Geneva was a city that we had wanted to travel to since we participated in Model United Nations in High School. Geneva is the headquarters of Europe’s United Nations. It’s also the headquarters to the Red Cross, global hub for diplomacy and banking and hosts the highest number of international organizations in the world. We were lucky enough to travel to Geneva during the summer months, which allowed us to see the city alive with crowded streets, boats on the lake and blue skies.
- Geneva is expensive….don’t expect a budget friendly holiday.
- Traffic is bad, so avoid taxis during the day. Public transportation is reliable and so is walking!
- At the airport, you can pick up a free 80 minute pass for Zone 10.
- When checking into the hotel, make sure you receive a complimentary transportation card for Zone 10. This also include taxi boats.
- Most shops and restaurants are closed on Sundays. You will find people walking around with their families.
- Lake Geneva is also referenced as Lac Léman (French) since it borders both countries.
Grand Hotel Kempinski Geneva
The Kempinski was centrally located and walking distance to near Old Town, City Centre and Les Bains de Paquis. The rooms were nice and spacious, staff was friendly and the location was great. The Kempinski has a lively 2nd floor bar/ lounge with a picturesque view of the Jet d’Eau. The hotel also has 3 gourmet restaurants – non of which we tried, but heard wonderful things about all. (II Vero, Le Grill, Lóu One). We would definitely recommend the Kempinski Hotel to anyone passing through Geneva.
Entre Homard & Côte
Entre Homard & Côte is a modern French fresh seafood restaurant with a lively atmosphere and delicious food at a reasonable price. We ordered the lobster which comes with fries/chips and a salad. We highly recommend the dish and it pairs well with their rosé or the local pinot noir. Also, you will get a lovely bib and utensils to cut the lobster. This atmosphere made dinner so much fun….hence the photos below! The surf and turf (ribeye) on the menu also looked delicious along with the lobster roll and burger.
Le Rouge et Le Blanc
Le Rouge et Le Blanc is a lovely wine bar along the side of Lake Geneva (near the Four Seasons) that served tapas. We actually came here twice since we enjoyed the wine, food and service. Our first visit we got the croquettes paired with delicious local pinot nior. The second time we ordered a salad and grilled calamari along with some red pinots that the waiter selected for us. We sat outside enjoying the warm air, moonlight and sounds of conversations in different languages. If it wasn’t for our early flight the next morning we would have stayed till close. Highly suggest going to Le Rouge et Le Blanc if you like wine and if you like good food.
Chez ma cousine
We had discovered Chez ma Cousine on many travel/food blogs and decided to check it out for lunch in Old Town. A fast/casual sit-down restaurant known for their chicken and favorable prices. Our order – the traditional 1/2 chicken with salad and fries. Make sure to order the side gravy – we weren’t going to, but the flavors of the sauce enhanced the juicy chicken so we were glad our waitress suggested it. We would advise coming here for lunch…they also serve salads. Please note that they don’t take reservations. They turn tables pretty quickly, so the wait usually isn’t long.
KYtaly chef, Chef Davide Papotti was a finalist of the S.Pellegrino Young Chef competition so we wanted to try one of his famous pizzas. We had gone here on a Wednesday night, so they weren’t serving their whole menu (no pasta) just pizza. Though a limited menu, we still were able to order what we came for – pizza! We enjoyed delicious Italian wines while sitting outside watching people stroll the streets of Geneva. Great Italian food!
During the day, we typically look for lighter lunches so we could save up for dinner or mid-afternoon gelatos! We found Elsalad while researching food options in Geneva and were so happy we stumbled upon this lovely financial district gem. During lunch hours you could find business men (oh hey!) and women lined up to get their freshly made salad. We went to Elsalad twice – once dining in and the other time to-go and took it to Les Baines. It reminded us of our favorite go-to place in San Francisco, Blue Barn.
Les Voiles was were we spent 4th of July evening as well as another lovely sunny late afternoon on our last day to enjoy the sunset. If you like beautiful views, music, people watching, drinks and food then Les Voiles is the place to be. Its a seasonal bar/restaurant so don’t expect it to be open during the winter. The location is in the middle of this outdoor park/swim club and rec center….many families are here during the day enjoying the warm weather and lake activities. Later the parents head to Les Voiles next door to play! Head to Les Voiles if you find yourself in Geneva in the summer time….you won’t be disappointed!
Don’t be surprised if you have a hard time finding Rooftop42….yes its on a rooftop, but the entrance is just an elevator. If you find it without any problems – we applaud you!! The views are brilliant and the drinks are expensive. But thats most of Geneva. We grabbed a glass of rosé here on the first night while we decided on our dinner spot. Apparently the place goes off on Thursday night, so if you are looking for views, bar scene head to Rooftop42. They also serve dinner, but we wouldn’t be able to recommend it since we didn’t try it for ourselves.
Riverside Cafe is located on the riverside in the financial district…hence the name! It’s a place where people go to happy hour after a long day at work….outdoor lounges and high top tables line the street. We enjoyed the views and our Aperol Spritz and kicked off our official holiday – T was done with her conference!
Boréal Coffee Shop
Boréal Coffee Shop is a third wave coffee shop in Geneva. We were so happy to find this spot – just down the street from Starbucks. We grab a cup of coffee and pastry before heading to the train station on our way to Laussane.
Others on our list, but we ran out of time:
Bottle Brothers :: after-work drinks, mini burgers and great place to enjoy cocktails.
Birdie :: breakfast + coffee
Paradiso :: Classic espresso bar and all-day breakfast/lunch spot, located in the heart of Geneva’s art district
Cruising Lac Léman
On the 4th of July we wanted to do something similar to what we do back home in the States and that is spending time on the water. We rented a boat from Corsairs Sàrl and had the best time! Enjoyed seeing the beautiful city from the water – going back in forth from the French to Suisse side. Next time, we are going to have our bathing suits on – we were Lake Geneva amateurs and didn’t bring them on the boat since we were heading to Les Voiles after and didn’t want to be underdressed. Haha – lesson learned!
Bains des Pâquis
Bains des Pâquis was located across the street from our hotel. It’s an artificial peninsula surrounded by a lively beach that jets into the lake with a lighthouse at the end. There is a beach to sunbathe and enjoy the water. The view is lovely looking over the lake and the Jet d’Eau. The cost to get in is 2 swiss francs and is worth it! You can buy food, drinks (non-alcoholic and alcoholic) and you have access to the bathrooms and changing rooms. Apparently there are also saunas, so if we find ourselves here next time in Winter, we will be sure to check our Bains des Pâquis.
Cheers to a lovely stay in Geneva!!!