The best burgers in Switzerland with meat carefully sourced from local cows grazing in the Alpine pastures above Lake Geneva. Rubbing shoulders in lovely restaurant with families on holiday in the Jura, commuters from the United Nations, cross-country skiers and climbers AND accessible via the funicular railway from nearby Nyon (or easily by car). Incredibly friendly English-speaking owner who really knows about high quality burger ingredients!
When you land at Geneva airport, just before you leave the baggage reclaim area, there is a machine by the door that gives you free travel in Geneva for 90 minutes anywhere in the city.
You have to get it BEFORE you leave baggage reclaim though. Once out the door, turn left in arrivals lounge and go all the way to the end into the Station. Walk in a little way and turn 180 degrees and go up the stairs behind you and come out right at the bus stop and get the number 10 which takes you to Gare Cornavin (the main station in Geneva).
Geneva Airport, in the Baggage Reclaim area just before the doors to leave.
Manor is a huge department store near Cornavin. It has a wonderful food department - akin to M&S or higher quality. The entire floor is taken up with deli counters and wonderful fresh food.
The bakery section is particularly good and you can also watch them make enormous ciabatta sandwiches (1m x 2m) that they then cut up, or roll out croissants to bake on the premises.
If you also go upstairs there is a wonderful cafe/restaurant in a self-service canteen style which is a great place to have breakfast (try the Birchermeusli), lunch (the fried fish is yummy) or tea (coffee and cakes...mmmm). The food is all prepared in front of you, and often cooked for you, but the price is very reasonable, and if you are lucky you can get a seat with a great view across the rooftops to the Saleve.
And then you can do shopping on three more floors filled with everything from beauty products and clothes to electrical items.
Rue de Chantepoulet
Lake swimming with real diversity. The Swiss shore (north) is clean (blue flag equivalent) with deep cool water interspersed with lakeside pools for the less brave. Free changing cabins and showers at main swimming areas.
Experience swimming in water (reputedly) as deep as the surrounding mountains are high. Summer sunsets enhance the experience. Great for a young family.
Head to Montreux, Switzerland as your starting point and pick up a swimming guide booklet from the Tourist Office. Public Transport (Bus, Train, Boat) will efficiently take you to your chosen lake side swim ,or, just cycle/walk along the dedicated paths.
If you are looking for a typical restaurant in Geneva, you should go to the Café du Soleil. I grew up in Geneva and I always go to Café du Soleil when I’m in town. It’s close to the UN so there are always lot of expats there. It’s the best fondue in town and the staff are extremely friendly. If you don’t like fondue, try the entrecote or the specials. If you’re in Geneva in the summer, they have a great terrace for a dinner al fresco.
6, place du Petit-Saconnex
+41 22 733 34 17
I spent a very hot weekend in Geneva recently and found the perfect cure to the heat - Les bains des Paquis is a city beach on the shores of Lac Leman. Entry is two CHF for unlimited time. In addition to the pebble beach and the lake, there is a restaurant (which serves an excellent salade Greque), a hammam with massage services and a games area.
Sounds tacky? I thought it would be, but it wasn't! Swimming in the lake in the height of the summer with city views all around, the jet d'eau in the background and the snow-capped mountains in the distance is really something else.
It's on the same side of Lac Leman as the Cornavin station. Walk down to the Quai Mont Blanc and head left (towards the parc mon repos), the bains des Paquis are clear signposted and are accessed via a bridge.
This house contains artifacts of daily life in Geneva from the Middle Ages through the late 1800s and gives a concise history of the city and its frosty relations with France and the rest of Switzerland (Geneva was an independant republic for many years). There is even the guillotine which Geneva was forced to install (by French Revolution law) in Place Neuve in March 1792. The attic contains a scale model of pre-1850s Geneva when walls still surrounded the city.
Skip the overpriced archeological remains under St Peter's Cathedral as this museum tells you more about Geneva's history and has free entry. Great for children.
Follow the signs to the museum from Cours St Pierre in the old city
The Promenade des Bastions runs from the old city down to Place Neuve (the main square of Geneva) and goes past the Mur des Reformateurs - check out the chess boards with giant-sized chess pieces for the public to use for Sunday afternoon games.
There are also numerous cheap cafés.
The Promenade des Bastions is a 30 min walk from Cornavin train station and 20 mins from St Peters Cathedral in the old city
The co-op on Rue du Commerce has sensibly-priced souvenirs for the tourist and of course the obligatory Swiss chocolate. It's also a great place to buy lunch.
Rue du Commerce - a 30 min walk from Cornavin train station
If you go to Ile Rousseau to see the bird sanctuary or to have a drink at the café, wait until after 9am when the waiters of the café have gotten rid of the homeless people and tramps who inhabit the benches of Ile Rousseau.
The Jet d'eau is the most famous landmark in Geneva and it's quite impressive as it shoots water to a height of 400ft.
It's better if you walk along the jetty which extends from the port to the fountain itself.
