Geneva is an entry point for many Switzerland tourists & offers a variety of attractions in the city itself & around the banks of Lake Geneva. Here is a list of places we’ve been to that can easily make up a 3 day trip. Just like the rest of Switzerland, all these places are easy to reach by Public Transit (details provided).
This list does not have many details of Lausanne which is a beautiful city but we stopped for only a couple of hours to meet a friend. A general tip is that the lake looks stunning on a sunny day so reach the nearest shore when the sun comes out.
- Chateau de Chillon (a 12th Century Castle): An absolute must-visit. We traveled a fair distance from Scotland to end up in one of the most spectacularly located and most visited castles in Europe. This castle was made famous by the Lord Byron poem “The Prisoner of Chillon” & we can see why. The dungeon is an extremely desolate place right in the middle of some stunning natural beauty. Keep some time aside to photograph the wonderful scenery from both inside & outside the castle.Getting there: Hop on an IR train from Geneva Cornavin / Airport towards Brig & get off at Montreux. From here you can catch either bus 201 or the S-Bahn to take you directly to Chateau de Chillon.
- Montreux: This wee town on the way to the Chateau is a gem. It’s the base for the wine / chocolate country of this region & just a very picturesque town in general. If this is not enough to convince you to stay a bit, there is a Migros hot bar in town for one the best value meals in the country. Montreux is also the start point of the Golden Pass & Chocolate Express tourist trains.Getting there: See 1.
- CERN, Geneva: If you have any scientific inclinations or even enjoy watching the occasional Big Bang Theory episode, a visit to CERN should be in your itinerary. This is where the groundbreaking scientific advancements of this generation are taking place in. This is also where the Higgs Boson aka God particle was discovered. You must book your visit 15 days in advance via the CERN website. Thanks to one of our friends, we got real close to the LHC in the French part of CERN & had all sorts of nerdgasms.Getting there: Tram 18 to CERN from Geneva city centre.
- Geneva Jet Stream & Free* Boat Ride on Lake Geneva: One of the best free attractions in Geneva is seeing the 140m high jet of water at the west bank of Lake Geneva on a sunny day. It’s also a fantastic place to chill out & grab a coffee / ice cream (depending on weather). And if you have the money to splurge, why not buy an expensive Swiss watch from the luxe stores nearby. Once you are done enjoying yourself, make your way back to the city centre using the Geneva water taxi which is included in the 8 CHF day pass for Central Geneva. This eliminates the need to spend your money on a boat tour (there are a small number of water taxi routes in the city).Getting there: Buses 9/25 from the city centre take you close to the jet or just take the water taxi both ways from the Geneve Mont Blanc boat stop.
- Walk around Geneva old town / United Nations: Geneva is a charming city with a cathedral & a chapel next door at the top of small hill in the city centre. The whole area is a nice walk. Tram 18 & bus 5 drop you close by. A nice walk on the other side of town is the United Nations (reached by the multiple trams ending at the Nations stop). The flags & the broken chair sculpture are worth visiting.
Taking Public Transit in Geneva:
- The 8 CHF central Geneva day ticket can be bought from any of the ticket machines on the tram stops or as soon as you get out of the Cornavin station.
- No cash / change taken in the machines (as per our memory) so we used our debit cards.
- You can take the bus to France from Geneva. It’s a nice day trip.
- There is a Migros in the Cornavin station (no hot food bar).