How To Spend One Day In Geneva, Switzerland? 15+ Best Things To Do

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With a lovely mix of the charming old town, modern architecture, and many green spaces Geneva has a lot to offer to its visitors. Let’s go and discover all the best things to do in Geneva, Switzerland during one day stay.

This Swiss city is best known for its wealth, banking, diplomacy, watchmaking, CERN, luxury shops, pretty landscapes, and spectacular water jet. So yeah – a lot! But there is a reason why there is so much in it. The city is recognized as one of the most expensive cities in the world to live in (usually ranks at the top5), as well as one of the wealthiest cities in the world. After Zurich, it’s the second most populous city in the country, and the most populous city in Romandy, the French-speaking part of western Switzerland. 

How To Spend One Day In Geneva Switzerland? All The Best Things To Do
Where is Geneva located? 

Geneva is located in the canton of Geneva in Switzerland, right next to the French border. The city lies on the southwestern shore of Lake Geneva (fr. Lac Leman) and is surrounded by the Alps and Jura mountains. 

How long should you stay in Geneva?

As you will learn in this post, it’s possible to see most of the main Geneva attractions in just one day. We did it without rushing, with many breaks throughout the day. But if you want to get to know the city even better, stay for at least 3 days. If you also want to visit surrounding places like Lausanne, Yvoire, Evian-Les-Bains, or maybe even Annecy or Chamonix, we recommend staying much longer. Something around 7-10 days would be ideal for slow sightseeing.

What is the best time to visit Geneva?

Well… It’s probably always a good time to visit Geneva. We visited the city in early June and loved it. There were already many tourists around but it wasn’t yet too crowded like we imagine it might be in July and August. The temperature was very pleasant for sightseeing, about 20 degrees. So if you want to experience the city without too many tourists and in (probably) nice weather, we recommend visiting during late spring or early autumn. But if you don’t mind the snow or the huge number of tourists – you can also choose summer or winter. It all really depends on your needs and preferences.

What to see in Geneva, Switzerland?
One Day in Geneva, Switzerland - Best things to do

One day in Geneva, Switzerland. 15+ Best things to do

Things to do in Geneva Old Town

One of the best things to do in Geneva is simply strolling around the old town. Geneva Old Town (fr. Genève Vieille Ville) is located on a small hill and is full of cobblestone streets and squares filled with charming old buildings and many corners just asking to explore every nook of them. In the streets of the old town, you’ll find places like St Pierre Cathedral, Treille Promenade, Place du Bourg-de-Four, Bastion Park with Reformation Wall, Tavel House, Calvin High School, and of course many restaurants, cafes, shops, and boutiques. 

Fun fact: while exploring the streets pay attention to the street names because you might find interesting ones like Rue d’Enfer (Hell Street), or Rue du Purgatoire (Purgatory Street).

Ok, let’s get to know the nooks and crannies of Geneva Old Town streets better.

Best Things to do in Geneva Old Town
Streets of Geneva Old Town
Charming streets of Geneva Old Town
Discover Geneva Old Town Streets
One day in Geneva, Switzerland - Discover Old Toen

St Pierre Cathedral

St Pierre Cathedral (fr. Cathedrale Saint-Pierre de Geneve) was built in the 12th century as a Roman Catholic church and became a Reformed Protestant Church during the time of Reformation, in 1535. The church interior is incredibly beautiful in its simplicity. You can also climb up 157 steps to reach the towers to experience one of the best Geneva views from above.

In the St Pierre Cathedral you’ll also find: 

  • Maccabee Chapel (fr. Chapelle des MacchabĂ©es) filled with Gothic paintings 
  • Archaeological site (fr. Site archĂ©ologique de la CathĂ©drale Saint-Pierre) located under the Cathedral

Entry to CathĂ©drale Saint-Pierre is free. 

To get into the towers you need to pay: 7CHF for adults and 4CHF for children (7-16). Entry to the archeological site is also paid: 8CHF for adults, 4CHF for children (November 2022).

You can check current prices and opening hours on cathedrale-geneve.ch and site-archeologique.ch official websites.  

