complete with three intricate large mosaic murals by Alexander Cingria (1949) that depict key moments in Geneva’s history.

World’s longest bench

La Treille Park, located behind Geneva’s city hall, boasts a charming and sun-soaked square surrounded by the world’s longest wooden bench, according to local claims. The bench, constructed in 1767, stretches 120 meters and consists of 180 individual wooden boards. Ever since I saw it in the Amazing Race show, I knew I would visit this place at some point 🙂

Reformation Wall

Reformation Wall was built into Geneva’s old city walls in 1909 to mark John Calvin’s 400th birthday. This monument pays homage to the leaders of the Protestant Reformation and serves as a testament to Geneva’s role as a center of the movement.

As you stroll along the wall, admire the stunning sculptures and read the inscriptions honoring figures such as John Calvin, Théodore de Bèze, John Knox, and Guillaume Farel. Each one symbolizes a different aspect of the Reformation, and together, they create a powerful visual representation of this pivotal moment in history.

Parc de Bastions

Challenge yourself to a game of chess in Parc de Bastions. This public park is not only a peaceful haven of greenery, but it also boasts massive chessboards where visitors can test their skills against players of all ages and skill levels.

Jet d’Eau

Jet d’Eau is one of the world’s tallest fountains and one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks. Originally built to regulate the pressure at a hydraulic plant in La Coulouvrenière, the Jet d’Eau quickly became a symbol of the city. Located at the tip of Lake Geneva, this impressive fountain shoots 500 liters of water per second 140 meters into the air, creating a breathtaking display of power and beauty.

Today, the Jet d’Eau stands as a testament to Geneva’s spirit of innovation and progress, attracting visitors from around the world.

More info about the schedule here.

Flower Clock

Experience the beauty and precision of Geneva’s iconic flower clock, a true work of horticultural art. Although it was once the largest flower clock in the world (until 2005, when it was overtaken by a clock made in Iran), it remains a stunning masterpiece of Swiss precision and innovation.

Admire the intricate floral arrangements, which change with the seasons to create a stunning visual display, and marvel at the clock’s ability to tell time with accuracy, with the time transmitted by satellite. And let’s not forget the clock’s impressive seconds-hand, measuring a stunning 2.5 meters and holding the title as the longest in the world!

United Nations Headquarters

Half an hour’s walk from the Old Town lies the United Nations Headquarters also called the Palace of Nations.

Discover the heart of international diplomacy and the hub of global cooperation at this complex that serves as the main center of operations for the United Nations and its numerous agencies.

You can take a guided tour through the buildings and learn about the history and role of the United Nations, including its mission to promote peace, development, and human rights around the world.

More info here.

Broken Chair Sculpture

Right outside of the UN headquarters stands a sculpture of a gigantic broken chair. The iconic sculpture is a tribute to landmine victims and a call to action for a world free of these devastating weapons.

Created by the Swiss artist Daniel Berset, this powerful artwork serves as a reminder of the human toll of conflict and the need for continued action to end the suffering caused by landmines. The massive size of the chair also symbolizes the enormity of the problem and the importance of addressing it.

Not sure how many people know about its powerful message, but it is definitely a popular Instagram spot.

Botanical Gardens

Even though we were visiting in late January, and let’s face it, it is not the best time to venture into a botanical garden, we still enjoyed our visit there (and it was free!). The plants outside were pretty much dead or soon to be alive again, depending on how you look at it 🙂 But the interior of greenhouses was full of life and greenery. We walked around and peeked into different greenhouses, enjoying sudden vegetation during a barren, grey day.


CERN is a world-renowned European Organization for Nuclear Research. As the birthplace of the World Wide Web and home to the largest particle accelerator in the world, CERN is a hub of innovation and discovery.

It is possible to take a guided tour of the facilities. If you are lucky, you might get a chance to admire the Large Hadron Collider, the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator, and learn about the groundbreaking discoveries it has made.

Check this website for when the tours are available.

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