Christmas trees, sparkling lights, 3 different markets, a hop across the border and more fondue than you could brie-lieve
Geneva City Pass and Choco Pass
The Geneva City Pass is an electronic pass which offers 60 free or discounted activities, all public transport in the Geneva network free of charge: buses, trams, trains, shuttle boats, a sightseeing cruise and personalised tips for your choice of activities. Prices start from 30 CHF for a 24 hour pass. Freebies include entry to St Peter's Cathedral, Geneva beach and multiple museums and discounted trips include the glacier 3000 tour, a vineyard tour and motorboat rental.
We primarily used our pass for public transport which was a great help during our trip as our hotel was situated outside of the city and close to Geneva airport. The pass is great value for money for the amount of benefits you receive. Make sure to purchase your pass before you arrive in Geneva so you can use the public transport free of charge from the airport.
Second is the Choco Pass. Now Swiss chocolate is some (if not the) best in the world and it would be a sin if you did not sample some during your trip to Geneva. The Geneva tourism board offer a chocolate pass where you can receives chocolate samples from the best chocolatiers in the city. Prices start from 30 CHF for adults and only 6 CHF for children so this is the perfect activity for all of the family. Here are some examples of what you can receive from participating chocolatiers:
A choice of Grand Cru or Gourmand hot chocolate
A selection of 6 chocolates, featuring milk and dark chocolate and pralines
Caramel Truffle, Hazelnut Rocher, Raspberry Truffle, Almond Dragées, Cashew Nut Petals
3 pavé glacé, 1 Florentine (milk or dark), a praline nougatine mould (dark or milk), a candied orange covered in chocolate
A unique experience where you can sample the most delicious chocolates Geneva has to offer.
Adina Apartment Hotel
We stayed at the Adina Apartment Hotel which is situated only a 5 minute drive from Geneva airport. You can catch the local bus number 23 or 28 which will take you around the corner from the hotel. The apartment hotel is well connected with a tram stop a short 2 minute walk away and you can catch tram 14 or 18 into the centre of Geneva. If you purchase the Geneva City Pass in advance your public transport will be free of charge. If not, the bus prices start from £5 per person and tram prices start from £6 per person.
The Adina Apartment Hotel is modern, spacious, clean and equipped with everything you could want during your stay. There are studios and one and two bedroom apartments on offer with full kitchen facilities including an oven, dishwasher and washing machine and a spacious living room with a television, seating area and coffee machine. You will also be welcomed with a cookie on arrival.
The breakfast options are continental with everything from cereals, fruit and yogurt, meats and cheeses to cooked options. There are hot options available on the buffet or you can request hot dishes to order: eggs benedict, eggs florentine, pancakes or fried eggs. There are also takeaway cups for your tea or coffee if you happen to be in a rush or just want to take one for the road.
The apartment hotel also has a sauna and fitness room where you can work out or relax as you please. The sauna and fitness rooms are open all day and into the evening so you will have ample opportunity during your stay to sample these facilities.
We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at the Adina Apartment Hotel and would definitely visit in the future and recommend to anyone visiting Geneva.
Best things to do
The best things to see in the centre of Geneva are:
Jet d'Eau - a large water fountain in Geneva and one of the main attractions
Bastions park - situated in the old town and Geneva's first botanical garden
Carouge - authentic part of the old town and described as the "Greenwich village of Geneva."
St Pierre Cathedral tower - 7CHF entry to visit this former Roman Catholic cathedral and its beautiful architecture and interior
Fondue cooking class
Learn how to make traditional Swiss cheese fondue at a cooking class at Restaurant Edelweiss in the centre of Geneva. You will be guided through the steps of making your own personal cheese fondue by the resident chef and then will have the chance to relax and enjoy your masterpiece. You can also extend your visit and stay for dinner at the restaurant and make your cheese fondue your very luxurious starter before you enjoy a main course in the ski lodge style restaurant.
The Fondue cooking class alone is 50CHF per person and includes a drink (alcoholic or non-alcoholic). Alternatively you can opt for the 'Suississme' option for 85CHF per person which includes the fondue cooking class, meat fondue and fries or sautéed potatoes with bacon, cheese and egg or Perch fillets and fries with a dessert of artisanal meringue and a drink of your choice.
