Going to Lake Geneva? Here are the 10 Best Things To Do in Geneva Switzerland. Use this guide to help plan your itinerary so you don’t miss anything in Geneva!
If Switzerland is on your bucket list, you’ll definitely want to make sure you visit Geneva, the capital of chocolate, luxury watches, Swiss Army Knives, and world peace.
Lake Geneva Things To Do
Lake Geneva is western Europe’s largest lake. It’s a beautiful turquoise glacier lake that is fed by the surrounding snowy Alps.
From Geneva you can see Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in the Alps. The combined views of lake and alpine mountains are stunning!
From Lake Geneva the Alps are ready to be explored. A visit to Mont Blanc is the perfect day trip from Geneva — it’s only one hour away!
To help plan your trip, here are the 10 Best Things To Do In Geneva:
1. Walk along the shores of Lake Geneva
Lake Geneva is so striking to see in person. At first glance it has a uniquely swirled look with vibrant shades of blue, green, and aqua. Seriously stunning. This happens because the waters from the glaciers in the French Alps are bright turquoise and flow directly into the deep blue waters of the Rhone River, which is fed by the lake. The two colors mix together and give the lake an extraordinary marbled look!
Here’s the junction where the two rivers come together. Isn’t it amazing?
2. See the Jet d’Eau at Lake Geneva
The famous water jet of Geneva has such a fascinating story behind it. The jet is not just a tourist attraction, but is actually significant to how the city was founded and explains why Geneva (and thus, Switzerland) became famous for peace, watches and chocolate.
Why Is Geneva famous for Watches and Chocolate?
The story dates all the way back to the 1500s, when Martin Luther posted his 95 theses in opposition to the Roman Catholic Church and started the Protestant Reformation.
Another prominent figure in the Reformation, John Calvin, moved to Geneva and became a leader of the movement in Switzerland. The reformation taught Faith Alone, Scripture Alone. All art was removed from churches so worshippers could focus solely on scripture. Jewelry and lavish displays of wealth were also banned. Prominent gold and diamond jewelers found themselves out of work.
However watches were considered practical, so they were still allowed. Watches were now the only way the people of Geneva had to show their wealth. The former gold and diamond jewelers switched to making watches, and thus began the luxury watch industry in Geneva.
But how does the water jet come into play? Even back in the 1800s, Geneva was using hydroelectric power. They built a hydraulic plant and used the water from the lake and the river to power the machines to make watches and chocolate. On the evenings and weekends, when the shops were closed, the power built up and needed an outlet. The engineers diverted the water into a jet which shot into the air like a geyser. Even as far back as the 1800s tourists have been coming from all over to see the famous water jet in Geneva!
Today the jet is a prominent feature in Geneva’s skyline. It is taller than the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Statue of Liberty, and Big Ben! It is turned on by hand every morning by a jet caretaker at exactly 9am, according to a precise Swiss watch, of course!
3. Explore Old Town Geneva
Take a walk through Lake Geneva’s colorful old town and discover hidden gems on every corner.
Stroll down charming pedestrian streets filled with fun shops, luxury watch boutiques, and chocolate galore!
Be sure to stop by the famous Flower Clock! :)
4. Climb the Tower at St. Pierre Cathedral
The St. Pierre Cathedral in Geneva is the church where John Calvin lead the Protestant Reformation. Inside the church there is still a wooden chair once used by Calvin.
You can also go up to the top of the two towers for the best panoramic view of Lake Geneva.
There is a north and a south tower. Be sure to go to the north tower so you can go outside for an unrestricted view.
You can save your steps and skip the south tower — it’s the same view but behind windows. :)
Postcard perfect view of the water jet on Lake Geneva!
5. Have a Picnic in the Park
Pull up a blanket or sit on the world’s longest wooden bench, grab some snacks from Migros or Coop and spend a lovely afternoon in the park or on the shores of Lake Geneva. On a nice day you’ll see all the locals doing it!
6. See the United Nations
The European Headquarters of the United Nations is in Geneva, Switzerland. To many, the name Geneva is associated with peace and human rights. A particular state of mind prevails with the locals and gives Geneva a unique aura, known as the Geneva Spirit.
7. Visit the very first Red Cross
The Red Cross is an international humanitarian movement with over 97 million volunteers, members and staff worldwide. Their mission is to protect human life, ensure respect for all human beings, and to prevent and alleviate human suffering.
In Geneva you can see the very first Red Cross building and visit the museum, which offers you a stirring looking into the history of humanitarian action. Interactive exhibitions display 150 years of humanitarian history and allow you to track current Red Cross operations around the world.
8. Make Your Own Geneva Watch
At Bucherer, a high-end watch boutique in Geneva, you have the exclusive opportunity to learn the inner-workings of a luxury Swiss watch. You can take a workshop that will show you how and give you the tools to disassemble and then reassemble a Swiss watch!
9. Assemble & Engrave your very own Swiss Army Knife
This was one of the most fun and meaningful activities we did in Geneva. What is a more perfect souvenir than your very own Swiss Army Knife that you assembled and personalized in Switzerland??!
At the Victorinox Flagship store in Geneva, you can do just that.
You can pick your blades and accessories, assemble it yourself (with an expert guide of course! :)) and even pick your cover color and engrave it with a special inscription so you’ll never forget your trip to Geneva. Seriously the best souvenir ever.
You even get a diploma at the end.
10. Spend a Morning at the Farmer’s Market
Carouge is a quiet, Mediterranean style neighborhood in Geneva with colorful buildings, local cafes, and charming boutiques.
Every Wednesday and Saturday morning, a farmer’s market is held on the Place du Marché.
Here you can find the freshest flowers, fruits and vegetables.
There are even some fun food trucks with local street fare.
I could not get over all the beautiful flowers!
Such striking colors.
There were also some of the most exotic vegetables I’ve ever seen!! Can you name these three veggies??!
Geneva was such an unexpected surprise. I love history and I learned so much here. There were so many fun things to see and do. And I brought home the best souvenirs — fine Swiss chocolates, a personalized Swiss Army Knife, beautiful photos and wonderful memories.