Old Town Geneva, often referred to as Vieille Ville in French, is characterized by narrow winding streets lined with tall grey stoned houses. Hidden throughout the center are many churches including Saint Peter’s Cathedral which played a key role in the Protestant Reformation movement because it was the home parish of John Calvin, the French theologian who helped lead the movement in Geneva. There is also a museum nearby dedicated to the Reformation and its impact on the region.
Many other museums dedicated to the arts and history can be found throughout the center as well. Stop by a cozy cafe or smart restaurant in the Bourg de Four Square, the center’s main square that was once used as a Roman trade market. Geneva’s Old Town is a great place to browse for souvenirs such as a Swiss Army Knife in the Victorinox flagship store or check out chic boutique shops for luxury brand name items.
The United Nations European headquarters are located in Geneva. The Palais of Nations complex was originally constructed in the early 1900s to serve as the world headquarters for the League of Nations. The organization was reassembled as the United Nations after WWII in 1945 whose main headquarters are in New York City. The offices inside the UNOG are dedicated to humanitarian aid, economic and social development, and handling negotiations and treaties from all over the phone.
This is now a major hub for UN operations to uphold human rights and deliver aid throughout the world. The United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG) offers guided tours to the public twice a day, Mon-Sat. Be sure to visit the European UN headquarters on your tip to Geneva.
The European Organization for Nuclear Research, formally known as CERN, is home to the world’s largest particle accelerator. The international physics research center now employs over 2500 scientists from around the world who are dedicated to discovering the secrets of the universe. It was at this center that the World Wide Web was created in 1989 and where the “God Particle” was discovered in 2012.
The Large Hydron Collider may be seen on guided tours that must be scheduled at least 48 hours in advance. This is a one of a kind, unique in the world facility so be sure to experience CERN on your visit to Geneva.
Soak up a bird’s eye view of the second largest city in Switzerland from the nearby Saléve mountain, which happens to be located just over the border into France. This local mountain is a popular day trip from the city frequented by both locals and tourists. The first ridge of the mighty Alps can be reached by a cable car that takes visitors to the first plateau of the Saléve where they can then spend the day walking the trails to higher levels and exploring the wildlife area.
This is a popular place for paragliders to begin their flights so on clear days you might be able to see some taking off from the Orientation Table. On clear days visitors will also be able to see the Jura hills in the north and the Savoy Alps and Mont Blanc, the tallest mountain in Europe, in the southeast. For those looking for some adventure, take a trip to Saléve.
The city on Geneva is situated on the southern shores of Europe’s largest inland body of water, Lake Geneva. The crescent-shaped lake separating parts of Switzerland and France is a crystal clear blue and makes the perfect setting for a lovely cruise. Adventures on the lake are a typically Swiss activity enjoyed by both the locals and tourists alike.
There are many types of cruises that take place on the lake including a Geneva city cruise which offers visitors a different perspective on the city, a day trip cruise which takes visitors on a full day journey from Geneva across the lake and past the gorgeous Alpine scenery to the Swiss city of Lausanne, and even four-course dinner cruises on the prestigious Belle Epoque ship “Savoie.” A boat cruise on Lake Geneva is something that is not to be missed on your trip to Switzerland’s second largest city.