8 Best Things To Do In Geneva: A Classic And Cosmopolitan Swiss City - Updated 2023

things to do in geneva switzerland
| 6 min read

Geneva, the cosmopolitan swiss city, is located in Romandy, the French-speaking part of Switzerland and it is the capital of the canton of Geneva. Extremely picturesque and sculpted to precision by Mother Nature, Geneva, is a great addition to your list of must-visit cities of the world.

Geneva is also one of the most expensive cities in the world. As a major global diplomatic hub, the city is the seat of the headquarters of the United Nations and for many of its agencies. This exclusively classy city has more to offer as one of the most attractive holiday destinations for travellers from all over the world.

1. Jet d'eau: an iconic landmark

Jet d'eau
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user MadGeographer used under CC BY-SA 3.0

An iconic landmark, the jet d'eau, is a sparkling, 140 meter (459 foot) high fountain - one of the largest in the world. It is located in front of the promenades of Geneva and forms a part of Geneva’s glorious skyline. Apart from being a landmark location, the jet d'eau offers a zestful mix of pleasurable choices for exploring the area. You could take a boat cruise around the lake or even take a relaxing stroll in the sprawling green park, across from the shimmering lake.

Look forward to the spectacular illumination of the jet d'eau in its bright pastel shades of pink, blue and many other cool colours. The coloured plume is a sight exclusive to several occasions - as a tribute to humanity and during spring time. Usually operating during the daytime, you can check the official website for the best times to visit.

Jet d'eau

Address: Located in the centre of the city, on Lake Geneva.

Website: Jet d’ eau

2. Place du Bourg-de-Four - quaint cafes!

Place du bourg de four - panoramio
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Patrick Nouhaille... used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Geneva, is a vibrant mix of a modern, sleek cosmopolitan city and a classic hub of vintage flavours. Located in Geneva’s old town, the Place du Bourg-de-Four, is the oldest square in the city. Known for its quaint cafes and restaurants, this part of the city offers a quiet corner for a good evening of relaxation.

The simple delectable menu on offer here is extremely popular with tourists. The perfect potato “roschti”, the “pljeskavica”, a sort of burger and the Slavic salad, are all a visitor’s delight. The excellent service and courteous service staff here deserve high praise. The decor exudes a level of old world charm to the place and give it a nice ambiance.


Address: Place de Bourg de Four 13, 1204, Geneva, Switzerland

Website: Place de Bourg de Four

3. The Palais des Nations - the UN Headquarters

Palais des nations
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Yann Forget used under CC BY-SA 3.0

As the European Headquarters of the United Nations, Palais des Nations is the largest centre for the UN, after New York. The Assembly Hall holds more than 2000 delegates and provides an amazing view of the Alps from its lobby. You might be surprised to know that this diplomatic global hub has a piece of history attached to it. The two heavily gilded bronze doors were brought all the way from Italy, by none other than the great Napolean, and granted to the League of Nations by Clemenceau.

As a book lover, you might be delighted to know that the library at Palais des Nations houses more than a million publications, including electronic journals and books. The Cour d'Honneur is an enormous terrace in the midst of the main section. It connects to the park and the views of the Alps and Lake Geneva are a marvellous sight from here. You will also certainly enjoy the splendid bronze spherical creation, with the glittering golden zodiac signs sculpted by the renowned American, Paul Manship.

For more information about guided tours at the Palais des Nations, you can visit their website.

Palais des Nations

Address: 14, avenue de la Paix, CH - 1211 Geneva 10.

Website: Palais des Nations - The United Nations Office at Geneva

4. Musée d'Art et d'Histoire – the Art and History Museum

Musée d'Art et d'Histoire de Genève
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Grototoro used under CC BY-SA 3.0

This is one of Switzerland’s massive art and history museums. The Musée d'Art et d'Histoire houses an extraordinary collection, many of the pieces assimilated from regional museums, as well as many private collections. You will revel in finding some of the most treasured works by Dutch and French artists from the 18th and 19th century. Many ancient relics from the early paleolithic and iron age can also be found here as well as exhibits from the Gothic and Rennaissance age. This museum caters to every keen admirer of classic art as well as to fans of ancient and modern history.

Musée d'Art et d'Histoire

Address: 1206 Geneva, Switzerland Rue Charles-Galland 2

Website: Musée d'Art et d'Histoire (in French)

5. The Ariana Museum – ceramic wonders

Ariana Museum Geneva
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Jorges used under CC BY 2.5

A city of many wonderful museums, Geneva offers yet another gem with the Musée Ariana or the Ariana Museum. This museum is located near the Palais de Nations, so you can combine the two in one visit. The beauty of ceramic glassware is exhibited through 25,000 samples from all over the globe, including, Switzerland, other parts of Europe, and nations of the East and it showcases the entire history of ceramic ware, from the middle ages through to the 20th century. The in-depth knowledge about the processes of ceramic ware and glazing is exhibited here.

