Are you wondering where to spend your Christmas vacation this year? If you love sipping on hot chocolate while strolling through the city’s beautiful, soon-to-be white, snow-filled streets, and soaking in the enchanting nature, then spending your winter holiday in Geneva is not something you will regret. This city is one of the best and most beautiful places to be this festive holiday season!
Geneva, a city in Switzerland, is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. It is ideally situated on the southern side of Lake Geneva and surrounded by the beautiful and picturesque Alps and Jura mountains.
In collaboration with our Geneva spotter, Rahul Jha, and directly from our Geneva spotters, here’s a list of activities you can do and enjoy in Geneva
Christmas in Geneva: Discover the beautiful old town
This is one of the most beautiful parts of Geneva. This little area is filled with local restaurants, art exhibitions, galleries, museums, and cultural sights. not to forget the beautiful ancient architecture of the buildings. taking a stroll in the old city is a must! Here’s a couple of spots you can try out while you’re there:
World’s Longest Bench – A promenade with a view
“Geneva’s Old Town is perched high on a hill, and flanking one side of it is the Promenade de la Treille. The long flat stretch has become home to what is known as the World’s longest bench – so gather up every single person you know and see if you can fill it up!
Right, don’t do that. But do go for a stroll in the late afternoon sun and have a seat for a moment to take in the Salève, the Parc des Bastions and the University of Geneva campus.
The view is beautiful, and it will no doubt be a welcomed rest after walking up that hill.”- Claire Hobden
La Clémence – Feel like a VIP
“La Clémence is at Place du Bourg de Four, which is in the center of the old town. Throngs of tourists on foot, locals, street musicians and the little green Geneva sightseeing train all converge at that spot.
When I sit at that terrace, I like thinking that if a tourist takes a picture in which I happen to be, they will be showing it to their relatives back home at the other end of the earth upon their return and I will be back there with them in a way.
Or in a different Swiss city. Or neighbouring France. Less exciting.”- Andras Barta
Water Ring – Fountain of knowledge
“Hidden in plain sight on the Place de la Madeleine, between the city center’s bustling Rues Basses and the old town lies my favorite fountain in Geneva, the Water Ring.
It is not pretty, it does not stand out (literally, it’s flat), it’s not even made out of noble materials. Viewed from close by, you realize that’s not the point anyways.
Its waters flow in a north to south direction. Engraved right next to the stream, is every single watercourse and body of water one would cross if one were to walk in a straight line away from the fountain, around the world and back to it.”- Andras Barta
Christmas in Geneva: check out the Art and Culture
Geneva is absolutely bustling with art and culture! Art galleries, exhibitions, museums, contemporary art, and cultural experiences. Directly from our local spotters in Geneva, here’s a couple of spots you must visit if you are interested in Art and Culture:
Les Immeubles Schtroumpfs – Smurfs in Geneva
“One of my favorite places to show friends visiting Geneva for the first time, are the Smurf Buildings.
I always enjoy their first question after they lay their eyes on them; ”Why did you show me this?” Well because I think they look awesome, that’s why!
Just above the Grottes neighborhood behind the train station, it’s not too hard to guess how they got their name. Built between 1982 and 1984 by three architects working together and inspired by Gaudí and the smurf houses from the comics, they are home to 750 families.
The complex has a kindergarten, dental clinic and a couple of cafés, all centered around trees and playgrounds. It seems like a wonderful place to live; peaceful and quiet.”- Andras Barta
Musée d’Art et d’Histoire – Small city, big museum!
“I have been to the Geneva Museum of Art and History lots of times.
I grew up in Geneva, so my first memories of the place are ones of fear and excitement at the sight of the Egyptian mummies, and of boredom while dragging my feet through the painting exhibit, trying to find a place to sit without falling asleep while the teacher went on, and on, and on.
Over the years, I have been back to the Museum for temporary exhibitions, on a whim after thinking about medieval weaponry (they have that, too), or when I just feel someone I know is in need of some serious education.
I’m always surprised that I find new things to see each time. The art section of the museum is very well done, the paintings are in historical order, which makes the whole experience all the richer by putting everything into context.”-Andras Barta
Hans-Wilsdorf Bridge – Where art meets architecture
“Finally opened to circulation in 2012 after 3 years of construction, countless traffic jams and annoyances, the Hans-Wilsdorf bridge is one awesome piece of steel. Spanning 85 meters and beautifully lit at night with constantly changing colours, it is my favourite bridge in Geneva.
