It had been six weeks since I packed my passport into my Dakine backpack. Six weeks since I had caught the Gatwick express, and six week since I last endured the process of going through airport security. Six weeks and I was dying to go somewhere. There’s no questioning that I caught the travel bug years ago, and with a long weekend approaching in the UK, I knew this was my opportunity to cross another destination off my bucket list.
Having recently gone through a breakup, this was my first ever solo trip. I was excited and nervous and unsure if I’d be able to do it. I was tossing up between a few destinations, but after hitting confirm on a flight to Geneva, well, there was no turning back.
When To Go
With endless mountain views, turquoise water and some of the best food around, I’m going to go ahead and say Switzerland is beautiful all year round.
When booking my flight, I managed to get the cheapest weekend (early May) over a two month period. I landed on a beautiful spring day of 26 degrees, and unbeknown to me, the same day as the Geneva marathon! Perhaps I should have googled Geneva events beforehand (sometimes they can interrupt access to sites you want to see), but I fortunately lucked out, my plans went ahead as desired, and if anything, the marathon added to the already wonderful atmosphere.
What To See
There’s so much beauty that lies in Geneva. So much that I didn’t get to see it all in a weekend, but what I did see are definitely sites not to be missed.
Jet D’Eau This fountain is the centrepiece of La Rade Harbour. Shooting 140 meters into the air, it’s definitely the most popular site visited in Geneva. A walk along the harbour is perfect on a sunny day, and if I had been more prepared I would have taken a picnic lunch and sat atop the grass to watch the boats sail in and out.
L’Horloge Fleurie See the flowering blooms of the most famous clock in Geneva, but be sure to get their early morning for crowd free photo’s.
Pointe De La Jonction This was my favourite place in Geneva, and I only wish I had an extra day so I could join the locals as they sun baked and enjoyed barbecues by the lake. The Junction is definitely a local hangout for some, but what draws visitors to this place is that its the location where rivers Rhone and Are join each other, creating a beautiful and unique phenomenon. Each river has a different colour of water and at the point of joining, their waters mix together.
St Peter’s Cathedral For a small fee of five Swiss francs you can climb the 157 steps for an incredible panoramic view of the city. There’s two towers, the north and the south. I chose to explore just the north tower as you can walk outside to capture the views, whereas the south tower, everything is behind windows (or so I was told).
Old Town Exploring old town, you’ll walk along winding streets, pass cute little cafes and wander into beautiful parks, all whilst immersing yourself in Genevan history.
As someone who has a terrible sense of direction, it came as no surprise that my first solo trip involved a lot of – getting on the right train in the wrong direction, or getting on the right train, but getting off at the wrong stop. It was a learning experience that’s for sure.
Firstly, let me start by saying that Uber is illegal in Geneva. I had planned on using Uber to get to the more further away attractions on my list, however, upon arrival I was informed that whilst Uber still operates in Geneva, if the Uber driver get’s caught, it’s one extremely large fine. So I decided to stick with walking and public transport.
At the airport, be sure to get your free travel card. The lady at the information desk handed me one that gave me free travel for eighty minutes. I had read online prior to my trip that public transport in Geneva is free, and so for the entire day I didn’t buy a single ticket. No one seemed to check if passengers had tickets, so I only assume that it is in fact free, or I just got lucky and didn’t get caught!
I’d recommend downloading their transport app TPG, which I didn’t do, and if I had, I’m sure I would have figured out the right train to catch and when a lot easier. A lot of attractions are walking distance from Bel Air station, so if you can get yourself there, that’s a great start.
The main language spoken in Geneva is French. I had to ask for directions a few times and each time I did, the person who was trying to help me, well their English was almost non-existent. So be prepared! I did get directions from a waitress in cafe and her English was perfect but it’s best not to assume everyone will be able to communicate with you.
Because I spent a lot of time trying to work out the train system (t’s really not that hard, it just took me a while to figure it out), I ended up sacrificing meals, so I could see all the sites written down on my list.
In saying that, I did have one place that I made sure I got too, and that was Black Tap. I had seen so many Instagram pictures of this place but only knew of it’s New York location. Upon hearing that it’s second location was in Geneva, I knew it was somewhere I just had to go. Why? Because on top of their great burgers, they serve some of the best “crazy shakes” around.
As someone who always looks at the dessert menu before anything else, I was in heaven. I opted for the Cookie Shake, which was a vanilla flavoured shake (my favourite), with a vanilla frosted rim, cookie crumbles topped with a ‘cookiewich’, chocolate chips, whipped cream and chocolate drizzle. Mmmmm delicious. I must admit though, it was extremely expensive for what it was. I ended up paying £17 for it and I could only get through half. So at that price, I’d recommend splitting it with someone. But do I regret ordering it? Absolutely not!