The 25 best sights of Geneva – description and photos

The most beautiful sights of Geneva

The city called Geneva was mentioned by Gaius Julius Caesar, but the settlement, where the Rhone River flows from a large lake, appeared here long before the arrival of the Romans. Today Geneva is a major economic, financial and cultural center, not only in Switzerland, but also in the world. The city is full of beautiful places and magnificent monuments of architecture, and there are offices of many international organizations. We will also travel to the south of Switzerland and visit the most beautiful and popular attractions of Geneva.

Palais des Nations

Palais des Nations

In the heart of Geneva in the 1930s a majestic architectural ensemble was built, which housed the international organization of the League of Nations.

In 1946, the United Nations moved in here, and it became the second most important (after New York) branch of this organization. The palace is open to tourists, and the most impressive room is the Hall of Human Rights, which opened in 2008.

Be prepared to be asked for identification at the entrance, as it is not possible to enter the Palais des Nations without ID.

Place du Burg de Four

Bourg de Four Square

Once in the Old City, tourists should not miss the majestic Bourg de Fourth Square, which is actually the starting point of sightseeing in Geneva.

This remarkable place is known since the times of the Roman empire, when there was a market and a brisk cattle trade. Over time, the square was transformed, there is a functioning beautiful fountain, there is a building of the City Hall.

The Promenade de la Trey, a favorite place for romantic meetings, overlooks the square. By the way, at there is a fascinating article about the most beautiful streets in the world.

City Hall

City Hall

For five centuries, the Town Hall building has been the main center of political and urban life in the city.

The building combines different architectural styles, and the frescos and broad arcades give it a light and ornate appearance. It now houses the City Hall, and instead of stairs a comfortable ramp leads to the building.

Geneva cannot live without surprises and during the summer months classical music concerts performed by the world’s leading orchestras take place in the inner courtyard of City Hall.

Gé-Do Fountain

Geneva's Gé-Do Fountain

Geneva fountain on the lake of the same name is considered the most powerful in the world, and the first time Geneva citizens and guests could enjoy the magnificence of the rushing water jet in 1886.

Five years later, it was moved to the place where it is situated now. The height of Geneva fountain is 147 meters, but for a second rises up 500 liters of water. In addition, the jet velocity is equal to 200 km / hr.

In 1951 there has been made reconstruction, and now the water is taken directly from the lake, not from a water pipe, as before. You can see this miracle on Lake Geneva at any time. It is turned off only in strong gusts of wind and frost.

Notre Dame Basilica

Notre Dame Basilica

A guide to Geneva is sure to take you to the city’s main Catholic cathedral, built in the traditions of Gothic architectural style in the 19th century.

The facade and exterior walls of the temple are decorated with magnificent stained glass windows and bas-reliefs, and the structure itself was built entirely of sandstone. The main sanctuary of the temple is the sculpture of the Virgin Mary, made of white marble.

Everyone is welcome. Regardless of religion can visit Notre Dame. The only condition is that the dress code must be respected.

In our storehouse we have a very interesting article about the most beautiful Gothic buildings in the world. There you will find the masterpieces of Gothic architecture in pictures.

Jardin Anglais

Jardin d'Anglais

Jardin Anglais, which literally translates as ‘English Park’ was laid out on the site of an ancient harbour in 1855.

One of the main attractions of the landscape park is a flower clock, which has long been a romantic symbol of the city. In its present form the clock has been counting down the time since 1955, and the flower clock mechanism first started working in 1903.

Here you can stroll along neat paths and visit cozy coffee houses with a view of the famous Geneva fountain.

St. Peter’s Cathedral

St. Peter's Cathedral

On the sites of travel agencies among the photos of Geneva must meet the main religious attraction of the city – St. Peter’s Cathedral, built at the beginning of the XIII century.

The building is unique in that the synthesis of architectural styles has led to a unique result, and such a monument of medieval architecture can not be found in other parts of Europe.

Here you can find elements of Romanesque, baroque and classicism, and the main sanctuary is the throne of the great reformer Jean Calvin.

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Museum of Art and History

Museum of Art and History

Switzerland’s largest museum dates back to 1789, and the museum moved into its present building in 1910.

The exhibits range from masterpieces of painting to archaeological artefacts. There are over 650,000 exhibits in total under the roof of the museum.

The building itself is also interesting. Its classicist architecture draws attention with its majestic columns on the facade and stone sculptures which blend harmoniously into the overall interior of the building in the heart of Geneva.

Wall of the Reformation

Reformation Wall

On the campus of the University of Geneva, founded by Jean Calvin, you will find the Wall of the Reformation. It is a unique monument of statues and bas-reliefs of figures from the Reformation period.

