Switzerland is known for being a beautiful melting pot of cultures and landscapes, and Geneva is no different. Its robust international atmosphere, worldly people, historical landmarks, and striking Gothic architecture nestled in a serene, scenic setting make the “Capital of Peace” a place you’ll never want to leave!
Our comprehensive Geneva travel guide is packed with tips on where to stay, where to eat, what to pack, things to do and more!
Travel Guide to Geneva, Switzerland
Where to Stay in Geneva
I stayed at Hotel President Wilson which has an awesome waterfront location and is within walking distance to many of the city’s best sights. On a budget? Both Hotel Cornavin Geneve and Hotel Suisse are comfortable stays in the same central location for under $200 USD/night.
For a unique B&B experience on the water (literally), sleep on a boat on Lake Geneva! Even if only for one night, the view from the harbor is unbelievable. (Book through our link and receive $40 off your stay!)
I should also mention that when you stay in a hotel, hostel or campsite, you’ll get a free Geneva Transport Card — take advantage of it! Just ask for this card at your hotel concierge when checking in, and you’ll be entitled to use all buses, trams, trains, and yellow taxi-boats for for free during your entire stay.
Read more: How to Travel Expensive Countries Affordably
Where to Eat in Geneva
Geneva is an international city, so there’s plenty of authentic international cuisine. Everyone has different tastes, but you really can’t go wrong with any of these recommendations!
Grab a pint of Peruvian beer and an awesome chicken dinner at the cozy Peruvian restaurant Miski, Lebanese cuisine at Arabesque (one of the best Lebanese restaurants I’ve ever tried!), sophisticated Japanese fare at Umami by Michael Roth, or traditional Latin cuisine at Alma Restaurant.
If you — or your wallet — needs a break from eating out, try the casual restaurant/snack bar at the Bains des Paquis or food stalls at the Plainpalais Farmers Market on Sundays (until 5pm), Tuesdays and Fridays (until 2pm).
Things to Do in Geneva
Explore Old Town Geneva
Geneva’s Old Town is the hub of all things historical, so make some time in your schedule to enjoy some food and shopping in the photogenic city-center. Make your way to Place Bourg-de-Four for museums, shops, restaurants and the best Swiss chocolate you’ll ever taste! After exploring from the ground level, end your time in Old Town climbing to the top of the famous Saint-Pierre Cathedral for an amazing view of the city.
If you’re hungry, Carouge is the place to go; this neighborhood has plenty of options in terms of food, including chocolate shops, cheese shops, gelato, and an outdoor market.
Check out the indie theater Cinema Bio, and bustling nightlife for the young or young at heart (Le Chat Noir has lively music and the best cocktails in this part of town)!
Take an Open Bus Tour
If you’re anticipating a trip to Geneva, then you know it has a background rooted in numerous international organizations and humanitarian action. Discover International Geneva on an open bus tour and see the best of these sites — like UN building and Broken Chair — learning the history behind them along the way.
The tour also includes the famous Jet d’Eau on Lake Geneva!
Take a Day Trip to Yviore
Its close proximity to France makes Geneva an ideal destination for visiting two countries in one trip; this small village in France is only a 1.5 hour boat ride from Geneva, making it the perfect day trip. While you’re there, be sure to check out the Garden of Five Senses and the charming medieval Château d’Yvoire.
Venture off the beaten path to go explore the rivers of Geneva via raft! Even inexperienced rafters will get a thrill from the rapids and enjoy the view from the water. The entire trip only takes a couple of hours, making it an easy activity to fit into your day, and one you will never forget!
Tour the Countryside by Electric Bike
Trying to see all of Geneva by foot is likely impossible in a short amount of time, especially given its rural areas and numerous vineyards. The unique experience of an electric bike tour through the countryside is the perfect opportunity to step outside the city walls with plenty of photo opportunities — like fields of sunflowers!
Geneva Packing Essentials
There’s no “typical weather” this side of Switzerland; it’s usually pretty unpredictable! Regardless of the time of year, locals in this modern city tend to dress fashionably, so break out your cutest dress or favorite trendy outfit!
Visiting in summer? Bring sunscreen, comfortable shoes for walking, layers, and light clothes in case it gets humid and hot.
Comfortable Shoes: These white shoes are my new go-to sneakers for walking around cities — I even wear them with dresses!
Summer Dresses: I get so many questions from readers about this yellow dress. It’s comfortable and it doesn’t wrinkle in my suitcase. It also comes in several other colors.
Face Moisturizer with SPF: I finally found an oil-free face moisturizer with SPF 30 that I love. Putting this on every morning is a must for me!
Travelers making the trip in winter months should definitely layer up as well, with short and long sleeves that can be added or removed depending on the day’s temperature. I’d also recommend scarves and gloves for added warmth.
Scarves: Colorful scarves don’t take up much room in your suitcase and they brighten up any outfit!
My trip to Geneva was in partnership with Visit Geneva and Hotel President Wilson. Ordinary Traveler maintains full editorial control of the content published on this site.