Switzerland is the most peaceful country in the world. It has managed to avoid war for more than 170 years! This is only one of many fascinating things about this country.
Switzerland has the lowest crime rate in the world. No wonder when its citizens consume more than 8 kilograms of chocolate per year. Who can think of committing a crime with a mouthful of the sweet, delicious treat?!
And we all know that Switzerland is one of the world’s greatest producers of chocolate. Toblerone, Nestle, Milka, Godiva, Lindt are the best known, but there are also many smaller and authentic chocolatiers all around the country.
Switzerland’s nature is also fascinating! It has some of the highest peaks in Europe, more than 1,500 lakes, over 40 large glaciers, and some interesting and diverse wildlife.
There are four official languages – German, French, Italian, and Romansh, a direct descendant of Latin. The largest city is Zurich, but contrary to the popular belief it’s not the capital. Other well-known cities are Bern, the capital, then Basel, Lausanne, Lucerne, St. Galen… And Geneva, the so-called capital of peace.
Related: The best things to do in Lausanne!
The city of Geneva has a history that dates back for more than four thousand years. It is home to United Nations headquarters, International Committee of Red Cross, the World Health Organization, and many other peace-building and humanitarian organizations. T
here are monuments, museums, and dazzling architecture to take in, along with gardens and botanic sites throughout the green city where nature walks and marvelous views abound.
Are you planning to visit Geneva? Here are the top 5 places in and near Geneva, and you should not miss! The best of all, you can hire a limousine in Geneva and go on a tour to visit them all.
1st place to visit in Geneva – Lac Léman
This crescent-shaped Swiss gem was created by withdrawing glaciers about 10,000 years ago. It is the largest lake in Switzerland and one of the largest freshwater lakes in Europe.
The Rhone River is the main water source of Lake Geneva. It flows into the lake near Villeneuve and drains the lake in Geneva city. Surrounding Alpine and Jura Mountains add to the appeal and beauty of the Lake, offering spectacular vistas.
Above Évian-des-Bains you can see the Chablais Alps towering the lake from 2,000m height. From various points along the lake, even Mont Blanc can be seen. But the most outstanding landmark of both the Lake and the city of Geneva is the spectacular Jet d’Eau. At the speed of almost 200 kilometers per hour, this 140m-tall structure shoots 500 liters of lake water into the air every second. On the occasion of marking some humanitarian event, it is illuminated pink, blue or some other color.
During hot summer days, you can cool down in crystal clear lake water, sunbathe on its beautiful beaches, and enjoy the gorgeous views of the mountains in the distance, hillside vineyard rising up from the lake, and nearby chateaus.
Depending on the season, you can pass your time doing some of the popular sports activities like canoeing, water-skiing, sailing or parasailing in summer, or skiing, mount hiking, and snow-shoeing in winter. You can hire a limo to drive you all around the lake and make stops at some other interesting places like Nyon, Morges, Lausanne, Vevey, La Tour de Peilz, Montreaux. Make a final stop at Chateau de Chillon and turn back to Geneva by boat.
2nd place to visit – Parc de l’Ariana
A historic and prestigious park in Geneva, Parc de l’Ariana stretches over 36 hectares from the Pregny road to Lake Geneva. Gustave Revilliod (1817-1890) had built a museum on his property to house his encyclopedic collections and named it after his mother Ariane de la Rive.
He then bequeathed it to the City of Geneva, so the Museum is now considered a municipal institution was known as the Swiss Museum of Ceramics and Glass.
Over time course, the Park went through many changes. In around 1850, the ornamental pond with three bronze herons quenching their thirst was added. In 1893, the grounds were temporarily home to the 18th century Montbovon chalet and even a deer park!
Between 1902 and 1904, the Geneva Botanical Gardens were transferred there from the Parc des Bastions. But the most dramatic transformation was brought by the Palais des Nationes. The servants’ entrance to the museum then became its main entrance. Gustave Revilliod’s mausoleum, which he had requested to be at the foot of a group of oak trees, is now next to the grounds of the UN.
The most famous statue placed in the Arian Park is that of Mahatma Gandhi, a gift from the Republic of India. This advocate of peace sits cross-legged, holding an open book, with the inscription below saying “My life is my message”. The replica of the Shinagawa bell gives a Japanese flavor to the Park.
The area where it stands is edged by the twenty cherry blossom trees of the Allée des Sakura, praising the diplomatic relations between Switzerland and Japan. Located nearby to the Park is the Restaurant Vieux-Bois. You can have a drink on its balcony over the garden with the canopy while waiting for the UN to open for tourists.
