Located at the southern tip of expansive Lac Léman (Lake Geneva), Geneva is a city surrounded by dramatic mountains - including the Alps and Jura - and boasting incredible views of majestic Mont Blanc.
With its rich history, dynamic multicultural atmosphere, and commitment to forward-thinking innovation, Geneva is truly a one-of-a-kind destination that captures the heart of global affairs while offering incomparable experiences to explore.
With its world-class museums, impressive architecture, and scenic parkland, there are endless things to discover in this vibrant international hub.
Here we have listed 19 of the top attractions and activities that help make this one-of-a-kind city so special.
1. Admire Geneva Water Fountain (Jet d’Eau)
Located on Lake Geneva, in the downtown area, this outstanding Geneva Water Fountains, or Jet d'Eau, is the most prominent landmark, and ,of course, is a must-see attraction in this stunning city.
Boasting spectacular views and an awe-inspiring display of water soaring over 140 meters (460 feet) into the air, the Jet d'Eau is an iconic symbol of Geneva that attracts visitors from all corners of the globe.
The water fountain of Geneva originally had a practical use: at the end of the 19th century it was used as a safety valve for the hydraulics generated by the Rhone River so that the local artisans of Geneva could run their machines with the energy it provided.
Over time, its beauty was noticed and it was moved to its current location. Now the Jet d'Eau fountain works almost all the time, except when the temperature is very low, or there is a strong wind, etc.
The Jet d'Eau fountain will become most photogenic after dark, when it is illuminated with floodlights, giving it a surprising beauty.
Enjoy a traditional fondue at one of the waterfront restaurants and admire the night sky reflecting the millions of sparkling drops from the fountain. It's definitely worth it.
On the other hand, if you want to see the fountain from a bird's eye view, then climb to the spire of St. Pierre Cathedral.
Whether you simply want to admire this magnificent fountain from one of the many waterfront vantage points in Geneva or get up-close and personal by snapping a photo while standing under its towering streams, there is no doubt that the Jet d'Eau is truly one of the best things to do in this historic city.
Therefore, if you're looking for a memorable experience during your next trip to Switzerland, be sure to add the incredible Water Fountains of Geneva to your list of must-see attractions!
Read also: 17 Best Things to do in Switzerland
2. Browse the collection of watches at Patek Philippe Museum
The Patek Philippe Museumis housed in a former watch workshop, and a huge part of the collection is devoted to one of Switzerland's leading luxury watchmakers, after which the museum is named.
The Watch Museum is home to two incredible collections of antique watches, such as Antiques Collection and Patek Philippe Collection, each offering unique insights into the evolution of Switzerland's renowned watchmaking industry.
The Antiques Collection is one of the most extensive of its kind, featuring a wide variety of timepieces dating back to the 16th century, including different masterpieces from Swiss, Genevese, and European makers.
Meanwhile, the Patek Philippe Collection features some truly stunning pieces crafted by this esteemed watchmaker company, including mantel clocks, pocket watches, and desk clocks.
One of the highlights include the ornately enameled lilac pocket watch decorated with diamonds in a flower motif – which belonged to Queen Victoria.
Whether you're a fan of antique timepieces or are simply keen to learn more about this fascinating industry, a visit to the Patek Philippe Museum is sure to delight and inspire!
The Patek Philippe Watch Museum is located in the Plainpalais area, near the city center of Geneva.
Entrance to the museum is free for children under 18 and visitors with a Geneva Card.
Free guided tours (in English) are offered on Saturdays at 2:30 p.m. For more information on opening hours and other updates, check the official website Patek Philippe Museum.
Read also: 14 Best Christmas Markets in Switzerland
3. St-Pierre Cathedral Geneva (Cathédrale St-Pierre Genève)
Located in the heart of Geneva’s old town is St-Pierre Cathedral, a stunning 12th-century structure that towers over the surrounding area.
But what makes this architectural gem truly special is the fascinating history behind it. Built on the ruins of a Roman temple, this religious shrine reflects a rich tapestry of cultural influences over the centuries.
As the cathedral was rebuilt several times, it has mixed architectural styles.
