The beautiful lake and river in the middle of the city make Geneva sparkle on warm, sunny days, says Jill Starley-Grainger. Join the cosmopolitan residents for drinks at a waterfront café or a stroll through the pretty streets and elegant parks, with the mountains providing a dramatic backdrop at every turn
The historical centre boasts stunning architecture, cultural highlights, great shopping and wide choice of restaurants and bars.
Discover a brief history of time then have a drink in the trendy café overlooking the river at Cite du Temp (Pont de la Machine), a new arts centre and watch museum. Old masters and archaeological finds are some of the treasures at the Museum of Art and History (2 Rue Charles-Galland).
Shop til you drop
Stock up on stylish fashions by Swiss and international designers, including handbags by local designer Unique Allure, at Septième Etage (10 Rue du Perron).
Chicken is the speciality at cheap and cheerful Chez ma Cousine (6 Place Bourg-de-Four, tel. 022 310 9696). Splash some cash with the international glitterati at swanky new Italian restaurant Quirinale (6 Rue de la Rotisserie, tel. 022 748 4848).
Dance the night away
Boogie to old and new dance grooves at popular nightclub Shakers (7 Rue de la Boulangerie), which is packed at weekends.
It’s worth the short tram ride to explore this village-like district south of the centre, especially at weekends when the cafes, shops and streets are buzzing.
Shop til you drop
Get lost in the quaint backstreets, especially Rue St Joseph, Rue Ancienne and Rue Jacques-Dalpin, with Italianate courtyards waiting to be explored and numerous artists workshops and galleries. Make sure to visit the pretty market in Place du Marché on Wednesdays and Saturdays until 2pm.
Nab a table on the terrace at Comme à la maison (CALM) (36 Rue Ancienne, tel. 022 301 2220) for leisurely weekend brunches. You’ll be transported to the south of France with a meal at A L’Olivier de Provence (13 Rue Jacques-Dalphin, tel. 022 342 0450).
Enjoy an unbeatable cuppa in the afternoon at Betjeman & Barton Diner au The (35 Rue Saint-Joseph), then have drinks or listen to live music in the evening at Le Chat Noir (13 Rue Vautier).
Behind the imposing government buildings are lovely parks and top attractions, just a few minutes north of the centre.
Stroll through the free Botanical Gardens (1 Chemin de l’Impératrice) before visiting the poignant International Museum of the Red Cross (17 Avenue de la Paix).
Get magnificent views over the city and a bargain lunch in the WMO cafeteria, Restaurant l’Attique de l’OMM Genève (Ninth floor, 7 Bis, Avenue de la Paix, tel. 022 730 8060). Soak up the sun while enjoying seafood on the terrace of La Perle du Lac (126 Rue de Lausanne, tel. 022 909 1020).
The area near Cornavin station is a popular nightspot, despite its status as a rather tame red-light district.
Shop til you drop
Check out the quirky fashions for young women at Solo Matine (32 Rue de Berne), while men can stock up on clothes and shoes at Freedom Store (38 Rue de Monthoux). Fans of retro chic shouldn’t miss Vintage Station (8 Rue Charles-Cusin).
Grab a quick breakfast, lunch or dinner at this cheap, cheerful shack (30 Quai de Mont Blanc, tel. 022 738 1616) at the Bains des Paquis in the middle of Lake Geneva, then join the locals for a swim, sauna or soak in the sun.
Listen to musical improv and jazz at AMR-Sud des Alpes (10 Rue des Alpes), or share cocktails with Geneva’s hip crowd at trendy bar Lola (7 Rue Richemont).
The five-star boutique hotel D’Angleterre (17 Quai du Mont-Blanc, tel. 022 906 5555, dangleterrehotel.com, doubles from CHF 530) has old-world sophistication and views of Mont Blanc. At the budget end, one-star Hotel de la Cloche (6 Rue de la Cloche, tel. 022 732 9481, geneva-hotel.ch/cloche, doubles from CHF 90) provides creaky charm at a bargain price.
Geneva Cointrin International Airport is 5km from the city centre. Visitors staying in a Geneva hotel now receive a free Geneva Transport Card, valid for the entire stay, giving unlimited use of the public transport system. At the airport, buy a one-hour Tout Geneve pass for CHF 3, valid for trains and buses, then pick up your free transport pass at your hotel.
Train: Hop on any train at the airport and arrive at Geneva’s main Cornavin Station on the right bank in six minutes.
Bus: If staying on the left bank, Bus 10 will get you across the river in about 15 minutes.
Taxi: Costing around CHF 30-40, with tip included but luggage extra, taxis take around 15 minutes to the centre.
Tourist information: Rue du Mont-Blanc 18, tel. 022 909 7000, geneva-tourism.ch
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