Jets of water shooting 140 meters high out of its eponymous lake define the city of Geneva, Switzerland, which is nestled between the Alps and the hilly terrain of the Jura mountains. Situated on the bay where the Rhone leaves Lake Geneva, the city may be small as cities go--fewer than half a million people live here--but it’s cosmopolitan and lovely.
Many major hotels and restaurants capitalize on the lake’s beauty with shorefront locations; on the opposite bank lies the Old Town, which is Geneva’s heart as well as the shopping and business quarter. Its center is the Place du Bourg-de-Four, the oldest square in the city, perhaps the most distinguishing part of the old town’s skyline is St. Peter’s Cathedral. The Old Town is eminently walkable (which is true of most Swiss cities); you’ll want to wander along quays, lakeside promenades, countless parks, lively side streets and in and out of elegant shops. You can take mouettes or water taxis across the lake or enjoy a lake cruise aboard a larger ship.
Geneva is an international city—it’s the headquarters of the Red Cross and European seat of the United Nations; the Palace of the United Nations is an important landmark. It’s also a major center for special congresses and trade fairs. It’s a major center for the watch industry, the big flower clock in the city’s English garden symbolizes that industry. It’s a cultural center, with more than 30 museums, theaters and galleries. Internationally known artists perform at the Grand Theatre and Geneva Opera House. There’s a watch museum, the International Museum of the Red Cross and the Red Crescent.
Come hungry to Geneva; it has more than a thousand restaurants. It is a bit of a jet-set destination, which means some restaurants can be prohibitively expensive, but you can always turn to Genevois cafés and inexpensive diners. French restaurants in Geneva might get the most attention, but there are many excellent Swiss restaurants, especially in the Old Town.
Geneva has excellent public transportation but is an ideal city for walking. It has a major international airport; it takes minutes to get from the airport to city center on the train. Geneva is a gateway to the Alps and ski country.