Walking around you will notice that the main building is in the Romanesque-Gothic style, while the facade columns are in the neoclassical style.
In addition, its square towers are so different that they seem to be from another building.
With its intricate Romanesque-gothic design and carefully preserved neoclassical columns, St-Pierre Cathedral is truly an architectural masterpiece.
But what really sets this building apart is the fascinating historical context behind its creation.
During the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century, St-Pierre became a place of worship for Protestants, who left many of their marks on its design and layout.
Even today, you can see evidence of this history in various aspects of the cathedral's structure.
Another highlight is Maccabee Chapel located in the southwest wing of the famous St-Pierre Cathedral Geneva.
Although it is mainly used for religious services and as a quiet place for followers of the faith, the chapel is also a venue for concerts, weddings and other ceremonies.
Its most characteristic features are the exquisite stained glass windows that adorn its interior, as well as its simple wooden chair and Gothic paintings.
Cathedral attractions include a visit to the top of the tower, climb the 157 steps of the spiral staircase for breathtaking views of the city of Geneva, the lake and its fountain as well as the surrounding mountains.
Located in the heart of the old town, the cathedral is definitely not to be missed and is open to visitors almost every day, with the exception of some public holidays.
Entrance to the Cathedral is free, but be aware that a small fee is required to visit the underground archaeological excavations and the tower visits.
Read also: Best Attractions & Things to do in Bern, Switzerland
4. Visit Maison Tavel, meaning Tavel House in Geneva
If you're looking for an exciting and unique experience while visiting Geneva, look no further than Maison Tavel.
This historic building is the oldest house in the city, constructed in the 12th century by the Maison family.
After a devastating fire destroyed much of the structure in 1334, the house was reconstructed under the care of its new owners.
In 1963, Maison Tavel was purchased by the city of Geneva and turned into a museum dedicated to exploring Geneva's rich history.
Today, this one-of-a-kind landmark features several floors of exhibits and artifacts that bring to life all aspects of medieval life in Geneva.
Whether you are interested in learning more about architecture, fashion, or daily activities during this era, Maison Tavel is sure to delight and fascinate.
Situated within Switzerland's charming Old Town area, Maison Tavel is easily accessible on foot from popular shopping street Rue du Marche.
And with countless other historical landmarks and museums nearby, it is the perfect place to learn more about Geneva's storied past.
So if you're looking for things to do in this charming city, be sure to visit Maison Tavel – your next adventure awaits!
5. Check out the wonderful ceramic collection at the Ariana Museum
Nestled in a lush verdant park along the picturesque shore of Lake Geneva, the Ariana Museum is a breathtaking mansion that holds more than 23,000 ceramic and glass pieces within its walls.
Boasting a vast collection of beautiful cups, vases, stained glass windows, statues, and paintings, as well as modern ceramics in the second floor room and an array of ever-changing exhibitions in the basement, this stunning museum truly has something for everyone.
Despite the fact that most information details are in French, the free museum is worth a visit for its surroundings.
This awe-inspiring Baroque and classical style building is highlighted by grand vaulted ceilings, massive columns, and rich burgundy walls.
Additionally, the accessible balcony overlooking the picturesque Parc de l'Ariana makes the Ariana Museum a unique cultural gem.
To top it all off, be sure to make time for tea at the on-site teahouse or have lunch on the outdoor terrace. (though reservations are highly recommended).
Whether you're touring Switzerland or just looking for things to do in Geneva, the Ariana Museum should certainly be at the top of your list.
Read also: Most Beautiful Lake to visit in Switzerland
6. International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum
Located in the beautiful city of Geneva, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in exploring humanitarian issues and learning more about global humanitarian action.
With interactive exhibits that bring global issues to life and empower visitors to understand those affected by conflict, this museum offers an engaging and thought-provoking experience that is truly unique.
Whether you're looking to learn more about how best to mitigate the effects of natural disasters, or simply hoping to gain a greater appreciation for the tireless work done by humanitarian organizations like the Red Cross, this museum is sure to delight and fascinate.
So, if you're planning a trip to this city anytime soon, be sure not to miss out on this one-of-a-kind attraction!
