Geneva, Switzerland is the European headquarters of the United Nations, the city having a long history of diversity and tolerance. Today Geneva is a cultural center with world class entertainment, and hospitality amenities. Horsemen in period costume taking part in The L'Escalade festival, one of the oldest and most popular events in Geneva.

Vacationing in Geneva

What to see, where to go

Geneva, Switzerland
Geneva is becoming a popular tourist destination in Europe, particularly with the uncertainty that is prevailing in terms of the economic situation and security. Switzerland is a neutral country and cities like Geneva are flourishing. The competitiveness of the Swiss franc has played a big part in this in the past, but it has risen strongly in 2009 and is now having a dampening effect..

Geneva is one of the most significant cities in the world, but not for the reasons one might think. It is not a centre of commerce globally, although it is certainly beginning to play a more significant role, and it is not one of the biggest cities or even one of the most glorified. It’s not ranked up there with New York or London in terms of tourist numbers, but it is certainly one of the most significant cities for reasons of world heritage and political and social culture. It was the first headquarters of the UN and houses much of the administrative machinery of the UN, as well as the world famous Red Cross. It was here that many landmarks political treaties were signed, such as the Geneva Convention and it was here in the Middle Ages that the city first began to grow into the amazing urban centre it is now. Geneva is consistently ranked as one of the happiest cities in the world.

There are many things to see in the city. Geneva's best-known monument, The Jet d'eau, is the tallest water fountain in the world. The ancient Old Town provides a look at the past. There are more than 30 museums and art galleries, which reflect the rich cultural history of the city. There is the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum, and the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art. There are many parks and Geneva Lake. Market Street is sought after for shopping - you can buy a Swiss watch or just spend your time browsing among the hugely varied range of wares on offer.

Geneva can be a base for exploring the surrounding countryside. Boating, hiking, biking, wine-tasting, skiing, wining and dining, nightclubbing - Geneva has it all. Day trips can also be organized to Montreux, Chamonix and Lausanne .

You can also take the Geneva walking tour which starts on the shores of Lake Leman along Geneva's right bank and continues along the park-lined promenades and on across the banks of the Rhone River through to the Geneva CBD. Then its on to Old Town, a gothic maze of cobblestone streets  housing the historic Saint Pierre's Cathedral, and the Town Hall where the League of Nations and the Red Cross were founded. Finally stroll along the old city walls to the theater district and center of culture at Place Neuve. The tour ends in Bastions Park for a glimpse of Reformation Wall containing the effigies of Geneva's founding fathers.

Following is a snapshot of the 10 most visited attractions in Geneva from

The Lake – Stroll the promenades around the lake and soak up the atmosphere. Take a dip at Bains de Paquis or just relax in one of the lakeside parks or cafes. For a unique perspective on the city, take a one or two hour boat cruise around the lake.

The Old Town – Stop into Saint Peter’s Cathedral and then just wander the maze of cobblestone streets and discover Geneva’s secrets for yourself. For more a more historical perspective, head to the Art and History Museum or the Maison Tavel – the oldest house in the city. Make sure to leave some time to check out wonderful antique boutiques located throughout the old town..

The United Nations Building and Red Cross Museum – Take a tour of the European Headquarters of the United Nations followed up by a visit to the Red Cross Museum across the street. Be sure to take note of the many sculptures as you wander the grounds in between including the “Broken Chair” monument to land mine victims at Place des Nations.

Carouge – Hop across the L’Arve River to the Bohemian burg of Carouge modeled after Nice, France and filled with quaint boutiques where you can actually observe the artisans at work in their studios. Relax in one of Carouge’s artsy cafes or hang around until after dark to party in one the neighborhood’s famous jazz clubs.

Bastions Park and Place Neuve – Enjoy the park and be sure to pay reverence to Reformation Wall on the east side along the old city wall. Test your skill at the life size chessboards or relax at the pavilion café before heading out the gates to Place Neuve, home to Geneva’s oldest and most beautiful performance and exhibition halls.

Window Shopping on Rue de Rive and Rue du Rhone – Gawk at the fashions and jewelry lining Geneva’s most extravagant streets, but try not to look at the price tags. Repose at one of the cafés at Place du Molard or Place de la Fusterie for some first class people watching.

