A day in Geneva: Things to do, travel tips and Photos

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I am not a huge fan of one day trips, however, you make the best of what you get. Here’s how I spent my last weekend, a full day taking in the beautiful sights of Geneva. Here is a Be For Beauty special on how to spend a day in gorgeous Geneva: things to do, lots of photos, places to see and of course, travel tips that’ll help you.

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When in Switzerland, Check the Weather

This weekend was going to be out of Basel, hence, we looked at weather forecasts of various cities in Switzerland and a sunny Sunday put Geneva on the weekend agenda.

“Always check the weather forecast before making travel plans (unless you love adventures and unpleasant surprises), a rainy day can totally piss on your happiness. Remember Zurich?”

While you can always travel between cities on the eurorail at any time you want, given the great frequency and services but an organised traveller usually books tickets in advance and manages discounts. We booked our tickets on the Basel SBB app and got a whopping 50% discount on our tickets. You can download the application from the Android/IOS App store.

The downside of this however, if you miss the train, you miss it.  Ensure safe travels, by planning your day around the arrival and departure times.

Travelling to Geneva? 

Make sure you buy the Geneva pass for 1 or 2 or 3 days and your itinerary pretty much reads itself. The pass offers various options for river cruises, day tours, discounts, cable car rides etc. I highly recommend buying the pass, especially if this is your first trip to Geneva.

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Getting to Geneva – from Basel

The time required to reach Geneva is under 3 hours and involves a train change. We took the route which took us through Bern, where we switched trains. Google maps and the SBB app will almost always help you figure out the best route based on the day you select.

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The train journey after Bern, promises beautiful views of scenic landscapes – green, blue and orange. There are trees, and forests, there are the beautiful mountains and the most importantly the large lake Geneva. With views like these, anyone, possibly anyone would aspire to become a photographer. Maybe this is how instagram accounts came into being…

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Things to do

We were in Geneva by 10 AM and were all set to explore the beauty that stood in front of us. The weather was perfect, the european sun in the month of August is the best time for vacationers.

Another tip, plan your trips during the summers: July and August are the best months to be in Geneva.

20160821 173651The city was swarming with tourists and Sunday never looked more lively. We had planned for the lake cruise, the cable car ride and the open bus day tour : all 3 along with any transport in the city were covered under the Geneva pass. Children under the age of 6 usually go free on most of the activities, however we were charged around 7 euros on the cable car ride.

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Geneva Tour cruise
The sweaters came right back on as soon as we were on the cruise. The winds on the deck over water, are usually chilly especially for people from Indian origin. The 1 hour cruise gives you great views of the city, the water is crystal clear in a glistening shade of blue and the commentary is both in English and French. Swiss German and French are predominant languages in Geneva. English, while not preferred is easily understood especially in the tourist context.

From the “Pierres du Niton” to the “Pointe à la Bise”, you get to enjoy unparalleled views of Mont-Blanc, monuments, famous villas, as well as parks and gardens. A few pictures, from our side during the cruise of the scenic views:

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Mont Salève Cable Car

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If you’ve been reading my blogs, you would have realised that I do not prefer walking but while you are in Europe, you better get used to it even if you don’t love it. Why am I saying that? This experience involved walking, a lot of it–especially the most hated uphill walks.

A bus ride from the centre of the city takes you onto the bus stop in France where the telepherique salve departs. A 10 minute uphill walk later, you reach the ticket office: each cable car can accommodates around 35 -40 adults, children and pets and takes you right on top of Mont Salève. The observatory allows you the most magnificent views of Geneva, you can’t help but capture these almost every 5 seconds that you’re there.

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The cable car of Mont Salève carries you to an altitude of 1,100 metres in less than five minutes. After our appetite for photographs was done (well really?), we decided to park our asses on the mountain which overlooks the city. A little picnic later: beer, juice, nuts, croissants we decided to go back for the last activity. Our bodies were now tired, too much of walking and quick bites weren’t helping.

Another tip – If you’re planning to go on the cable car – plan for a small picnic – a picnic mat/blanket to sit on, some quick bites and some drinks. The best way to enjoy the place, is to submerge yourself in the surroundings.

What I Wore

Always look stylish, goes without saying. I wore a one piece long black body con with some accessories from Forever 21 along with a brown suede jacket from Charles Voguele.

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The bus ride back to the city was longer this time, it was now hot and Niyati slept on the way back. Google maps sometimes guide you wrong, they did it to us in a state of extreme tiredness. The positive aspect of that, we got a chance to roam around the up market shopping district – where all we could buy was a few windows. Even if it wasn’t Sunday, it would have resulted in windows…

Open Bus Tour, Geneva

After a long walk, we made it, well almost to the final activity of the day – the open bus tour. While a lot of people find bus tours boring, I make sure I take these on my trips in new cities. I particular like the ones that Viator offers but this one was good too, especially since we were tired and this was precise.

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Tip – Even if you are planning to stay in a city for long, opt for a city or a hop off hop on tour. These options give you an opportunity to decide what you like and return back to it if time permits. These tours also provide great photo opportunities.

Our bus tours covered the important heritage sites and international organisations, the iconic views from the left shore of the lake , the Jet d’Eau, the famous flower clock, the broken chair and the expensive houses. The tour lasted almost an hour and it was time to go.

20160821 171850While we walked back to the station in silence, we made it – well almost to board the train back to Basel. The route back was the same, a little quiet this time especially since our batteries had now run out of charge.

Food in Geneva 

While this time we figured out the weather, the itinerary, the routes and the maps – food has still been a weak area for our family. We are still getting used to the Swiss cuisine and the asian places are somehow disappointing. An 80 frank meal in a Chinese restaurant was bland, boring and unappetising to the palette. A tad too late, but these are a few places which are considered great around Geneva for various cuisines.

Since I have not tried these, I will advise you to give it a double check before trying. Restaurants in Switzerland are usually expensive and wasting money is not ideal.

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Hope you guys enjoyed the posts, pictures and recommendations. Please leave your tips and opinions in the comments section. We would love to hear back.

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