Read also: 19 Best Attractions & Things to do in Interlaken, Switzerland
7. Enjoy what Lake Geneva (Lac Léman) has to offer
Lake Geneva, or Lac Leman, is one of the best attractions in Geneva. Located in western Europe and measuring 72 km long by up to 13 km wide, this vast body of water is a true outdoor paradise.
Surrounded by the snowy peaks of the French and Swiss Alps, Lake Geneva is home to numerous picturesque villages, rolling vineyards, and historic castles that offer plenty of opportunities for sports and fun.
Whether you prefer to get active on the water with a rental boat or go for a relaxing cruise along the lake's scenic shoreline, Lake Geneva has something for everyone.
For thrill-seekers, aquatic sports like sailing and fishing are always popular.
And if you're looking for some peace and quiet away from the crowds, there are plenty of tranquil areas where you can simply soak up the scenery or take a refreshing swim in the cool water.
No matter how you choose to make the most of this breathtaking natural wonder, Lake Geneva is truly a must-see destination in Switzerland.
Read also: Zermatt Ski Resort - Full Travel Guide
8. Palace of Nations (Palais des Nations)
The Palace of Nations is one of Geneva's top attractions, located in the heart of Ariana Park on the shores of Lake Geneva.
This spectacular structure was built towards the end of the 1920s as the League of Nations' headquarters, and it now houses the United Nations Office in Geneva.
To get inside this monumental building, you'll need to sign up for a guided tour that takes you through its key points of interest, such as the Assembly Hall - the largest chamber of the Palais, seating around 2,000 people; Council Chamber - where important meetings about world affairs take place; Human Rights Council - where there are remarkable works of art created by the famous artist Mikel Barceló;
Along the way, your guide will provide fascinating insights into the architecture, gardens, and history of this iconic landmark.
And of course, don't forget to stop by the Broken Chair Sculpture, a 12-meter-tall wooden chair with a broken leg, located in the Place des Nations near the United Nations headquarters for some stunning photos.
Whether you're interested in politics or simply looking to explore one of Geneva's best attractions, a visit to the Palace of Nations is sure to delight and educate!
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9. Admire the structure of Brunswick Monument
Located in the beautiful Jardin des Alpes, also a garden, the Brunswick Monument is one of the best attractions in Geneva.
This elegant mausoleum pays tribute to a 19th-century duke and his rich legacy to the city.
At a height of over 21 meters, the monument was modeled after the Scaliger Tombs in Verona, Italy, and features intricate sculpted figures and faces with marvelous attention to detail.
Whether you are an art lover or simply appreciate stunning architecture, this fascinating landmark is not to be missed when visiting Geneva.
10. The Jardin Anglais and the Flower Clock
Nestled in the heart of Geneva, the Jardin Anglais is another one of the best attractions in the city.
This picturesque park is situated on the site of an ancient harbor and a wood, and it is known for its rolling green lawns, tranquil ponds, National monument, and striking flower clock.
With its unique combination of natural beauty and urban vibrancy, the Jardin Anglais also known as English-style park, is a must-visit destination for locals and tourists alike.
In addition to offering spectacular views of Lake Geneva and the snow capped Alps beyond, this iconic park also features several charming pavilions, sculptures, and fountains.
And at the center of it all stands the awe-inspiring Flower Clock: a magnificent timepiece composed of lush greenery and vibrant blooms.
Towering over 5 meters in diameter and 18 meters in circumference, this floral masterpiece is made with more than 6,500 flowers arranged in intricate patterns that change with the seasons.
But best of all, the Flower Clock actually functions like a typical timepiece. With Swiss precision at its very core, this floral masterpiece keeps perfect time with utmost accuracy.
Keep an eye out for the clock's second hand - at 2.5 meters long, it is said to be the longest in the world!
Read also: Christmas markets in Zurich
11. Experience a musical performance at Geneva Victoria Hall
If you are looking for a truly unique musical experience, then look no further than Geneva Victoria Hall.
With excellent acoustics and unparalleled architectural beauty, this iconic performance venue is sure to leave a lasting impression on any music enthusiast.
Built between 1891 and 1894 as a tribute to the English Queen Victoria, Geneva's Victoria Hall is a true work of art, renowned throughout the world for its excellent acoustics.
