The Perfect Itinerary for Exploring Geneva in 1 Day
Not every trip is an extensive vacation. Sometimes you’ve got a limited amount of time to visit a location. On my last trip to Geneva, I had just 24 hours to check out the city. Here’s a 1 day itinerary for exploring Geneva and making the most of your short pit stop or layover.
Geneva in a nutshell
It’s a funny old place, but get under its skin and you’ll discover an interesting array of things to do in Geneva, from the international to the strictly local.
In part, Geneva suffers from its own success as a world-class, wealthy business center. During the day it’s a bustling city filled with business people, international young professionals flown in for a day’s meeting and “frontaliers” who work in Geneva, but live over the border in France.
Consequently, come evenings and weekends it can seem a little quiet for such a cosmopolitan city. But dig a little deeper and there’s an alternative side to be discovered – the live music in offbeat clubs like L’Usine, the vintage shops and flea market of Plainpalais, the city’s burgeoning cocktail scene and the artisan workshops of Carouge.
1 Day Itinerary For Exploring Geneva
10:00 AM — Check-in at the Grand Hotel Kempinski Geneva
The Grand Hotel Kempinski Geneva is a 5-star, luxury hotel centrally located on the banks of the River Rhone with elegant rooms and suites, award-winning dining and a world-class spa. The hotel is just an 8 minute walk to Old Town Geneva and in walking distance to most of Geneva’s main landmarks. Click here to book the Grand Hotel Kempinski Geneva. Don’t forget your Discovery Loyalty card for complimentary early check-in for Black-level members.
10:30 AM– Explore Old Town Geneva
The most traditionally scenic part of the city is Geneva’s Old Town, clustered on a hill around the Cathédrale Saint-Pierre and the pretty pedestrian Place du Bourg-de-Four. It’s well worth a potter for its independent boutiques, its pretty architecture, its numerous cafés and restaurants and the chance to people-watch over a coffee. Delve into Geneva’s history with a visit to the archaeological remains beneath the cathedral, before wandering along the promenade for lovely views of the Bastions Park below.
Sites to see:
- St. Pierre Cathedral: a 12th-century cathedral built in a mix of styles. The cathedral is most famous as the adopted home church of Protestant Reformation leader, John Calvin.
- Reformation Wall: the historic wall celebrating Calvinism. This stone wall monument honors the Protestant Reformation & its founders, including John Calvin.
Place du Bourg-de-Four: this is Geneva’s oldest square celebrated for its shopping & dining. A bustling area featureing high-end shops, cafes with patios & fountains.
- Bastions Park: a large city green space with a playground, 6 giant chess boards, lounge chairs & a botanical garden.
12:00 PM– Check out the “Broken Chair” at the United Nations
For various reasons – its famed neutrality, its location in the center of Europe – Geneva is the seat of many international organisations, some of which are open to visitors. Check out the “Broken Chair”, a 12 meter high wooden sculpture promoting peace and as a protest to cluster bombs & land mines.
Grab a guided tour of the Palais des Nations, the European seat of the United Nations, for an insight into how the biggest issues facing the world today are tackled.
12:30 PM — Take a selfie with the Jet d’Eau
The Jet d’Eau is a large fountain in Geneva, Switzerland, and is one of the city’s most famous landmarks. Visible from the air as you fly into Geneva airport, this enormous water fountain in Lake Geneva spouts its froth 140 meters into the air. The best spots for a photo are the Pont du Mont-Blanc and the Promenade du Lac alongside the lake’s left bank. You can get closer still by riding a boat on the lake – jump on a Mouette taxi-boat for a short hop from right bank to left bank or take your snap from a CGN ferry as part of a day trip to any number of destinations around the lake.
1:30 PM — Check out some vintage and bohemian shops in Carouge
Just a short tram ride from the center of Geneva it feels as though you’ve stepped into a different country – and you kind of have. This area was developed by Italians from Turin in the 18th century, and as such is architecturally Italian in style, all stone archways, painted shutters and red roofs. Its outsider status attracts artisans and bohemians in droves, and a wander around its streets will throw up second-hand bookshops, markets, antique restorers, glass blowers, watchmakers and indie clothes designers. Hunt out vintage designer togs at posh second-hand shop Numéro 6. Grab lunch at any of the street front cafes.
6:00 PM — Experience Geneva’s buzzing cocktail scene
8:00 PM — Grab dinner at Le Cheval Blanc
10:00 AM — Check out one of a dozen museums in Geneva
- Musée Rath: Changing art & history exhibitions in a 19th-century building resembling an Ancient Greek temple.
- Barbier-Mueller Museum: Collection of 7000 artworks & artifacts from the world’s tribal cultures & classical antiquity.
The Museum of Art History: The Musée d’Art et d’Histoire is the largest art museum in Geneva, Switzerland.
- Natural History Museum of Geneva: Museum with displays on the Earth & human history, regional flora & fauna, plus science exhibitions.
- Musée Ariana: Grand, neoclassical museum with a collection of 25,000 glass & ceramic items, plus an airy cafe
- Patek Philippe Museum: Museum telling the story of Patek Phillippe & Swiss watchmaking from the 16th century to now.
- MAMCO: Permanent & temporary contemporary art exhibitions in an old factory, plus interactive film project.
Musée d’ethnographie de Genève: Museum displaying 1,000+ artifacts from many cultures around the world in modern surrounds.
- Musée d’histoire des sciences de la Ville de Genève: this museum is a small museum dedicated to the History of Science.
- Museum of Far Eastern Art: Museum in a late 19th-century townhouse with exhibits of Chinese & Japanese ceramics, jade & prints.
Have you been to Geneva? If not, which sites are you looking most forward to seeing?