15+ Things To Do In Geneva, Switzerland In One Day

Welcome to the enchanting Swiss city of Geneva. During our few weeks’ stay in France in Thonon-Les-Bains we just couldn’t miss going to the other side of the lake to visit Switzerland. This is how one day we ended up in Geneva, the second most populous city in the country and the largest city on the Lake Geneva shores. It’s a truly magnificent place that seamlessly blends the old and the new and has a lot to offer for its visitors. So let us take you on a trip through elegance, wealth, heritage, history, delicious chocolates, fascinating sites, and spectacular alpine views… Let’s go and discover the best things to do in Geneva, Switzerland in one day.

Best Things To Do In Geneva, Switzerland In One Day

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One day in Geneva, Switzerland. 15+ 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. 

What is Geneva famous for? 

Geneva is famous for so many things! Wealth, banking, diplomacy, watchmaking, CERN, luxury shops, pretty landscapes, spectacular water jet… Oh, and of course for being one of the most expensive cities to live in in the world (usually ranks at the top5).

How many days do you need in Geneva?

It’s possible to see all of Geneva’s main attractions in one day, without rushing. 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, Montreux, or maybe even Annecy or Chamonix, we recommend staying around 7-10 days.

Is it worth visiting Geneva for a day?

Yes, Geneva is a city worth visiting, even if just for one day.

How to get around Geneva?

The best way to get around Geneva is on foot or by public transport (trams and/or buses). If you like walking you’ll be glad to know that most of the attractions in the city center are located in close proximity to each other. 

What is the best time to visit Geneva?

The best time to visit Geneva depends on your needs and preferences. If you want to explore Geneva 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 and low temperatures or heat and the hordes of tourists – you can also visit during winter or summer. 

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Things to do in Geneva, Switzerland in one day

Geneva Old Town

One of the best things to do in Geneva in one day 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. There you’ll find places of interest 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. Let’s go and take a closer look.

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

Things to do in Geneva Old Town
Streets of Geneva Old Town
Explore Geneva Old Town Streets
Things to do in Geneva Old Town
Geneva Old Town - Square near Parc des Bastions

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 Macchabées) filled with Gothic paintings and Archaeological Site (fr. Site archéologique de la Cathédrale Saint-Pierre) located just under the Cathedral.

Entrance to Cathédrale Saint-Pierre is free. To get into the towers you need to pay: 7CHF for adults and 5CHF for children (7-16). Ticket to the Archeological Site costs 8CHF for adults, 4CHF for children. You can also buy a combined ticket to both sites for 12CHF for adults and 8CHF for children (December 2023). To check current prices and opening hours visit cathedrale-geneve.ch and site-archeologique.ch websites.  

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

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. Visiting this spot is without a doubt one of the best things to do in Geneva in one day so be sure not to skip it!

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

If you need a nice spot for a short (or fun!) break while exploring Geneva’s old town, you should definitely direct your steps to Parc des Bastions. 

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

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.

Seeing the Jet d’Eau water show is one of the best things to do in Geneva. If you’re looking for the best spot to do so, go to Pont du Mont-Blanc and promenade on Quai du Mont-Blanc. 

Things To Do In Geneva, Switzerland In One Day - Watch Jet d'Eau

Jardin Anglais and the Flower Clock

Another great thing to do in Geneva in one day is visiting Jardin Anglais, the English Garden. It’s 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 7CHF (December 2023).

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

Parc de La Grange

Parc de La Grange is located only about a 10-minute 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! We truly loved it there and think that it’s one of the best things to do in Geneva. 

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.

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

Other things to do in Geneva, Switzerland in one day

Do you still need more ideas for things to do in Geneva? Here are some more, which we chose not to visit or we simply missed the booking deadlines. Maybe you’ll find them interesting!

Palais des Nations

Palais des Nations is a United Nations office complex set in Parc de l’Ariana. After New York, it’s the most important UN office. To visit the building you need to book your spot for a 1 hour guided tour (at least a few weeks earlier!) on the ungeneva.org website. If you won’t be able to secure your spot, you can always wander around the building and the park.

CERN

CERN, European Organization for Nuclear Research, is one of the world’s largest and most respected scientific research centers. In Geneva, you can visit the Globe of Science and Innovation, which is a unique-looking exhibition center showcasing cutting-edge scientific events and exhibits. Visiting CERN is an amazing thing to do in Geneva, especially for geeks and those genuinely interested in science. It’s not a good place for small kids. 

Entrance is free, although there are no online tickets or pre-booking available (December 2023). To get inside you first need to join often a very long queue and hope to get a spot sometime during the day. It’s recommended to appear around 8AM. To learn more about visit rules and opening hours please visit visit.cern website. 

Patek Philippe Museum 

Patek Philippe Museum is 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 display. Entrance to the museum costs 10CHF for adults, 7CHF for students and for children under 18 is free (December 2023). To learn more about current prices and opening hours visit patek.com website. 

Geneva Museum of Art and History

Museum of Art and History (fr. Musée d’Art et d’Histoire) is 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. It’s located just a few steps from Place du Bourg-de-Four. Entrance to the museum is free or ‘pay what you like’ (December 2023). To learn more about opening hours visit mahmah.ch website. 

