Walking Around Geneva, Switzerland

Why Visit Geneva?

Many travelers to Switzerland skip over Geneva as it does not have the stereotypical Alpine views that make Switzerland famous. I disagree with skipping Geneva as there are so many interesting sights to see. In my opinion, a self-guided walking tour of Geneva was the best way to explore the city.

Geneva is considered the French capital of Switzerland and will feel very different than the German and Italian-speaking parts of Southern and Eastern Switzerland. Be sure to visit Old Town Geneva as it will feel like you are in France. In addition to being culturally French, Geneva is also home to the United Nations and International Red Cross/Crescent.

Finally, Geneva is located on the shores of Lake Geneva, and there is an abundance of water activities to enjoy. The city’s most recognizable site, the Geneva Water Fountain, is located in the harbor of Lake Geneva.

I highly recommend trying to fit a day or two in Geneva into your Swiss vacation. Geneva is uniquely French, and you will not be disappointed.

The Geneva Water Fountain
The Geneva Water Fountain

Walking Around Geneva - Table of Contents

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Self-Guided Walking Tour of Geneva

During my visit to Geneva, Switzerland, I decided to take a self-guided walking tour of Geneva. To me, it seemed like hiring a guide was not necessary as I knew what attractions I wanted to see. The sections below highlight the places I visited during my self-guided walking tour of Geneva, Switzerland.

Brunswick Monument

To begin my self-guided walking tour of Geneva, I had to walk to the waterfront from my hotel, which was located near Geneva Station. On the way, I walked through the Jardin des Alpes and stopped by the Brunswick Monument. The Brunswick Monument was built in 1879 to honor Charles II, Duke of Brunswick. After an earthquake damaged the original monument in 1883, it was rebuilt in 1890 and has been a popular tourist attraction in the Jardin des Alpes.

Brunswick Monument - Geneva, Switzerland
Brunswick Monument

Lake Geneva Waterfront

My self-guided walking tour of Geneva next took me to the Lake Geneva Waterfront. As I walked across the Pont du Mont-Blanc (Mount Blanc Bridge), I stopped to take a photograph of the Geneva Water Fountain.

Pont du Mont-Blanc

The Geneva Water Fountain is visible from most of the waterfront and is one of the most recognizable sights in Geneva, Switzerland.

The Geneva Fountain
The Geneva Fountain

After crossing the bridge, I stopped to take a photograph of the Geneva Ferris Wheel. A ticket to ride the Geneva Ferris Wheel costs CHF 6 ($6) for adults and CHF 3 ($3) for children. I chose not to go on the Ferris Wheel and continued my self-guided walking tour of Geneva by walking towards the Geneva Flower Clock.

Geneva Ferris Wheel
Geneva Ferris Wheel

The Geneva Flower clock is a working clock that is made up of over 6,000 flowering plants. The look of the clock changes throughout the year as seasonal flowers are planted during spring, summer, autumn, and winter.

Flower Clock - Geneva, Switzerland
Flower Clock

Old Town - Geneva

After walking around the waterfront for close to an hour, my self-guided walking tour of Geneva continued with a walk through Geneva’s Old Town. Old Town Geneva dates back to 58 BC, and many of the current buildings date back to the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries.

Walking Up the Steps to Old Town Geneva
Walking Up the Steps to Old Town Geneva

Strolling through Old Town Geneva, I came across many fountains. In addition to being beautiful, these fountains have potable water that tastes great.

There are many Fountains in Old Town Geneva with Potable Water
There are Many Fountains in Old Town Geneva with Potable Water

I highly recommend spending at least an hour getting lost in the narrow streets of Old Town Geneva. Without using my map, I wandered the cobblestone streets, looked for unique buildings, and enjoyed the feeling of going back in time.

The Narrow Streets of Old Town Geneva
The Narrow Streets of Old Town Geneva

While walking through Old Town, I came across the Old Arsenal area. This part of Old Town dates back to 58 BC and has mosaics that commemorate the arrival of Julius Caesar.

Mosaics Behind a Canon at the Old Arsenal Area
Old Arsenal
Old Arsenal

St. Pierre Cathedral

The next stop on my self-guided walking tour of Geneva, Switzerland, was the famous St. Pierre Cathedral. This cathedral became the adopted home of John Calvin, who was the leader of the Protestant Reformation. People have worshipped on this site since the 300s, but the current cathedral dates back to 1160, with renovations taking place in 1444 and 1890.

