By Shereen Shabnam
Switzerland is an addiction – once you set foot in the country, you have to head back every year to explore a new Swiss destination and after exploring Laax, Crans Montana and revisiting Gstaad and Zermatt last year, my latest adventure took me to again to Geneva, this time as a base to head to Basel for the famous Baselworld exhibition.
Geneva, Switzerland’s second-largest city is full of delightful surprises and has more to offer than watches, chocolates, cheeses and banks. It is the perfect Swiss cosmopolitan city for exploring the surrounding countryside, the famous Lake Geneva and the nearby Alps.
Home to the World Trade Organization, World Health Organization, International Committee of the Red Cross, branches of the United Nations and World Bank, the city is popular with business travellers who often extend their trips to be tourists indulging in the many boutiques, jewellers, restaurants and chocolatiers.
Whether you enjoy heading into the mountains to ski or go out boating, hiking and biking, Geneva has it all in addition to day trips to the nearby towns of Montreux, Chamonix and Lausanne. My favourite places in Geneva are below:
Lake Leman is set along Geneva’s right bank with stunning views of the Alps beyond, Lake Leman is great stop for breath taking views. From here, you can see the towering Jet d’Eau, which is the world’s tallest fountain.
Geneva’s Old Town is a typical European town that has a maze of cobblestone streets. It offers a glimpse into the past as you visit the historic Saint Peter’s Cathedral and wander down along the old city walls to Geneva’s theater district and center of culture at Place Neuve. I enjoyed stopping at the antique shops.
Bastions Park for a glimpse of Reformation Wall containing the effigies of Geneva’s founding fathers. It is a superb place to spend an afternoon people watching and enjoying nature.
Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MAMCO) is a must visit. There are close to thirty museums and art galleries that capture the rich and vibrant history of the city so pick one that suits you.
Lake Geneva is possibly the most famous feature of the city so stroll along the promenades, have a dip at Bains des Pâquis, relax in one of the lakeside parks or cafes or take a boat cruise around the lake.
Carouge is just a hop across the L’Arve River and resembles Nice, France. It has quaint boutiques and watching artisans at work in their studios is fascinating in between coffee stops at the many artsy cafes in the area.
Paquis and Les Grottes is Geneva’s most international districts and perfect for foodies looking to try ethnic restaurants or shopaholics looking for retail therapy. As an architecture lover, I stopped over to see the Schtrumpfs Building before sampling freshly baked pastries along the road.
The Salève is for nature lovers. You can either ride the gondola up Geneva’s backyard mountain to enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding Alps or hike up along one of the Saleve’s many marked trails.
Palais des Nations is another interesting building overlooking Lake Geneva. It was built in the 1930s to house the League of Nations and visitors can take tours to explore its grand monuments and murals.
If you have a few extra days in Geneva, I suggest taking a boat ride to Lake Geneva’s other lakeside paradises or hopping on an excursion bus at Gare Routiere to visit one of Switzerland’s famous mountain towns.
Geneva, like other Swiss destinations is a perfect place for memorable moments and breathtaking natural views. From the UAE, I flew Emirates Airlines, which flies daily to Geneva and used it as a base to explore the nearby tourist areas.