The wall was erected in 1909 to mark the 400th anniversary of the Protestant Reformer’s birth and the 350th anniversary of the founding of the University.

The wall stretches 100 meters, and on either side of the central, largest statue is engraved with the Latin motto “Post Tenebras Lux” – After Darkness Light.

Museum of the Red Cross and Red Crescent

Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum

The unique museum opened its doors to visitors in 1988, and between 2011 and 2013, a dramatic renovation of the exhibitions was carried out.

Geneva is the birthplace of the Red Cross, and much of the museum’s exhibition is dedicated to the initiators of the organization Henri Dunant. You can also visit the halls related to the world’s risks to humanity, the protection of law and dignity.

In a separate room one can view interactive recordings of leading contemporaries of the humanitarian movement.

Broken Chair


A unique sculptural composition in the form of a chair with one broken leg appeared in front of the UN building in 1997. At that moment the convention banning anti-personnel mines was being adopted in the building.

Adoption of the document was delayed, and the sculpture stood on the square until 2005, after which it was dismantled. In 2007 during reconstruction of the Square of Nations the chair was returned to its former place.

And so the symbolic monument became the original landmark of the city, reminiscent of the tragedies of military confrontations.

Tavel House.

Tavel House

History buffs will appreciate the oldest house in the streets of Geneva that belonged to the noble family of the Tavels.

According to the documents, the first wooden structure was built on this site in the middle of the XII century, and after the fire in 1334, in which the house, like most of the buildings, burned down, a stone building was built.

In the early 1960s, the last tenants moved out of the house and the city authorities established a museum in its rooms.

Arian Museum

Arian Museum

Let us continue our description of notable sites with the unique Museum of Ceramics and Glass, which has long been a popular place for lovers of ceramic art and glassware.

The halls have a collection of 16 thousand pieces of all kinds of ceramic dishes, as well as porcelain and stone items. Glass collection contains 2 thousand works of glass art and glass engraving.

The exhibits are collected from all over the world, made by great masters of the East and West.

Lake Geneva

Lake Geneva

The main natural attraction is naturally Lake Geneva, on the shores of which the cozy and beautiful city has grown.

It is a record-breaker as it is the largest lake in the Alps and the second largest in Central Europe after the Hungarian Lake Balaton. Spread mirror of the lake in the floodplain of the Rhone River and resembles a crescent.

It is surrounded by comfortable resorts offering tourists all kinds of recreation and diversified entertainment. And above the lake itself rises the majestic snowy peaks of the Alps.

Park La Grange

la grange

On the banks of the Leman is one of the most aromatic and beautiful parks in Geneva, which is immersed in an atmosphere of enchanting aromas and a realm of magnificent flowers.

Even the Romans appreciated the beauty of this area on the left bank of Lake Geneva. Now here is a unique rose garden, which collected the rarest varieties of this beautiful flower. In the center is a hill, in which archaeologists discovered the cultural layers of the Neolithic.

In summer two summer theaters open in the wonderful landscape park, and a small swimming pool and many playgrounds with rides start functioning for children.

Piazza Molar


In the most romantic place in this European city you can feel the atmosphere of Geneva – Piazza Molar.

At night time 2 thousand lanterns are lit underfoot greeting tourists in different languages of the world. One of them has an inscription in Russian “Hello!

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Proximity to the port explains the presence on the area a lot of pubs and restaurants, working here since the XIII century. Over time, this magnificence was joined by bank buildings.

House of Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Jean Jacques Rousseau

In this house in Grand’Rue Case, 40, the greatest philosopher and educator Jean-Jacques Rousseau was born in 1712.

From here, after living under the roof of his paternal home for 10 years, his parents sent him to a boarding school. In order to popularize the writer’s teachings and to commemorate his life and work, a museum was set up here.

The creators did not try to recreate the interior of that time, although there are items in the house that were used by the philosopher. In a 25-minute visual tour, visitors will be given a summary of the major milestones of Rousseau’s life, as well as the main points of his teachings.

Duke of Brunswick Mausoleum

Duke of Brunswick Mausoleum

There is an interesting story associated with the construction of this monument. The fact is that the Duke of Braunschweig, after making a large fortune in Paris, spent the last years of his life in Geneva.

In his will he said. That he would leave all his fortune to the city, if a monument is erected in his honor. The duke died in 1873, and controversy arose over the advisability of carrying out his will, since there had previously been no mausoleums in the city.

The tomb was nevertheless erected and became a distinctive part of the Alpine Park, built in the neo-Gothic style.