The perfect winter activity for all the family.
Montreux and Lausanne
You can catch the local train from the central station in Geneva to the nearby towns of Lausanne and Montreux. Both towns are on the same train line.
Lausanne is a picturesque town and it is said to rival Geneva for its beauty. The best things to do in Lausanne include:
The gothic cathedral
The town hall
Market on Wednesdays and Saturdays
Botanical garden in Parc de Milan
Viewing tower in Sauvabelin forest (beware, there are 302 steps!)
Montreux offers the most stunning views of Lake Geneva from the moment you step off the train. If you visit during the winter months you will be able to enjoy the Christmas markets which rival those in Geneva. They are larger and offered a wider choice in terms of what you could purchase (including a lot more souvenirs such as handmade Christmas decorations). Montreux is Freddie Mercury's 'second home' and where he completed his final works. There is a statue near the lake front of Freddie Mercury to commemorate him and his love for the town.
You can also visit Chateau de Chilon sitting in Lake Geneva, walk the pretty promenade stretch between Clarens and the Chateau de Chilon, visit the old town of Montreux or head further afield and into the mountains to Glacier 3000.
Montreux is a must during your trip to Geneva.
Another must-see when visiting Geneva is to hop across the border to the town of Annecy in France. Annecy is only a 1 hour drive from Geneva if you rent a car or you could join an organised excursion like we did with Swisstours. Our guide took us over the border to Annecy where we were given a guided tour of the town before having some free time to enjoy the sights and Christmas markets at our leisure. The Christmas markets were impressive, although fairly small they was a lot of choice in terms of food and drink options and homemade goodies to take back home as gifts or souvenirs.
Top things to see in Annecy include the old town, Palais de l'Ile viewpoint from the bridge, Basilique de la Visitation, Chateau d'Annecy and the incredible views of Lake Annecy. The water is so clear and blue and you can see the snow-capped mountains in the distance. We loved this view so much we awarded it our top view of 2023!
Enjoy a traditional fondue at Auberge de Savièse. The restaurant is located in the Pâquis district and has been offering fondues and raclettes in Geneva as well as other Swiss specialties for over 50 years.
We visited this restaurant on the first night of our trip and enjoyed a traditional fondue with breads, meats and cheeses. It was so filling we struggled to finish it all but it was extremely delicious. We finished the meal with a meringue served with fresh cream.
The restaurant is extremely popular so if you are planning to visit during the weekend then make sure to book in advance. We saw a number of people who had to be turned away whilst we had our dinner. It is popular for a reason as the food is delicious and the service was impeccable. Don't miss this traditional restaurant during your trip to Geneva.
Although we are sure you will have came to Switzerland to enjoy some traditional Swiss food, it is extremely rich and you may be looking for an alternative during one night of your trip. If so, Inglewood burgers is where you need to go. This burger restaurant got extremely good reviews so we were eager to see why and it definitely did not disappoint. Not only was the burger great but the fries and salad were also top quality and the whole meal could not be faulted.
There is a great range of beef, chicken and vegetarian burgers on offer and the whole restaurant has a fun and attractive cartoon theme. The menus and restaurant decor will keep you entertained during your meal.
Vino Olio Caffe
Another alternative to the traditional Swiss options in Geneva comes in the form of Vino Olio Caffe offering Italian-inspired food in the heart of the old city of Geneva. The cosy atmosphere will ensure you can enjoy a delicious meal with the family or a romantic dinner with your love.
There is a huge amount on offer at this restaurant so it was difficult to choose what to order. We opted for some grilled aubergines, a burrata pasta and steak with the homemade Gigi's sauce and finally an array of small desserts including a Tarte tatin and a chocolate fondant.
The restaurant is open from morning until dinner and you can start the day with a coffee and cooked or continental breakfast, enjoy a burrata at lunchtime, indulge in one of the many desserts on the terrace in the afternoon or have a cosy dinner in the evening accompanied with a local wine.
Geneva is a wonderful, vibrant city with lots on offer to do and see. We would recommend visiting during Christmas market season to add the extra magic to your trip and truly get you into the festive spirit.
Next post: Geneva Christmas Market Itinerary