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Best Things To Do in Geneva

Geneva furnishes quite a few activities for whiling away a couple of days, like the Museum of Natural History, Old Town shopping excursions and lounging at Pâquis Baths and the Conservatory and Botanical Garden Geneva. Geneva also boasts breathtaking river, lake and mountain views; and for avid skiers, the French Alps are less than an hour away. If it's nightlife you're after, you might be better off heading to nearby Lausanne. 

How we rank Things to Do.

#1

#1 in Geneva

Free
Straddling the Franco-Swiss border is Lake Geneva, a 224-square-mile lake formed by the Rhône River. It has been a popular vacation spot for years, drawing such memorable names as Audrey Hepburn, Charlie Chaplin and Sophia Loren. In fact, many of Lake Geneva's visitors (including Hepburn and Chaplin) were so smitten with the area that they became permanent residents.
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Natural Wonders Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Lake Geneva (Lac Léman)
Straddling the Franco-Swiss border is Lake Geneva, a 224-square-mile lake formed by the Rhône River. It has been a popular vacation spot for years, drawing such memorable names as Audrey Hepburn, Charlie Chaplin and Sophia Loren. In fact, many of Lake Geneva's visitors (including Hepburn and Chaplin) were so smitten with the area that they became permanent residents.
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#2

#2 in Geneva

Free
No matter how physically fit you are, odds are you'll enjoy checking out Mont Salève. Situated about 12 miles southeast of Geneva across the Franco-Swiss border, this mountain offers a plethora of hiking and mountain biking paths, as well as paragliding and cross-country ski trails. If you don't want to break a sweat while visiting, climb aboard Mont Salève's cable car, which drops visitors off at an observation deck with a restaurant.
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Hiking Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Mont Salève
No matter how physically fit you are, odds are you'll enjoy checking out Mont Salève. Situated about 12 miles southeast of Geneva across the Franco-Swiss border, this mountain offers a plethora of hiking and mountain biking paths, as well as paragliding and cross-country ski trails. If you don't want to break a sweat while visiting, climb aboard Mont Salève's cable car, which drops visitors off at an observation deck with a restaurant.
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#3

#3 in Geneva

Free
No visit to Geneva would be complete without seeing one of its most iconic sights: the Jet d'Eau. Built in 1886 to help control a nearby hydraulic plant's water pressure at night, this impressive fountain spews water 459 feet into the air. Its central location in the middle of Lake Geneva means you can see it from a variety of downtown locales.
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Sightseeing Type
Less than 1 hour Time to Spend
Jet d'Eau
No visit to Geneva would be complete without seeing one of its most iconic sights: the Jet d'Eau. Built in 1886 to help control a nearby hydraulic plant's water pressure at night, this impressive fountain spews water 459 feet into the air. Its central location in the middle of Lake Geneva means you can see it from a variety of downtown locales.
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#4

#4 in Geneva

Free
Overlooking Lake Geneva by the Jet d'Eau, this park features a nearly 130,000-square-foot manicured garden filled with pools, pergolas and 200-plus kinds of roses. Additionally, an 18th-century villa – which is now a restaurant and hotel – still resides on the property, and complimentary concerts are hosted every summer at the on-site Théâtre de Verdure.
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Entertainment and Nightlife Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
The Grange Park (Parc La Grange)
Overlooking Lake Geneva by the Jet d'Eau, this park features a nearly 130,000-square-foot manicured garden filled with pools, pergolas and 200-plus kinds of roses. Additionally, an 18th-century villa – which is now a restaurant and hotel – still resides on the property, and complimentary concerts are hosted every summer at the on-site Théâtre de Verdure.
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#5

#5 in Geneva

If you want to relax and enjoy picturesque views of Lake Geneva, make your way to the Pâquis Baths. Located in the Pâquis-Nations neighborhood of Geneva's Rive Droite area, this man-made beach was originally built in 1872 and has been open to the public since 1890. Today, it continues to welcome locals and tourists alike, offering a deck for sunbathing, two hammams, two saunas, a restaurant, water sports activities and a climbing structure. Sandboxes, diving boards, a wading pool and a Tyrolean (or zip line) are also available for kids.
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Beaches Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Pâquis Baths (Bains des Pâquis)
If you want to relax and enjoy picturesque views of Lake Geneva, make your way to the Pâquis Baths. Located in the Pâquis-Nations neighborhood of Geneva's Rive Droite area, this man-made beach was originally built in 1872 and has been open to the public since 1890. Today, it continues to welcome locals and tourists alike, offering a deck for sunbathing, two hammams, two saunas, a restaurant, water sports activities and a climbing structure. Sandboxes, diving boards, a wading pool and a Tyrolean (or zip line) are also available for kids.
... more