Mont Blanc Bridge

Mont Blanc Bridge

In 1862, a 250-meter bridge across the Rhone River, where it emerges from a beautiful lake, was built as a kind of symbol of the Swiss city.

From the bridge you can see the top of Mount Mont Blanc, after which the engineering structure was named. The bridge offers picturesque views of the lake and the city’s neighborhoods.

The Genevans think that this place has the highest concentration of harmful gases because the bridge connects two parts of the city and therefore has the highest concentration of cars.

Holy Cross Cathedral

Holy Cross Cathedral

It is worth mentioning in our list and the magnificent Orthodox shrine built in the Swiss city.

A Russian mission worked here for a long time, and in recognition of that, the city authorities allocated a small plot of land, on which, in 1866, the beautiful cathedral grew. The Cathedral of the Exaltation of the Cross has become a stronghold of Orthodoxy in Switzerland and a peculiar cultural center of the Russian world.

Large funds for the construction of the temple were allocated by Alexander II and his wife Maria Alexandrovna.

Bati Reserve


It is amazing, but practically in the center of Geneva one can meet signs “Attention, cows” or “Beware, marmots bite”. These signs are hung in the Nature Reserve of Bati, which today is home to about 450 species of animals.

The initiator of the creation of such a park in the largest urban quarter of Jonction was a simple gardener named Du Bois. He picked up wounded animals and housed them in the park.

The Genevans picked up the initiative, and in time a magnificent nature reserve grew here, where wildlife animals found shelter.

Botanical Gardens

Botanical Garden

Let us finish our trip with a stroll through the magnificent Botanical Gardens, which date back to 1817.

The initiator of the creation of this magnificence was the famous botanist Augustin Piram de Candolle. In 1904 the garden was registered in its present place near the UN office. The garden itself is divided into thematic zones, in which fauna of different corners of the planet is represented.

On the territory and in the beautiful greenhouses there are more than 12 thousand plant species, and the herbarium contains over 6 million copies of plants from around the world.

By the way, you can learn about the most beautiful flowers or cacti in the world on the pages of our website

To sum up

Geneva's most beautiful sights

Here we have learned what to visit in the magnificent town and what this city is famous for in Switzerland and beyond. Note that the residents of the Swiss city are hospitable and very cheerful. A rare day goes without a holiday, where you can have a great time and have fun.

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Geneva is the second largest city in Switzerland and the capital of the canton of the same name in the southwest of the country. It is home to the manufactories that produce the most expensive watches in the world. Geneva is famous for its cheeses and chocolates and rich history. The combination of old architecture and modern buildings surrounded by magnificent slopes of the Alps attract a lot of tourists. Visitors are welcomed by a variety of attractions: picturesque parks, palaces and the beauty of nature.

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See all the sights of Geneva in a day.

If a tourist has one day at his disposal, the walk through the city should certainly start with the square of Bourg de Four. Nearby are the town hall, the arsenal, the Tavel house and the clock museum. Nature lovers will be interested to visit the Geneva Botanical Gardens, where the unique exhibition “Garden of Smells and Sensations” will not leave anyone indifferent.

Afterwards, be sure to go to the Palais des Nations and see the sculpture “The Broken Chair”. The best way to end your walk is with dinner at a cafe on Russo Island with a view of the fountain Je Do. In the evening and at sunset it is just a stunning sight. All attractions of the Swiss resort can be found easily by yourself using a guidebook or a map with a description.

Isle de Rousseau

There are great cafes and restaurants on Russo Island

If it is possible to spend two days in Geneva, the second day should be devoted to Mount Salev. The clean air and incredible views will give you a lot of pleasant emotions. Other popular destinations in Switzerland besides Geneva include Bern, Lugano, beautiful Basel, Lucerne with its many churches and the small, quiet Lausanne. If you travel through Switzerland and want to bask in the sun on the beach, the convenient location of Geneva on the border with France allows you to easily and quickly get to Lyons and from there to the French Marseilles or Italian San Remo.

Places in the city where you can take beautiful pictures

Unique shots are obtained from the observation deck of St. Peter’s Cathedral. From there you can see the whole city and the lake. And in the park at La Grange, among the rose bushes and pavilions, you can get great shots. But for the most amazing photos go to Mt.

Geneva in winter

Geneva sights

Lake Geneva by the city

The climate here is mild and winters are warm and snow-free. However, in the cold season is better to give preference to museums, such as the house of Tavel, ethnographic and museum of clocks. The fountain Je Do is open all year round and is a must-see up close.

For lovers of skiing in the winter, there are several slopes on Mount Salev. Many ski guides praise the country’s resort for the opportunity to ski near the city.