The Facade of the St Pierre Cathedral
The Facade of the St Pierre Cathedral

The St. Pierre cathedral was one of the only churches in Switzerland that allowed visitors to take photos inside. I always ask if there aren’t any signs, as many churches have people actively worshipping inside them.

Inside the St Pierre Cathedral
Inside the St Pierre Cathedral

For a cost of CHF 5 ($5), I was able to go up to the St. Pierre Cathedral’s tower. To purchase tickets, visit the counter of the cathedral’s tiny gift shop.

Entrance to the St. Pierre Tower Tour
Entrance to the St Pierre Tower Tour
St Pierre Tower Turnstile
It Cost CHF 5 to Enter

The walk to the tower took me through interior portions of the church that felt extremely old. Even the door to enter the tower tour looked like it was centuries old.

The Door to Enter the Tower Tour was Extremely Old
The Door to Enter the Tower Tour was Extremely Old

The steps inside the St. Pierre Cathedral were definitely not created for someone 6 foot 5. I spent much of the time on my hands and knees, crawling up the stairs. At the top, I was able to see the St. Pierre Cathedral bell.

The Steps Inside the St Pierre Cathedral
The Steps Inside the St Pierre Cathedral
St Pierre Cathedral Bell
St Pierre Cathedral Bell

The interior of the St. Pierre Cathedral took me to many interesting rooms and had artifacts that dated back to the time of John Calvin.

One of the Rooms in the Upper Levels of the St Pierre Cathedral
One of the Rooms in the Upper Levels of the St Pierre Cathedral

Being near the top of the bell tower also provided great views of Old Town Geneva and the Geneva waterfront.

View from the St Pierre Cathedral
View from the St Pierre Cathedral
View from the St Pierre Cathedral
Another View

Despite the nice views, it seemed like I was missing something. All of the photos I took were looking through the cathedral’s tiny windows.

Geneva Fountain from the St Pierre Cathedral
Geneva Fountain from the St Pierre Cathedral

As I exited the St. Pierre Cathedral, I noticed a huge viewing area that I had somehow missed. The directions inside the upper levels of the cathedral had not been clear on where to go to get the best views. I considered trying to go back inside and walk back up to the tower but decided against it.

Somehow I Missed Out on the Main Viewing Area of the St Pierre Cathedral
Somehow I Missed Out on the Main Viewing Area of the St Pierre Cathedral

Reformation Wall

After walking through Old Town Geneva and visiting the St. Pierre Cathedral, I continued my self-guided walking tour of Geneva by walking down a hill to the Reformation Wall. The Reformation Wall is located on the grounds of the University of Geneva and was built to celebrate the 400th birthday of John Calvin, who founded the university.

The Main Part of the Reformation Wall
The Main Part of the Reformation Wall

In the photo above, from left to right, are William Farel, John Calvin, Theodore Beza, and John Knox. Geneva was the center of the Reformation and was the adopted home of John Calvin.

The Reformation Wall - Geneva, Switzerland
The Reformation Wall - Geneva, Switzerland

The Geneva Fountain

After spending a few minutes photographing the Reformation Wall, I retraced my steps, walking back through Geneva’s Old Town. When I arrived at the Geneva Waterfront, I spent sometime finding various angles to photograph the Geneva Water Fountain.

The Geneva Fountain and a Rainbow
The Geneva Fountain and a Rainbow

The Geneva Water Fountain, known as the Jet d’Eau in French, shoots 130 gallons of water every second at a height of 460 feet.

The Geneva Fountain from a Lake Geneva Cruise
The Geneva Fountain from a Lake Geneva Cruise

During my time in Geneva, I saw numerous boats cruising around Lake Geneva. These boats date back to the early 1900s and have chimney-like smoke stacks. I tried extremely hard to get a photo where it looked like the water was coming out of the smoke stack. The photo below was almost timed perfectly.

The Geneva Fountain and a Lake Geneva Cruise Boat
I Almost Timed this Perfectly

Places that I Visited After My Self-Guided Walking Tour of Geneva, Switzerland

After my self-guided walking tour of Geneva, I visited a few additional places that required taking the cable car. In the section below, I’ll highlight a few of those places.

