Geneva, Switzerland Weekend Sights Guide For You

A few weekends ago for the bank holiday weekend in London, hubby and I took a two-day trip to Geneva, Switzerland. We flew there completely on points and were able to fly business class both ways. I’m thinking I’ll write a post on how you can do that as well—I just need to get some time on husband’s schedule to make sure I understand it all clearly haha.

But anyways, Geneva was beautiful. The weather was sunny, the waters were clear, and the mountains were stunning. It was a restful time, and if you’re planning a Euro trip, add it to your itinerary for a day or two! We spent both full days in central Geneva and didn’t venture out into any little villages or towns (next time we hope to!).

United Nations

 Ever since I can remember, I have been obsessed with the United Nations. I think it’s so interesting that people from all over the world come to that organization to represent their respective countries. I’ve toured the UN building in New York, but I hadn’t done the tour in Geneva yet. If you’re looking to be one of the 100,000 people who tour the UN in Geneva every year, book your tour in advance and enjoy this incredibly interesting building and its contents.

United Nations GenevaUnited Nations Geneva

Jet d’Eau

This sight is a large fountain in Geneva and is one of the city’s most famous landmarks. Five hundred liters (130 US gallons) of water per second are jetted to an altitude of 140 meters (460 ft). The fountain operates during the day all year round, except when there’s frost or particularly strong wind. You can see this fountain from anywhere in Geneva (with elevation), and if you go up close to it, you might find yourself drenched if the wind wants to play games!

Jet d'Eau GenevaJet d'Eau Geneva

The Mont-Saleve Cable Car

We took free public transit to the mountains at the border of Geneva and France. After getting off the bus, we walked to the cable car building (passing from Switzerland into France). Tickets were 10 euros each and we quickly ascended up the Mont in the cable car. It carried us up to an altitude of 1,100 meters in less than five minutes. The fresh air and stunning vistas of Geneva were a welcome change from the busy city. After taking in all the natural beauty, we had finger foods and coffee at the restaurant on top.

The Mont-Saleve Cable CarThe Mont-Saleve Cable Car

Old Town

Old Town, or in French ‘Vieille Ville’, is an ancient maze of small streets and picturesque squares, filled with homey cafés, restaurants, galleries, museums, and historical sights. As you’re walking through, you’ll notice that the streets are lined with historical buildings adorned with beautiful masonry facades. The altitude is roughly 25 meters higher than the center of Geneva (the lake), so expect a little climb.

Old Town Geneva

Place du Bourg-de-Four

In the center of Old Town, you will find this adorable square. You will know you’re at the square when you see all the simple, marble medieval fountains in the center. Back in the day, this square was used as a place for trade, with bustling markets and heavy foot traffic. Today, it mostly hosts tourists and small boutiques. We had lunch nearby after visiting the cathedral.

St. Peter’s Cathedral

I love visiting old cathedrals. I always wonder who was praying here, who was worshipping, and what sort of events occurred inside the walls. St. Peter’s Cathedral was built between the years 1160 and 1252. In this cathedral, the stained glass truly is a sight to see. If you’re a theology buff, you can check out the International Museum of Reformation, which is on the north side.  After we toured the inside, we walked up the narrow, high stairs to the top of the cathedral for an incredible panoramic view of Geneva. This is an absolute must-see. The fee is a few euros, and it’s certainly worth it.

St. Peter's Cathedral Geneva

Walking the City

The cool thing about staying in a hotel in Geneva is that you receive transit passes at most hotels. We could have used the tram everywhere, but we chose to spend our time walking in the good weather. When you’re walking is when you stumble across gems that may not even be on TripAdvisor. That’s what we did in the daytime, and I’m so happy we did! Just remember to pack lightly because Geneva’s hills will wear you out with a heavy bag.

Reformation Wall

Near the cathedral is the Reformation Wall. It honors many of the key individuals, events, and documents of the Protestant Reformation by depicting them in statues. The wall is in the grounds of the University of Geneva, which was founded by John Calvin (founder of Calvinism). It’s just a quick sight to see, but it’s worth it if you are aware of who John Calvin is and what he stood for.

Patek Phillipe Museum

If you’re never heard of Patek Phillipe, it is a brand founded in Geneva that’s home to the most incredible watches. This museum was founded in 1839. If you’re a history buff, you’ll enjoy this, as you can see the extraordinary display of watches, musical automata, and portrait miniatures from the 16th to the 19th centuries, as well as a library dedicated entirely to horology.

Plainpalais Flea Market

Located in a huge, open, rhombus-shaped space in the center of the city, this flea market is one you can spend hours at! You will find everything secondhand, from books, clothing, and smartphone accessories all the way to home decorations and handy tools. Even though the low prices are tempting, make sure the quality is up to snuff–if it seems too good to be true, it probably is! Flea markets come Saturdays and Wednesdays and a huge farmers market takes the space on Sundays.

Plainpalais Flea MarketPlainpalais Flea Market

Helpful Tip:

Breakfast – You would think that somewhere like McDonald’s would have really inexpensive food, right? Nope. Geneva is so incredibly expensive that even a McDonald’s Happy Meal clocked in at $20! To save money, we would buy breakfast at the grocery store (croissants, coffee, fruit, meat, sandwiches) and eat at a park outside. This helped us save over $50, leaving us more to spend more on delicious dinners! I’m going to write a post about where we dined in Geneva next week, so stay tuned for that!

Cheers,
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