There are many unique places to visit in the small European country of Switzerland, and one of the most popular is its second-largest city, Geneva. It’s little wonder when we consider all that this small but exciting location has to offer.
Whether you are making your way across the continent or have decided to opt for Geneva as your next weekend getaway – there is no doubt that you will find plenty of things to keep you busy while you are here.
But with so much to see and do, it might be better to make a detailed plan of things to do in Geneva this weekend that include some of the most impressive sights that are guaranteed to leave the city imprinted in your heart and your mind for many years to come.
A Little Bit About Geneva
Geneva is located next to a beautiful lake of the same name and has been home to some of the most iconic characters in history, including Charlie Chaplin and Sofia Loren – this leaves us in little doubt that there is a particular draw to this place unlike any other.
While Geneva is only a small city, that is home to just 200,000 people, or 500,000 if you count the suburban areas, it is the perfect demonstration of the saying ‘good things come in small packages,’
Geneva is famed for many things – the capital of the French-speaking part of the country being one. Still, perhaps more notably, it is an international center for finance, diplomacy and is even home to massive organizations like the Red Cross. It also has a very established outpost of the United Nations – it was once the headquarters of this organization but this has since been relocated to New York with Geneva playing a very important deputy role.
It has such global importance that in 2017, the city was awarded the honor of being the 15th most important, financially speaking. On the flip side, this is reflected in the expensive nature of living and visiting the city, and it was ranked as the 13th most expensive on the planet. Be sure to take a little extra cash when hopping on a flight to Geneva!
But don’t let this put you off – Geneva has many things to offer that are truly priceless.
How To Spend A Weekend In Geneva
One of the great things about Europe is how accessible it is for people from all over the world. Once you are there, you have easy access to so many countries, all of which are in relatively close proximity, so spending just one weekend in each is more than doable.
If you already live on the continent, it has never been more simple to hop on a discounted flight and spend your Saturday and Sunday in a city of your choice.
There’s no denying that you could quite easily spend an entire week in this city and not become bored, but when you are limited to 2 days, it’s essential that you come up with a plan of things to do in Geneva that will cover much of what can be seen here.
The Luxury Location
Before we get down to your weekend itinerary, I simply had to share this incredible offering for those who want a luxury weekend at a place that delivers on every aspect of the experience.
Terrasse Pool Garden
When you think of Geneva, one of the first things that may jump to mind is the image of a glamorous woman in dark glasses, sipping on a cocktail in the sunshine – and at this unique restaurant, you might not be far off the ball.
The Poolgarden in Geneva is located next to the lake, overlooking its natural beauty and attracts many visitors each year. While the pool garden is situated within a much larger hotel, it is open to non-guests, and if you want a luxury dining experience, look no further.
This is the ideal place for an afternoon in the sun or an evening meal, thanks to the late serving time of 10 pm.
The restaurant offers a beach club vibe where guests can relax by the pool or take a refreshing dip before being served, what is arguably some of the finest cuisine in the area.
It is worth noting that the restaurant is open only between the months of May and September but if you’re in Geneva during this time, it’s a must, even if it is just for a few cocktails while the sun goes down.
The first day of your stay in Geneva will involve a variety of activities that allow you to familiarise yourself with the city as well as showing you just how diverse it is.
Take A Chocolate Tour
We all know that Switzerland is famed for its chocolatiers so, when in Rome…or Geneva. There are many tours but none quite as detailed and intriguing as the local flavours tour that gives you much more than just chocolate – although I will clarify, there is a lot of that involved. So if you’re a chocoholic, I’d highly suggest booking a slot.
The tour comprises various chocolate tasting sessions as well as a guided tour around the old town where you will learn everything you could ever need to know about the history of the chocolate-making business in the area.
I know that it can be difficult to pick out the good tours from the bad but when you learn that this one has been backed by travel giants such as Tripadvisor, you can feel confident that you are going to be getting the best.
Enjoy Some Time In The Old Town
Once your chocolate tour has ended, and you are already in the old town, it makes sense to hang around here for a while and soak up the historical vibe of the area.
Here, you will see some beautifully maintained cobbled streets and many historical buildings. The area is known for being the oldest town in the country and you will even find an array of restaurants that boast some incredible dining rooms such as the one that features a full knight’s armor and shield.
Museum Of Art And History
In any city, you are going to be confronted with a wealth of museums – most of which are free to enter, so it can be confusing as to which are the best.
If you are a lover of art then this is a great little stop off, but when I say little, I use the term completely figuratively since this is, in fact, the largest art display in Switzerland.
It comes highly rated by many of its previous patrons and features a good variety of temporary and permanent exhibitions. Currently, there is a ‘children of Swiss art’ exhibition which runs until December 2020 and is proving to be very popular with both tourists and locals alike.
Even if you’re not an art enthusiast, simply passing by the extravagant building in which the museum is housed is sure to take your breath away. If there is one thing that Geneve does well, its architecture.