United Nations

The United Nations Office at Geneva can easily be reached by taking the cable car to the Genève-Sécheron station. During my visit, the United Nations building was closed to tours, but I did enjoy walking the grounds from outside the fence and looking at the flags of the member nations.

The United Nations Headquarters - Geneva, Switzerland
The United Nations Headquarters

The United Nations has 193 member nations, and each of their flags is on display outside the UN Headquarters.

Flags of the United Nations - Geneva, Switzerland
Flags of the United Nations

Just outside the main entrance to the United Nations is the Broken Chair Monument. The purpose of this monument is to remind diplomats and politicians of the danger of using landmines and cluster bombs.

Broken Chair - Geneva, Switzerland
Broken Chair
Broken Chair - Geneva, Switzerland
Zoomed in on the Broken Chair

One of the best views of the United Nations building is from the hill in front of the International Red Cross/Crescent. 

UN Headquarters from the International Red Cross/Crescent
UN Headquarters from the International Red Cross/Crescent

International Red Cross and Crescent

In addition to the United Nations, another important international organization that has its headquarters in Geneva is the International Red Cross/Crescent. Located across the street from the UN’s Palace of Nations, the International Red Cross/Crescent features a museum that is open to the public.

International Red Cross/Crescent - Geneva, Switzerland
International Red Cross/Crescent

I was not able to go inside the International Red Cross/Crescent museum as it was closed. Despite the museum being closed, I was able to walk the grounds.

International Red Cross/Crescent
International Red Cross/Crescent

Taking a Tour of Lake Geneva

On my final day in Geneva, I took a boat tour of Lake Geneva. This tour was covered with my Swiss Rail Pass. You can learn more about the tour of Lake Geneva by clicking HERE (link coming soon).

The View from the Deck of My Lake Geneva Cruise
The View from the Deck of My Lake Geneva Cruise

Geneva Switzerland Tours and Packages

During my time in Geneva, I did not take any tours or purchase any packages. I thought that Geneva had excellent public transportation and that a local guide was not needed to enjoy the key sights. That being said, I do know that many people prefer to be led around by an expert. The tours and packages listed below were tours that caught my eye. Please note that as an affiliate of Viator, I will receive a small commission if you book a package using one of my links. This commission is at no additional cost to you.

Prices are accurate as of June 2023.

Geneva Sunset Tour
Panoramic sunset over Geneva and Lake Geneva - $82.74

Within 6 hours you will experience 2 countries, riding from Switzerland into France along the Arve river, 3 different modes of transport (cycling, cable car and short hike) and memorable views over Geneva and the Alps’ largest lake. Enjoy a delicious meal at the top of the Salève as you watch the sunset over Geneva and its lake before we transfer you back to Geneva at the end of your evening.

Geneva Sightseeing Tour
Private tour: Geneva Sightseeing & optional boat cruise - $40.88

On this private guided tour throught Geneva you will see the multifaceted of the city in two hours.

Discover the international disctrict with the United Nations and world peace organizations which gives the peace character of the city.

Take a ride close to the Leman Lake to admire our famous fountain, flower clock and the beautiful parks along.

Take a step back in time with the visit of the old town. Snao cathedral St Pierre, the arsenal and Place Bourg the four.

You will finish your tour with a boat cruise on the Leman Lake if you take the option.

Geneva Art and Culture Tour
Art and Culture in Geneva with a Local - $99.02

This Experience is provided by a private local.
The group size is up to 8 people.

Find out the different cultural and artistic characteristics that makes this city unique, and enjoy the buzzing community and city ambience!

Whether you are visiting Geneva as a returning tourist who wants to get to know the city a bit better, or if this is your first time, this Experience is for you! While walking the streets of Geneva and looking at the amazing, unique street art, or getting to know more about the city’s galleries and museums, you will hear about street-art artists as well as contemporary artists and their close connection to Geneva.

I will share with you the art and cultural world of my city, where you will see, hear, and experience how colorful and multifaceted Geneva is!

Geneva E-Bike Tour
The Highlights Tour in a TaxiBike: Geneva - $60.24

This tour is an introduction to the city of Geneva, if you are passing through the city or do not have much time, come with us on board of a TaxiBike and visit the most emblematic places of the city, as well as its history.

Don´t miss out!!!

Geneva Tour with a Local
Geneva Like a Local: Customized Private Tour - $60.96

Get to know the city through the eyes of a passionate local. With no set itinerary, you can customize the tour or leave it up to the local for an insightful introduction to the city. Make travel about the people you meet not just the places you see.

