Super sleek, slick and cosmopolitan, Geneva is a rare breed of city. It's one of Europe's priciest. Its people chatter in every language under the sun and it's constantly thought of as the Swiss capital - which it isn't. This gem of a city superbly strung around the sparkling shores of Europe's largest Alpine lake is, in fact, only Switzerland's third-largest city.
Yet the whole world is here: the UN, International Red Cross, International Labour Organization, World Health Organization. You name it, they're in Geneva; 200-odd top-dog governmental and nongovernmental international organisations meting out world affairs with astonishing precision and authority. They fill the city's bounty of plush four- and five-star hotels with big-name guests. They feast on an incredulous choice of international cuisine, cooked up by restaurants to meet 'local' demand. And they help prop up the overload of banks, luxury jewellers and chocolate shops for which the city is known. Strolling through manicured city parks, sailing on the lake and skiing in the Alps next door are hot weekend pursuits.
But, ask critics, where's the urban grit? Not in the lakeside with its tourist boats, silky-smooth promenades and record-breaking high fountain. Not in its picture-postcard Old Town. No. If it's the rough-cut side of the diamond you're after, you need to dig into the Pâquis quarter, walk west along the Rhône's industrial shores or south into trendy Carouge where rejuvenated factories, alternative clubs and humble neighbourhood bars hum with attitude. This is, after all, the Geneva of the Genevois…or as close as you get, at any rate.
Ready to go?
These tours & activities make it easy:
Best places to stay in Geneva
Switzerland - Lake Geneva & Vaud (Chapter)
Lined by elegant Lausanne and many smaller towns, the Swiss side of Lake Geneva presents vineyards, châteaux, beaches and peaceful woodland. Further east, theVaud Alps invites hikers in spring and summer, skiers and boarders in winter.
An insider's guide to Geneva
Most foreigners know Geneva as a quaint Swiss city, home to the United Nations, chocolate shops and watchmakers...
Switzerland - Geneva (Chapter)
Switzerland’s third-largest city, Geneva is sleek, slick and cosmopolitan. Superbly strung around the shores of Europe’s largest Alpine lake, it’s filled with plush hotels, incredible international cuisine, and an overload of banks, luxury...
Geneva destination guides
L'Escalade: Geneva's chocolate festival
Geneva by Sam Wolff. Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported Location: Geneva, Switzerland Date: 11 December Level of participation: 5 – festival…chocolate…happy days If you want a decent excuse to eat chocolate before Christmas, Geneva has come up with it...
Day Trip to Gruyères including Golden Panoramic Express Train
Set off and discover traditional produce while taking in Switzerland's landscapes on a full day combined coach and train trip from Geneva. Soak up the enchanting atmosphere at Gruyeres and admire the rolling hills and meadows as you descend the hills to Montreux, overlooking Lake Geneva and the towering Alps.
Geneva City Tour
This two-hour city sightseeing tour is a perfect introduction to Geneva. It’s especially great if you’ve just arrived in the city and want to get a lay of the land. This city tour, which includes a ride on a mini-train, will highlight Geneva’s famous international organizations and show you the city’s top attractions.
Feast on Europe's best food trucks
Food trucks may be trendy now but the concept is hardly new. Since the turn of the century, hungry workers have counted on mobile vans and stalls lining city streets to provide cheap, filling fixes...