The bridge connects two popular neighbourhoods, Plainpalais and Acacias-Vernets. At one end of it is the famous Rue de l’École de Médecine with its bars and nightlife, and on the other, the Vernets sports complex, home of the Genève Servette Hockey Club.”-Andras Barta
Pointe de la Jonction – Where Geneva comes together
“Lying between the rivers Rhône and Arve, at the foot of a Genevan Energy Services station that would be better suited to house a swiss Bond villain, the Pointe de la Jonction is a calm and beautiful place.
It is the exact point where the two rivers in Geneva merge to form only one.
By some black magic (it is more than probable that it is due to the temperature difference between the rivers), the waters of the Rhône and the Arve don’t actually mix for a while after that, so what is left is a brown and green two-tone river that is mesmerizing.
The very edge of the point is accessible on foot from either side of it, the left being more fun, because as soon as the sun comes out in the spring, throngs of locals converge to the spot to bathe, grill meats and enjoy some drinks.
The city of Geneva also provides some showers and a bar, to make the whole experience a delight.”- Andras Barta
Christmas in Geneva: Try out Authentic Restaurants
ALIVE – 100% plant-based gastronomy
“There are so many places that offer vegan food but it’s just a lousy and lazy attempt at offering easy-to-make meals such as burgers or wraps. This place is completely different!
To begin with, Alive they offer nutritious meals with all their ingredients placed across the glass wall to be easily seen by the clients while the chefs go about making the food using exclusively locally sourced vegetables and grains.
The ambiance itself is fantastic, brightly lit with functional chairs and tables and friendly staff. Sometimes it may take long to place your order because of the queue – but only because it’s so good!
My friends who are not vegan love coming to this place because their meals are so delicious, so it does not cater to the vegan community exclusively.”- Rahul Jha
Umamido – Best ramen in Geneva
“During wintertime, when it’s cold and grey outside, nothing is better than a hearty and savoury ramen soup… and Umamido is the place to go!
After going there for the first time last year to celebrate my birthday, Umamido is now my favourite ramen bar in Geneva.
The place is quite small, simple — I would say minimalist, but very stylish and very Japanese.
What could be a bit annoying sometimes is that they don’t take any reservations; however, the service is very fast and efficient, and, in any case, their delicious ramen is worth the wait!
The menu offers about six different types of ramen and starters. My recommendations are the pork buns and the tonkotsu ramen… so yummy!!”- Irene Melega
Mount Saleve – Bird’s-eye view of Geneva!
“If you are in Geneva and pressed for time, go for a quick visit to the top of the nearby hill called Saleve, which is technically in France, but jointly managed by Genevan and French authorities.
As you can see in the picture, just as you reach the top of Saleve Mountain, you have this beautiful cafe on arrival from where you have a panoramic view of Geneva.
You can still view the magical fountain Jet d’éau from afar, albeit smaller than the usual dimensions you get used to seeing it while living in the city.”-Rahul Jha
Christmas in Geneva: Away From The Crowd
Perle du Lac – Pearl of the lake – literally!
“Perle du Lac is easily the most iconic park in Geneva, with proximity to Nations and Jardin Botanique.
Legend has it that the wife of the former owner of the buildings in this park exclaimed “indeed this is the pearl of the lake!” while looking at the beautiful view across the lake.
The beauty of the park lies in the presence of so many deciduous trees that are home to a variety of birds, and their beautiful chirpings at dawn/dusk can help you realize how many birds rely on this park’s trees.
An activity I can recommend is installing the app birdNET and trying to find the identified birds.”-Rahul Jha
Walk by the Rhone – Nature without leaving the city
“One of Geneva’s great assets, as a small city, is its proximity to nature: on a clear day you can see the Mont Blanc, and within a 30 minute drive, you can be immersed in the woods, on a hike in the Alps, or strolling through vineyards.
When even all that is too far away, the walk along the Rhône is a remarkable alternative, whatever the season.
Along the way, you’ll see crested grebes, terns, and, my personal favorite, the stalky grey herons, all quietly bathing, nesting and feeding.
Speaking of feeding, you’ll find a few human-oriented watering holes as well, at least in the early parts of the walk. Before long, you’ll have forgotten you left a city behind, however small it may be.”- Claire Hobden