Geneva is one of the top cities for digital nomads in Switzerland. It's a financial center and has become the world leader for digital currency innovation and fintech startups. Thus, the city has a bustling digital nomad scene, making it a great place to connect and network with fellow nomads. Check out my Geneva Travel Guide with 15 things to see and do.
Another reason Geneva is a great place to live for digital nomads is it offers numerous fun things to explore when you're not working on your laptop, allowing you to live a healthy work-life balance. From exploring ruins and archaeological sites to eating traditional Swiss foods and strolling around the booming Old Town, there is a lot to do in Geneva during your free time. Refer below for the top 15 things to see and do in Geneva.
1. Climb to the Top of St. Pierre Cathedral
One of the best ways to appreciate the beauty of a city is to admire it from above. In Geneva, you can climb to the tall towers of St. Pierre Cathedral, where you can marvel at the city's most panoramic views, including Lake Geneva.
The Cathedral itself is an interesting sight to visit. It's a Romanesque church built in 1150 and features beautiful Gothic elements. When climbing to the top, the south tower is where you can admire the best views, especially during glorious sunny weather. But if you come here on a chilly day, the north tower offers better views.
2. Go on a Boat tour at Lake Geneva
Exploring scenic Lake Geneva on a boat is one of the best things to do on your visit. Take one of the regular boats connecting Geneva to other lakeside towns, such as Montreux and Lausanne. The lake's stunning scenery and crystal-clear waters will make your boating experience unforgettable.
On the western section, you'll find the famous Jet d'Eau fountain. In the eastern part is the lovely town of Montreux. You'll also find the famous Chillon Castle, attracting thousands of visitors. River Rhône feeds the lake at the utmost eastern cover close to Bouveret.
If you want to take up some adventures, consider kayaking or paddle boarding across the lake. For a more authentic experience, take the historic paddle steamers when boating around the lake.
3. Paraglide in Mont-Salève
Situated about 12 miles southeast of Geneva, Mont Salève is one of the most stunning places in Switzerland, famous for its plethora of adventurous activities, such as hiking and cycling. But the most popular activity in Mont Salève is cross-country paragliding, which is guaranteed to get your blood pumping!
To paraglide, you need to climb to Mont Salève, where you'll run off the edge of a cliff with a parachute behind. While it might sound terrifying, it's actually a whole lot of fun, especially after seeing the incredible views of the region from above.
You can reach Mont Salève by driving or taking a bus from Geneva towards Switzerland's border with France. After getting off the bus, you can walk, bike, or take a cable car ride to the top.
4. Stroll Through the Picturesque Streets of the Old Town
The Old Town is one of Geneva's most picturesque places to explore, lined with centuries-old buildings, and where you can discover the city's rich history and culture. It's perched on a hillside above the Rhône River.
As you wander around the Old Town's picturesque cobblestone streets, you'll find a ring of buildings and broad streets tracing the line of Geneva's ancient fortifications. Plan your visit around lunchtime, as there are numerous cozy cafes and great restaurants well worth a stop. You can also take a rest at the Marronnier de la Treille nearby. At 120 meters long, it is believed to be the longest bench in the world.
5. Admire the Jet d'Eau
Beside Jetée des Eaux-Vives, the breakwater enclosing the harbor of Geneva, you'll see a mighty jet of water soaring straight to about 145 meters tall, coming from the lake's surface. It's known as the Jet d'Eau, a water jet that has become the city's symbol and one of its most famous landmarks.
You'll enjoy seeing the water getting propelled by a powerful pump at a rate of about 500 liters a second. Enjoy a good viewpoint from Bains des Pâquis, a favorite spot for locals to swim. It's also a great place to enjoy a sauna or enjoy refreshments.
6. Feast on Cheese Fondue
If you love cheese, then you should definitely feast on cheese fondue during your visit to Geneva. In fact, there's no way you can visit Geneva without indulging in mouthwatering cheese fondue. So, grab a dipping bread and dip it in a piping hot cheesy pot. Opt for the goat's cheese fondue, which is insanely delicious.
One of the most popular places to enjoy cheese fondue is the Bains des Pâquis, a public swimming bath on Lake Geneva. During summer, the place is bustling with locals. During winter, Buvette's fondue nights are a big hit.
7. Visit Place du Bourg-de-Four
At the center of the Old Town of Geneva, close to Saint-Pierre Cathedral, you'll find Place du Bourg-de-Four, one of the oldest squares in the city. Aside from being on the site of an ancient Roman forum, it's where exiled Protestants found refuge and shelter during the early times.
Nowadays, the square is bustling with locals and tourists crowding its many cafes and restaurants. Along with the 18th-century fountain, the other historical sights you'll see are the Palais de Justice and the statue of Clementine by Heinz Schwarz.