Zhe Do Fountain.

This is the most amazing attraction of the city, which has long been a symbol of Geneva. The fountain is located in the lake, the jet hits a height of 130 meters. It was built at the end of the 18th century to throw water into Lake Geneva. Later, the fountain was reconstructed, increasing the water pressure and speed of delivery. Because of the wind the form of the jet changes many times in a short time. The fountain is rarely turned off in frosty winters.

Russo Island

The island is not far from the Montblanc bridge on the Rhone river. There is a park and flocks of ducks and swans. From the island offers an incredibly beautiful panorama of Geneva. In the park is established a bench long more than 60 meters, and there is also a restaurant. The island was named after Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the famous philosopher who liked to walk here when he lived in Geneva.

Mount Salev

Located near Geneva, in France. From the mountain you can enjoy a stunning view of the city, the lake and the mountain peaks of the Alps. You can climb by cable car or make a hike. In winter, there are skiing and climbing in summer.

Ethnographic Museum

The museum is located in a building of unusual shape, with the main facade resembling a cut pyramid. There are 100,000 exhibits about the life of different peoples. They were brought from all over the world. It is the largest ethnographic exhibition in Switzerland.

Park La Grange

This place used to belong to a family from Geneva, but in the mid-20th century it was donated to the city. Today there is a rose garden of 12000 square meters. It grows 150 varieties of roses. The park has a manor house and a fountain. Every year a competition is held here for gardeners who grow roses.

Voltaire Museum

The museum is located in the house that used to belong to the famous scientist and philosopher. Voltaire himself called this villa “Bliss”. The famous play “The Chinese Orphan” was written here. In the 50s the building was donated to Geneva together with all the furnishings and the library. Today it contains 20,000 volumes, including treatises and works of Voltaire in various languages. The library is open for use by scholars and researchers. On the second floor of the house there are various themed exhibitions dedicated to Voltaire.

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Museum of Art and History

This is the largest museum in Switzerland. There are 600,000 exhibits in the exposition. Here are musical instruments, paintings and sculptures. Temporarily in the museum exhibit paintings by Picasso and Monet. Entrance to the permanent exhibition is free for visitors. The area of the museum exceeds 6000 square meters.

Museum of Primitive Art

Bears the name of Josef Muller, art historian and collector of primitive objects. The museum has over 6,000 exhibits. Most of them were brought by Muller from his travels. Among the exhibits are primitive sculptures, ceramics and jewelry from America, Indonesia, Asia and Europe. The museum opened after the death of the art historian in 1977.

St. Peter’s Cathedral

This is the main and oldest Catholic cathedral in Geneva. Its construction was carried out more than 500 years. The building has a unique architectural value because it is a bizarre mixture of styles from different eras. The chair of Calvin, the founder of Protestantism, is kept in the cathedral. The roof has an observation deck with stunning views of Geneva and the lake.

Paqui Baths

This is an artificial beach on the shore of Lake Geneva, separated by a wooden bridge. It has all the necessary infrastructure for a full recreation on the water. There are comfortable deck chairs and even a sauna. From the beach there is a stunning view of the fountain Geo-Do. On the territory of baths there is an ancient lighthouse. Paki baths were opened back in the early 30s of the 20th century.

Holy Cross Cathedral

This is a temple which belongs to the Russian Orthodox Church. It was built in 1866. The domes of the cathedral can be seen from almost anywhere in Geneva and stand out clearly against the background of other buildings. In 2012 the church suffered at the hands of vandals, the walls were stained with paint and the sidewalk near it was scribbled with profanities. The temple is active. Worship services are held in it. The altar is made of marble slab. It was here that the painter Vrubel was married to his wife.

The square of Bourg-de-Four

Located in the center of the city. The exact date of its founding is not known. There is evidence that the area already existed in the days of the Roman Empire. Today on the square you can see the old fountain, which is more than three hundred years. There are the Tavel House, Town Hall building, antique stores and restaurants.


The building was built in the middle of the 17th century. Originally it was used to store the city’s food supplies. Later, the police station was opened in the building and ammunition was moved there. At the end of the 19th century it was restored and a permanent exhibition was opened. Today in the arsenal building you can see collections of old weapons. At the entrance are five old cannons. The walls are decorated with beautiful mosaic paintings. Annual fairs are held in the arsenal building.

The sculpture “Broken Chair”

A twelve-meter sculpture in the shape of a chair with three whole legs and one broken one is outside the UN building in Geneva’s Place des Nations. The chair is made of wood. The sculpture was installed in 1997 as a protest against the use of anti-personnel mines and bombs that were affecting civilians. The object was supposed to stand until an agreement on the use of these weapons was signed. However, it was never signed and the Broken Chair sculpture is a silent reminder of this.