Old Geneva Food Tour
Old Geneva food tour - $415.41

Meet passionate artisans in their shops or at the market, enjoy lots of tastings, and walk through the heart of Old Geneva while taking in the sights.

• Taste a variety of food like chocolates, cheeses, cold cuts and more at 5-6 different stops
• Red and white wine are included
• Visit the old town of Geneva, including the local covered market, artisan shops, a fragrance shop, and cultural sights like the Cathedral, Water Jet, and flower clock with all the historical explanations
• Communal food walk for 2 to 15 people
• Eat & Chill tour are a group of food guides who give food tours of Old Geneva

Geneva Instagram Tour
Instagrammable Places of Geneva with a Local - $104.02

This Experience is provided by a private local.
The group size is up to 8 people.

If you want to spice up your instagram feed and impress your friends with stunning shots from your travels, then you are at the right place!
Let me show you the most beautiful and impressive spots in Geneva and guide you with some useful tips to take good pictures from your phone or camera!
Of course while strolling through the city and taking photos of the most unique places (like the Smurfs Buildings, and some nice cafes and bars!) you will also get to know more about Geneva and learn about its secrets from a local’s perspective.
Join me on this adventure to give you insta feed an upgrade. Make sure you don’t book this experience too late, as we don’t want to miss the golden hour!

United Nations Tour
United Nations Walking Tour in Geneva - $631.40

Planning a trip to Switzerland? What about visiting Geneva: the city of 1001 delights? Geneva offers you the chance to discover an interesting picturesque city, the cradle of watchmaking and home to the greatest Swiss chocolate makers, Geneva promises you an original and enriching experience. Surrounded by international organizations’ offices such as the WTO and the United Nations, Geneva is fascinated by its medieval look and the marvelous buildings, which are a mix of French and German influence.

Wha’s included in the Geneva United Nations Walking Tour? You will have the chance to discover the headquarters of the World Intellectual Property Organisation, Telecommunication Organization, and UNHCR, Red Cross Institution, and a magnificent Ariana Museum visit.

Get ready to experience Switzerland from a different perspective. A local charismatic guide will reveal interesting facts about Geneva’s International Headquarters.

Geneva Hop On Hop Off Bus
Geneva hop on hop off 48 hours including boat cruise - $42.43

Discover Geneva through 4 circuits with this 48h pass!

Combine Open bus, small trains and boats to visit Geneva and discover its different faces.

Experience a mini train ride in the Old town to explore the town hall, old arsenal and cathedral St pierre.
Admire the beauty of Geneva lake on a 0 emission solar boat.
Visit the international discrict with Geneva's famous organisations such as United nations, red cross. WHO, WIPO....
Snap a picture of the famous fountain on the panoramic bus and enjoy the symbol of watch making: the flower clock.

You can catch the tours either from Place du Rhône or Rotonde du Mont blanc. All lines leaves every 45 minutes.

Geneva Chocolate Tour
Chocolate hunting in Geneva: Follow the taste! - $107.67

This experience is provided by a private local.

Want to learn the secrets of velvety-smooth Swiss chocolate?

Join me for a guided discovery of Geneva's best artisan chocolate-makers. Having lived in Geneva for many years, I know all the best chocolate shops and I am happy to share my favourites with you and tell you all about the art of Swiss chocolate-making. So, prepare yourself for a sweet-filled day during which you will taste some of the best artisanal chocolates in town, and, in fact, in the country!

This is the perfect excursion for a chocoholic or anyone looking to treat themselves to a sweet tour of Geneva to taste amazing chocolate and get to know the city in the process.

The group size will not exceed 8 people so that you can ask all the questions you have.

Geneva Sunset Tour
Geneva Sunset Tour with Open Top Bus - $21.22

Cosmopolitan, cultural and colourful - let us take you to the famous tourist attractions on this sightseeing trip of Geneva in our famous panoramic bus with retractable glass roof.

Our tour of Geneva is above all others, taking you to undiscovered photo points as well as the most iconic places in Geneva. The actual departure time is 19:15 (7:15PM).

(*Please note the Sunset Tour runs during June - September, you can also take this tour at 11:30am and 14:30pm daily, this tour is called the 'Best of Geneva City tour')

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