A Week in Geneva


Posted August 2, 2016

Earlier this year, Carrie spent a week in Geneva on business.  Although she didn’t have much time to explore the city, she put together this short destination guide for Backpacking with the Bonds.

Geneva, Switzerland and Tourism

In May, I spent about a week in Geneva as part of the training for my new position.  I had never been to Switzerland and was excited to visit it’s second largest city, where tourism plays an important role in the economy for the second year in a row, Geneva was awarded “Europe’s Leading City Break Destination 2015.”  As a result of a large number of international organizations and companies based in the city, and the stunning landscapes, Geneva has developed a healthy range of hotels and restaurants catering to the annual influx of visitors.


Getting around Geneva

We normally don’t include this section on Backpacking with the Bonds, but Geneva is a unique case when it comes to transportation for tourists.  Upon arrival, you can get a free public transit ticket from the arrivals hall at the airport.  The ticket is good for the train, bus, and tram for up to 80 minutes.  

What’s more, hotels give guests transport cards, which entitles them to ride public transport for free for the length of your stay.  So there’s no excuse not to explore every inch of what the city has to offer unless you’re working of course.

Where to Eat in Geneva

Consistently ranked as one of the most expensive cities in the world, dining out in Geneva can be an expensive endeavor.  I enjoyed some of the best of what the city offered without breaking the bank.  Mainly, I stocked up on staples at one of the local grocery stores Co-Op, which is more expensive than the others but has a wide selection of pre-made sandwiches-good for lunch at the office.  I also bought food at the local farmers' market, which tied me over for a few days.  See things to See and Do in Geneva below.

Buvette des Bains

A must-do when visiting Geneva is the restaurant at the public beach on Lake Geneva, La Buvette des Bains. The restaurant, on a peninsula in the lake's middle, offers beautiful views of the city and one of the best and most affordable fondues in the city from September to April.  My boss and I took advantage of the beautiful late spring evening and dine al-fresco.  We ordered fondue and salad for two and a bottle of champagne to help digest the enormous serving of melted cheese as the locals do.  Not long after we sat down at our table on the patio the sun disappeared and the rain fell.  Unsure of how we would move our flaming fondue pot and dining paraphernalia to an inside table, we followed the lead of the other diners who opened their umbrellas and continued their meals without interruption.  It made for an eventful dining experience.  I highly recommend the buvette with or without the rain.

Fondue waterside at Buvette des Bains

Fondue waterside at Buvette des Bains

Restaurant Il Forno a Legna

Pizza at Restaurant Il Forno a Legna

Pizza at Restaurant Il Forno a Legna

After having mainly eaten meals purchased from the local grocery store and market, I decided to indulge and have a proper meal on my last night in Geneva.  At the recommendation of a colleague, I dined at Restaurant Il Forno a Legna, a small, lovely Italian restaurant just a few blocks from my hotel and the office. I normally try to stick to local cuisine when traveling but seeing that Geneva is a “global city” and only 55 miles from the Italian border, I made an exception.  And, I’m glad I did.  At only 7 o’clock the place was packed.  Luckily there was one two-top available for my single self.  I ordered a glass of the house white and poured over the multi-page menu in search of the perfect dish for my last night.  As boring as it sounds, I opted for one of their homemade pizzas.  Twenty minutes and another glass of house wine later, I was enjoying one of the best pizzas I have ever had-wood fired to perfection, thin slices of prosciutto, mozzarella di bufala, topped with fresh basil.  It was so good, I used data roaming to send Albert the below photo.  All in all, a good last night.


Things to See and Do in Geneva

Plainpalais Farmers Market, Jet d’eau, Saint-Pierre Cathedral


The city’s largest farmers market is held every Sunday at the Plaine de Plainpalais in central-south Geneva.  Albert and I are both very conscious about investing our dollars (or Swiss Francs in this case) in the local economy, and what better way to do that then the farmers market.  Fighting the urge to take a nap after my overnight flight, I decided to walk across the River Rhone to Plainpalais and explore the farmers market I had read so much about.  On my way there, I meandered by many of the famous sites of the city, including the Jet d’eau-the lakeside fountain that shoots up to 7 tons of water into the air, often creating a beautiful rainbow over the lake, and the Saint-Pierre Cathedral, a Gothic-style cathedral with a neoclassical façade, which stands atop the site of two other cathedrals dating back to the Roman Empire.

After nearly four miles, I finally arrived at the bustling market and was overwhelmed by the selection of fresh produce and prepared meals.  To help with my decision making and rest my weary feet, I grabbed a glass of Rose from one of the vendors, a local winery called Domaine des Esserts.  Sitting at one of the several bistro tables spread out behind their booth, I watched the market-goers stroll past examining the brightly colored fruits and vegetables, enjoying the beautiful spring day.  


After two glasses of wine, a four-mile walk, and an overnight flight, it was time to eat.  Anyone that knows me and Albert, knows we can’t resist charcuterie, cheese, and bread on our travels, especially in Europe. This time was no different.  A baguette some Swiss cheese and beef charcuterie was all I needed to round off my day of sightseeing in Geneva.


Palais des Nations

The United Nations Office has been housed at the Palais des Nations since 1966.  Originally built to house the League of Nations, the Palais sits on an expansive park overlooking Lake Geneva and is renowned for its architecture.  My colleagues in Geneva arranged for me to attend a meeting on large scale movements of refugees and migrants, which was amazing.  The grandeur of the meeting room, the history of the building, and meeting attendees representing a host of countries from Ethiopia to the United States, made for a truly memorable experience.  If you’re not going on business, the Palais also offers guided tours that must be reserved online in advance.  If I were to go back, I would definitely do the tour, if only just to see the century-old trees and peacocks.

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All Photography by Carrie Bond