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Geneva Guide. Leisure Guides.

 

Blessed with a compact cobbled Old Town, magnificent lake and mountain views and some of the most cosmopolitan locals in the world, there’s much more to Geneva than watches and chocolate. 

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Getting around


Whether you want lake views, serious luxury or just a comfortable place to get forty winks, Geneva has hotels to suit all budgets. Not surprisingly, given the city’s international flavour, all the big groups are present and correct, with the Grand Kempinski Geneva (Quai du Mont-Blanc 19) among the best of the bunch. It’s not the prettiest of hotels to look at but more than makes up for its outward lack of charm with panoramic lake views, excellent service and luxe accommodation. 
 
Also worth checking into is Le Richemond (Rue Adhémar-Fabri 8-10), a seriously chic member of the Dorchester group, which has recently been renovated and is now the most chi-chi sleeping spot in the city. Less pricey but equally convenient is the Hotel Cristal Design (Rue Pradier 4) in the arty Pâquis district, which combines chic, modern design with proximity to the city centre and Geneva Central Station.
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Getting here

Getting here could not be any easier. We offer many frequent flights from London City Airport and plenty hotel packages. To book flights to Geneva click here.

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Hotels


Whether you want lake views, serious luxury or just a comfortable place to get forty winks, Geneva has hotels to suit all budgets. Not surprisingly, given the city’s international flavour, all the big groups are present and correct, with the Grand Kempinski Geneva (Quai du Mont-Blanc 19) among the best of the bunch. It’s not the prettiest of hotels to look at but more than makes up for its outward lack of charm with panoramic lake views, excellent service and luxe accommodation. 
 
Also worth checking into is Le Richemond (Rue Adhémar-Fabri 8-10), a seriously chic member of the Dorchester group, which has recently been renovated and is now the most chi-chi sleeping spot in the city. Less pricey but equally convenient is the Hotel Cristal Design (Rue Pradier 4) in the arty Pâquis district, which combines chic, modern design with proximity to the city centre and Geneva Central Station.
 
To book a hotel click here
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Nightlife


Despite its staid reputation, Geneva has plenty going for it after dark, with everything from chic bars to dodgy dive clubs on offer. The Pâquis is by far the liveliest place to spend an evening and is home to lots of smaller restaurants and bars, with people and music often spilling out onto the streets after midnight. 
 
Start your evening at La Terrasse (Quai du Mont-Blanc 31), an outdoor café/bar especially popular in the summer, before moving onto Le Baroque (Place de la Fusterie 12), which – temperamental bouncers notwithstanding – has a friendly atmosphere and stages the odd performance by local celebrity singers. Less exalted but no less entertaining are the performers at La Garçonnière (Rue de la Rôtisserie 4bis), a hidden-away club which offers nightly cabaret shows. For quiet drinks, L'Apothicaire Cocktail Club (Boulevard Georges-Favon 16) and its sister establishment L'Atelier Cocktail Club (Rue Henri-Blanvalet 11) have some of the best cocktails in town.
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Restaurants


Eating out is a serious business in Geneva, which boasts more than 1,000 restaurants and a reputation for seriously good food. Unsurprisingly for such a polyglot city, options include just about every sort of world cuisine imaginable, although missing out on the local specialities – including fondue (the Café du Soleil, Place du Petit-Saconnex 6, is reported to make the best), raclette and lake fish dishes – would be criminal. 
 
For a peaceful snack and a taste of local food, head to La Clémence (Place du Bourg-de-Four 20), a lovely little café in the Old Town which boasts a pretty terrace and is packed with coffee-swilling locals day and night. If you’re in the mood to splash the cash – not a tough task in Geneva – don’t miss Le Chanteclair (Rue Versoix 13), a charming Michelin-starred restaurant in nearby Ferney-Voltaire.
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Shopping


Thanks to the surging Swiss franc, you won’t find many bargains in Geneva but what you will find is world-class luxury. Whether you’re in the market for Phillipe Patek or Piaget – both of which are headquartered in the city – Geneva is the place to find a beautifully crafted heritage timepiece. On the Rue du Rhône and the Rue de Rive, you’ll find a plethora of designer boutiques, as well as Globus, Geneva’s biggest department store. Jewellery enthusiasts will love the new Harry Winston store on Rue du Rhône, while for fashion fans, there’s an enormous new Chanel boutique said to be the largest in Europe. 
 
For something a little less hard on the wallet, head to the Rue des Étuves, where you’ll find shops specialising in designer vintage. Also worth checking out is L’Appart on Rue Sisimondi, which sells pieces by Switzerland’s stable of up-and-coming fashion talent. For English-language books, Payot Libraire on Rue Chantepoulet is brilliant, while fans of art deco antiques and 20th-century curiosities should make a beeline for Collection Privée on the Place De-Grenus.
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Top 10 sights

Top 5 sights for first-timers

Jet d’Eau

Visiting a fountain might not sound like the most riveting of excursions but Geneva’s Jet d’Eau certainly isn’t your average water feature. Shooting 140 metres into the air, the gargantuan plume contains an average of seven tons of water at any one time – much of which lands on spectators below.

Jetée des Eaux-Vives
www.geneve-tourisme.ch

Carouge

Once owned by the kingdom of Sardinia, the small suburb of Carouge retains a distinctly Mediterranean feel, thanks in no small part to the Italian architects that designed most of its buildings. Bohemian, quirky and totally unique, Carouge with its artisan markets and wonderful restaurants, is where the Genevois go to relax.

