Overlooked by the sweeping peaks of Saleve and Mont Blanc, Geneva is a sleek, pristine city with a stylishly cosmopolitan air – which isn't unexpected when you consider that it's the European headquarters of the United Nations. Exquisite chocolate shops, designer boutiques, jewelers, and top-quality restaurants cater to the swirl of ex-pats and jet-setting visitors who throng the streets, while the immense blue mirror of Lake Geneva provides an epic contrast to the compact terraces and winding lanes of the Old Town, and the wide green spaces of the city's many parks.
Things to see
Top of any to-do list when in Geneva is a visit to the United Nations. Its grand corridors of power are based within the white fortress of the Palais des Nations, which was originally constructed for the League of Nations (the forerunner to the UN). It's not just the building and its interior that's worth seeing – you can also take a turn around the emerald fields of Ariana Park, where you can also spot the strutting peacocks that roam freely there. Another icon of the city is the Jet'Eau, one of the tallest fountains in the world, its surging, misty plume of water is visible for miles around. History buffs will relish the Cathedral of Saint Pierre, which has its origins in the 12th Century, and the various styles of architecture reflect its long and morphous past. Climb to the top of the towers and you'll be rewarded with a spectacular panorama of Geneva. The Palexpo is a major conference and exhibition center of the region, and it's worth checking what's on as it's been known to put incredible ancient artefacts on display.
Cheap Hotels in Geneva
Luxury hotels in Geneva are easy to come by – after all, this is a city that's no stranger to international VIPs and business movers and shakers. Many of the most lavish pads look out over Lake Geneva, with some guestrooms boasting floor-to-ceiling windows, sumptuous marble bathrooms, indoor swimming pools, and views over the Jet D'Eau. While the city has a reputation for being pricey, you can also find more modestly priced hotels in Geneva if you have a good look around online.
Where to stay
The Old Town is a tempting place to book your hotel in Geneva – after all, it's the most picturesque part of the city and you can spend days just ambling these rugged old lanes and chilling out in the bars and cafes. You'll also be close by the Rues Basses, the famed shopping streets where you can splurge in style. Boutique hotels in this area can boast 17th Century fittings, complete with exposed beams and vaulted ceilings. You can also look for Geneva hotels in Les Eaux-Vives, on the banks of Lake Geneva, which will put wide parks and good local restaurants on your doorstep.
How to get to
Geneva International Airport is the main gateway to the area, with airlines flying in from a multitude of major cities. It's only 4 kilometers from Geneva itself, with very regular trains going directly to the city center from the airport station. Annency-Haute-Savoie – Mont Blanc Airport is also in the vicinity, but only has flights to and from Paris. Another way to the city is by train, with Geneva Station well connected with other Swiss cities and France.