Interior of St Pierre Cathedral in Geneva
St Pierre Cathedral in Geneva Switzerland

Place du Bourg-de-Four

Place du Bourg-de-Four is Geneva’s oldest square located near the St Pierre Cathedral. It’s a popular gathering place, where you’ll find many beautiful old buildings, several restaurants, and a fountain. 

Promenade de la Treille

Promenade de la Treille is a peaceful place in Geneva Old Town offering some scenic city views. It’s best known for Banc de la Treille – the world’s longest wooden bench (which is 120m long!). Treille Promenade is also where you’ll find Geneva’s official chestnut tree, which each year, with its first leaf, announces the arrival of spring. 

Place du Bourg-de-Four in Geneva Switzerland
Place du Bourg-de-Four
Promenade de la Treille in Geneva, Switzerland
Promenade de la Treille

Parc des Bastions & Reformation Wall

Parc des Bastions is located at the foot of Geneva Old Town, right under the Promenade de la Treille. It’s a lovely, quite big green space perfect for relaxing and chilling. The park is mainly famous for two things:

  • Reformation Wall – a monument built in 1909 in tribute to the major Reformation leaders: Jean Calvin, William Farel, Theodore Beza, and John Knox
  • Giant chess and checkers games – available for free to all
Giant Chess Games in Parc des Bastions in Geneva
Giant Chess in Parc des Bastions
Reformation Wall in Parc des Bastions in Geneva
Reformation Wall in Parc des Bastions

Rue du Rhone

Rue du Rhone is a luxurious shopping street in Geneva filled with many high-end stores like Prada, Channel, Louis Vuitton, Dior, Versace or Patek Philippe. Head there if you feel like spending a lot of money, or just want to do some window shopping. 

Luxurious shopping on Rue du Rhone in Geneva
Rue du Rhone in Geneva - perfect for luxurious shopping

Things to do on Lake Geneva shores in Geneva, Switzerland

Jet d’Eau – Geneva Water Fountain

Iconic Geneva’s Jet d’Eau fountain is an unquestionable symbol of the city. Its first version was built in 1886 to control the excess pressure of a hydraulic plant. In 1891 it was relocated to Geneva harbor.  Its current version dates back to 1951. Every second, 500 liters of water are shot into the sky, to a maximum height of 140m.

In our opinion, best photo spots of Jet d’Eau are along Pont du Mont-Blanc and promanade on Quai du Mont-Blanc. 

The best things to do in Geneva, Switzerland - See Jet d’Eau Water Fountain

Jardin Anglais and the Flower Clock

Jardin Anglais, the English Garden, is a lovely English-inspired park on the Lake Geneva shores featuring a famous Flower Clock, a fountain from 1862, Ferris Wheel, and wonderful views. 

Geneva Flower Clock

After Jet d’Eau, Flower Clock (fr. L’horloge fleurie) is probably the second most photographed spot in the city. It was first created in 1955 and commemorates the Geneva watchmaking tradition. The clock consists of up to 12000 flowers that change every season. 

Interesting fact: a flower clock isn’t only decorative, it also tells the right time. 

Geneva Ferris Wheel

If you want to admire Geneva and its surroundings from about 50m high – go on a ride on the Ferris Wheel. It’s located right next to the Flower Clock and is a great attraction to people of all ages. The wheel is open only during summer months, the ride lasts about 5 minutes, and costs 7.5 CHF (October 2022).

Jardin Anglais with the Flower Clock and Ferris Wheel in Geneva Switzerland
Flower Clock in Jardin Anglais in Geneva

Parc de La Grange

Parc de La Grange is located only about a 10min walk from Jet d’Eau. Without a doubt, it’s one of the most beautiful parks in Geneva, perfect to relax with beautiful Lake Geneva views in the background. In the park, you’ll also find a Rose Garden (fr. Roseraie) and an 18th-century Villa La Grange.

Parc de La Perle du Lac & Mon Repos Park

From Jet d’Eau you can take a lovely walk up to Parc de La Perle du Lac and Parc Mon Repos on the promenade along Lake Geneva shores. These two parks form one big green and peaceful area, full of stunning views over the French coast and the Alps. It’s a perfect spot to come for a walk, relax, or have a picnic.