Place du Marché
www.carouge.ch

Quai du Mont Blanc

Stretched out along the lakeshore, the Quai du Mont Blanc offers sumptuous views of the surrounding Alps among manicured gardens. The walk along the Quai takes you past the Bains des Pâquis to the site of the old Roman baths at the Parc de la Perle du Lac.

Quai du Mont-Blanc Pâquis

CERN

A spy-novel staple, CERN is home to the Large Hadron Collider and some of the finest scientific minds on the planet. Just outside of Geneva, three-hour tours of the facility need to be booked a month in advance but are worth it for the fascinating insider experience.

Route de Meyrin
http://home.web.cern.ch

Jardin Anglais

Built in 1854 on the site of an old port and warehouse, the Jardin Anglais is an enchanting lakeside garden that’s home to the most famous clock in the world: the Geneva flower clock. Made from more than 6,500 blooms, the clock was laid out in 1955 but has only told the time since 2000.

Quai du Général-Guisan
 

Top 5 sights for old hands

Marché aux Puces de Plainpalais

Plainpalais, Geneva’s arty quarter, is a painting enthusiast’s dream, with countless galleries clustered around its squares and boulevards. But the best day to visit is Sunday for the excellent food market. With stalls offering everything from Bosnian to Thai, it’s gastronomic heaven.

Plaine de Plainpalais

Parc des Bastions

Not far from Plainpalais and its edible delights, and close to Place de Neuve, is the Parc des Bastions. Part of the Geneva University complex, it’s full of leafy tree-lined promenades and interesting monuments, including the Reformation Wall and the imposing Palais Eynard.

Promenade des Bastions

Musée International de la Croix Rouge et du Croissant-Rouge
Along with the UN, Geneva is also home to the Red Cross, which was founded by Swiss philanthropist Henry Dunant in 1864. As well as a litany of items documenting the horrors of war, the museum also gives you a behind-the-scenes look at the world’s best-known aid agency.

Avenue de la Paix 17
www.micr.org

Tour de L'Île

The last surviving part of the castle built by Bishop Aymon de Grandson to protect Geneva in 1219, the carefully preserved lookout tower now houses the Banque Safdié. Overlooking the Rhône, it’s on the doorstep of the Old Town and close to the old markets.

Pont de L'Île Old Town

Musée d'Art Moderne et Contemporain

Better known to locals as MAMCO, the museum features an ever-changing roster of exhibitions, most of which focus on local talent, although there are a few international heavy hitters thrown in. With 3,500 square metres of galleries and more than 4,000 works on show, it’s perfect for whiling away a rainy afternoon.

Rue des Vieux Grenadiers 10
www.mamco.ch

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Top 5 activities


Opera

The imposing baroque Grand Théâtre de Genève stages nightly performances and offers a programme that alternates between big-name operas such as Madame Butterfly and classical music recitals.
 
Skiing

Wherever you are in Geneva, an Alpine view isn’t far away and you can be on the slopes within hours. Rochers de Naye close to nearby Montreux is good for both winter sports and marmot spotting, while just 40 kilometres away is EspaceDôle, one of the most picturesque ski resorts in the Jura Mountains.
 
Wine tasting

Switzerland might not be as well known for its vintages as neighbouring France but Geneva has plenty for wine buffs to love. Most of the local vineyards open their doors to tourists on Saturday mornings and, better still, tastings are usually free.
 
Canoeing
 
Head down the Rhone to the Marais de la Versoix, on the edge of Geneva, for a canoeing experience to remember. The 5-kilometre route takes you through some of the prettiest countryside in Switzerland and gives you the chance to see some of the local wildlife, including beavers and otters, up close.
 
Alpine hot-air ballooning

Combining breathtaking views with a serious adrenaline buzz, hot-air balloon tours give you the chance to see Geneva from above. So popular has ballooning become among locals, there’s even a festival – the Chateau d’Oex balloon festival – dedicated to it.
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Top 5 events


Hope Festival

Bringing over 50,000 people to Geneva every year, the Hope Festival combines music with philanthropy and is completely free. The eclectic bill includes a mixture of big names and up-and-coming acts. 
 
Date: April
Venue: Centre sportif du Bout-du-Monde
 
Bol d'Or Mirabaud Regatta

A Geneva institution since 1939, the Bol d'Or Mirabaud Regatta lets you enjoy the spectacular sight of a flotilla of over 500 boats tearing off down the lake as the race gets underway. The celebrations that follow the announcement of the winner are not to be missed. 
 
Date: June
Venue: Port Noir, Lake Geneva
 
Fêtes de Genève

The biggest annual event Switzerland has to offer, the Fêtes de Genève includes more than 120 free concerts and a plethora of stalls serving up the best culinary treats the surrounding countryside has to offer. 
 
Date: July
Venue: Quays and lakefront
 
Circus Knie
 
The largest circus in Switzerland sets up at least once a year in Plainpalais, bringing with it the chance to see tumbling clowns and daredevil acrobats take to the Big Top. The Circus is accompanied by a travelling zoo, which boasts more than 482 animals, reptiles and birds.
 
Date: August-September
Venue: Plainpalais
 
L'Escalade
 
On 11 December 1602, Geneva was attacked by Savoyard soldiers, who were promptly seen off by the Genevois. L’Escalade commemorates the event with a torch-lit procession along the Rhone to St Peter’s Cathedral, followed by general merrymaking all over the city.
 
Date: December
Venue: St Peter’s Cathedral

Written by World Travel Guide

Flights to Geneva
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4* Hotels in Geneva
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4* Holidays in Geneva
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