CERN Geneva
CERN Geneva – Globe of Science and Innovation

Museum of the Red Cross

International Museum of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (es. Musée international de la Croix-Rouge et du Croissant-Rouge) is located just a few steps from Musée Ariana and United Nations headquarters. The mission of the museum is to promote the understanding of the history, current events and challenges of humanitarian aid. Entrance to the museum costs 15CHF for adults and 10CHF for students and seniors, children to 12 years old enter for free (December 2023). To learn more about current prices and opening hours visit redcrossmuseum.ch website. 

Maison Tavel 

Maison Tavel is the oldest private house in Geneva dating to the 14th century. Currently it hosts a Museum of Urban History and Daily Life, that on 6 floors tells a story of urban Swiss life. Entrance to the museum is free or ‘pay what you like’ (December 2023). To learn more about opening hours visit mahmah.ch website.

Musée Ariana 

Musée Ariana is located in Parc de l’Ariana, close to United Nations offices. It features an amazing collection of over 25.000 glass and ceramic items from Switzerland, Europe, the Middle and Far East. Entrance to the museum costs 14CHF for adults and is free for people under 25 years old. It’s also free on every first Sunday of the month (December 2023). To learn more about current prices and opening hours visit musee-ariana.ch website. 

Lake cruise on the steamboat

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?

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?

There are many parking lots available in Geneva center, probably all paid ones. We left our car in this parking lot, just about 15 minutes from Jet d’Eau and 35 minutes from Geneva Old Town.

Airports near Geneva

The closest airport to Geneva is in Geneva!  A trip from Geneva Airport to the city center will take about 10 minutes by train (€10-19), 20min by bus (€1-5), or 10min by taxi (€29-35). To learn more about airport connections with the city that might interest you visit rome2rio.com website.

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, 2h45min from Zurich and from Annecy in France it’s 1h15min. To learn more about train connections that interest you visit sncf-reseau.com or rome2rio.com website. For great train ticket deals visit the Trainline website. 

To Geneva by bus

You can also easily get to Geneva by bus. For example, the journey from Lausanne will take about 1h (€3-11), from Bern 2h30min (€14-22) and 2h10min from Chamonix (€5-14). 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 or rome2rio website.

Campings Geneva

If you’re traveling by camper, places like Camping La Colombiere, Camping Le Terroir, Camping Huttopia Divonne Les Bains or Camping des Cheseaux might interest you. They all are located near Geneva, either on the French or Swiss side. 

Flower Clock and Ferris Wheel in Jardin Anglais in Geneva, Spain

Things to do in Geneva, Switzerland in one day – Summing up

We hope that our post has brought you closer to the decision of what things you want to do during your trip to Geneva. But one thing definitely can’t be denied…  the choice is huge! Wherever you prefer strolling among charming streets, shopping in luxurious shops, relaxing in green spaces with breathtaking views, or expanding your mind in museums – you’ll find that all in Geneva. 

Our opinion about Geneva, France

For us, a visit to Geneva was a one-day trip from nearby Thonon-Les-Bains in France where we lived for a few weeks. We visited the city on one sunny Sunday in May and during that time there weren’t too many tourists. Thanks to that, our trip was very pleasant. What can we say about Geneva itself? We really liked it! It even reminded us a bit of our favorite city in Poland – Wrocław. We liked how clean and well-maintained it was, as well as the views over the lake and mountains, the green spaces, and the old town. We will remember Geneva very fondly and will gladly come back one day. 

Restaurants, accommodations, and map

Check out various recommended places below.

Where to eat in Geneva?

Here are your best, high-rated options in Geneva:

Where to sleep in Geneva?

Hotel Montbrillant in Geneva, Switzerland

Hotel Montbrillant

Hotel Montbrillant is a charming hotel situated in the heart of Geneva, Switzerland, just a short walk from the train station. With its comfortable and stylish rooms, excellent dining options, and convenient location, it's the perfect choice for both business and leisure travelers.


Edelweiss Manotel in Geneva Switzerland

Edelweiss Manotel

The Edelweiss Manotel is a charming hotel in the heart of Geneva, Switzerland, that offers cozy and comfortable rooms for travelers. The hotel is located close to the city center, making it a convenient option for visitors who want to explore the city's attractions, including the famous Jet d'Eau fountain and the Old Town.


Hotel Sagitta in Geneva Switzerland

Hotel Sagitta

Hotel Sagitta is a cozy and affordable hotel located in the heart of Geneva, just a short walk from the lake and the Old Town. With comfortable rooms and friendly staff, it's a great option for budget-conscious travelers.


ibis Genève Centre Gare, Switzerland

ibis Genève Centre Gare

Located in the heart of Geneva, ibis Genève Centre Gare is an affordable yet comfortable accommodation option, featuring modern amenities and a convenient location for exploring the city. The hotel is just a few minutes' walk from the central train station and the Lake Geneva promenade.


Accommodations photos source: booking.com

Geneva, Switzerland - Map of places


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