Indulge In Some Retail Therapy
Much like many other European cities, Geneva places a high focus on fashion and the shopping district really doesn’t disappoint.
You’ll want to head for the Rue Du Rhone, Rue de la Croix d’Or and Rue du Marche to find the most well-known designer brands. Even if you are just window shopping, here, you will see everything from those luxury watches that the country is famed for to high-end fashion and much more.
The Broken Chair
As you meander your way through the city, you will notice many interesting sculptures but none quite as eye-catching as the Broken Chair. The piece of art was created by Daniel Berset and is located outside the Palais Des Nations.
It’s an impressively large sculpture that is made from more than 12 tonnes of wood and stands at an incredible 12 feet high.
The idea behind the sculpture was to remind people of the damage that landmines can cause and ties in with the notion of world peace.
If you’re just passing, the chair is a great opportunity for a photo but there are also many benches and fountains around the chair so spending half an hour relaxing and watching the world go by is perfectly feasible.
Having packed so much into your first day in Geneva, you could be forgiven for thinking that there may not be much else to see in such a small place – but you would be wrong.
When looking for things to do in Geneva, you will likely be astounded by the sheer choice, so day 2 will be filled with just as much action.
Bain Des Paquis And The Jet d’Eau
If you are heading to Geneva, I don’t doubt that you will have heard of the incredibly impressive water fountain that shoots directly out of the city’s lake – and you’ve probably already planned to get a look at this. I can’t say I’d blame you.
The jet d’eau is one of Geneva’s most acclaimed attractions but was originally built for a much more industrial and practical reason. In the late 1800s, there was a need to relieve some of the water pressure at a local station and so the jet was created. Today, it attracts thousands of onlookers who wait in anticipation to see the massive 459 feet jet of water spraying into the air.
There is a possibility to see the fountain from various vantage points around the lake but I’d suggest tying this in with a trip to the Bains des Paquis where you can relax and unwind for the morning.
The summer months see tourists and locals flocking here for a dip in the lake but when the colder weather comes along, the baths turn into a sauna, so you’ve got relaxation no matter what time of year you visit.
In the mornings, during summertime, there are open-air concerts going on in the area but you need to get there early as the first begins at 7 am!
Once you’ve had your fill of chilling out, there are plenty of bars and cafes to choose from for a lazy lunch whilst looking out over the jewel of Geneva.
The Flower Clock
Located in the English garden, the flower clock – or l’horloge fleurie is one of the most recognizable attractions in Geneva and a must-see for anyone paying a visit.
If you’re under any illusion as to what this is – its name is exactly what it suggests, a clock made up of flowers.
But it’s horticultural design does not mean that it isn’t fully functional – if you’re asked to think of one thing that Switzerland is known for, I’d bet my bottom dollar you’d say watches – or clocks. So, it’s certainly worth going to check out if you want to get a feel of what this country is all about.
Of course, this isn’t something that is going to take up masses of your time, so whether you opt to spend some time in the surrounding gardens or swiftly move on to your next activity, you’ll at least have a photo to show to the grand kids.
St Pierre Cathedral
There are many cathedrals all over the world and some leave much to be desired but this one in Geneva is sure to leave you impressed.
Located in the old town, the cathedral has been standing since the 11th century although some renovations have, understandably, been made over the years. But what is most interesting about this building is how its large, imposing structure is so tightly packed into the surrounding buildings. This may make it difficult to fully appreciate but if you have the time, walking the perimeter and looking at the stunning architectural detail will certainly give you a push in the right direction.
Related Reading – read our guide about Free Things to Do in Geneva
International Museum Of The Red Cross
As I mentioned earlier on, Geneva is home to the international red cross which prides itself on being the greatest humanitarian society in the world. It is, therefore, only fitting that there be a museum dedicated to this and it’s an essential stop-off whilst in the city.
Ranked as being one of the most powerful experiences in Geneva, you can take an audio tour of the exhibitions which will give you your own unique experience.
It’s open until 6 pm each day so it’s great for topping off a couple of days in the city.
La Verre A Monique
On a weekend away, things wouldn’t be complete without indulging in some delicious cocktails whilst overlooking the city and watching the world go by. And what better place to do this than at La Verre A Monique – a swanky yet intimate bar that is perfect for ending your stay in the city.
Whether you are looking for incredible dining experiences, culture, or history, you are sure to find something that will interest you in this quaint yet powerful Swiss city.
Located near a stunning natural lake that hosts an incredible amount of outdoor activities and events, Geneva is the ideal place for anyone who wants to combine nature with the amenities and convenience of a city location. What’s more, there are so many sights to see and things to take part in that cramming it all into a weekend may not be possible. But when you look at these highlights, it’s easy to see some of the best things to do in Geneva.
Whilst this city is a little pricier in terms of how much you will spend than some of its European neighbors, there is little doubt in my mind that it is worth every cent. If you are looking for things to do in Geneva this weekend, you’re going to be spoilt for choice and you may find yourself returning for another weekend sooner than you may have planned.