Welcome to Geneva!
Most travelers know Geneva, Switzerland, as the home of the United Nations, watchmaking, the “Geneva Convention”, and of course chocolate! Once you get past the sea of tourist things to do, you can see the real side of Geneva that is home to amazing boutique stores, vintage bikes, and underground jazz bars. Tourists know the well-known attractions, but a worldwide local knows how to experience it best. This is an insider guide of some of Geneva’s local gems.
Where to Begin
After you land in Geneva Airport, start your trip at the historical heart of the city, at Vieille Ville. Walking on these steep cobblestone streets and stairways is tiring, but worthwhile, so get a good night’s sleep at your Geneva hotel before you head out for this adventure. The old center is densely packed with intriguing little corners, fountains, terraces with lookouts, as well as places of real historical value.
If the Geneva weather allows, or you are brave enough, take a dip in the Bains des Pâquis. Jetting out into La Rade, close enough to the Jet d’Eau to feel the spray, the Bains des Pâquis are public baths along a pier on the west shore of Lake Geneva. Here you can socialize with the locals or new friends from around the world. The outdoor pool is wildly popular when it’s warm, where you can sunbathe on the pier and grab lunch at the restaurant terrace. During winter, you’re also free to bathe in the outdoor pool before warming up in the sauna and hammam.
If you are looking for the best view of the city, you’ll need to put your good walking shoes on to climb St. Pierre Cathedral. There are two towers you can climb, each with their own amazing views of the entire city and of Lake Geneva. It is absolutely worth the climb!
Worldwide Local Tip: One of the most truly local things to do in Geneva is enjoying some fondue. There’s no better city in Switzerland, to order this steaming pot of melted gruyère that’s combined with wine, garlic, and seasoning. For somewhere modest and practically priced, you can’t go wrong with La Buvette, in the Bains des Pâquis.
Things to Do in Lake Geneva
A trip to Geneva isn’t complete without getting out on the largest lake in Central Europe, Lake Geneva. The spectacular views are going to take your breath away! Nobody would blame you for wanting to get out and experience it The easiest way to do that, is to catch a boat from the quay at Genève-Mt-Blanc. Next to the water, are tree-lined promenades with palatial townhouses and serene parks like Eaux-Vives, Jardin Anglais, Perle du Lac, and Mon Repos.
Worldwide Local Tip: Many locals know Carouge as “Little Italy”. Many Italian architects have designed the neighborhood of Carouge, dating back to the 18th century, which gives a feel of Italy as you walk through them. Carouge also has some great brand shops and countless boutiques.
Eat Like a Local
One of the top local restaurants for a low price is Chez Ma Cousine, located in Old Town and known for the amazing chicken dishes. If you are looking for an amazing Italian dinner you can go to La Trattoria, sits right next to the train station. You can get the BEST pizza in town at La Trattoria. Most of the Geneva restaurants will have amazing selections on the menu; so you won’t be disappointed by anywhere you select.
As a coffee lover, it is important to know where the best coffee shops are wherever you are visiting. The best coffee shops in Geneva can be found at Valmandin. This independent coffee house serves some of the best varieties of coffee in the city. They even sell personalized mixtures for you to take home.
Worldwide Local Tip: Do you love going to farmers' markets? Every Wednesday and Saturday morning in Place du Marché, you can find the freshest flowers, fruits, and vegetables, that supply Geneva’s locals with their week’s produce. The colors from all the local produce and the flowers will dazzle you, and they are totally Instagram worthy!
Have an Incredible Time in Geneva!
The choice is yours, whether you want to taste your way through Geneva, take a stroll down cobblestone streets, visit international buildings with beautiful waving flags from around the world or enjoy the majestic beauty of Switzerland which combines the water and the Alps together in a perfect harmonious view. Everything about Geneva is beautiful and romantic. The locals are friendly and welcoming, and this city is the perfect place to vacation any time of year. Roaming the city as a worldwide local will grant you unparalleled access to its amazing sights and fascinating sounds.