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Weekend in Geneva

17 October 2012 Switzerland 4 comments

Things to do in Geneva: Jet d'Eau

Is Geneva a dream destination? Some say yes, others say it is quite boring…I don’t know to what extent it is a destination where you go on purpose for a weekend break, but instead, a lot of people get there for business trips because it is a center for a lot of multinational corporations or international institutions…So I thought that maybe you will benefit from some advices about how to spend two days in Geneva.

Elegant and sophisticated, Geneva is the host of the second UN head quarters, but also of other 200 governmental or non-governmental organizations, of hundreds of head quarters for multinational companies, but also the target of numerous Arab Sheiks that come here to spend millions in the diamond stores or haute couture shops of this cities and, obviously for luxury skiing holidays in resorts few kilometers away…  There is no surprise to learn that Geneva has a distortedly large number of four and five stars hotels and the Michelin stars for restaurants are to be found on every corner of a street… Geneva is the most eastern canton of Switzerland…The city is surrounded from all sides by France, but it embraces the eastern end of the Leman lake (named only here as the Geneva Lake – another proof of local patriotism :).

Let’s see though what is there to be seen and how in Geneva

The major institution in the city is the United Nations head quarters, the second New York. The tradition of this institution is older in the Swiss town in comparison to the one from the American metropolis for the simple reason that in the interwar period, the League of all Nations functioned, an organization that preceded the UN. League of Nation is credited with many diplomatic innovations like the economic embargos (against Italy, following its attack against Ethiopia) or military ones (against Spain during the Civil War between the communists and Franco). Unfortunately, both of them relatively unnoticed as not everyone joined these embargoes.

The head quarters of the UN is the former head quarters of the League of all Nations and is called Palais de Nation. The complex can be visited starting 10.00 o’clock, but it is mandatory to have your passport with you. There are guided tours lasting one hour when you will visit the major rooms, including the Room of the General Assembly where you can give your own small speech to the Universe (or whoever listens to you in the empty room)…Obviously, the gardens with a superb view are not to be forgotten, as you will face the Geneva lake. The price of the tour is reasonable for an expensive country like Switzerland – 10 francs with a discount for students, children, groups. Info: UNO Geneva

After you finish visiting this temple of peace (or, oh well, so it’s considered), you can take it by foot on the shores of the Geneva Lake, enjoying the view of the lake and especially the Jet d’Eau, the tallest fountain in the world – the water reaches a height of 140 meters, reaching a speed of 200 km per hour.

But until you end up under water, I’d say to take a walk through the old town. It isn’t very big and like any other old town, the best way is not to use a map or your phone GPS, just discover the beauties at every corner of the streets.  Not to be missed is the Cathedral St. Pierre, the major cathedral of the city, famous because this is the place where the protestant John Calvin preached, the founder of the Calvin cult. The Cathedral is on the inside pretty austere (being protestant), so prepare to only see a massive building and that’s it… On the other hand, what is really worth, it is the climb to top of Cathedral’s tower  – it isn’t quite easy, there are 147 stairs, but the panorama is worth any effort… at your feet lies the entire Geneva!

The old area of the city is the host of some restaurants – obviously, expensive…But if your wallet is full or if you travel on an expense account, not very far away from St. Pierre you will find a hotel-restaurant called “Les Armures”, the place where Bill Clinton had dinner when he was still the US president and in order to thank for the great meal, he offered an ad-hoc saxophone concert.

In the afternoon, the best way is to head down to the shores of the lake towards the Jet d’Eau. You will pass by the floral clock, the other symbol of the city and go under the water jet… you will get a bit wet, but not much and it is fun…

For the rest of the day, you can get a cruising tour on the lake and you can admire the palaces and the sumptuous villas on the shores of the lake.


The second day

I’d say you should spend it outside of Geneva… There are a few options, either you go to France at Chambery or Annecy, old historical cities or at the feet of the Mont Blanc, or maybe just go to Evian tourist resort, famous for its mineral water brand… But I would go for a tour through Switzerland towards the other end of the lake, at Montreux and maybe Lausanne if you have time.

Take the train from the Cornavin train station and let yourself be seduced by the incredibly cute lake – mountains mix…After about an hour, you will reach Montreux… Just across the street from the train station, there is a public elevator that will get you down on the shore of the lake. In the 19th century, quite a few writers including Lord Byron set their homes here and you’ll see why …it is a very inspirational place…Thanks to them Montreux is today a chic, expensive resort with luxurious hotels on the shores of the lake. Another famous citizen from Montreux is the legendary Freddie Mercury who moved at one point to this city and some hits of the band Queen were created and recorded here … Due to this fact the city hosts the annual “Freddie Mercury Memorial Day” in September and on the shores of the lake there is a statue of the artist raised in 1996, today Freddie is a real symbol of the city…

Stroll lazy on the alleys next to the park and you will understand why Freddie liked it here – it is quiet, it is clean, it is beautiful…And if the sun will shine, you will be happy…Walk for about an hour and you will reach the Chateau de Chillon, a palace like in the fairytales with knights and princesses located just on the shore of the lake – it is one if the landmarks of entire Switzerland – lake, mountain and a 12th century castle !

