9 Top Rated Tourist Attractions in Geneva

Jul 22, 2021

Most people don't think of Switzerland as a traveler's destination—but you'll be surprised at how much Geneva offers. With its breathtaking views of Mont Blanc and Lake Geneva, the historic sights are breathtaking.

Geneva sits at the heart of the Alpine region and has something for everyone.

Featuring top international museums, theaters, and restaurants, the international city is filled with fun for the whole family. History and culture, nature and sport, shopping and nightlife—everything is on offer here, within close proximity. Geneva is the perfect place to experience the mountains, Switzerland's traditional and Alpine charm.

Find the best things to do in Geneva with our guide.

Musée d'Art et d'Histoire

Photo of Musée d'Art et d'Histoire (Geneva)
MusĂ©e d'Art et d'Histoire (Geneva): en.wikipedia.org

Geneva's Musée d'Art et d'Histoire was built to showcase the museum's extensive collection of art and artifacts. There are 10 exhibition galleries with major works by Picasso, Gauguin, Braque, de Chirico, Chagall, Delacroix, Rothko, and more. The building is also home to the Museum of Human Sciences, which includes collections of Egyptian antiquities and art, as well as a display of Leonardo da Vinci's inventions. The museum is in the UNESCO-listed, medieval Old Town. An entrance fee of about C$10 is required for this popular museum.

The Old Town

Photo of Geneva
Geneva: en.wikipedia.org

The Old Town is the capital's oldest quarter, with many fine examples of the city's Art Nouveau architecture. Geneva became the first European city to abolish feudalism in 1763, and its monument to democracy, the Arc de Triomphe, still marks this distinction. The town has many attractions, including the Musée d'Art et d'Histoire, the Bibliotheque and Palais de Nations. However, visitors can quickly see why Geneva became such a wealthy city - when it has over 700 hotels and a population of some 100,000, it is a major financial and cultural centre. The Old Town lies below the lively, traffic-filled Rue du Rhône and is served by the A10 ring-road around the city.

Château de Chillon

Photo of Chillon Castle
Chillon Castle: en.wikipedia.org

The Château de Chillon is one of the most popular and well-known castles in Switzerland and a popular spot for tourists and adventure-seekers who love to rock climb, hike, canyoneer, paraglide, swim, bike, ski, or just laze around. The castle was built in 1173 by Guigues VII of Geneva, a favorite of the pope. His designs were meant to be, as the English phrase goes, "all suit of armor and little sword." Chillon is a vast, four-winged chateau, thick with armor and chiseled stone. It stands in a side valley surrounded by high mountains. The long, twisting staircase inside Chillon is reportedly the world's steepest and may be one of the most daunting—yet it's open to all.

Jardin Botanique

Photo of Conservatory and Botanical Garden of the City of Geneva
Conservatory and Botanical Garden of the City of Geneva: en.wikipedia.org

Jardin Botanique (Botanical Garden), located in Geneva's old city centre, is one of Switzerland's best-known tourist attractions. It is home to one of the world's largest collections of plant species, with more than 2,000 species represented and about 100,000 individual specimens. Even though it is possible to wander around on your own, visitors are strongly advised to buy a separate admission ticket, which allows you to travel on your own inside the gardens. These tickets cost 8.60 francs for adults and 5.20 francs for children and are also good for use at Jardin et Musée Savoyard, Parc des Etangs de Trois Fontaines and Wibault d'Hauterive.

CERN

Under the very visible dome of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, or CERN, researchers from more than 100 countries are toiling away at the largest particle physics laboratory in the world. Among its highlights are the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), a massive underground synchrotron that studies matter at its most fundamental level. Although the experiments, taking place within 18,000-meter-long tunnel and 27 large building blocks, are scheduled to be shut down for the summer holidays, you can still visit the laboratory for a look at the technical equipment and see other exhibits at the tourist information center located across from the entrance.

Cryptoporticus

A popular day trip from the Swiss capital of Bern, this underground archaeological park dates back to the fifth century AD. It was the burial place of the Vaudois saints. Some 32 Christian bodies, from early friars to the great churchmen, were interred in elaborate crypts, with the tombs sealed up but the shafts left open to allow the air to circulate and the wooden roofs still standing. After a visit to the cryptoportic, visit the modern chapel, Sanctae-Coele-Domini-Madre, or Church of St. Mary, inside the rotunda. To get to the cryptoportic from Geneva, take Swiss Federal Highway No. 5 to the Saint-François-2nd-Rue exit. Then, at the end of the road, turn right and follow signs to the cryptoportic.

Bibliothèque de Genève

Photo of Bibliothèque de Genève
Bibliothèque de Genève: en.wikipedia.org

Constructed in 1680, the Bibliothèque de Genève, known as The City of Books, is one of the city's most beloved cultural institutions. In addition to offering exhibits about the works of artists such as Rembrandt, Renoir and Matisse and the history of literature in Geneva, it also houses the largest collection of rare medieval and Renaissance books in the world. It is a treasure trove of more than 500,000 objects – from rare manuscripts to books printed up until 1782. In addition to exploring its collections, guests can enjoy a visit to the impressive free exhibitions and learn about the library's fascinating history.

Cathédrale St-Pierre

Photo of St. Pierre Cathedral
St. Pierre Cathedral: en.wikipedia.org

The Cathédrale St-Pierre is the one of the most remarkable examples of Romanesque architecture in Europe. Built between 1066 and 1180, the cathedral is remarkably intact and still has its medieval ceiling of carved wooden beams. Its interior is lighted by exceptional stained glass windows. Other stunning features include the west façade of the cathedral and the Romanesque baptistery with its splendid mosaic floor. Fancy a drink at one of the only bars to still remain in the cathedral? St. Pierre also has a shop selling cheese, cakes and other edibles made by one of the local artisan producers.

Lausanne Cathedral

Photo of Lausanne Cathedral
Lausanne Cathedral: en.wikipedia.org

Lausanne Cathedral is a massive Romanesque church, located in the French-speaking region of Geneva, and as such belongs to the Catholic church. The building is described as a "superb example of Romanesque architecture" and has an "impressive presence" and a "strong individuality." Its splendid four-stage bell tower stands a staggering 23 meters high, and the castle, which dominates the site, was built in the 16th century. It was originally constructed as a fortress and later converted to a residential building.