The Jet d'eau is on the Rive Gauche side of Lake Geneva - a 30 min walk from Cornavin train station
If you want to see the UN building then I recommend that you hop onto Tram 13/15 from outside Cornavin train station heading for Nations - aim to get there before 8am as there is practically nobody there at this time and the hordes of tourists don't descend upon Place des Nations until 9.00am.
Don't miss the massive wooden chair - a monument to landmine victims.
Place des Nations
Trams 13 and 15 depart from a stand directly outside Cornavin train station
Tram fare is 3 CHF for a one hour ticket (this is perectly adequate if you only want to see the outside of the UN building and not do the whole tour)
Les Paquis is one of the smartest parts of Geneva as it's right next to Lake Geneva and has some trendy (ie expensive) shops as well as some cheaper souvenir shops.
There are shady little squares and swish mansions and is a good part of the city to see on your way back to Cornavin train station.
Beware of pickpockets though!
Les Paquis is on the Rive Droite side of Lake Geneva and is west of Quai Wilson
For a comprehensive tour of Geneva I recommend this route:
From Cornavin train station, go down Rue du Mont Blanc and cross the river Rhône via the Pont Mont Blanc, stopping to admire superb views of Lake Geneva, St Peter's Cathedral, Ile Rousseau and Pont des Bergues.
Once across Pont Mont Blanc, walk alongside the Rhône river via the embankment to see Port St Gervais and enter the shopping district of Geneva.
Walk along Rue de la Conféderation, Rue de la Croix d'or and Rue du Rhône.
Turn off Rue de la Conféderation at Place Madelaine and walk up into the old city to Place Bourg Four (good cheap cafés here) and climb Rue de l'Hôtel de Ville to look at the murals depicting the history of Geneva and the cannons.
Enter Cours St Pierre and visit St Peter's Cathedral. Then descend back to the shopping district and head to the Jardin Anglais to see the famous Jet d'eau and flower clock.
Walk alongside Lake Geneva (Rive Gauche) - for children there is a beach on this side of the lake.
Go through the Jardin Anglais, go across Pont Mont Blanc and walk alongside lake Geneva (Rive Droite) stopping to admire views of Mont Blanc across the lake and see the Brunswick monument.
Return to Cornavin train station via Les Paquis district (to the west of Quai Wilson). Go up Rue de Lausanne and follow signs to Cornavin train station.
St Peter's Cathedral can be seen from everywhere in Geneva and is the symbol of the old city of Geneva.
Its interior is truly impressive and for 3 CHF you can climb the 157 steps up to the tower for stunning views (tip: if you can't or don't want to climb up to the tower than the same view can be seen on a poster just next to the entrance). The exterior of the cathedral is a curious mismatch of building styles too with a Romanized façade (columns).
Cours St Pierre - a 30 min walk from Cornavin train station
The combined streets of Rue de la Conféderation, Rue du Rhône and Rue de la Croix d'or are lined with some of the most expensive shops in Switzerland (the others being in Zurich) so if you have serious Swiss francs to burn than this area is the place to go, otherwise it's great just to look at those watches and clothes which you can't have. Even the brand name stores of H&M and C&A are not as cheap as you may think they are.
There are numerous undercover shopping malls just off each street too which are great places to escape from the summer heat.
The Rue de la Conféderation is a 20 min walk from Cornavin train station, just follow Rue du Mont Blanc, cross the Rhône river via the Pont Mont Blanc and turn into Rue de la Conféderation which becomes the Rue de la Croix d'or and then becomes the Rue du Rhône
Lovely Singaporean restaurant next to a sex shop in the Paquis. Don't let it put you off, the food is superb and, for these parts, uncompromisingly spicy. A warm multilingual welcome awaits. It's not cheap but it's worth every franc.
14 rue de Neuchâtel
Phone: (022) 7313303
The Kipling Hotel (part of the Manotel chain) is in the Paquis district of Geneva. An extremely helpful, friendly and multi-lingual staff, tastefully-appointed rooms and great location (a few blocks from Cornavin, the principal train station and literally down the street from the main EuropCar office) make The Kipling a real find. While it is not cheap, it is nowhere near the price of other Geneva hotels and the whole vibe is younger and more welcoming. Plus, as the name implies, it is a shrine to all things Rudyard-esque, but without being at all kitschy.
Rue de la Navigation 27, 1201 Geneve, 41 22 544 4040, www.manotel.com/kipling
It is that rarity for Geneva: an inexpensive, unpretentious restaurant, popular with students, immigrants and UN employees. A plate of delicious lamb couscous is 15 Swiss francs and the wine list, while limited, is very reasonably priced. It is in the funky Paquis district. In the summer, there is a casual outside terrace for dining or just sipping the soothing mint tea. And there is even a no smoking section - also rare for Geneva.
In the Paquis district, at 11, rue du Dr. Alfred Vincent
At the end of the #8 bus route (free using the travel card given you by the hotels), you walk about half a mile into France and then go up to the top of 1000m Mont Saleve by cable car.
Spectacular views and walks. People para-glide from here which is worth watching as well.
End of number 8 bus route from Geneva
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