#6

#6 in Geneva

Free
Nestled alongside Geneva's northern border between the Palace of Nations and Lake Geneva, the Conservatory and Botanical Garden Geneva offers a serene setting for relaxing. This living museum features a variety of gardens, where visitors will find seasonal flowers, herbs, Swiss plants, rosebushes and more. Multiple greenhouses, a library, a gift shop, a carousel, a restaurant and an animal park are available as well.
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Museums Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Conservatory and Botanical Garden Geneva (Conservatoire et Jardin botaniques Genève)
Nestled alongside Geneva's northern border between the Palace of Nations and Lake Geneva, the Conservatory and Botanical Garden Geneva offers a serene setting for relaxing. This living museum features a variety of gardens, where visitors will find seasonal flowers, herbs, Swiss plants, rosebushes and more. Multiple greenhouses, a library, a gift shop, a carousel, a restaurant and an animal park are available as well.
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#7

#7 in Geneva

Free
This cathedral – often described as a mash-up of Roman, Gothic and neoclassic stylistic elements – has survived centuries of turmoil. Its most notable chapter occurred in the mid-16th century when it was used by John Calvin as a vessel for the Protestant Reformation. Today, the St-Pierre Cathedral continues to dominate the Old Town skyline, beckoning visitors to come explore its intricate (and conflicting) design and learn about its turbulent history.
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Churches/Religious Sites Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
St-Pierre Cathedral Geneva (Cathédrale St-Pierre Genève)
This cathedral – often described as a mash-up of Roman, Gothic and neoclassic stylistic elements – has survived centuries of turmoil. Its most notable chapter occurred in the mid-16th century when it was used by John Calvin as a vessel for the Protestant Reformation. Today, the St-Pierre Cathedral continues to dominate the Old Town skyline, beckoning visitors to come explore its intricate (and conflicting) design and learn about its turbulent history.
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#8

#8 in Geneva

Free
If you're traveling with one or more budding naturalists, then a visit to Geneva's Museum of Natural History is a must. Situated in the southeastern part of the Eaux-Vives neighborhood within walking distance of Lake Geneva and St-Pierre Cathedral Geneva, this animal-themed museum houses replica habitats filled with taxidermy animals, including owls, weasels and polar bears. Temporary exhibits about everything from ants to dinosaurs are also offered. Plus, kids can participate in free interactive workshops on select Wednesdays (such as ones that focus on microscopes or origami) and complimentary field trips to look for critters.
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Museums Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Museum of Natural History (Muséum d'histoire naturelle)
If you're traveling with one or more budding naturalists, then a visit to Geneva's Museum of Natural History is a must. Situated in the southeastern part of the Eaux-Vives neighborhood within walking distance of Lake Geneva and St-Pierre Cathedral Geneva, this animal-themed museum houses replica habitats filled with taxidermy animals, including owls, weasels and polar bears. Temporary exhibits about everything from ants to dinosaurs are also offered. Plus, kids can participate in free interactive workshops on select Wednesdays (such as ones that focus on microscopes or origami) and complimentary field trips to look for critters.
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#9

#9 in Geneva

Occupying an impressive amount of land near the Conservatory and Botanical Garden Geneva, the Palace of Nations was constructed at the end of the 1920s as the headquarters for the now defunct League of Nations. Today, this massive complex (one of the largest in Europe) is home to the U.N.'s European office.
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Sightseeing Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Palace of Nations (Palais des Nations)
Occupying an impressive amount of land near the Conservatory and Botanical Garden Geneva, the Palace of Nations was constructed at the end of the 1920s as the headquarters for the now defunct League of Nations. Today, this massive complex (one of the largest in Europe) is home to the U.N.'s European office.
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#10

#10 in Geneva

One thing Switzerland is known for is watchmaking and enameling, and one of the best collections of timepieces can be found in the Patek Philippe Museum. There are two exhibits permanently on display here: the Antiques Collection, with a wide variety of timepieces dating back to the 16th century, and the Patek Philippe Collection that showcases pieces made by the Patek Philippe company, one of the most esteemed watchmaking companies in the world.
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Museums Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Patek Philippe Museum
One thing Switzerland is known for is watchmaking and enameling, and one of the best collections of timepieces can be found in the Patek Philippe Museum. There are two exhibits permanently on display here: the Antiques Collection, with a wide variety of timepieces dating back to the 16th century, and the Patek Philippe Collection that showcases pieces made by the Patek Philippe company, one of the most esteemed watchmaking companies in the world.
... more
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