Known as the “smallest of big cities” or the “city of peace”, Geneva offers a great location for a weekend away. The city is compact and easy to walk around so it is suitable for every traveler. There is plenty to see and do and you can see the best bits within a day or two, which is why it is perfect to head over to the Alps for a day. The lakes and mountains surrounding Geneva provide a beautiful setting to stroll around the cobblestone streets and dig into the cities history. This trip would not be complete without a trip to the picturesque town of Chamonix, set at the foot of Mont Blanc, Europes highest mountain at 16,000 feet, Chamonix is renowned as one of the most vibrant and cosmopolitan ski resorts in the French Alps.
WHERE TO STAY.
The Old Town is a great place to stay because its within walking distance to most of the attractions, shops, and restaurants and is ideal for art and antique lovers. Stroll around the cobblestone streets where you can discover the history of Geneva by exploring the sights and monuments and digging for medieval treasures in the old antique boutiques.
Our stay at Fraser Suites in the Old Town was not disappointing. Upon arrival, my parents were upgraded to the Deluxe suite as a birthday gift to my Dad from the hotel. Both our apartments were stunning and for approx. £250 per room per night we were spoilt with a stylish apartment with floor to ceiling windows in the lounge, a separate bedroom with en-suite, and a kitchen with all the equipment one could wish for including an amazing Nespresso coffee machine that I just have to buy now I’m home.
WHAT TO DO.
There are many sights to see in Geneva in the winter such as the famous Jet D’eau Fountain, St Pierre Cathedral, Frankenstein monument, and the Palais des Nations. The top sights around the city can be done in a day or two depending how long you wish to spend at each location. The Natural History Museum is also worth checking out and spending a long afternoon here. Geneva is also a great spot for shopping and it helps if you’ve got a bit of cash to splash as many of the shops are high end. If that’s up your street, check out the Old Town, and depending on the days you are there, you might stumble upon the local markets.
On our final day we visited CERN, the science and innovation centre in Geneva, which is a short 25 minute tram ride from the Old Town. We were lucky enough to book on a free two hour tour which take place on a daily basis throughout the week. Tours become available 15 days prior to the date of the tour, and then another batch of tickets are released three days before the date of the tour. Apparently they sell out fast so you have got to be quick to book, but its definitely worth it if you are intrigued on their ground breaking innovations. At CERN, there are many physicists and engineers seeking answers to some of the world’s most powerful particle accelerators. It is really impressive and worth a tour if you have the time.
WHERE TO EAT.
Geneva can be pretty expensive compared with other parts of Europe so its best to plan ahead for restaurants so you don’t get caught out with a hefty dinner bill. I did a LOT of researching online checking out different restaurant reviews, comparing prices and ensuring quality food and a good atmosphere. Travelling with my parents over my Dads birthday meant that I just had to find the perfect spot serving quality food but wasn’t going to cost us an arm and a leg. Our first night was spent at Café du Soleil and was our favourite dinner here in Geneva where we devoured a selection of super tasty chicken burgers and veggie burgers.
On our second night, we headed to Chez Ma Cuisine which offers a sampling of Swiss fast food. Famous for its half a chicken, which my parents and boyfriend thoroughly enjoyed, Chez ma Cuisine offers a cheery and warming atmosphere with home cooked food that is simply perfect for kicking back with after a busy day exploring. Both restaurants were affordable and we paid around £15 for a main while cocktails and beers tend to be a bit more expensive than back home in the UK coming in at around £15 a cocktail and £9 a beer. If you are splashing the cash on dinner, check out Café Papon by St Pierre Cathedral that has many top reviews.
DAY TRIP TO CHAMONIX
HOW TO GET THERE.
After seeing the most that Geneva city centre has to offer within a day, it is most definitely worth the two hour coach journey to the quaint town of Chamonix in France. Tours can charge a hefty fee of around £250+ per person, however, it is easy enough and much more affordable to take the coach and travel with your group there and back. A return ticket costs as little as £35 return with coaches leaving at various times throughout the day and returning quite late. We arrived around midday and headed back at 5pm and found that was the perfect length of time to explore Chamonix and get back to Geneva with enough time to enjoy dinner.
WHAT DO DO.
Chamonix is a stunning town wedged in between mammoth mountains that is bound to leave you speechless. The scenery as soon as you step of the coach is breathtaking and after a short five minute stroll from the bus station you will be in the heart of Chamonix town where you can wander the cobbled streets featuring an abundance of charming shops, cafés, and restaurants. Although Chamonix has been a popular ski resort since the 19th Century, there is plenty to do even if you aren’t hitting the slopes such as wine and cheese tasting and visiting the various museums.
If you are feeling more adventurous, head up the ski lift and enjoy the spectacular views of the snow-topped mountains from above. This will cost as little as £15 for a return trip depending on how far up you go. We went three quarters of the way up to Aiguille Du Midi and the view was spectacular. You can spend as much time as you like once you arrive and there is a spot to grab a warm hot chocolate while you watch the skiers and snowboarders pass through the slopes. There is also opportunity to go on hiking trails, husky sledging, ice climbing, snowshoeing, and helicopter tours and paragliding. If you are planning an action packed trip, it might be best to book an overnight trip here or even spoil yourself with a few days.