24 Hours in Geneva

24 Hours in Geneva

Home to the United Nations and the Red Cross, Geneva means business and that’s no less true when it comes to playing host to a weekend away. Aside from its identity as a global hub for politics and finance, the Swiss city has a Bohemian underbelly that’s every day tripper's dream. From walks along the banks of the lake, with a dreamy backdrop of the French Alps, to dipping into boutique galleries and sipping piping hot chocolate on cafe terraces, there are plenty of ways to spend 24 hours in Geneva.  



Coffee and people watching at La Clémence

Enjoy a sedate start to your 24 hours in Geneva. Just around the corner from (arguably) Geneva’s pièce de résistance, the Cathédral Saint-Pierre Genève, La Clémence is the perfect spot to soak in the city’s ambiance. Take a seat on the sprawling terrace in the city’s famous La Place du Bourg-de-Four, the oldest square in Geneva, and order a steaming cappuccino (or a Swiss hot chocolate if your sweet tooth is awake early). If you’re tempted by the lunch menu – it’s likely – it’s worth noting that La Clémence doesn’t take reservations, so be prepared to queue to bag a table again. Fully caffeinated? La Place du Bourge-de-Four is brilliantly located to begin your tour of Geneva’s old town. 



Discover the hidden gems of the old town on foot

Geneva’s old town is a maze of cobblestone streets, bustling squares and hidden passageways. Start at the Cathédral Saint-Pierre Genève and take a moment to marvel at the neoclassical design before making your way up the 157 steps of the tower for a panoramic view of the old town. Then, follow your feet to the Promenade de la Treille, where you’re treated to a panorama of Bastions Park and the alps beyond. Have your phone at the ready for architectural photo ops along the way, the Museum of the Reformation and medieval Tavel House to name just two. If you happen to be there on the open day (which unfortunately happens just once per year), you might be lucky enough to stumble upon the secret alley Passage de Monetier, on Rue Perron. 



Drop into Galerie Jacques de la Béraudière

It would be a cultural crime to spend 24 hours in Geneva without making a pit stop at a gallery. While you’re in the old town, drop by Galerie de la Béraudière for your fill of 19th and 20th-century art. The gallery features regular exhibitions from artists and sculptors from around the world but the real focus here is surrealism making it a must-drop-by for fans of the likes of Dali and Ernst. 



Snap the obligatory selfie with the Jet d’Eau

If you arrived in Geneva by air, it’s likely that you spotted the Jet d’Eau from the plane window. The famed water fountain sits in Lake Geneva and spouts a stream a mighty 450ft in the air. The best viewing point is Pont du Mont-Blanc but we recommend taking a mouette (water taxi) from one bank of the river to the other to get an up-close snapshot. 



Lunch and shopping at Plainpalais Flea Market

Geneva is famous for its upmarket shops and boutiques, but if a Rolex from its hometown is an indulgence too far, you can swap the opulence of the Rue du Rhône for a rummage around Plainpalais Flea Market. Every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday between 6.30am and 6.30pm, the square plays host to 300 stalls selling everything from vintage clothing to antique books. There are also vendors serving dishes from far flung destinations from Portugal to Mexico, so grab lunch while you hunt the stalls for a souvenir curio. Literary fans will love the chance to spot the zombie sculpture, inspired by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, just up the street at the Plainpalais Skatepark, too. 



Cool off with ice cream at Remor

Whilst you’re in Plainpalais, it’d be rude not to dessert at Remor. The ice cream parlour is just the place to rest your feet and cool off after a serious scouring of the flea market. Sit on the terrace to watch Genevan life pass by or head inside and be transported back in time – the cafe’s decor has barely changed since its opening in 1921. Be warned, the menu of ice creams and sorbets is long. If you want our flavour recommendation, we’d choose the saffron every time. 



Unwind at Bains des Pâquis

There’s a lot to fit in in just 24 hours in Geneva, so naturally, you might need a mid-afternoon break. Where better than on Lake Geneva at Bains des Pâquis. This open-air spa is open all year, so you can suntan on the floating dock in the summer or brave the freezing lake waters in the winter. Unwind in the sauna or hammam before catching a poetry reading on the promenade where there’s a seasonal catalogue of live entertainment. If you skipped lunch at the flea market, the fondue at the cafe is a worthy mid-afternoon snack, too.



Take time to marvel at the Broken Chair

Of course, a trip to Geneva wouldn’t be complete without getting a little serious, so take a detour to see the Broken Chair sculpture. Designed by Daniel Berset and made by Louis Genève, this 29ft-high sculpture was built as a symbol against the use of landmines and is a sombre reminder of the violence faced by civilians across the globe. 



Dine in the park at Kiosque des Bastions

Head back towards the old town for dinner in Parc des Bastions. The botanical garden’s restaurant is seriously awe-inspiring with its greenhouse structure, affording a view of the park’s luscious greenery. The tasteful Art Deco decor is elegant and a worthy setting for a celebratory meal or simply a toast to a successful 24 hours in the city. The menu changes with the seasons and includes fresh, local produce such as perch caught in the lake. 



Drink and dance like a local in Carouge

Carouge, the Greenwich Village of Geneva (which must mean it’s the place to be come nightfall), is the perfect neighbourhood to while away your final hours in the city. Originally built as a separate town, the uniform rows of Neoclassical buildings provide a sleepy contrast to the lively bars. Make sure to drop by Vert Bouteille for a glass or two of natural wine. We’ll leave the drink recommendations in the capable hands of owners, Fabien and David, but if you fancy a nibble, the truffle sausage tapa is a must try. Then, finish your night with live music next door at Le Chat Noir. Et voilà, Geneva is ticked off your bucket list.