Geneva for a weekend - things to not miss?
March 10, 2011 6:06 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for things to see/do in Geneva, as well as any recommendations for eats. Will be there from a Friday to a Monday morning in early April. Suggestions?

Most of the stuff I've read is old, so I'm hoping this might generate some fresh talk.

- Saturday night has been booked at a fancy-pants restaurant.
- Had pondered day-tripping out to France (or within Switzerland) on the Sunday. I was gunning for Lyon, frankly.
- I noted some markets that I would probably visit (La Halles Des Rives).
- Also looked at visiting CERN.

After hours of browsing the internets, I've found surprisingly little. Would appreciate any points of interest, especially if it's about food (pastries to eat?! chocolate to nibble on?!).

Note: I don't need to see the Jet d'eau or the UN. I had been to Geneva about ten years ago. Don't think those have changed...
posted by jlunar to Travel & Transportation around Geneva, Switzerland (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
My favorite thing to eat in Geneva is actually a kebab from the stand next to the train station. It's about 9 francs for one (Geneva prices), but the white sauce is superb. Sorry I can't be more specific on the exact location, but it was the only one in the area as of a few years ago. I also visited a few art studios in the Les Vernets area, which had a some interesting projects going on at the time. For chocolate, every time I go to Switzerland, I always hit up the closest Manor (department store) to stock up. I would honestly save your money for the pastries in Lyon, if you decide to go. I could also give you recommendations for things to do, and more importantly, places to eat in Lyon - I used to live there. Passez un bon week-end!
posted by msk1985 at 6:22 PM on March 10, 2011

While Lyon is great (I lived there too! Vieux Lyon is absolutely charming for a day trip), Annecy is much closer and charming as well. Delicious food, too.

For ideas of things to visit in Geneva, I loved the Museum of Natural History (great for kids, if they don't mind once-living stuffed animals – I learned more about local fauna thanks to that museum than I had in the years I spent with my ex whose family lived in nearby Belley), and the Art and History museum across the street from it.

My absolute favorite was the Saint Pierre Cathedral, whose bell tower you can climb! You have to pay for it, but it was seriously one of the most fun things I've ever done. Dizzyingly steep and narrow spiral stairways, centuries-old wood beams and ceramic tiles, and utter quiet, since almost no one else goes up there. Beautiful views at the top. (If you're interested, I have a set of photos from my 2-day Geneva trip.)
posted by fraula at 12:21 AM on March 11, 2011

Ditto to Annecy. It's know as the Venice of the French Alps, and is simply stunning. Sunday (AM) is a Market day through the old town. Boat trips / waterbuses across the lake to Menthon St. Bernard and Talloires are also worth considering on a nice day. A fave spot for a reasonably priced bistrot lunch is l'Estaminet.
posted by protorp at 1:03 AM on March 11, 2011

Whilst Annecy is a beautiful place, you don't say if you have a car for your daytrip. If you don't then I would forget about France. Lyon has better rail links to Geneva than Annecy but neither are particularly convenient. It might not be the season yet but as protorp says the boats across the lake are a nice day. Otherwise you could try Lausanne or round the lake to Montreux by train. The line between Lausanne and Montreux runs right next to the lake and the vineyards - one of the most beautiful stretches of railway in the world. In Montreux, walk along the lakeside path as far as the Chateau de Chillon for lovely views.

As for food in Geneva, good solid mountain food (cured meats, fondue, raclette) can be had in the Auberge de Savi├Ęse in the Paquis. Also in the Paquis, La Caravane Passe does good Middle Eastern inspired food.

The Old Town in Geneva is a worth a wander in itself, whether or not you climb the belltower. Look out for the house where the Red Cross started, and the house Borges lived in. Les Halles is not a particularly special place to be honest and will almost certainly be closed on Sunday. Most of Geneva is.
posted by jontyjago at 4:36 AM on March 11, 2011

I'll second the cathedral bell tower and having a wander around the Old Town.

If you like museums, try the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum. I've been twice and found it deeply affecting and fascinating both times.

I've never managed to get to the History of Science Museum while it was open, but it looks brilliant. It's set in the Perle du Lac park (by the lake, surprisingly enough), which is worth taking a walk around anyway.

The Geneva tourism website has an online calendar that you can search for events during your stay.

Since you've been to Geneva before, this is probably old news, but I always love taking a ferry across the lake. They're fun, regular and have convenient stopping-points.

Have fun!
posted by daisyk at 5:25 AM on March 11, 2011

Honestly, Geneva is not a super touristy town. It's built for bureaucrats and bankers. That being said, there's some good suggestions here. You might also want to head up to Mont Blanc and take the cable car up to the top.
posted by blue_beetle at 5:45 AM on March 11, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks for the tips guys! I will ruminate on what to do. All your suggestions have been very helpful :)
posted by jlunar at 1:47 PM on March 13, 2011

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