Live Like a Local: 24 Hours in Geneva, Switzerland

Live Like a Local: 24 Hours in Geneva, Switzerland

Geneva holds as much appeal for water babies as it does for culture lovers. Take a spin around the iconic city with SUITCASE and Swiss blogger Emilie Servettaz.

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aren’t many cities you can scratch beneath the surface of
in 24 hours, but this compact Swiss delight – with its famed lake,
ancient alleyways, mini-Mediterranean beach and cool bohemian
enclave – is perfectly formed for a quick break. With input from
Geneva native Emilie Servettaz, let SUITCASE be
your guide.

Gorgeous Geneva: an incredible 24-hour itinerary

The Old Town

Start your morning off where it all began, in Geneva’s beautiful
Old Town; perched on a hill and filled with
narrow cobbled corridors, medieval courtyards and quaint antique
shops. Head to Place du Bourg-de-Four, the city’s oldest square,
and plot the rest of your day from the first outdoor café that
takes your fancy. History enthusiasts should make a stop at Maison
Tavel, a cultural history museum located in Geneva’s oldest
(there’s a theme here) private residence – which is free to enter –
before visiting St Pierre Cathedral, the 12th-century pinnacle of
the region, which – if you commit to scaling its 157-step tower –
offers a truly rewarding view. Catch your breath back on ground
level at Promenade de la Treille, where you can take a pew on the
world’s longest wooden bench.

Jetée des Eaux-Vives

All visitors quickly become a fan of the landmark Jet d’Eau – a dramatic fountain that propels
500 litres of water a second, 140m into the sky, at 200kmph. It
makes for an impressive spectacle, she says, and can be witnessed
(during the day only) from multiple viewpoints across the city.
Veer close enough to its source via the jetty that leads up it and
the fine mist that catches in the wind is gloriously refreshing on
a hot day.

Eaux-Vives Beach

If you didn’t get wet at the Jet d’Eau, be sure to bring your
swimming togs with you to your next must-visit location, the
multi-faceted Eaux-Vives Beach. You’ll find pebbled sections
as well as stretches of icing sugar-soft sand, and a leafy park in
which to set down a rug and kick off your shoes. New to the area is
the Anneau Aquatique – a 40m wood-covered ring that sits on the
water and makes for a perfect sunbathing spot. But don’t just stick
to the shoreline…

Take to the lake on a pedalo

This is how Emilie and her family like to make the best of Lake
Geneva, by renting a pedalo and churning off towards the glassy
centre. You can get one from Les
boat club, purveyor of many varieties. Our
suggestion? Make like the locals do and choose one with a slide. Up
for something more challenging? Right in the heart of the city, you
can tackle the rapids on the River Arve, where (unusually, for a
relatively small metropolis) adventures including white-water
rafting, stand-up paddleboarding and kayaking await.

Restaurant de la Plage

You’ll no doubt be hungry by now, and Emilie’s top lunch
recommendation is the newly opened Restaurant de la Plage, which occupies a jetty
right on the lake and serves reliably delicious regional fare, both
inside, where floor-to-ceiling glass provides fine views over the
water, and on an outside terrace. Alternatively, book a table at
L’Hôtel-Restaurant du Parc des Eaux-Vives, a small but iconic
seven-suite mansion dating back to 1750. Its summer-perfect
restaurant, La Terrasse du Parc, is the place to enjoy seasonal
bites and traditional Swiss lemonade.


Spend your long afternoon at the bohemian heart of the city,
Carouge. This eclectic hamlet was designed two
centuries ago by Italian architects and today is also known as the
“Greenwich Village of Geneva” for its preponderance of artisan
shops and studios. Sitting pretty behind the River Arve and easily
missed unless you know about it, this is a labyrinth of independent
boutiques nestled among Mediterranean-style homes and gardens.
Don’t miss the colourful umbrellas that dangle above Rue
Saint-Joseph and, on Wednesdays and Saturdays, the local farmers’
market on Place du Marché. Carouge is also where you’ll find liquid
gold at…

The best coffee in town

Coffee connoisseurs would be well advised to make the pilgrimage
to Valmandin,
found at 46 Rue Ancienne in Carouge, where 15 varieties are roasted
freshly at its small workshop. Former UN engineer-turned-master
barista Neslihan Grasser is behind this independent gem, which also
sells personalised blends for you to take home.

Take a sundowner cruise

As the sun fades, take to the water again with a sunset cruise
aboard the Savoie, a paddle steamer built in 1914 – the pride and
joy of the Belle Époque fleet – that’s a familiar and cherished
sight on Lake Geneva, where Emilie and her clan have spent many a
peaceful twilight.

Sway the night away

Fancy some jazz? Le Chat Noir is a lively, locally adored venue
dedicated to emerging artists that’s been feeding music to the cool
cats since 1985, and takes its cocktails seriously. Still not ready
to head inside? After a two-year hiatus, Geneva’s much-loved
open-air cinema, CinéTransat, is back this year on the banks of
Lake Geneva, projecting a range of internationally acclaimed films
that kick off just after dark from 14 July to 21 August. There’s
arguably no better way to round off the day.

The Lowdown

To discover more about Geneva, visit

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