Geneva Tourist Attractions


Geneva (in French Genève; in German Genf), lies in the extreme western tip of Switzerland at the southwest end of Lake Geneva (in French Lac Léman). The town is built on moraine hills of varying height on either side of the swiftly flowing Rhône, which here flows out of the lake and is joined on the southwest side of the town by its tributary the Arve, coming down from the Savoy Alps. Lying between the Jura to the northwest and the limestone ridges of Mont Salève and the Voirons to the southeast, Geneva enjoys a magnificent situation on the largest of the Alpine lakes, within sight of the majestic peak of Mont-Blanc. As a hub of European cultural life in which French savoir-vivre and Swiss solidity are happily combined, the venue of international meetings on the highest level, as well as conventions and exhibitions of all kinds, and not least as a major financial, commercial and industrial city, Geneva has a lively and cosmopolitan atmosphere which makes it perhaps the most attractive town in Switzerland and the one that attracts the greatest number of visitors. Evidence of its dynamic growth during the last few decades is provided by the large amount of new building in the city itself and in the surrounding area, where a number of residential suburbs and satellite towns of considerable importance have grown up.


The townscape of Geneva, though undramatic, is full of variety. On a steep-sided hill on the left bank of the Rhône rises the old town, dominated by the cathedral, with its picturesque old streets, flights of steps, fountains and historic buildings. On the west, south and east it is surrounded by a ring of imposing buildings and broad streets on the line of the old fortifications. The business life of the city is concentrated in the area below the old town to the north and in Saint-Gervais, formerly an outlying suburb. On both sides of the lake are elegant promenades and extensive parks and gardens. In the northern part of the town are the main railroad station, industrial establishments, craft workshops and residential areas. Most of the international organizations have their headquarters still farther north, in spacious park-like grounds. Geneva is the capital of the smallest Swiss canton, the République et Canton de Genève. It is almost entirely surrounded by French territory (free trade zones) and is connected to the rest of Switzerland only by the lake and a narrow corridor along the northwest shore of the lake. It has two small enclaves around Céligny in the canton of Vaud.

Temple de Saint-Pierre

Temple de Saint-PierreTemple de Saint-Pierre
Dating back to 1150, the Temple de Saint-Pierre is a Romanesque church featuring Gothic elements. The interior of the Temple is especially impressive.

Around the Cathedral

Reformation MonumentReformation Monument

Lower town

The Lower Town or "Rues Basses", lying between the south bank of the Rhône and the old town, is Geneva's main business and shopping quarter.

Rue du Rhône

The busiest streets in Geneva's lower town are the Rue du Rhône and a succession of streets which run parallel to it - Rue de la Conféderation, Rue du Marché, Rue de la Croix-d'Or (these last two for pedestrians only) and Rue de Rive - with a series of squares (originally landing-stages), passages and cross streets linking the two. Opposite the island in the Rhône is Place Bel-Air, around which are a number of banks.

Temple de la Fusterie

Geneva's Temple de la Fusterie stands in the middle of Place de la Fusterie, east of Place Bel-Air. This Neo-classical structure was built by J. Vennes in 1713-15 as a Protestant church and restored in 1975-77 for use as an ecumenical facility.

Tour du Molard

Along Geneva's Rue du Rhône, at the corner of Place Molard, is the Tour du Molard (built 1591, several times altered or restored), the remnant of an old arcaded building, with a bas-relief of 1920, "Genève Cité de Refuge".

Art and History Museum

Geneva's Musée d'Art et d'Histoire has rich collections of applied art and archaeology, a collection of weapons and a fine picture gallery. On the lower ground floor Greek and Roman art treasures are displayed, together with Middle Eastern and Eastern Mediterranean antiquities, Greek, Roman and Etruscan pottery and Egyptian funerary art. On the main ground floor is the museum's collection of antiquities, with material from Geneva and the surrounding area ranging in date from the Paleolithic and the Iron Age through Roman and Gallo-Roman times to the Middle Ages. There are also objets d'art of the Gothic and Renaissance periods on display.
Address: Rue Charles-Galland 2, CH-1206 Genève, Switzerland

Art and History Museum - picture gallery

On the first floor of Geneva's Art and History Museum there is a picture collection which includes Italian, Flemish and Swabian old masters, works by Flemish, Dutch and French artists of the 16th-18th C. and pictures of the 18th and 19th C. Geneva school.

