Geneva is the perfect destination for a city break. Nestled on the shores of sparkling Lake Geneva (or Lake Leman as the Genevois call it!) with dramatic mountains all around, Switzerland’s second city has a gorgeous medieval old town, outstanding museums and is home to huge international NGOs.
We only had one day in Geneva at the start of our Swiss road trip, so we teamed up with the Geneva Tourism Board who kindly gifted us two 24 hour city passes to help us make the most of our time in the city.
Geneva’s city passes offer free entry or discounts for over 50 different attractions, plus unlimited free public transport on local trams, buses, trains and even the bright yellow Mouette water taxis! Even better, passes currently have 20% off until the end of February as some of the seasonal outdoor summery things aren’t running at the moment, which means the 24 hour pass costs 20,80 CHF. If you're staying longer, you can also buy 48 and 72 hour passes, which currently cost 29.80 CHF and 36.00 CHF.
Here is our recommended itinerary for an action packed day using the 24 hour Geneva city pass:
Start your day by taking a scenic tour of the beautiful Old Town on the Geneva mini train. The little red road train takes you on a 30 minute route all around the medieval streets, through the botanical gardens, down hidden cobbled streets and past the old town hall where the historic Geneva conventions were signed.
Head back into the Old Town on foot and use your city pass to climb the towers of St Pierre’s Cathedral for amazing views over the rooftops and lake. Entry to the Cathedral itself is free but your pass will also get you into the archaeological crypts underneath, where you can see remains of ancient churches dating as far back as the 4th century!
Enjoy wandering the quaint streets and squares, and make your way back to the lake where you’ll pick up your next activity–a red bus tour of the international side of Geneva. Famously neutral, this part of town is where you will find the head offices of the Red Cross, World Health Organisation, World Trade Organisation, UNICEF and the United Nations. You’ll see the Intercontinental Hotel which has hosted hundreds of heads of state, politicians and celebrities from the Clintons to Roger Federer. President Jimmy Carter met Syrian President Hafez Al-Assad there in the 1977, and Ronald Reagan had a summit meeting with Mikhail Gorbachev in 1985.
After lunch choose a museum to visit using your pass. We’d recommend either the moving, thought provoking International Museum of the Red Cross and Red Crescent or catching tram 19 out to CERN, home to the Hadron Collider. You might also enjoy the Patek Philippe Museum with its impressive watch collection, or if you’re an art lover, don’t miss the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art!
Finish the day by the lake. Stroll through the Jardin Anglais and see the beautiful L'horloge fleurie, a clockface planted with different seasonal shrubs and flowers throughout the year, before taking an evening cruise. A one hour scenic trip is included in your city pass and is a lovely way to see Geneva from another angle.
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Need more inspiration for your Geneva trip?
Check out our blog: 7 top things to do in Geneva
Disclosure: we were gifted two 24 hour city passes, but all opinions are our own!