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  • Writer's pictureKrista the Explorer

How To Spend One Day in Geneva, Switzerland

Updated: Dec 4, 2022

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Trying to plan just one day to explore Geneva may seem like a big task, but its city centre isn’t as big as you might think. If this is your first time visiting Geneva, you may want to be budget conscious since it isn’t the cheapest city to visit, so you’ll be pleased to know that there are quite a few free things to do in Geneva too. Geneva is also packed with unique points of interest if you’d rather steer clear of the main tourist attractions. Whatever you’re interested in doing in Geneva, you’ll be spoiled for choice while planning your 24 hours in Geneva itinerary.

Geneva’s mixture of elegant architecture, cobblestone streets, French-inspired cafes and restaurants, and the city’s beautiful waterfront are just some of the many features that draw visitors to this financial capital. Geneva is largely a business city, so many people choose to omit it from their Switzerland travel plans in favour of cities like Zurich or Lucerne, but there are a lot of interesting attractions here lying in plain sight. After spending a few days exploring the city, here’s how I would spend one day in Geneva.

Walk along Lake Geneva

A view of the Ferris wheel in Geneva across the Lake.
Lake Geneva

If you’re lucky enough to have nice weather during your trip to Geneva, a walk along the waterfront is a must. Even in not so pleasant weather, the views over Lake Geneva are breathtaking. Lake Geneva, also called Lac Léman, is the largest lake in the Alps and spreads across Switzerland and France. One of the main features of Geneva can be found in Lake Geneva as well - the Jet d’Eau. The lake separates the two sides of Geneva, so if you have time I would recommend taking in the views from both sides, and using a mouette to get across it quickly.

Join a chocolate walking tour

A display case filled with an assortment of chocolates.

One of the best things to do in Geneva if you’re limited on time is to join a walking tour. But not any tour will do. Local Flavours Tour has put together the ultimate luxury chocolate tour that not only takes you around different parts of the city, but also allows you to indulge in an incredible variety of chocolate. The tour lasts for 3 hours and during that time you learn about the history of the city as well as what made chocolate so popular in Switzerland. You also stop at 5 different chocolate shops that make premium chocolate. Believe me when I say this definitely needs to be on your itinerary, especially if it’s your first time in Geneva.

Have brunch at WoWaffle

Following the chocolate tour I would going for lunch. A short walk from where you’ll finish the chocolate tour will bring you to the outskirts of the old town, near the university grounds, which is where WoWaffle is located. This waffle shop serves up a delicious brunch menu that’s definitely worth the price, especially if you’re visiting Geneva on a budget.

The brunch menu includes a savoury waffle (ours was eggs benedict), a fruit bowl, fruit juice, a choice of hot drinks, and a sweet waffle to finish. All of this was just CHF 35.90 and you can easily share it between two people if you’re a little full from the chocolate tour. Of course, you can always just order a single savoury waffle as well. The waffles are all freshly made on site so they’re very fluffy and everything tasted delicious so you won’t leave disappointed.

Admire the Reformation Wall

Large stone wall dedicated to the Reformation with male statues.
Reformation Wall

A 5 minute walk from WoWaffle will bring you to the Reformation Wall, which is situated inside the grounds of the university. The Reformation Wall is a unique thing to see in Geneva which marks the 400th year anniversary of John Calvin, who not only founded the university but was also a prominent figure in the Reformation in Switzerland. It’s a very impressive monument to look at, and it sits just below the entrance to the old town so you don’t need to go out of your way to see it. Before entering the old town, you can also sit on the world’s longest bench which can be found on the Promenade de la Treille.

Explore Geneva's old town

Street in Geneva's old town lined with flags from windows.
Old Town

One thing you can’t miss out on during your one day in Geneva is the old town. It’s not a massive old town, so you can easily walk around it in a couple of hours. The cobblestone streets are stunning in any weather, and you’ll find a lot of chocolate shops dotted around the old town as well. Some of the key points of interest in Geneva are located here such as St Pierre Cathedral, the Old Arsenal, Tavel House, and the Place du Bourg-de-Four. Part of the chocolate tour explores the old town, but it’s worth going back to so you can explore the streets at your own pace and see what mysteries they uncover.

Dinner at The Alhambar

The Alhambar is a beautiful restaurant to spend your evening in after exploring Geneva all day. It’s situated at the foot of the old town, at the back of an arts venue called the Alhambra, so don’t make the same mistake we did trying to get in the front! It’s a very modern restaurant serving global cuisine, with the menu changing quite frequently. The Alhambar is a place to treat yourself, so make sure you order at least one of their cocktails mixed with award-winning spirits.

For dinner we started things off with one of their sharing platters. It included spring rolls, gyozas, samosas, and fries. This is a good option if you’re not feeling too hungry and want to share something before heading out to a show. For the main dishes we ordered the very popular beef burger which was grilled to perfection and very flavourful. We also tried the tuna tataki which comes served with edamame and rice, and that was also well presented and tasty. If you only have one day in Geneva to spare, then you want your experience to be memorable, and finishing your day off with dinner at the Alhambar is the best way to do it.

Spending only 24 hours in Geneva isn’t nearly enough to dig into all that one of Switzerland’s largest cities has to offer, but it may be just enough to get an overall feel for this French-speaking cultural and financial hub. If you’re a fan of history then you won’t be disappointed exploring the old town, and there are plenty of unique places to see in the newer part of the city, such as the UN Offices or the Red Cross Museum, to keep you busy for the day.

Have you spent a day or longer in Geneva before? I would love to hear any other recommendations about the city, whether that be places to go or must-try restaurants. Please feel free to leave a comment below, and don’t forget to follow my travels on Instagram as well.


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