East of the Old Town

Sights in the area east of Geneva's Old Town include: École de Beaux-Arts, a Russian church, the Museum of Natural History and a watchmaking museum.

Art School

Geneva's Ecole des Beaux-Arts (Art School) behind the Art and History Museum to the southwest, houses the collection of graphic art of the Cabinet des Estampes at 5 Promenade du Pin.

Museum of Modern Art

The Petit Palais, is a private art museum featuring the French painters from 1880 to 1930 including the: Impressionists; Neo-impressionists; Nabis; Fauves; Painters of Montmartre and the artists: Cézanne; Manet; Renoir; and Gauguin.
Swiss painters are featured with examples from Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen and Rodolphe-Théophile Bosshard.

Russian Church

To the east of Geneva's Museum of Art and History, beyond the Boulevard Helvétique, stands the Russian Church (1866), with nine gilded domes.

Museum of Old Musical Instruments

Geneva's Musée d'instruments anciens de musique (Museum of Old Musical Instruments) is located at 23, rue F.- Lefort.
Address: Rue François-Le-Fort 23, CH-1206 Genève, Switzerland

Collection Baur

The private Collection Baur is predominantly Far Eastern art.
Asian ceramics, jades, lacquers, netsuke and ornaments of sabers.
Address: 8 rue Munier-Romilly, CH-1206 Genève, Switzerland

Natural History Museum

Dinosaur skeletons greet the visitor on the central podium of the Museum of Natural History. 88 species of mammals and 193 species of birds are exhibited in natural dioramas including endangered or extinct species. 8 subspecies of tigers known in the world, of which 3 are currently extinct are on display. Fish, spiders, reptiles and amphibians are also on exhibit.
The various periods of the life on Earth are displayed through minerals and the history of evolution.
Address: 1, route de Malagnou, CP 1211, CH-1208 Genève, Switzerland

Museum of Watchmaking and Enamels

The Museum of Watchmaking emphasizes the formal and decorative aspects of clock-making, especially in the 17th century. The history of time- measurement is depicted 1550 to present day.
Address: 15, route de Malagnou, CH-1208 Genève, Switzerland

Immeuble Clarté

In a heavily built-up area below Geneva's Natural History Museum to the southwest rises the Immeuble Clarté, the only building of any size in the country designed by the Swiss architect Le Corbusier (along with his cousin P. Jeanneret). The outer walls, mainly of glass, of this block of apartments (1930-32) have no load-bearing function, being suspended from a steel skeleton.

South Bank

Water Jet, GenevaWater Jet, Geneva
Attractions along Geneva's south bank include the Jardin Anglais, the Pierres du Nitron, the Jet d'Eau and the Parch de la Grange.

English Garden

On the south side of Geneva's Lac Léman (the Rive Gauche) the Promenade du Lac runs east from the Pont du Mont-Blanc, flanked by the Jardin Anglais (large flower clock, cafe), with the Monument National (figures of "Helvetia" and "Geneva"), erected in 1869 to commemorate Geneva's entry into the Confederation (1814). From here Quai Gustave-Ador leads northeast, following the shore of the lake (commercial and boating harbor).

Neptune's Stones

In Geneva's Lac Léman there are two erratic boulders known as the Pierres du Niton ("Neptune's Stones"), on the larger of which is a Swiss Ordnance Survey reference point (373.6 m/1,226ft a.s.l.).

Water jet

Beside the Jetée des Eaux-Vives, the breakwater enclosing Geneva's harbor (beacon), is the Jet d'Eau, a mighty jet of water which soars up to a height of 145 m/476ft (1,360 HP pump; does not operate in bad weather).

South Bank Parks

Along Geneva's lakeside road, past the Jet d'Eau on the right, are the Parc de la Grange (rose-garden) and the Parc des Eaux-Vives (restaurant), both with beautiful mature trees and flower-beds. Beyond this are the yacht harbor and the Genève-Plage bathing area.

