Geneva is a wonderful and friendly Swiss city. It is definitely one of the most expensive areas of Europe. Good budget hotel options are Hotel Des Tourelles, Hotel Excelsior, or Hotel Lido because of their great location close to the lake and transportation stations. For a unique experience, try the Float Inn B&B and stay on a catamaran in Lake Geneva. For a lot more money, there are several 5-star hotels on the Quai du Mont-Blanc.
The first sight you’ll want to see is Lake Geneva, a massive 224-square-mile-lake. You’ll surely notice the Jet d’Eau, a tall (459’) jet of water that provides a perfect backdrop for photos. You can walk right up to the jet and get cooled by the mist. One good spot to enjoy the fountain and lake is Jardin Anglais. This garden is most known for its large flower clock. A little further east along the lake is Parc La Grange, which features tons of roses and has a restaurant in the villa.
For a more birdseye view of Lake Geneva and Jet d’Eau, head to the St-Pierre Cathedral. Climb the tower for a nominal fee to receive an excellent vantage point. It’s a fun 157-step spiral journey! The 12th century Cathedral is interesting to me because it has received varying styles of architectural updates over its tumultuous history. While in the heart of Old Town, check out Place du Bourg-de-Four. Honestly, you could spend some hours exploring this vibrant and ancient square. I recommend Lipp Brasserie for lunch. If you are a foodie, Lipp offers the traditional meal of pistachio sausage, succulent pork cheeks, a huge slab of bacon, and bratwurst over sauerkraut and potatoes. They also specialize in seafood appetizers.
Nearby is the Reformation Monument in Parc des Bastions. This celebrates Geneva’s influence in the Protestant Reformation. The park itself has big trees (including a sequoia), a good restaurant, refreshment stands, a great playground for kids, and giant chess and checker boards. If you see one park here, this would be my choice. For dinner, why not stay around here? I recommend Restaurant Les Armures.
Start today with something truly Swiss - a watch museum. South across the bridge is what I believe to be the most interesting museum in Geneva - the Patek Philippe Museum. This watch and watchmaking museum displays a staggering amount of intricate timepieces that span hundreds of years. It isn’t overly crowded and the presentation of the pieces is nicely done. On your way back to the bridge, be sure to grab some Swiss chocolate ice cream! Then, cross over and stroll along Quai du Mont-Blanc. This offers views of the Mont-Blanc mountain chains and also takes you by the Brunswick Monument. This mausoleum is picture-worthy. Right next to it is the Cottage Café. I loved this former garden cottage. I had an outdoor seat that let me people-watch and duck-watch right next to the monument. Even better, the menu selection is good and the quality is excellent. I had fish caught right from the lake!
A lovely 1.5-mile walk (or bus ride) north is the Palais des Nations. This is the European headquarters of the United Nations. I really liked seeing all the flags lining the entryway. The lobby offers a nice view of the Alps. If you want to explore more, a guided tour is offered. The nearby Red Cross Museum was a real treat! The exhibits were interactive and very moving. Next door is the Jardin Botanique (Botanical Gardens). Highlights here include the Alpine Garden with plants from the Swiss Alps. For casual dinner, take a stroll to L'Ambience pizza for local Feldschoffer beer and tasty shrimp pizza. If you are in the mood for lake fish and good desserts, try Le Casanova.