Must see when in Geneva – Vevey
On the shore of Lake Geneva lies a town of Vevey, home to the world headquarters of the international food and beverage company Nestlé. Looking deep into the crux of the Alps across the shore, there is no doubt that Vevey has the best position on the Lake.
Along the shore is a tree-lined promenade, Quai Perdonnet. It passes along the small but delightful Old Town of Vevey, by a couple of tiny parks and some of the great museums. Near the Alimentarium food museum, you will meet Charlie Chaplin in life-size and bronze. Just a stone’s throw from it, an emblem of the town of Vevey rises from the Lake – an 8-meter-tall and 1.3-meter-wide silver sculpture of the fork!
La Fourchette was plunged into Lac Léman to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Alimentarium and it remained a beloved culinary symbol of Vevey.
When Charlie Chaplin was exiled from the US, he bought a fully furnished mansion above Vevey to settle down. His former sanctuary has now been opened to the public as Chaplin’s World.
It is the only museum dedicated to this revered comic actor and film-maker. The home is filled with lifelike wax figures of Charlie and his famous friends, such as Albert Einstein and Michael Jackson, and peppered with photos, letters, and original furnishings.
Some 35 of 81 Chaplin’s films are being highlighted at Chaplin’s World, including the blockbusters “The Great Dictator”, “The Kid” and “Modern Times”. Home movies of Charlie and his family are also enthralling. The museum’s new wing holds recreations of entire Hollywood film stages replicated in the original scale.
The best part is that the visitors are encouraged to act out some of his most famous scenes and get in touch with the artifacts! Even if you’re not a devoted fan, it’s worth visiting this interactive museum. It will leave you speechless!
4th place to visit – Carouge
Now a city district of Geneva once used to be a separate town, alternatively French and Sardinian. Located south from Plainpalais, behind the Arve River and slightly out of the way from the main attractions, Carouge is mainly known for the specific old French-Italian architecture of its old town – “Le Vieux Carouge”.
Carouge is often referred to by locals as a “small Italy”. Its unique architecture is an expression of its Sardinian heritage and it immediately stands out from the rest of the city. Its strategically convenient location on the river Arve made it a popular place for bridges, customs facilities, and fortification even in the 1st century BC.
Carouge was heavily fought over for centuries and the Dukes of Savoy completely rebuilt it in the 18th century. A chessboard design and regularly arranged square house blocks brought the city back to life and gave it its Latin character. Many of the neo-classical houses and the inner courtyard gardens are well preserved and have been converted to restaurants, fashion boutiques, workshops, ateliers, and antique stores.
Staying in Carouge allows you to enjoy slow-paced life in a more relaxing atmosphere of its cozy cafes, restaurants with international delicacies on the menu and a vibrant cultural scene.
A random walk around will bring you to many galleries and art studios. Carouge Museum hosts about 3 to 4 exhibitions a year. There is also a cinema Bio 72, which exclusively plays indie films and a Théâtre de Carouge. During hot summer days, you can refresh at an outdoor Olympic swimming pool known as Piscine de la Fontenette, or go on a romantic walk, running or a cycling adventure around the Arve River.
The last, but not the least place to visit near Geneva – Mayrin
At the end of World War II, European science was no longer world-class. A group of visionary scientists in Europe and North America identified the need for Europe to have a world-class physics research facility.
Swiss neutrality during the war and Geneva already being home to a number of international organizations made it easy for them to decide where to establish the laboratory. Upon an intergovernmental meeting of UNESCO in Paris on December 1951, a European Council for Nuclear Research aka CERN was born.
The main site of the CERN, a European particle physics research organization is placed in Meyrin, once a small agricultural village and now a commuter town with most of the residents working at CERN. Within the campus of CERN stands a bold, winding sculpture by Gayle Hermick.
Wandering the Immeasurable is a beautiful, curved metal ribbon which poetic, artistic twist represents the dissemination of knowledge. It looks a bit like a scientist’s notepad as it’s covered with different equations and symbols, and it ends abruptly as if it waits for future discoveries to be added on.
Another interesting monument near CERN is a gorgeous gilded statue of Nataraja. It was another gift from India that honors a long-standing relationship it has with CERN. In Hinduism, Nataraja is a depiction of Shiva, the god who danced the universe into existence and will one day destroy it. It is a symbol of life force and an artistic metaphor for CERN’s study of the “cosmic dance” of subatomic particles.
Offering attractions which can satisfy everyone’s interests, Geneva is a true little gem of Switzerland. For the full and luxurious experience of the city, hire a limousine to drive you around so that you are free to indulge its beauty. Just make sure to have a camera with you as you’ll be tempted to take photos at each and every corner of the city.