Parc de la Grange

This renewed English-style landscape park possesses a wonderful number of trees of exceptional size. Included are a rose garden and a nursery garden.

North Bank

Brunswick MonumentBrunswick Monument
Attractions along Geneva's north bank include: Quai de Mont-Blanc, Brunswick Monument, the Palais Wilson, the Temple de Saint-Gervais and the Voltaire Institute.

Quai de Mont-Blanc

On the north side of Geneva's Lac Léman (the Rive Droite) the Quai de Mont-Blanc extends northeast from the bridge, with a view of the Mont-Blanc chain (particularly fine in the late afternoon in clear weather). At the landing stage in front of the Hôtel Beau Rivage the Empress Elizabeth of Austria (b. 1837) was assassinated by an Italian anarchist in 1898.

Brunswick Monument

Beyond Geneva's Quai de Mont-Blanc is the imposing Brunswick monument, a mausoleum modeled on the Scaliger tombs in Verona, which was built for Duke Karl II of Brunswick (1804-73), who left his money to Geneva.

Jetée des Pâquis

Beyond the Brunswick monument are Geneva's Jetée des Pâquis (breakwater; bathing area, beacon).

Palais Wilson

Quai Wilson runs north past the large Palais Wilson in which the League of Nations met from 1925 to 1936.

Rue du Mont-Blanc

From Geneva's Pont du Mont-Blanc Rue du Mont-Blanc goes northwest past the Hôtel des Postes (on right: the main Post Office, with a special philatelic department) to the main station, the Gare de Cornavin (Swiss and French Railroads), with underground shopping passages and Geneva's tourist office.

Quartier Les Grottes

Beyond the rail line, to the west, is Geneva's Quartier Les Grottes, a model example of sympathetic restoration. Extensive and innovative renovation is planned with grants available in order to help preserve the character of the quarter and to allow the existing residents to remain.

Old Watchmaking Quarter

South of the railroad station, extending towards Lac Léman, is Geneva's old watchmaking quarter of Saint-Gervais, in the midst of which is the Temple of Saint-Gervais; the present church (Protestant) dates from the 15th C. (tower 1435).

Voltaire Museum

The philosopher Voltaire's (1694-1778) manuscripts and printed papers are housed in this 18th C mansion.
Address: Rue des Délices 25, CH-1203 Genève, Switzerland

History of Science Museum

The Museum of the History of Science is the only museum of its kind in Switzerland. A display of Geneva's scientific past, its collections are composed of numerous old scientific instruments including microscopes, barometers, sun dials, astrolabes, books and documents donated by the families of Geneva's scientists and scholars.
Address: Geneva - Museum of the History of Science, CH-1202 Genève, Switzerland

Place des Nations

Geneva's Place des Nations, 2km/1mi north of the Pont du Mont-Blanc, is a busy traffic intersection around which are the headquarters of many international organizations.
South of the square in the district of Varembé are a series of modern buildings occupied by a variety of important institutions. Between the Chemin des Colombettes and the Avenue Guiseppe-Motta are the United International Bureaux for the Protection of Intellectual Property (BIRPI: by P. Braillart, 1962) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO/OMM)): by E. Martin, 1956). Between Avenue Guiseppe-Motta and Rue de Vermont is the International Telecommunications Union (ITU/UIT), a six-sided tower block by Bordigoni (1958). At the corner of Rue Varembé and Rue de Montbrillant is the Centre International, housing numerous international associations; and closely adjoining are the European Free Trade Association (EFTA: by Grand, Praplan and Fischer, 1969), with a beautiful inner courtyard, and the new International Conference Center and Press House (CIGG: by A. and F. Gaillard and A. Camenzind, 1971). Also in this area is a modern Roman Catholic church, Saint-Nicolas-de-Flüe (by Bouvier and V. and J. Malnati, 1967), which was visited by Pope Paul VI in 1969.

Palais des Nations

Palais des NationsPalais des Nations
An agglomeration of light-colored marble buildings constitute the Palais des Nations, which serves as the official headquarters for the League of Nations.

