In this episode of the podcast we’ll be learning all about Geneva, the second largest city in Switzerland and one that is truly international thanks to it being home to many international organisations such as the Red Cross and the United Nations.
Geneva is situated on the south western end of Lake Geneva, or Lac Leman as it is known in French, and is a beautiful city with the lake at its feet and the Alps in the distance.
Whilst I’ve visited Geneva a number of times, my stays have always only ever been for a day or two so I’ve asked Geneva resident, Chris Ricchiuti Dubin, to share all her tips for visiting the city with us.
Although Chris has only lived in the city for around 18 months, she must know more about Geneva than most folks who have lived there for their entire lifetime.
Chris regularly posts ideas on things to do in Geneva on her Instagram page @packdsuitcase and amongst all the usual sights you’ll find in any guidebook, she shares lots of hidden delights that only a local would know about.
Geneva has a reputation for being expensive but Chris’s mission is to hunt down inexpensive and free things to do in Geneva, as well as the best places to eat, and she’s going to share all her discoveries with us today.
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Before we hear from Chris, I’d like to say thanks, as always, to the podcast sponsors Switzerland Tourism. You’ll find plenty of tips for planning your visit to Geneva – and hundreds of other Swiss destinations – on their website myswitzerland.com, so go and check it out.
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In this episode, we discuss:
- How Chris came to be living in Geneva and her initial reluctance
- What she loves about living in Geneva
- Chris’ must-do’s for a first time visitor to Geneva
- Child-friendly things to do in Geneva
- Quirky and off-the-beaten-path things to do in Geneva
- Where to go for the best views in Geneva
- Local specialties to try in Geneva
- Tips for getting around and where to stay in Geneva
- Chris’ favourite way to spend a Sunday in Geneva
- Chris’ top tip for a first-time visitor to the city
Places mentioned in this episode
At 140 metres tall, this is the world’s tallest water jet and it’s located in Lake Geneva. There’s a pedestrian bridge that allows you to walk right out the water jet.
Bains des Paquis
This bathing area, with it’s own beach, is right by the lakeside and just a few metres from Jet d’Eau. The outdoor pools are popular during summer whilst a sauna, hamman and Turkish bath invite you to relax and rejuvenate all year round. There are also great views of Lake Geneva from Bains des Paquis.
Geneva’s Old Town is not large, and it’s quieter than many Old Towns in Switzerland, but it has a really nice atmosphere. Here you’ll find cute boutiques, watchmakers, lots of restaurants, especially around Place du Bourg de Four (Geneva’s oldest square), and the cathedral.
This is the oldest private house in Geneva and was once owned by nobility. Today it houses the museum of urban history and daily life. It has the largest historical relief in Switzerland that shows Geneva in detail as it was before 1850, and is free to enter.
Bois de la Batie
One of Geneva’s many parks, Bois de la Batie has a free animal park and a brand new playground.
Natural History Museum
Perfect for adults and children alike, the Natural History Museum features exhibits from around the world including animals from every continent as well as local and Alpine fauna.
This is the place to visit to see the Arve and Rhone Rivers merging.
St Pierre Cathedral
The towers of St. Pierre Cathedral provide the highest view point in Geneva. You’ll need to climb 157 steps to reach the top, but the views are worth it. Entry to the towers costs CHF 7 but Chris recommends buying a combined ticket for CHF 12 and visiting the Archeological Museum which is beneath the Cathedral. Here you can see the remains of the churches that where previously built on the site, the earliest dating back to the 4th century.
Located just below the Old Town, Bastions Park is a lovely green space featuring a tree-lined promenade and the Reformation Wall.
The district of Carouge was designed by Italian architects and its houses are Mediterranean in style. There’s a big farmer’s market on Wednesday and Saturday mornings.
Food and restaurants mentioned in this episode
Not many restaurants in Geneva are very child-friendly but Luigia is really good one that caters to kids. There are several locations of this Italian restaurant in Geneva. The Petit Sacconex location even has a little cinema where kids can go and watch a movie while their parents eat.
Indulge in the Instant Choco deal at La Bonbonniere which includes a delicious grand cru hot chocolate and 4 pieces of chocolate for just CHF 10.
Aux Merveilleux de Fred
A chain of bakeries in Geneva (and France). Chris recommends the Sugar Cramique, a brioche with sugar pearls.
Marmite de l’Escalade
If you are visiting Geneva in December during l’Escalade festival, you’ll likely see the Marmite de l’Escalade, a chocolate cauldron filled with marzipan vegetables, whose legend dates back to 1602.
Another resource that Chris recommends is Parentvillegva. As well as their Instagram page, they have a website with lots of information about kids activities and wheelchair accessibility throughout Geneva.
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