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Geneva - Pure Culture at Lake Geneva

The "city of parks" does not only fascinate with its idyllic position at Lake Geneva and its mild climate but also with its variety of shopping, cultural, historical, leisure facilities, parties and culinary delicacies.

View of the city Geneva

Geography - The smallest European metropolis

Geneva (French: Genève) is a political community as well as the main city of the canton of the same name in the south-west of Switzerland. The city is located between the Alpine peaks and the Jura Mountains. It has an area of 15.93 km² and with 195,177 inhabitants, it is the second most densely populated Swiss city after Zurich. Its official language is French. The city is located right beside Lake Geneva and belongs to the greater region of the Lake Geneva Region. The Rhône originates in France, flows through Geneva and finally issues into Lake Geneva. Geneva's urban area can be divided into four districts: Cité, Plainpalais, Eaux-Vives and Petit-Saconnex. There are many big hotels and countless restaurants at the right riverside. At the left side of the river, you find the old town - Geneva's heart - with the shopping and business district. However, the actual centre of the old town is the Place du Bourg-de-Four, the city's oldest square. Thanks to the lake, the climate in Geneva is milder than that in other big cities like Zurich or Basel. In addition, the Alps and the hills of the Jura Mountains contribute to this mild climate as they surround the city and shield it from bad weather.

View of the Basilica

Nature - The green city

Despite all modernity, Geneva is considered one of the greenest European cities. About 20 percent (310 ha) are covered in green spaces, which is why the city is often called the "city of parks". These green areas contribute to the standard of living, which is high as it is. Particularly beautiful parks are the Parc de la Grange with its magical rose garden, the Perle-du-Lac and the Parc des Bastions - the city's green centrepiece. The English landscape garden (French: Jardin Anglais) with its popular clock L'horloge fleurie, which consist of about 6500 flowers, is also worth a visit. It is a world-famous symbol for Geneva's watch-making industry. Worth mentioning are also the different botanic gardens and the magnificent Lake Geneva at the city's gates.

The Rhone issues into Lake Geneva in Geneva

Culture - A long history and cultural diversity

Together with Zurich, Bern and Basel, Geneva is one of the oldest cities in Switzerland. Its settlement already began 5000 BC. During Roman times, around 120 BC, the city became a trade and economic metropolis. The first trade fairs took place in Geneva as early as in the 16th century. Today, one of the internationally best-known fairs is the Geneva Motor Show. Geneva is now considered one of the cities with the highest standard of living but it is also the third most expensive city worldwide after Zurich and Tokyo. Due to its long history, the city offers a variety of cultural sights. Travellers can see several archaeological finds in the basilica Notre-Dame de Genève. Those who climb up the stairs of the north tower are rewarded with a fascinating view of the city and its surroundings. Lake Geneva accommodates Geneva's landmark, the Jet d'Eau - a water fountain of 140 metres of height. Holidaymakers who like the theatre should go to see a show in the Grande Théâtre, the opera in Geneva. Especially worth seeing is St. Pierre Cathedral, in which the French reformer Johannes Calvin once taught. In addition, there is a great number of museums and about 120 galleries, so that lovers of art and culture get their money's worth. Worthwhile examples are the Art and History Museum, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum, the International Museum of Reformation as well as Jean-Jacques Rousseau's birthplace. The old town impresses with its old buildings and the Brunswick Monument displays a special architecture and history. The latter was built in neo-Gothic style. It is a historical reproduction of the family grave of the Scaligeri of the Italian town Verona in the 14th century and was built by request of the Duke of Brunswick. It has to be pointed out that Geneva is the home of the luxury watch-making industry. A Watch Fair takes place in the city every year, during which only the premium products are presented. Other important fairs are the Inventions New Techniques & Products Exhibition and the International Book and Press Fair.

Monument and Mausoleum in Geneva

Experience - A high standard of living and culinary delicacies

The city's prestige and elegance are reflected in its numerous hotels and gourmet restaurants as well as the variety of cultural offers. Geneva is not considered a world-famous centre of gastronomy for no reason. There is a number of culinary delicacies for travellers to enjoy such as the longeole (a sausage), the rissole aux poires (dumplings stuffed with pears), the cardon genevois (a vegetable from Geneva), the trout with almonds and the Geneva curd pastry. While strolling along the quays - the lakeside promenades - you can see many beautiful parks and gardens, which extend from the lake to the Alps. Mouettes, a kind of water taxis, are a great way of getting from one side of the lake to the other and having a great view of the city and the mountains on the way. On the 12th of December, the inhabitants of Geneva celebrate L'Escalade, a festivity dedicated to the failed conquest by the Savoy in 1602. Children dress up and go from cafe to cafe singing on that occasion. The events which took place in 1602 are retold in the song "Cé Qu'è Lainô" in the old dialect of Geneva. The members of the "Company of 1602" ride through the streets in historical costumes with swords and lances. There is also a wide range of sporting activities, shopping facilities and parties. The many elegant boutiques make every fashion lover's heart leap for joy. Especially young people enjoy the city's colourful nightlife. They can choose between a number of bars, pubs, discos and cocktail bars. There are also Irish pubs, which are particularly popular with football fans. In this way, there is entertainment for every taste.

Trout with almonds, lemon and potatoes

Activities - On expedition

A popular tourist attraction is Mont Salève in the neighbouring country of France. It only takes a few minutes to reach its peak at a height of 1,100 metres by cable car. From there you have a breathtaking view of the city Geneva, Lake Geneva, the Alps, the Jura Mountains and Mont Blanc. If you take a boat tour on Lake Geneva, you are presented with a unique backdrop of castles and magnificent residences as well as a wonderful panorama of the landscape and the mountains. In addition, you can go diving in the lake. In summer, you can sunbathe and swim at the bathing beaches Les Bains de Paquis and Geneve Plage. The Arve, a tributary of the Rhône, is excellently suited for rafting tours. Visitors can explore the city's old town on a Segway, a mini train, on foot or by bike. Bikes can be rented for free in town. In winter, buses travel to the skiing areas around the city every day.

Sailing boats at sunset in Geneva


Travellers from Europe best reach Geneva via the A1 motorway - Switzerland's most important motorway - or by train, arriving at the Genève-Cornavin railway station. There are connections to all European capitals, which makes Geneva an attractive starting or stopping point for a city trip. The Geneva International Airport (GVA) is only 5 kilometres away from the city centre. There is free wifi and drinking water all over Geneva.

Geneva has an elegant, urban atmosphere, a high standard of living and a lot of nature. The city looks back on a long history, which is reflected in its great variety of cultural offers. There is something for everyone - whether you are looking for family holidays, shopping tours, relaxing holidays in nature, parties or active holidays.

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