Known for hosting some of the best classical music performances in the world, the Victoria Hall attracts artists from across the globe who are eager to perform on its prestigious stage.
Whether you enjoy symphonies or jazz, opera or soul, there are sure to be plenty of amazing concerts to enjoy here.
In addition to the musical sound qualities, the hall itself is absolutely breathtaking, with a grandiose architecture that inevitably amazes everyone in the audience.
Unfortunately, it is not possible to visit Geneva Victoria Hall just to see the architecture, therefore it is worth attending a music concert to not only enjoy the acoustics of the hall but also to admire its grandiose interior architecture!
12. Stroll through Geneva's Old Town (Vieille Ville)
Located in the small country of Switzerland, Geneva's Old Town is a vibrant and historic area that is best known for its stunning architecture and charming atmosphere.
Stroll through the cobbled winding streets to discover quaint cafes, interesting museums, historic buildings with stunning architectural features, and hidden corners that are brimming with history and culture.
Highlights include St. Peter's Cathedral, an iconic symbol of the Reformation movement and one of the best things to see in Geneva.
Other must-see spots include Maison Tavel, a beautifully preserved medieval building located on the banks of Lake Geneva; Place du Bourg-de-Four known as the oldest square in Geneva; Old Arsenal, a open-air museum lined by cannons while opposite the Arsenal is the striking Hôtel de Ville, known as the Town Hall.
For a relaxing moment in nature, be sure to check out Treille Promenade, a sprawling green garden perched above the city center with lovely sweeping views.
Read also: Christmas markets in Basel
13. Bastions Park (Parc des Bastions)
Located at the foot of the old town, Bastions Park is one of the best attractions in Geneva.
With its close proximity to the university and its many incredible attractions, this park has become a favorite among students and tourists alike.
There are two main attractions in this park such as the Reformation Wall and giant chess ground.
Reformation Wall is arguably the best attraction in Bastions Park. This 100m-long wall pays homage to the men who helped shape Protestantism, with four towering statues standing guard at its center.
Additionally, those looking for some fun can head over to the park's giant chess games, which provide a unique and exciting experience in a lovely city setting.
Bastions Park is likely to delight and captivate guests of all ages, whether you're exploring on your own or with family or friends.
Thus be sure to add it to your itinerary when visiting beautiful Geneva!
14. Check out World's longest Wooden Bench at Treille Promenade Geneva
Located just behind Geneva's famous City Hall, the Treille Promenade is a hidden gem that boasts many exciting features.
Not only is this scenic promenade providing stunning views of the majestic Jura and Salève mountain ranges as well as the Geneva city, but it also is home to the longest wooden bench in the world, stretching an impressive 120m in length.
Built in 1767, this picturesque space has a real sense of peace and tranquility about it, making it a must-visit destination for any traveler in Geneva.
But perhaps best of all is the fact that springtime here is celebrated by the vibrant bloom of the chestnut trees that shade this urban oasis.
So if you're looking for one of the best places to see in Geneva, be sure to add Treille Promenade to your list!
15. Russian Orthodox Church
One of the most visually stunning places to visit in Geneva is the Russian Orthodox Church.
Located in the upper part of the Eaux-Vives district in the city of Geneva, this church was constructed in the 19th century and its iconic golden, onion-shaped domes are visible from afar.
The church displays some of the oldest works of art dating back to the 16th century. Owned by the Russian royal family, these works of art are impressive, especially for those who are interested in history and culture.
As you enter through its beautiful porch adorned with intricate decorative details, you will be transported back in time as you explore all that this historic site has to offer.
With its distinct Byzantine-Moscovite style of architecture, this church is a true testament to its rich history.
16. Visit Basilica Notre-Dame Geneva
If you're looking for a historical place that's truly one of a kind, look no further than the Calvin Auditorium.
Nestled directly next to the St. Pierre Cathedral in the Place de la Taconnerie, this iconic building is closely associated with some of the most pivotal figures in the Protestant Reformation.
Known locally as "Le Calvin," the auditorium was originally an ancient chapel called Basilica Notre-Dame Geneva.