Take in the great architectural design of this museum which houses a strikingly well-constructed gallery. Keen students of art might appreciate the fact that the Ariana Museum is the home of the International Academy of Ceramics. This Academy was founded by Henry J. Reynaud, in 1953. Today, this is the only International Academy dedicated to clay art. Put this museum on your list and make the most of the super ceramic art displays!

Musée Ariana

Address: Avenue dela paix 10, 1202, Geneve.

Website: Musée Ariana

6. The Monument de la Réformation - the Reformation Wall Monument - a sculptural marvel

Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Ruth Nguyen used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

As you walk through a grand entrance of pillars, to the southwest of Hotel de Ville, in Geneva, the Promenade de la Treille brings you awesome views of Mont Saleve and the Jura. Beneath the Promenade, you will find the stunning Parc des Bastions and the absolutely ethereal Monument de la Réformation within the Parc des Bastions. This great monument was constructed in 1917 in commemoration of the Protestant Reformation and features stunning sculptures of the renowned greats of Reformation, John Calvin, Theodore Beza and John Knox - prominent proponents of Calvinism.

Many events and documents related to this movement are exclusively preserved here, as exhibits. The Reformation Wall Monument is truly, a rare and extensive collection for sculpture admirers!

Monument de la Réformation

Address: Parc des Bastions, 1204, Geneva, Switzerland.

Website: Monument de la Réformation

7. Geneva City Tour and Boat Cruise – leisurely recreation

things to do in geneva switzerland | geneva city tour and boat cruise – leisurely recreation
Source: instagram

With the Geneva City Tour and Boat Cruise, you are in for an exciting ride on Lake Geneva, followed by a delightful tour of the city! The guided Geneva city tour can be accessed either by a coach or tram. Your cruise around Lake Geneva takes you on a joyful journey, full of visual delights and an eye-catching view of the Jet d'eau, and the old town is part of the guided city tour.

The city tour also showcases landmark buildings, like the Geneva UN building and the Bellerive Castle. The enchanting views of the towering snow-capped Alps, are a feast for your eyes. A delicious meal aboard the boat cruise, combined with the interesting and informative narration about the lavish lakefront homes, are an added attraction. Prepare yourself for a fun-filled day out!

Geneva City Tour and Boat Cruise

Duration: 3 hours


8. Gruyères day trip - a dairy delight (from USD 173.0)

Chateau Gruyeres
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Bastete used under CC BY-SA 3.0

A days trip by coach or a train from Geneva takes you to the fascinating village of Gruyères. The quaint village setting, medieval castle and the world famous cheese, churned out from its Alpine farms, are welcome attractions as is the cheese inspired recipes of this beautiful village. The many restaurants in this town are popular for their delicious, local cuisine. You will relish the ‘mures a’ la crème’, a creamy dessert with the right mix of succulent blackberries and rich cream. Many 16th and 17th century houses, overlooking the valley from rolling hill tops, make for a great sight. Culinary delights are awaiting you at gorgeous Gruyères. Certainly a place well worth a visit!

Geneva to Gruyeres Village and Chocolate Factory Full-Day Trip

Duration: 9 hours

86 reviews

Geneva - a holiday maker's ultimate paradise

This gorgeous swiss cosmopolitan city is your ultimate paradise! A city of many surprises, Geneva has many great sights to offer you, as a top holiday retreat. As one of the most expensive cities in the world, Geneva has the best-branded watches and chocolate treats. The world famous Gruyères cheese and chocolate factory are also in close proximity to this city. Your relaxing Swiss holiday is bound to be filled with ever-delightful memories of these sweet and subtle locations. Geneva is not only the seat of international diplomacy but is home to some of the best museums in the world, with collections ranging from the Medieval to the Modern age.

Your wishes are totally fulfilled, in Geneva, with the many enchanting views of picturesque Lake Geneva and the towering mountains skirting this magnificent city. Geneva is most definitely, a prime holiday hot spot you must have on your itinerary!

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

Get Trip101 in your inbox

Unsubscribe in one click. See our Privacy Policy for more information on how we use your data

A keen travel enthusiast, I seldom miss out on even the marginal of opportunities, to set off overseas with my family!! I have had the rarest of opportunities to wear several hats all through my...Read more

 Want to contribute as a Local Expert?
Explore Geneva
Good things are meant to be shared!