City Hall

This is the city’s government building. Town Hall was built in the 16th century. The walls are decorated with frescoes. A ramp leads to the entrance to the building, which used to be used to enter the courtyard on horseback and to take out the cannons in case of need. This is where the act founding the International Red Cross was signed.

The Rath Art Museum

This museum was founded by the Rath sisters in 1920. Exhibitions of fine art from all over Europe and the world are held here. The museum does not have a permanent exhibition and is used as a platform for the display of contemporary paintings. It was the first organization of its kind to open in Switzerland.

The new square

The main old buildings of the city are located on the square. Here is the entrance to the garden of bastions, the Museum of Rath, the building of the Conservatory and the Opera House, the monument to General Henri Dufour and incredible beauty of fountains. The square is located on the site of former fortifications. It is from here it is customary to start exploring the city.

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Palais Wilson

A majestic building in the heart of Geneva. Until 1920 it was home to the Hotel National. After Switzerland joined the League of Nations, the building was bought by representatives of the organization for its headquarters. The palace was named after American President Wilson, who is generally considered the founder of the “League of Nations”. After the Palace of Nations was built, a hotel was reopened in the building. In the 80s of the 20th century, the palace suffered several fires. And after restoration, it was given to the United Nations.

Patek Philippe Watch Museum

Located in the center of Geneva, in a building from the early twentieth century. Here visitors can learn the history of the development of watchmaking and examine rare, and even unique models of different brands. On each of the 4 floors of the building is a thematic exhibition. Here are the workplaces of watchmakers and the office of the president of the Patek Philippe company G. Stern. It was he who personally gathered a collection and created the museum. The Calibre 89 chronometer, released for the 150th anniversary of the Patek Philippe brand, is stored there. This clock shows the time of sunrise and sunset, and even takes into account a leap year in the date.

English park and flower clock

The park is located in the city center on the shore of Lake Geneva. Its main attraction is the floral clock. The dial is made in the form of a flowerbed, inside which the clock mechanism is located. Tourists can observe its work through a special glass window. Flower Clock is a symbol of the city, representing one of the main manufactures of Geneva – watchmaking. More than 6000 varieties of plants are used for the dial. They bloom at different times. And that’s why the color of the dial changes about once a month.

Red Cross Building

Here is the current museum and headquarters of the organization. In 11 halls are exhibits about the work of the Red Cross during the First and Second World Wars. Switzerland is the birthplace of this organization. Few people know that its emblem, a red cross on a white background is an inversion of the Swiss flag (a white cross on a red background).

Botanical Gardens

There are plants from almost all over the world. Their number exceeds 20,000 species. The botanical garden was founded in 1904. Today, the most interesting exposition is the “Garden of Smells and Sensations”. It contains plants that are unusual to the touch. There are more than 5 million plants in the herbarium of the botanical garden. Entrance to the garden is free, and there is also a small zoo on its territory.

Bastion Park

Previously on the site of the park was a botanical garden with rare plants and shrubs. During the war with Napoleon the French troops kept their horses here. Today it is a park with alleys and flowerbeds. It is here that Geneva’s Independence Day is celebrated on December 12. Bastion Park is rightly considered a favorite place for walks in the city.

Reformation Wall

This is a monument dedicated to the founders of the Protestant movement. The central place is occupied by a sculpture of philosopher J. Calvin. It is located in the Bastion Park. It is a wall as high as a three-story house and is more than 100 meters long. On the monument are carved statues of the leaders of the Protestant movement. The Swiss call it the “Wall of Controversy”, because of their own views of the significance of certain personalities. The monument was built on the foundations of the old fortress defensive wall.

Tavel House.

This is the oldest house in the city. It was built back in 1303. Since then the house has been reconstructed many times, but its appearance has remained virtually unchanged. The basement has remained in its original form. Inside is a permanent exhibition, which tells about the life of the ordinary inhabitants of Geneva until the end of the 19th century. The house was inhabited until the early 60s. At one time Empress Anna Feodorovna of the Russian Empire stayed here.

Palais des Nations

Several magnificent buildings in the heart of the city. It was the headquarters of the League of Nations, the predecessor organization to the United Nations. Important political decisions were made and the fate of Europe and even the world was decided in this building. Today, the headquarters of the United Nations is located here. Interestingly, Switzerland became a member of the UN only in 2003, while the branch has existed for more than 35 years. Despite the fact that it is a functioning institution, guided tours of the palace and the main halls are offered.

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