The Top Things to Do in Geneva, Switzerland

things to do in geneva switzerland

History and Nature in Geneva.

Geneva is known as a thriving hub full of professionals, but that doesn’t mean it has nothing to offer tourists! There are countless things to do in beautiful Geneva, from exploring the international organizations headquartered there, to quiet walks through the old town. Full of history and stunning French-inspired architecture, every corner in Geneva is picturesque. A visit to the lakeside city, surrounded by sweeping mountain landscapes, is a great start to your Swiss adventure. Here are the top things Geneva has to offer!

The UN sights

Geneva is home to one of four official United Nations Offices around the world, housed in the Palais des Nations. The Palais is open for guided tours in both French and English. On the tour, you’ll learn about the history of the UN and the Palais building itself. One of the most well-known specialized UN agencies operating in Geneva is the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). This focus on human rights issues has drawn many other international organizations, like the International Committee of the Red Cross, to Geneva. It’s also earned the city the nickname “capital of peace.”

In front of the Palais des Nations complex is the impressive display of all UN nations’ flags flying. You’ll also find the famous Broken Chair sculpture nearby. It was constructed and installed to protest cluster bombs and landmines.

International Museum of Red Cross & Red Crescent

top things to do in geneva switzerland

Known the world over for its efforts in humanitarian aid, the International Committee of the Red Cross has its headquarters in Geneva. They also have a museum open to visitors. The museum is dedicated to teaching guests about humanitarian aid and intervention, and its history in international relations. What better way to learn about the history of human rights than by visiting the Red Cross museum in the capital of peace?  

Jardin Anglais and Horloge Fleurie

Right in the heart of downtown Geneva, overlooking the lake, are the Jardin Anglais (English Garden) and Horloge Fleurie (Floral Clock). The Jardin Anglais is a calm oasis amidst the hustle and bustle of the corporate city center across the way. It’s perfect for a picnic lunch or casual stroll, with a stellar view of the lake and mountains just beyond. In warmer weather, there’s also pop-up bars and cafés where you can grab a drink.

The Horloge Fleurie is on the edge of the Jardin Anglais, facing a busy intersection. A working clock constructed of flowers and other shrubs, it was built as a dedication to the famous art of Swiss watchmaking. The plants that comprise the clock are changed out with each season, so the clock may not look the same every time you visit!

Go on a boat ride

The city is situated on the edge of the largest lake in Switzerland, Lake Geneva or Lake Léman in French. The country is famous for its gorgeous lakes and mountains. The best way to take in the breathtaking Swiss landscape is on board a leisurely boat ride. For the more adventurous, there’s also paddleboat rental available on Lake Geneva.

If you’re out on the lake, or anywhere near it, it’s impossible to miss the Geneva Water Fountain or Jet d’Eau. First installed in 1886 and moved to its present location in 1951, the Jet d’Eau shoots 500 liters (130 US gallons) of water 460 feet into the air every second. It’s a landmark of Geneva, which is seen from all over the city and even from the air if you’re flying into the Geneva airport.

Explore the old town 

Geneva’s old town district is just south of the city center, anchored by the famous St. Pierre Cathedral. After you’ve visited the Cathedral, explore the surrounding streets as you make your way to Place du Bourg-de-Four. The small, cobblestone lanes and historic limestone houses in the old town are reminders of the heavy French influence present in Geneva.

There’s so much to see and do in Geneva. Even if you only have a day or two to see the Swiss city, a visit is well worth it!