Around the Palais des Nations

Interior of the Ariana MuseumInterior of the Ariana Museum

Pont du Mont-Blanc

One of Geneva's busiest traffic arteries is the Pont du Mont-Blanc (1862; rebuilt 1969), the first of its eight bridges over the Rhône, spanning the river at the point where it leaves Lake Geneva. At the southern end is the entrance to a park garage under the riverbed.

Ile Rousseau

Geneva's Ile Rousseau lies between Pont du Mont-Blanc and the Pont des Bergues. On the island is a statue of Jean-Jacques Rousseau (by Pradier, 1834).
Other bridges are the Pont de la Machine (pedestrian bridge; under it a dam) and the double Ponts de l'Ile (until the 19th C. the only bridge), crossing an island in the Rhône on which stands the Tour de l'Ile, a relic of the medieval fortifications.

Boat services

Boat services in Geneva include:
Regular steamer services to places on the Lac Léman, run by the Compagnie Générale de Navigation sur le Lac Léman (CGN; head office in Lausanne-Ouchy; branch office in Geneva, "Le Bateau", Jardin Anglais); round trips and cruises; shuttle services and short trips in the port area and round about by the Mouettes Genevoises (motor-launches). (Not all boat services in Geneva operate during the winter.)



Switzerland has a fireworks festival in Geneva on Lake La Mans in August and another festival at the same time in Zurich.

Summer Music Festival

This annual eight-week festival runs from early July to late August and includes a different performance every week. Each year the theme and style of music of the festival changes, although the events usually include orchestral and choral concerts.

Historical Festival

This three-day festival takes place in early December.


View from SaleveView from Saleve Javier Carcamo

Mont Salève

South of Geneva on the French frontier is Mont Saleve, a limestone ridge that makes for a scenic site. Visitors have the opportunity to take a 6 minute cable-car ride up Mont Saleve.

Bois de la Bâtie

To the west of Geneva, at the "Jonction", the River Arve flows into the Rhône, its turbid yellowish water mingling with the clear greenish-blue water of the larger river. Beyond the Arve is the Bois de la Bâtie (woodland, meadows, animal enclosure; view of town).
To the southeast of this is an artificial ice-rink, the Patinoire des Vernets (partly roofed over; seating for 10,000).


The suburb of Carouge, southeast of Geneva, was incorporated in the city in 1816, with the large goods station and bonded warehouses of La Praille. Carouge, originally founded by Savoy as a rival to Geneva, has some attractive squares and old houses. 3km/2mi west of the city is the last of Geneva's eight bridges over the Rhône, the Pont Butin (built 1916-27, widened to eight lanes in 1970), spanning the valley at a point where it is 50 m/164ft deep.

Carouge Museum

A collection of ceramics typical of Carouge, produced between 1800 and 1930 are on display at the Carouge Museum.
Address: 2 Place de la Sardaigne, Carouge, CH-1227 Carouge, Switzerland

Cointrin International Airport

Cointrin International Airport is 5km/3mi northwest of Geneva.

New Exhibition and Congress Center

To the northeast of Geneva's Cointrin International Airport, in the suburb of Grand-Saconneux, the New Exhibition and Congress Center was opened in 1981. The Nouveau Palais des Expositions et des Congrès, abbreviated to "Palexpo", has 70,500 sq. m/84,318 sq. yd of floor space.

CERN (nuclear research facility)

About 2km/1mi beyond " Palexpo" near Geneva is the frontier town of Meyrin, a large residential suburb with an Alpine garden. Here, too, is the nuclear research facility CERN (Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire: partly on French territory), with a 600 MeV synchro-cyclotron, a 28 GeV proton synchroton, storage rings and a super proton synchroton (7km/4mi long ring tunnel). In 1989 the Large Electronic Position Storage Ring (LEP), 27km/17mi long, was completed.
4km/2mi west of the town, in a bend of the Rhône, is the residential development of Le Lignon, a striking example of modern architecture housing a population of 15,000.

Versoix, Switzerland

9km/6mi north of Ferney-Voltaire (reached by rail or boat) is Versoix, an attractive little place on the west side of the Petit Lac, near the border between the cantons of Geneva and Vaud, with a beautiful lakeside promenade. The third Aga Khan, Head of the Ismaili sect, died here in his property of Le Barakat in 1957 (b. Karachi 1877; buried in Egypt). Near this house is the Château Rouge (the property of an Arab ruler).