Visit it and you’ll walk right in a Middle Ages world, of chivalry and religious fights …Byron made the castle famous due to his poem “The prisoner in Chillon”, written in 1816…otherwise, if you look closely you will see that Byron was also a small vandal that wrote his name on the walls of the ancient castle, next to “Jean aime Monique” and others. Oh, do not forget to climb the highest tower of the castle for a super panorama!

Take the bus back to the city after visiting the castle…Take the train back to Geneva but if you have time, make a stop in Lausanne. Here another old town will welcome you with a gothic cathedral, with colorful fountains and lots of shops. Take a stroll through the old town without any certain goal, just enter the churches. Do not miss the Notre – Dame Cathedral – it is said to be the most beautiful in Switzerland …!

The most impressive building is the Palais de Rumine – the university is here, but also some museums, but nothing outstanding.  On the other hand its historical significance is important, not for the Swiss, but for the Turks. Here is where the Lausanne Treaty was signed which led to the actual recognition of the Republic of Turkey after the Otoman defeat in WW 1 and the miraculous comeback against Greece under the leadership of Ataturk.

If you still have time take the subway next to the Palais de Rumine and head to the shore of the lake (called Leman here!). Not very far away is the Museum of Olympics, the most interesting museum in the city (Lausanne is the host of the International Olympics Committee), but even if it is closed, don’t worry ! A sunset on the coast of the lake is not something to miss…

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How to get to Geneva

Easyjet has a pretty important hub in Geneva, so you can have the chance to fly to and from different places in Europe at reasonable prices. If Easyjet does not help you, a few flagship airlines like Swiss, Air France or KLM land on the smallish Geneva airport. After you land, in the area where you wait for your checked luggage, you can get a free transportation ticket to the city by train or bus to go downtown. Grab it, you save some Swiss Francs (tx, Leyla for the tip !)

Where to sleep

If you are in town for your job, you won’t have problems, hotels are great, but the prices even greater. If you want to visit Geneva by yourself then the best way is to call a friend….If your friend isn’t responding, City Hostel may be a reasonable choice with prices starting from 32 francs (26 euros) for a bed in a 4 people room:


How to travel through the city and outside it

By foot, the center is not that large, you don’t need any public means of transportation. In order to go to Montreux the train ticket costs 56 francs (46 euros) round trip… It’s true, it’s expensive! There are about 4 trains per hour that run with a Swiss punctuality.

 Photos of Geneva:

 Weekend in Geneva: Jet d'Eau

Jet d’Eau

Weekend in Geneva: Floral clock

Floral clock

Weekend in Geneva: St. Pierre Cathedral

St. Pierre Cathedral

Weekend in Geneva: St. Pierre Cathedral

Weekend in Geneva: The tower of the Cathedral

The panorama from the tower of the Cathedral

Weekend in Geneva: The tower of the Cathedral

Weekend in Geneva: Hotel and restaurant Les Armures

Hotel and restaurant Les Armures

Weekend in Geneva: Boat parking


Weekend in Geneva: lake public transportation

The boat of public transportation

Weekend in Geneva: the lake

Taking a walk on the shores of the lake

Weekend in Geneva: Jet d’Eau

Jet d’Eau in all its greatness

Weekend in Montreux: Lake Leman


Weekend in Montreux: statue of Freddie Mercury

Freddie Mercury in Montreux

Weekend in Montreux: unforgettable Freddie

Weekend in Montreux: hotel by lake Leman

Luxurious hotel in Montreux

Weekend in Montreux: flowers on the lake

Weekend in Montreux: Chillon Castle

Chillon Castle

Weekend in Montreux: Chillon Castle

Weekend in Montreux: Here Byron signed

Here Byron signed

Weekend in Montreux: the Chillon castle

And the bathroom in the castle

Weekend in Montreux: Swiss highway near Chillon castle

Weekend in Montreux: Chillon Castle

Weekend in Montreux: Chillon Castle

Good bye, Chillon

Weekend in Lausanne: The justice fountain in Lausanne

The justice fountain in Lausanne

Weekend in Lausanne: central square in old town

The central square in Lausanne

Weekend in Lausanne: Notre – Dame Cathedral

Notre – Dame Cathedral

Weekend in Lausanne: Notre – Dame Cathedral

Weekend in Lausanne: The new Turkey was born here

The new Turkey was born here

Weekend in Geneva: Cornavin train station

And back to the Geneve Cornavin train station

Până acum există "4 comentarii" la acest articol:

  1. If you’re flying into Geneva, don’t forget to grab your free transport ticket before you clear customs. It’ll get you downtown for free, not a bad thing if you don’t have change or the right currency in hand. Also the public transport has a day ticket which allows you to travel throughout its extensive network for a low cost (was about 7-8 euros last time I took it). That’s usually the first thing I do when I get to a new city – hop on the bus.

  2. Michael says:

    That’s a great list. I recently traveled to Geneva and the lake area and prepared my own lists based on my experiences. Many of the landmarks and places I mentioned appear in this article as well, but there are still a few differences.
    So if anyone is interested in a second opinion, here’s my list on Geneva attractions:


    and here’s a list of attractions around the lake:


  3. tanvir mustafa mirza says:

    looks very brigt and beautifull, I am planning to visit in 1st Week of October 2016. I will be thankful if you please send me all these details regarding two days trip to Geneva.
    Thanks & regards, waiting for your early response.

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