When you visit a city like Geneva, it’s easy to simply jump on a bus tour and hope for the best. You probably won’t want to be using your own leg power to explore the best of Lake Geneva and the surrounding mountains if you’re only there for a short stay, but there’s plenty within the city itself worth getting out to see. Here’s our quick-fire guide to experiencing the best of Geneva on your own two feet.
A stroll through the beautiful botanic gardens (Jardin Botanique) when you’re staying in Geneva is an absolute must. Expect beautiful flowers, towering trees and pretty ponds adorned with cute cafés and elegant pavilions when you take a stroll in the city’s most charming outdoor space. With an array of plants from across the globe – everything from cacti to cedar trees – you could quite literally spend all day here.
To truly get in amongst the narrow streets of Geneva’s old town, you’re going to need to use your feet. Clustered on a hill surrounding the grand Cathedralè Saint-Pierre (which is well worth a visit), the pedestrian zones are a delight for the senses. Stop at a traditional café and enjoy a coffee as you watch the world go by, pop your head into one of its stylish boutique stores, or simply marvel at the period architecture. It’s up to you.
Carouge is another of Geneva’s must-see neighbourhoods. It has a very distinct charm and character, with a particularly Mediterranean flavour compared with its surroundings. In just a few steps you’ll be transported to southern Europe, with shady squares framed by bell-towered cathedrals, shuttered windows and red-tiled roofs. More than looking good though, it’s the place to be. By day it’s the go-to for cool shops, vintage and antique dealers – while come nightfall it’s home to the city’s hippest bars. Why not pop down for the street market on Wednesday or Saturday and brush shoulders with the locals?
Art lovers will happily spend the day dipping in and out of the galleries in this thriving district. Not only does it play host to the city’s world-famous art museums such as MAMCO and the Centre d’Art Contemporain, but its bustling streets are lined with endless independent galleries and working studios. Whether you’re looking to take a piece home with you or just fancy a browse – it’s an adventure worth having on foot.
For an out-of-this-world experience, book yourself on a guided tour at the nearby CERN research centre. The world’s largest laboratory, it’s here that scientists are beavering away to unlock the mysteries of our universe. You’ll watch videos, hear talks and take a walk around the monumental facility in a day trip you’ll never forget. It’s popular, so book well in advance.
Okay, we said you probably don’t want to explore the mountains on foot, but it would be a real shame not to give it a go, right? That’s because it’s actually much easier than you think – you need not be an expert hiker to get some stunning views and the freshest air there is when you visit Geneva.
Take a short bus ride to the cable car base station at Veyrier and hop on. This journey will take you 1,379m skywards, and into neighbouring France, but this isn’t a problem. Then pick your own route as you hike south-west for the day towards the mountain’s spectacular summit. Geneva really does look very small from the top.