The Swiss city of Geneva is a must for any traveller as there is something for every taste. Switzerland's second largest city lies next to Lake Geneva, one of the largest lakes in Western Europe, whose shimmering shores are swathed with sailing boats. In the summer, the beaches of the lake beckon. The city is surrounded by the Alp and Jura Mountains, which attract hikers in the summer and winter sport enthusiasts in the winter. You can climb nearby Mont Saleve, with a little help from a mountain railway, to get a bird's-eye view of the city. Geneva is a truly cosmopolitan city, where 45% of the population is foreign born and represents over 184 different nationalities. Owing to such a diverse and wealthy population, it has a wide range of shops and many of the exclusive designer brand boutiques are found on the city's Rue du Rhone. Museum buffs won't be bored; the city has many, including several unique ones such as the Museum of the International Committee of the Red Cross and Red Crescent. The city is the home of several international organisations such as the United Nations (UN). You can visit the Palais des Nations, which is the European Headquarters of the UN. If you are interested in science, you should not miss a visit to CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, where the World Wide Web was invented.
Geneva is both a modern and ancient city -- it existed before the Romans arrived in 121 B.C.. For most of its history, Geneva was its own republic, which highlights its spirit of independence. In 1602, the Duke of Savoy tried to capture the city but was repelled by the local citizens, an event celebrated each year in the Fête de l'Escalade, a festival held in December with bonfires and parades. Geneva was annexed by Revolutionary France in 1798 but after the defeat of Napoleon, it joined the Swiss Confederation in 1814, becoming part of Switzerland.
Things to do
Geneva is the perfect combination of urban and natural environments, which means there is something for everyone. Whether it is shopping, seeing the sights, mooching round museums, lounging by the lake or clambering up mountains -- this is the place.
Lounge by Lake Geneva
The Lake is the perfect place to relax. On summer days, you can go to the lakeside beach or Bains des Pâquis for a swim. In the winter, you can take a sauna to warm up at the Bains. One of the symbols of the town is the Jet d'Eau, a large fountain which shoots water 140 metres into the air from the Lake. There is a jetty to the fountain, but be warned: you could get wet. Travellers can also relax aboard one of the many cruise ships which cross the lake.
See the UN in action at Palais des Nations
The Palais des Nations is the European Headquarters of the United Nations. It is open to the public. Tour guides will guide you around the building, explaining the history of the UN and you may even see a real meeting in action. The tours are available in 15 languages. The building was built in the 1930's to host the then League of Nations, the forerunner to the UN. Remember to bring your ID with you as it is compulsory to go on the tour. The Palais is surrounded by 46 hectares of beautiful parkland.
Have a bird's-eye view from Mont Salève
Although just over the border in France, this mountain is just a short ride by bus from the centre of Geneva. You can take a five-minute ride by cable car to the top of the mountain, where you will have a superb view of the city from 1,379 metres. Literature lovers may know that the mountain appears in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, when the monster flees up Mont Salève.
Be Surprised by Science and visit CERN
The European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) is the largest physics laboratory in the world. CERN offer guided tours for visitors where they explain their work on Higgs-Boson or how the World Wide Web was invented there. The Globe of Science and Innovation, which is 27 metres tall, houses CERN's permanent exhibitions including one on the Big Bang.
Shopping in Geneva is not limited to Swiss cuckoo clocks, watches or Swiss army penknives. Rue du Rhone is a paradise for those in search of designer goods. Designer boutiques stretch along this street. Local up-and-coming designers sell their goods from shops scattered throughout the old town.
Calendar of Events
Geneva has many events, festivals, exhibitions and fairs throughout the year, bringing both locals and visitors onto the streets to celebrate. Here are a few of the events:
Lake Parade. The Lake Parade, which recently held its 20th anniversary, is held annually at the beginning of July. This free event transforms the south-side of Lake Geneva into dance floors for house, techno and electro music. [https://lakeparade.ch/]
Nuits des Bains. The Nuits des Bains are held three times a year in March, May and September. The event is designed to promote contemporary art, when art galleries in the Quartier des Bains area of Geneva open their doors to the public. The Art museums and the galleries stay open until 9 p.m. and you can sip a glass of wine as you admire the art.
Fêtes de Genève
The Fêtes de Genève, or the Geneva Festival, is held annually in August. It has been running for over 94 years. The festival attracts locals and visitors alike to watch shows, taste different food from around the world or enjoy concerts. The festival culminates in a giant firework display over the Lake. [http://www.fetesdegeneve.ch/2017/en/]
Fête de l'Escalade
This festival celebrates the successful repulse of the Duke of Savoy's forces by the local citizenry in 1602. It is held annually in December and is marked by parades in traditional dress, historic recreations and bonfires. [http://www.1602.ch/]