8. Join a Guided Tour of Palais des Nations
When sightseeing around Geneva, drop by Palais des Nations, the European headquarters of the United Nations. It's the center of world diplomacy and the second largest UN center in the world, after New York, and welcomes over 25,000 delegates each year.
Consider joining a guided tour, where you can learn about the various humanitarian works carried out here. You will also have the opportunity to see beautiful artworks donated by different countries from around the world.
9. Wander Around Parc de la Grange
Parc La Grange is one of Geneva's largest and most attractive parks. With its spectacular views, magnificent trees, and diverse ambiance, it's a lovely place to chill away from the hustle and bustle of the city. It lies between Parc des Eaux-Vives and Les Eaux-Vives.
Aside from the incredible views, Parc La Grange is a fun place to visit for its history. It has traces of human presence from the Neolithic period and is considered a historical landmark. Right in the middle of the park, you'll find the iconic Villa de La Grange, partly sheltered by stately trees.
10. Check out the Italian Quarter
Carouge, the city's Italian Quarter, is another lovely place for a weekend stroll in Geneva. It has a long history with Sardinian residents, with their influence still present today. Many locals consider it a “small Italy.” It's one of those districts that stand out from the rest due to its charm.
The unique architecture of Carouge is a testament to its Sardinian heritage, as well as its magnificent historic streets lined with cozy cafes, restaurants, bistros, and antique shops. Enjoy an afternoon or evening stroll, and hit the restaurants for an authentic Italian dinner. Don't forget to drop by the fresh produce market for freshly baked treats.
11. See Jardin Botanique
Geneva's botanic garden, called Jardin Botanique, was established in 1902, replacing the smaller botanical garden at Parc des Bastions. Located southeast of Ariana and occupying about 28 hectares of land, Jardin Botanique has lovely gardens, greenhouses, and a conservatory. It features over 12,000 species of trees and plants and is a fun place to stroll around.
One of the highlights is the Alpine Garden, showcasing plants from the high elevations of Switzerland. Another is the herbarium, housing six million herbs and is one of the largest in the world. You will also find a small animal area in the garden, which shelters fallow deer and other wildlife.
12. Relieve History at Musée d'Art et d'Histoire
Inaugurated in 1910, Musée d'Art et d'Histoire is one of Switzerland's largest museums, with exceptional collections from several regional museums and added donations from private collectors. There are over 7,000 exhibits on display, from prehistoric finds to modern artworks and paintings.
Musée d'Art et d'Histoire is housed in a building built in 1900, lying east of Geneva's Old Town. You'll find significant finds dating back to prehistoric times and other interesting antique collections, which you can view in the Archeology Department. Meanwhile, the Department for Applied Arts showcases Byzantine Art, musical instruments, icons, and textiles. The area for fine arts has a collection of paintings from the Middle Ages.
13. Discover Where the Rivers Meet
Another fascinating place in Geneva is La Pointe de la Jonction, where two different rivers meet. One of the rivers is muddy, while the other has crystal-clear waters, which makes it mesmerizing. Lying between the rivers Arve and Rhône, at the foot of the Genevan Energy Services station, the Pointe de la Jonction is a calm and tranquil place to relax.
You can access the very edge of the area on foot from either side. The left side is a more enjoyable place to hang out. As soon as the sun comes out from spring, locals gather in the area to bathe and enjoy some barbecues and drinks. There are also shower facilities and a bar, which makes for a more enjoyable experience.
14. Drop By Patek Philippe Museum
The Patek Philippe Museum is another fantastic museum to visit in Geneva. Located at the heart of Geneva's Plainpalais district, the museum opened in 2001, holding an extraordinary collection of the famous luxury brand. Aside from the watch collection, you will find enamel miniatures dating from the 16th to 19th centuries of Swiss and European origins.
The earliest watches date from the 1500s. Some collections include technical and enameled watches, and those from Turkey and China, from as early as 1600. Aside from checking out the fascinating displays, check out the library dedicated to horology and other related subjects. The museum opens from 2 PM to 6 PM from Tuesdays to Fridays and 10 AM to 6 PM every Saturday.
15. Go On a Day Trip to Evian-les-Bains
If you want to go out of the city and visit some beautiful towns, make it Evian-Les-Bains, which lies on the French southern shore of the lake, about an hour drive from Geneva. It became renowned for its mineral-rich springs and stunning views, with the gorgeous Alpine slopes in the backdrop.
Although the history of the place dates back to the Middle Ages, it only became popular during the Belle Epoque, a period of French and European history around 1871–1880. The town still manages to maintain its gorgeous Art Nouveau buildings, including the famous Pump House, recognized for its stained glass, tiled dome, and charming clock tower.