Paquis and Les Grottes – Explore Geneva’s most international districts located just north and east of Gare Cornavin. Try one of the area’s many ethnic restaurants and don’t forget the shopping. The Schtrumpfs Building located at 23-29 Rue Louis-Favre in Les Grottes is a fantastical architectural icon that defies description.

Plainpalais Flea Market – Mingle with the locals at Geneva’s largest outdoor flea market open Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays from 08:00 to 17:00 rain or shine. Antiques, records, vintage clothing and other curios await savvy bargain hunters.

The Saleve – Ride the gondola up Geneva’s backyard mountain and enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding Alps and the city below. Of course if you’re feeling fit, you can hike up along one of the Saleve’s many marked trails.

Geneva International Airport

Geneva International Airport, through local, regional, and international carriers, links Geneva to more than 100 destinations worldwide.

The airport is just five kiolemtres or 3 miles from the city. A direct rail connection links the airport to the downtown railway station in seven minutes.

The terminal is clean, modern, and sophisticated. It has been created for quick and simple check-ins, and has traveller support services such as foreign exchange booths, information kiosks, car rental agencies, restaurants, and a fully-serviced business centre. The World Trade Centre and Geneva Palexpo, the exhibition and conference centres are in walking distance.

Parking on-site numbers more than 4,500 bays.

Shopping facilities are excellent including duty-free shops. More than 4,500 parking spaces are at disposal.

Geneva Tourism & Convention Bureau

The Geneva Tourism & Convention Bureau is the nerve centre of the city's hospitality industry. It is a major generator of tourist traffic to the city, and is the chief registrar of all the major conferences, conventions, seiminars, exhibitions, and trade events held in the city. It co-ordinates centre bookings, hotel reservations, and general planning of major events. Contact details are as follows:

Geneva Tourism & Convention Bureau
Rue du Mont-Blanc 18
P. O. Box 1602
CH - 1211 Geneva 1  
Tel. +41 (0)22 909 70 00
Fax +41 (0)22 909 70 11

Tourism in Geneva
(obtained from

The Office du Tourisme (the Tourism Office) is located along the Rue du Mont-Blanc, close to the Main Post Office, and is where you will find the 'Genève info-jeunes' booklet, along with a range of other handy tourist information.  A further outlet known as the Information de la Ville de Genève is situated on the Pont de la Machine, while for Internet access, pay a visit to the railway station next to the Place de Montbrillant, or the Internet cafe on the Rue des Alpes.

During the summer months, tourists will find themselves spending much of their time on the shores of Lake Geneva, particularly around the Cologny area, where an extremely popular beach is to be found.  Alternatively, take a cruise along the River Rhône, head to the Quai de Mont Blanc onboard a miniature train, cool down at the enormous Aquaparc, or enjoy a musical performance in the elegant surroundings at the Bâtiment des Forces Motrices opera house.  More information about Geneva Tourist Attractions.

A number of ancient castles, historic palaces and beautiful buildings all reside within Geneva and give the city a distinctive character.  Located along the Cours St. Pierre, the St. Pierre Cathedral dates back to the 11th century and if you are prepared for a climb, take in the superb views at the very top of the tall north tower.  The Palace of Nations is another important landmark in Geneva and is where the United Nations regularly meet.  Also look out for the Maison Tavel, which is the city's oldest house and was constructed during the 14th century.  More information about Geneva Landmarks.

Many quality museums are located within Geneva and impart an array on information upon their visitors.  The Musée Ariana contains a collection of more than 15,000 glass and ceramic pieces and is actually a particularly impressive Italian Renaissance-style building.  Other popular museums include the Musée d'Histoire Naturelle, where the natural history exhibits regularly attract over 300,000 visitors each year, and the Musée d'Ethnographie, home to some 100,000 objects from all over the world.  Art lovers in Geneva should not overlook the Musée d'Art Moderne et Contemporain (MAMCO) or indeed the Musée d'Art et d'Histoire, where masterpieces by Cézanne and Renoir can be viewed and quietly appreciated.  More information about Geneva Museums and Geneva Art Galleries.

