Want to Explore Geneva? Start Here

Want to Explore Geneva? Start Here

Is Geneva worth the detour? I didn’t used to think so which is why it took me over a decade after the first time I visited Switzerland the low.

Which isn’t to say that my recent visit to the city was particularly intentional. I had a few days to kill between a long weekend in Paris and my first meeting with my best friend’s new baby, outside of Zurich; I could only afford to pass a few in Zermatt, at the foot of the Matterhorn.

The good news? Geneva has far exceeded my wildest expectations. News… neutral? My expectations weren’t particularly high at the start.

Want to Explore Geneva? Start Here

Where to stay in Geneva

Before we dig into all the reasons I think Geneva is worth a visit, let’s talk about where you should stay. The good news on this front is that the center of Geneva is quite small. Essentially, most of what there is to see in the city is between Cornavin station and the entrance to the Jet d’Eau along the south shore of Lake Geneva; you can search for Airbnbs (which may offer better value for money) and hotels here.

If you choose a hotel, they run the gamut – well, compared to the general price of things in Switzerland. The aptly named Central Hotel is probably the cheapest hotel in the city center (at least if you want to have your own bedroom and bathroom), while Hotel de la Cigogne is a sleek and chic option if you don’t mind spending a little extra on your stay.

5 reasons why Geneva impressed me

I had low expectations

Want to Explore Geneva? Start Here

My best friend is from Zurich region; I absorbed his natural bias against Geneva for years. Beyond that, after seeing other beautiful places in Switzerland (and elsewhere in Europe and around the world), I just wasn’t expecting much from a city that, to be honest, doesn’t figure topped many people’s bucket list.

Time cooperated

Want to Explore Geneva? Start Here

I’m not sure if I would have found Geneva worth a visit if the skies had been cloudy and the air fresh. However, seeing the sun shining on the clear waters of La Jonction (where two rivers meet) and Lake Geneva put them in their best light (literally), even though the winds were so strong that the famous Jet d’Eau could not. not work.

I understood the context of the city

Want to Explore Geneva? Start Here

Stopping in Geneva on the way from one place to another, I visited the city with the idea that it would be a crossroads for me. It is no coincidence that this is the role the city plays in international relations and diplomacy; I doubt that many UN workers would live here if they didn’t work it, no matter how beautiful the city is.

I didn’t come to Geneva for two days because I wanted to hate the city, I wanted to see if it was for what it was, and the best of what it was. I smiled as I walked down “social contract street” (aka the street of the self-aware pun) and said “こ ん に ち は” to the Japanese couple I passed along an extremely hiking trail. international.

Other FAQs on visiting Geneva

Why is Geneva so special?

In the broad sense, Geneva is special because the large number of international organizations which have their headquarters there constitute the backbone of Switzerland’s reputation for neutrality over the years. For tourists, however, Geneva is mostly an entry point to visit more exciting destinations in Switzerland.

Is Geneva really that expensive?

Geneva is expensive compared to many cities elsewhere in Europe, but has prices more or less comparable to other Swiss destinations. As a general rule of thumb, expect to spend around 150 CHF / 200 USD per person, per day in Geneva, which represents accommodation, meals and local transport.

Is Geneva beautiful?

Geneva is beautiful in the sense that it sits on a very clean and clear lake at the confluence of two magnificent rivers and is surrounded by mountains on all sides. On the other hand, Geneva architecture is quite average compared to Swiss and European standards; you can see everything in its old town in just one afternoon.

The bottom line

Is Geneva worth the detour? I think it depends on what you expect from a few days in the city and its context as part of your larger trip to Switzerland or Europe. If, like me, you stop in Geneva for a few days en route from one place to another, expecting nothing and even less searching, it is likely that you will enjoy your stay in the global hub of international diplomacy.

Robert schrader

Robert Schrader is a travel writer and photographer who has traveled the world independently since 2005, writing for publications such as “CNNGo” and “Shanghaiist” along the way. His blog, Leave Your Daily Hell, offers a mix of travel tips, destination guides and personal essays covering the more esoteric aspects of traveler’s life.

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