When you think about visiting a city, you usually think about a short break with lots of sightseeing. You don’t usually think of relaxing in the sun or enjoying the outdoors. Geneva is a city which offers a very different vacation that is perfect for enjoying during their summer months. The average high temperature during the peak of summer is 77-78F (25-26c) making it ideal for a more relaxed break.
1. Water Activities
Geneva is situated on the edge of Lake Geneva (also known as Lac Leman with crystal clear turquoise water, which you are probably more used to seeing by an exotic beach. Geneva is on the Rhone river making this the ideal break for those that enjoy the water. Sailing, paddle boarding and kayaking are perfect for making the most of the lake.
Slightly further away, rafting on the Arve offers waterfalls, rapids and areas for swimming. If you prefer something a little more sedate, you can enjoy one of the many cruises on the lake that allow you to get up close to the Jet D’Eau and explore the further reaches of the lake.
2. Yes, there are even beaches…
Geneva has been developing areas for tourists and locals to relax by the beautiful lake, and there are now several beaches and waterside terraces to enjoy the lake. The lake may be a little on the cool side for some with a temperature of 23c, but at the main Geneva Plage, there is also an outdoor Olympic-sized swimming pool for the less hardy! It also features paddling pools, slides, and high dives.
In summer, there is also a beach floating on the water in the very heart of the city. L’amarr public beach & swimming pool is situated by the Pont de la Machine bridge, opposite the Cite du Temps.
Switzerland has had a long reputation for being synonymous with health and spas. In Geneva itself, one of the best options is the Bain Bleu which is situated next to Geneva Plage. The building has its own gate into Geneva Plage, allowing you to enjoy both on one visit. The spa itself has a stunning rooftop hydrotherapy pool heated to a comforting 36c. Here you can enjoy various water therapy stations in the large pool or lounge by the pool with a drink from the bar. The terrace boasts a beautiful panorama across the lake and mountains to complete your relaxation. Overall, there are 3,000 m² of indoor and outdoor water baths to enjoy.
On less sunny days, there is also a Hamman experience and the Mystical pool, a dramatically staged hydrotherapy pool with a cascading shower and hidden nooks. Bain Bleu also offers a variety of treatments.
It’s something of a secret that Geneva is actually only around 30 minutes away from a beautiful wine-producing area. However, unlike many wine areas, it’s unspoilt by tourism. Meander through fairytale-pretty villages and fields full of sunflowers as you head towards the Chasselas region. Most vineyards do not export abroad, so make the most of the opportunity to try these wines, which are often made with grapes native to Swizterland, such as Gamaret.
A fun way to tour the vineyards is by Tuk-Tuk. The company can also arrange dinner or drinks aboard the Tuk Tuk as you travel around. One of the best vineyards to visit as a starting point is Domaine Les Perrières. Due to the small nature of wineries here, many require an appointment to taste. Domaine Des Perriers, however, is open six days a week where you can just walk in. It’s a family estate now run by the 8th generation of the Rochaix family who has been making wine since 1794.
They also make an extensive range of wines, so not only will there be something for most palates, but it also means there is more to taste! Wines range from the more local Gameret grapes to sparkling or a fruit Sauvignon blanc.
5. Location, Location, Location
Near to Geneva are many options for day trips or perhaps a two-centre break. If you want a different view of Geneva, you can visit Mont Salève, which is only a short bus ride from the city to the cable car base. It’s also the perfect place for hiking, paragliding, climbing or mountain biking. Slightly further afield takes you to the towns of Lausanne and Montreux situated at the opposite end of Lake Geneva. Montreux is known for its jazz festival, but this pretty town is also the perfect town to relax and explore. Its grand Belle Époque buildings and beautiful flora from its microclimate are perfect for a leisurely stroll around.
Or you can tour the surrounding countryside, which also features the stunning wine region of Lavaux. From Montreux, you can take the Golden Pass Railway from Montreux to Zweisimmen to enjoy the mountain landscapes. You could also venture into the Alps to towns such as Verbier by rail, more known for its ski resorts. However, the Alpine countryside is equally beautiful in summer.
Where to stay
For those who enjoy luxury, Geneva flaunts top hotels from most well-known high-end brands such as Four Seasons, Mandarin Oriental and Fairmont. For something with a rich history, the Hotel Metropole has been open since 1854 but recently fully refurbished the rooms to offer a more contemporary style. Situated right by the Jardins Anglais, it has a central location. Their Met Rooftop lounge is a must-visit even if you don’t stay there. As well as cocktails and interesting gin pairings, a selection of tapas dishes is available to accompany the stunning views of the lake.
If you are on more of a budget or plan to explore outside Geneva, the Hilton Geneva Hotel and Conference Centre is a good option with a large swimming pool, central terrace, easy access to the airport, and trains to Montreux and beyond.
Getting there and around
Geneva city is easily accessible from the airport with only a 20-minute journey by taxi and only slightly longer by train or bus. Until the end of August 2022, you get a free public transport card along wtih a Geneva Resort Pass, which gives discounts or free entrance to 100 activities. You will receive your Resort Pass and your free Geneva Transport Card by email one day before arrival. In addition, you can purchase a Geneva City Pass at other times of the year, which gives the same benefits.