1. Make a splash at the Bains des Paquis
Prettily situated on an artificial peninsular jutting out into the gentle waters of Lake Geneva, Bains des Paquis is where locals come for their year-round wellness fix. During the colder months, two (count ‘em) saunas, plus a hammam and proper Turkish baths, keep it steamy and snug. In summer, sun worshippers gravitate here from all over to stretch out on the beach and snap swimsuit selfies by the lighthouse, while a very respectable waterfront restaurant dishes up fondue against a scenic alpine backdrop. How incredibly civilised.
30 Quai du Mont-Blanc
2. Embrace your inner Italian around Carouge
Artsy bohemian types adore Carouge, the so-called "Greenwich Village of Geneva”. And it’s no wonder. Back in the 18th century, when it was still technically part of what we’d today call Italy (specifically, the Kingdom of Sardinia, which stretched all the way up through Piemonte and Savoy), prominent nobles had the place rebuilt from the ground up along classic Italianate lines. To this day, it’s all delicate columns, boutiques, bistros, indie businesses and antique dens. It's a dreamy little slice of the Med, on the river Avre, and just a couple of minutes from Geneva proper.
3. Scoff vintage ice cream at Remor
For nigh-on a century now, this family-run-for-four-generations institution has been doling out note-perfect gelato and big smiles to the locals and tourists of Plainpalais. Remor’s retro, decidedly unfashionable decor is of apiece with its communal pre-war charm. The large outdoor terrace is a serene spot for nursing a coffee and watching the world go by, or indoors you can scoff fat toasties (or snails if that’s your bag) and never once feel rushed.
3 Place du Cirque
4. Make a wish on the Jet D’Eau fountain
Geneva's iconic Jet D’Eau – it quite literally means ‘water jet’ – does exactly what you’d expect. It was first built in 1886, not even as a tourist attraction but as a proper working release valve engineered to relieve pressure from a nearby hydroelectric power plant at La Coulouvrenière, and has been affectionately adopted as a symbol of the city. Still going strong 130-odd years later, albeit in a slightly different location, it remains one of the tallest fountains in the world; its mighty sub-aquatic motors hurling 500 litres of water a second to an average height of 140 metres. Spray it a visit.
1207 Quai Gustave-Ador
5. Encounter humanitarian history at the Red Cross Museum
Geneva is, of course, home to the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. The humanitarian organisation’s smart, neatly laid-out museum is a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. On one hand, its litany of disasters both natural and man-made can feel a bit bleak and overwhelming. But to counteract all that, countless stories of sacrifice and heroism from the organisation – co-founded in 1863 by Swiss businessman Henry Dunant, in response to his war memoir Un Souvenir de Solferino – told with great verve and polish should hopefully make you feel a bit better about things. And hey, they can always do with volunteers.
17 Avenue de la Paix
6. Stretch to classic fondue at Café du Soleil
When a café has been doing the same thing, on the same site, for 400 years straight, you know they’re probably on to a winner. Café du Soleil is perhaps the quintessential little Genevan dining room, serving wholesome hearty local specialities like malakoffs (that's a deep-fried cheese ball, obvs) and pan-fried vaudoise tommes (more cheese) in a sober wood-furnished room. For the full cheesy Swiss monty, do yourself a favour and order the Gruyère fondue. Some things are elevated to classic status for a reason, and this is most definitely one of them.
6 Place du Petit-Saconnex
7. Set a collision course with CERN
Straddling the border with France, the laboratory of the European Council for Nuclear Research – what you and I call the boffin ground-zero of CERN – is a place where real breakthroughs happen. You’ll have heard all about that Higgs boson / 'God Particle' / particle colliding business – but back in 1989 this is also where Tim Berners-Lee only went and bloody invented the Internet. You should book ahead as tours fill up fast, but it’s a genuinely totemic place, and if you concentrate really hard you might even learn something about the fundamental nature of the universe. Maybe.
385 Route de Meyrin
8. Tick off the Patek Philippe Museum
If you’re never quite got your head around what all the fuss is about with upmarket watches, the Patek Philippe Museum is here to help. Among some 2,000 exhibits you’ll learn all about the storied company's Caliber 89 (‘the most complicated timepiece ever made’, apparently) and marvel at some remarkable historic timepieces, some dating back to the 16th century. Set in a tastefully-lit Art Deco building, this majestic tribute to Switzerland’s most world-renowned export definitely deserves a big hand (sorry, not sorry).
7 Rue des Vieux-Grenadiers
9. Hang out with the bright young things around Plainpalais
There’s a whole slew of reasons why Plainpalais is the hippest ‘hood in Geneva. Students at the nearby University consistently keep the vibe young and the bars keenly priced. Plainpalais’ jumbo central square is an eye-catching place for folk to congregate, as they do regularly at the lively flea market (each Wednesday, Saturday and the first Sunday of the month) and whenever the ever-popular circus rolls into town. For galleries, lively chat and bric-a-brac, downtown Plainpalais is quite unmatched.
10. Sway to the deep cuts at L’Usine
If you’re not tantalised by the prospect of a good old-fashioned rave in the fantastical setting of a disused gold refinery... well, there’s not much else to say is there? L’Usine – aka, ‘The Factory’ – has a glowing reputation in Geneva's alternative scene. It offers a truly eclectic mix of music, running the gamut from ska to rock, reggae to electro, punk to disco, metal and much else besides, with live local bands rubbing shoulders with international DJ talent. The only common thread is that Genevans of all walks seem to really dig it here.
4 Place des Volontaires