Constructed during the height of Calvin's influence in the city, it quickly became known as a center for religious learning and discussion, and many notable philosophers and theologians delivered lectures and held debates here.
Today, this hallowed space remains one of best places to see in Geneva - a must-visit destination for lovers of history and culture alike.
17. Test your cooperation skills at Trip Trap Escape Room
If you are looking for an exciting and challenging way to explore Geneva, look no further than Trip Trap Escape Room.
This unique collaborative escape game is the perfect opportunity to test your critical thinking skills, creativity, and teamwork abilities. Set in a beautifully designed and fully immersive environment, this game puts you right in the shoes of an adventurer trying to regain their freedom.
You will have just 60 minutes to solve puzzles, unlock clues, and ultimately find your way out of the room.
With its challenging puzzles and nail-biting atmosphere, Trip Trap Escape Room is one of the most unique things to do in Geneva. So don't wait any longer! Put the Trip Trap Escape Room at the top of your Geneva bucket list!
18. Visits the Museums of Geneva
Geneva is home to some of the best museums and exhibits in the world that will delight those who like to discover new things. In addition to those mentioned above, Geneva also has many other museums that are worth exploring.
Musee Rath Geneva: Home to many international and Swiss artifacts, it is one of the most famous art museums in all of Switzerland. The museum is located in front of the old city walls.
Globe of Science and Innovation: is an excellent exhibition that delves into the complex world of particle physics and the origin of the universe.
Barbier-Mueller Museum: The largest private collection contains several thousand works of art from classical antiquity and tribal, sculptures, ornaments and fabrics from all over the world. Countless of these pieces are priceless masterpieces because they cannot be found anywhere else today. Therefore, this private collection is the most significant of its sort in the whole globe.
Musée D'art Et D'histoire (Art And History Museum): In this museum, you can see historical objects, sculptures, musical instruments, paintings and many other things that perfectly describe the development of art around the world over the decades.
Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MAMCO): Museum for experts and people new to current and modern art!
International Museum of the Reformation: The museum explains the period of history using historical objects, engravings, paintings, and manuscripts that illustrate the evolution of the Reformation and its impact on the lifestyle.
Ethnography Museum Geneva: This is one of Switzerland's most important ethnographic museums, where you can see unique exhibitions, concerts, performances, films and much more from the Swiss past.
Bodmer Foundation: a fascinating library as a testimony to the constant development of civilization. This exhibition takes you on a chronological journey from the discovery of writing, showcasing the incredible papyrus, manuscripts, and pristine editions.
19. Check out some of Geneva's spectacular Festivals
Fête de l'Escalade - is one of the biggest annual celebrations in Geneva held each December, commemorating a historic event that took place hundreds of years ago. Also known as l'Escalade or Escalade, this festival offers visitors the chance to explore different aspects of the city's history and culture through a wide range of activities, including torchlight parades with extravagant costumes and plenty of festive food and drink.
Geneva Fête de la Musique: during this exciting three-day music festival that is held in June, people from all over Switzerland gather to celebrate their love of music through hundreds of concerts of every type imaginable. Whether you are a fan of classical, jazz, rock, or anything in between, Festival Geneva has something for everyone. And best of all, the concerts are free of charge, making this truly a festival for everyone.
Bol d'Or Mirabaud: boating event that normally takes place on a Saturday morning in the middle of June. It is the largest sailing boat regatta on Geneva lake.
Best Day trips from Geneva
There are a multitude of amazing day trips that can easily be taken from Geneva, the charming and historic lakefront city perched on the southwestern shore of Lake Geneva.
Whether you are looking for rolling green hills, soaring mountain peaks, or elegant medieval towns, there is something for everyone in this scenic corner of Switzerland.
Maison Cailler Chocolate manufacturer
Maison Cailler the oldest chocolate manufacturer in the country. Nestled in picturesque Broc, this renowned chocolaterie offers fascinating guided tours that showcase all aspects of chocolate-making—from growing cocoa beans to packaging and shipping finished products.
Whether you're an avid chocoholic or have no particular fondness for sweet treats, you'll enjoy this unique and fun educational experience.