Rosarium in Parc de La Grange in Geneva
View over Geneva from Parc de La Perle du Lac

Geneva Botanical Garden and Greenhouse

About a 10min walk from Parc de La Perle du Lac one more amazing green area is located – Geneva Botanical Garden and Greenhouse (fr. Conservatoire et Jardin botaniques de la Ville de Genève). The garden is full of a wide variety of plants, trees, flowers, and herbs from all over the world – there are more than 12000!

Entrance to Geneva Botanical Garden is free. You can check out opening hours on cjbg.ch website. 

Plants in Geneva Botanical Garden and Greenhouse
Geneva Botanical Garden and Greenhouse
Geneva Greenhouse in Botanical Garden

Brunswick Monument

Brunswick Monument is a mausoleum built in 1879 for Charles II, Duke of Brunswick. He decided to leave his fortune to the city of Geneva in exchange for a monument built in his name. Duke also specified that the mausoleum must be a replica of the Scaliger Tombs from Verona in Italy. And so it is.

Other things to do in Geneva, Switzerland 

Do you need more ideas for things to do in Geneva? Here are some of them:

  • Palais des Nations – located in Parc de l’Ariana, is the second most important United Nations office, after New York 
  • CERN – European Organization for Nuclear Research, one of the world’s largest and most respected scientific research centers
  • MusĂ©e d’Art et d’Histoire – the largest museum in Geneva that houses a great collection of art from the Middle Ages to the present day as well as a rich collection of archaeological artifacts
  • Maison Tavel – the oldest private house in Geneva dating to the 14th century, currently it’s a Museum of Urban History and Daily Life
  • Patek Philippe Museum – a watchmaking museum that traces the history of watchmaking from the 16th century to the present day, with some of the world’s most iconic watches on displays
  • MusĂ©e Ariana – Museum of Ceramics and Glass featuring an amazing collection of over 25.000 items from Switzerland, Europe, the Middle and Far East. 

You can also go on a cruise on one of the famous steamboats to places like Lausanne, Yvoire, Vevey, or Evian-Les-Bains. During the cruise, you’ll be enjoying Geneva Lake, views of the mountains, and the towns. For more information, routes, timetables, and prices visit CGN official website.

How to get to Geneva, Switzerland? Discover the best ways

How to get to Geneva, Switzerland?

Geneva is located about 65km from Lausanne, 165km from Bern, 130km from Evian-Les-Bains, and 85km from Annecy. The most convenient way to get to Geneva is by car, bus, or train. 

Where to park in Geneva?

We left our car in this parking lot, 15min from Jet d’Eau. We paid 3CHF for about 10h. 

Airports near Geneva

The closest airport to Geneva is in Geneva… A trip from Geneva Airport to the city center will take about 10min by train (€10-19), 20min by bus (€1-8), or 10min by taxi (€30-40)

To Geneva by train

Switzerland has really great train infrastructure so it’s very easy to reach Geneva by train. For example, the journey from Lausanne to Geneva lasts about 50min (€20-60), from Zurich 2h45min (€85-150), and from Annecy in France it’s 1h15min (€9-23). To learn more about train connections that interest you visit rome2rio.com website.

To Geneva by bus

You can also easily get to Geneva by bus. For example, the journey from Lausanne will take about 1h (€2-10), from Bern 3h (€6-14) and 1h10min from Chamonix (€7-10). To learn more about bus connections that interest you visit rome2rio.com website.

To Geneva by ferry

You can also get to Geneva by ferry from places like Lausanne or Yvoire in France. To learn more about ferry connections that interest you visit cgn.ch website.

One day in Geneva, Switzerland. 15+ best things to do – Summary

Now you can clearly see that there is a lot to discover in Geneva in one day. This incredible mix of nearly everything is one of a kind and in our opinion, Geneva in Switzerland is definitely worth visiting. Even if it looks like a place for rich people only there is something for everyone over there and we encourage you to see it with your own eyes.

Restaurants, accommodations, and map

Check out various recommended places below.

Geneva, Switzerland - Map of places


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