Genthod, Switzerland

In Genthod, just south of Versoix (fish restaurant on lake), are a number of fine old 18th C. houses, including the Maison Ami-Lullin, built in 1723-30 by F. Blondel, which was occupied by the scientist H. B. Saussure. In the Maison de la Rive (1730), above the railroad line, Goethe stayed in 1779 with the philosopher and naturalist Charles Bonnet (1720-93).

Coppet, Switzerland

14km/9mi north of Genthod (reached by rail or boat), in the canton of Vaud, is Coppet, a little town on the west shore of the lake, founded in the 14th C., with old arcaded houses and a 15th C. Gothic church.

Château de Coppet

An 18th century château, where residents Jacques Necker, finance minister to Louis XVI, and Madame de Staël-Holstein, are buried. Necker and his daughter were hosts to Chateaubriand, Byron, and Benjamin Constant. The museum is a private home and houses a collection of portraits and sculpture.

Old Town Museum

In this restoration of an early 19th century interior visitors can view local arts and crafts, musical instruments, weapons and stained glass.
Address: Maison de Ville, Grande-Rue 65, CH-1296 Coppet, Switzerland

Celigny, Switzerland

4km/2mi north of Coppet, away from the lake, is the pretty village of Céligny, in a little enclave belonging to Geneva.


Cologny (alt. 450 m/1,476ft) 14km/9mi northeast of Céligny (No. 9 bus or boat) on the hillside above the east shore of the Petit Lac, has a fine 17th C. country house and a number of modern villas. There is a magnificent view across the lake to the Palais des Nations and the Jura, particularly from the terrace between the Lion d'Or restaurant and the church and from the "Byron Stone" on the Chemin de Ruth. Byron stayed in the Villa Diodati in 1816 and met Shelley, then also living in Cologny.
1.8km/1mi south at Chêne-Bougeries, is the modern residential development of La Gradelle, built since 1963.

Fondation Martin Bodmer-bibliotheca Bodmeriana

This library of world literature brings together the works of Homer, Dante, Shakespeare, Goethe and the Bible and focuses on the influence they had on the development of fine arts and philosophy. A collection of early Greek, Roman and Egyptian art can be seen alongside 160,000 bibliographical documents, many first editions.
Address: Fondation Martin Bodmer, CP 7, CH-1223 Cologny, Switzerland


6.5km/4mi northeast of Chêne-Bougeries, on the lake is Bellerive, with the 17th C. Manoir de Bonvent (near the landing-stage) and a 17th C. château.

Hermance, Switzerland

14km/9mi northeast of Bellerive is Hermance, a pretty little place on the lake, founded in 1245 close to the French frontier.
(12th C. fortifications, château, 15th and 16th C. houses; Stone Age tombs.

Museum of the Order of Malta, Compesieres, Switzerland

Visitors will learn about the knights of the Order of Malta in this museum as well as life in Compesières. Highlights include the painted cross from the 15th century which embellished the Chapel of Mouxy, Compesières's outbuilding, and a golden baroque copper ostensory.

Voirons (mountain tour from Geneva)

There are two alternative routes (each 37km/23mi) to this long ridge in French territory east of Geneva making an attractive round trip of 74km/ 46mi.
Leave Geneva on the Chamonix road. 7km/4mi: Annemasse (alt. 436 m/1,431ft). From here on N 507 to Bonne-sur-Menoge and Pont-de-Fillinges (10.5km/7mi), from which a road to the left climbs (fine views) via Boëge to the Col de Saxel (12.5km/8mi: 945 m/3,101ft); then a road on the left which winds its way uphill, passing through wooded country. 7km/4mi: Grand Chalet (1,400 m/4,593ft), sanatorium. From here it is a 30-minute climb to the Calvaire or Grand Signal, on the summit of the Voirons (1,486 m/4,876ft), with magnificent views (Savoy Alps, Jura, etc.). 8km/5mi: Bons (548 m/1,798ft), on the road from Thonon (N 203); then left along this road via Langin and Saint-Cergues to Annemasse (15km/ 9mi). 7km/4mi to Geneva.
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