Well placed for brief excursions into the Swiss Alps and even the French Alps, Geneva in close to a wealth of top tourist attractions.  Summer hiking trails and winter sports are plentiful around La Givrine, while the city of Lausanne is also close by, where boat trips regularly depart from its Ouchy harbour.  Being so near to the French border, even the city of Lyon is within reach of Geneva and located to the south-west.  If you are lucky enough to plan a day trip to Lyon, make sure that you properly explore its beautiful Renaissance quarter and take a ride on the funicular railway to the Roman amphitheatre on the Fourvière Hill.

Coming events in Geneva

Geneva Festival

The highlight of the summer season, the Geneva Festival attracts crowds of people to the shore of Lake Geneva for concerts, food and craft from around the world, all types of music from techno to classical, a float parade, fun fair and non-stop entertainment. The grand finale of the festival is a fantastic musical fireworks display.
Venue: Various
Date: 30 July to 9 August 2009
Web site:

Geneva Music Festival

The streets of Geneva are turned into a huge musical stage every year at the Music 
Festival with hundreds of concerts of all types performed by local and international artists. The city fills with the sound of music, from rock bands to classical orchestras. For more information phone +41 (0)22 418 6532 or email
Venue: Various
Date: 19 to 21 June 2009
Web site:

L'Escalade Celebration

Of all the festivals that take place in Geneva, none rival the pomp and ceremony of L'Escalade, which is one of the oldest and most popular events in the city. The festival is a patriotic celebration of the city's independence, the Geneva equivalent of Guy Fawkes Day, and commemorates the vain attempt by the Duke of Savoy troops to invade the old walled city in 1602. Many legends surround the historic event, most famously the tale of Mother Royaume who emptied her large cauldron of hot vegetable soup on the attackers below. An Escalade custom consists of selling cups of hot vegetable soup in the streets, and the windows of confectioners and sweet shops display chocolate and nougat pots decorated with the colors of Geneva and filled with marzipan vegetables. The highlight of the festival is the torchlight procession through the Old Town by participants in period costume, with musketeers, horsemen, pipers and drummers, to the accompaniment of crackers and gun salutes. Many people appear in fancy dress and the carnival atmosphere is enjoyed by all. Contact the Geneva Tourist Office for more information on +41 (0)22 909 7070 or email
Venue: Old City
Date: 12-14 December 2009

International Tree and Lights Festival

Started in 2001, the festival invites artists from all over Europe to decorate trees in prominent positions around the city center, to create artistic lighting effects and other innovative touches. The festival presents a contemporary exhibition of imagination and creativity, where the trees of the city have taken the place of museum walls and are adorned with works from a multitude of artistic disciplines. The biggest Christmas tree will replace Geneva's Jet d'Eau fountain. Festival events include parties, street shows and competitions, particularly the 'best tree' competition judged by prominent art celebrities. For more information contact the Geneva Tourism Office on (0)22 909 7000.
Date: November 2009 to January 2010, TBA

Montreux Jazz Festival

Held on the eastern shore of beautiful Lake Geneva, the Montreux Jazz Festival attracts around 200,000 people each year. Specialising in jazz, blues, rock and pop, the festival provides groove busting beats that make you want to move your body or just listen in musical awe. The Montreux Jazz Festival has hosted the likes of Stan Getz, Nina Simone, Ella Fitzgerald, Charlie Mingus and Dexter Gordon since its inception in 1967 and this year's festival will see the likes of rock legend Lenny Kravitz and R'nB queen Alicia Keys. Head to the fringe 'Off Festival' for free open-air concerts, providing a platform for up-and-coming artists.
Venue: Various. Montreux is 56 miles (90 km) from Geneva
Date: July 2009 TBA
(events information obtained from

Feature Hotel

The Grand Hotel Kempinski Geneva

The lakeside hotel is located on the bank of Lake Geneva, overlooking the Jet d’eau with views of the lake, the Swiss Alps, the Cathedral, and the Mont-Blanc. The Kempinski is in the heart of the city and is in walking distance of  the Old Town, Flower Clock and the United Nations headquarters.

The hotel was fully refurbished in 2006 with a theme reflecting its waterfront location. Click here to access the hotel's official Web site.

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