Mont Salève this iconic mountain is just a short drive from the city, and offers countless opportunities for exploration and adventure. If you'd prefer to stay above ground level, make your way to the base of the mountain and hop aboard its cable car.
The quick ride offers amazing views as it transports you to the top of the mountain, where you'll find numerous hiking trails and impressive views of Geneva and beyond. Alternatively, if you're seeking an adrenaline rush, try paragliding or skiing along Mont Salève's slopes.
No matter what activity you choose, be sure to spend some time at the mountaintop observation deck. Here, you'll get stunning panoramic views of the landscape and have the opportunity to refuel with delicious food and drink at one of the area restaurants.
So if you're looking for something exciting and memorable to do on your trip to Geneva, don't miss a day trip to Mont Salève!
Yvoire situated on the shores of Lake Geneva, about 45 minutes from Geneva by car or bus, this charming medieval village has earned its nickname of “Pearl of Lac Leman”.
The highlights of any trip to Yvoire include exploring the village castle, taking in the lush floral gardens at the famous Five Senses Garden, and indulging in some world-famous ice cream or crepes at Les Galets.
Whatever your interests may be, you can be sure that a day trip to this picturesque village will leave you with memories to last a lifetime.
Evian-les-Bains a charming town on the southern shore of Lake Geneva. With its picturesque setting backed by Alpine slopes, mineral-rich thermal springs, and charming Art Nouveau buildings, Evian-les-Bains offers the perfect backdrop for an exciting day exploring all that this delightful town has to offer.
Whether you spend your time relaxing in the beautiful outdoor spaces or taking in a performance at one of the historic theaters, you are sure to have a memorable day in this charming French town.
Gruyères a historic town famous for its decadent creamy cheese. Nestled in the foothills of the Swiss Alps, Gruyères offers spectacular views and plenty of opportunities to explore its charming cobblestone streets.
Montreux with its grand hotels, charming Old Town, world-class museums and legendary jazz festival, Montreux offers the perfect blend of natural beauty, cultural attractions, and vibrant nightlife.
So if you're looking for an unforgettable day trip from Geneva that will leave you craving even more, look no further than Montreux – a destination where nature, culture, and magic truly come together.
Nestled in the foothills of the French Alps, this charming lakeside city has long held an important place in France's cultural heritage, and it is truly a must-see destination for anyone looking to get a taste of the best that France has to offer.
With its cobblestone streets and lovingly tended canals, Annecy is like something out of a dream.
Best hotels to stay in Geneva
Luxury stay in Geneva
Hôtel de la Cigogne - 5-star modern hotel provides comfy rooms with fireplaces, one of the greatest restaurants, and a beautiful view of the city!
The Ritz-Carlton Hotel de la Paix, Geneva - 5-star luxury hotel offering a luxurious experience with chic modern interiors, on the lake Geneva shoreline overlooking the lake and its fountain.
Hotel President Wilson, a luxury collection hotel, Geneva: 5-star luxury hotel located on the promenade of Lake Geneva offers exquisite rooms, a swimming pool, a unique spa and other luxury-worthy things.
Mid-Range stay in Geneva
citizenM Geneva - The 4-star hotel features a modern style, a decent central location, and rooms with air conditioning.
Hotel Sagitta - The 3-star hotel is ideal for a family visit to Geneva, with big accommodations and a breakfast buffet.
Edelweiss Manotel - Elegant 3.5-star hotel with family rooms and private bathrooms.
Cheap stay in Geneva
Hôtel Central - 2-star hotel, with low-cost offering modern rooms, a terrace, free WiFi, and breakfast.
Geneva Hostel - a low-cost hostel with family rooms that is just a few minutes' walk from eateries.
Hotel de Geneve - only a 3-minute walk from the railway station and a 5-minute walk from the city center and Lake Geneva's shores. There is free WiFi in all places.
Geneva is a city that has something for everyone. Whether you are interested in history, art, nature, or just want to relax and enjoy the view, there is an attraction here for you.
We hope that this list has helped you to plan your perfect holidays in Geneva.
If you have any questions about these places or need help booking accommodation or transportation, please let us know. We would be happy to help make your visit to Geneva unforgettable.