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One Day in Geneva Itinerary For First Time Visitors

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If you’re in Geneva for an overnight layover in between flights, or if you’re visiting the city as a day trip, then here’s how to see the best of Geneva in one day.

When we visited this unassuming European city, we were pleasantly surprised and we hope you will be too!

By following our 24-hour Geneva itinerary, you’ll be exploring the Old Town and Parc des Bastions in the morning and seeing the sights by the side of Lake Geneva by the afternoon. But first…

Is One Day in Geneva Enough Time?

While it’s certainly possible to see lots of top sights in Geneva in one day, you won’t be able to see everything this city is known for or has to offer.

But there’s still plenty to see and do in Geneva – even if you’re short on time. Especially as many of the top sights in Geneva are within a relatively short walking distance of each other.

That said, if you wish to see more than this itinerary allows, then you’ll want to spend 2 or 3 days exploring Geneva instead.

This also means you can take advantage of the many day trip opportunities nearby – even to neighbouring France! Très chic.

But back to the task at hand. If you really only have a short time to spare, then I hope you find our one day Geneva itinerary helpful. Let’s dive in!

Views of Lake Geneva from Parc de la Perle du Lac
Stunning Lake Geneva on a clear day – notice you can see Mont Blanc in the distance?

One Day in Geneva: Top Things To Do

This 24-hour Geneva itinerary assumes you’ll have a full day to explore this pretty Swiss city.

To make the most of your day, ideally, you’ll arrive in the centre of Geneva in the early morning and stay in the city until the early evening.

But if you want to stay in Geneva for longer, then you might also enjoy our 2 day Geneva itinerary.

Morning: Old Town & Parc des Bastions

Seeing as you only have 24 hours in Geneva to spare, you’ll probably want to start your day in the Old Town, which is where many of the city’s most notable sights are.

Saint Peter’s Cathedral

The first – and perhaps most notable of all of Geneva’s attractions – is Saint Peter’s Cathedral.

Originally dating back to the 12th century, this Cathedral later became a symbol of the Protestant Reformation in the 1500s. The latter is what it’s most known for today.

Cathedral door in Geneva, Switzerland
I preferred the look of the back “entrance” to the Cathedral

But you can also climb the 157 steps to the top of the Cathedral’s towers and admire the panoramic city views.

Saint Peter’s Cathedral is a must-see in Geneva (especially on a clear day) and it’ll only cost you a handful of Swiss Francs to do so.

Or, if you have the Geneva City Pass, then the entry fee for the Cathedral towers is included in that.

Note: You’ll also find the International Museum of Reformation next to the Cathedral. But you may need to skip this, so you can make time for the other sights we’ve included in this 24-hour Geneva itinerary.

Top Tip: Just behind the Cathedral, you’ll find the Terrasse Agrippa-d’Aubigné, which is home to more rooftop views and some “hidden” mosaics. There should be enough time to see these during your day trip to Geneva if you’re interested.

Rooftop views from Terrasse Agrippa-d'Aubigné in Geneva, Switzerland
Pretty rooftop views as seen from Terrasse Agrippa-d’Aubigné during golden hour

The Reformation Wall at Parc des Bastions

Within roughly a 10-minute walk of Saint Peter’s Cathedral, you’ll find Parc des Bastions.

This park is home to the 5-metre-high Reformation Wall, which is probably one of the most photographed spots in all of Geneva.

The Reformation Wall in Geneva, Switzerland
The Reformation Wall in Geneva is very interesting to see

Place Bourg-de-Four

Next, make your way to the oldest square in Geneva: Place Bourg-de-Four. It takes roughly 10 minutes to walk to from the Reformation Wall and is well worth seeing.

Here, you’ll find a pretty little square, which dates back as far as the 9th century (if not earlier).

It’s now home to a fountain, lovely architecture and plenty of cafes if you want to stop for a quick bite for lunch.

Afternoon: Lake Geneva Sights

When you’re ready to continue your day of sightseeing, head to Lake Geneva, which is less than a 10-minute walk from Place Bourg-de-Four. Here, you’ll find many more top sights awaiting you.

Geneva’s Flower Clock

Up first is the Flower Clock in Jardin Anglais. As the name suggests, this clock is made from flowers. And it actually tells the time!

Jet d’Eau

In this part of Geneva, you’ll likely also spot Jet d’Eau, Geneva’s infamous fountain. Unless it’s a windy day as the fountain gets turned off.

But if you’re fortunate to see it, then you can marvel at water being thrown over 140 metres (460 ft) in the air!

Brunswick Monument

Brunswick Monument in Geneva, Switzerland
Geneva’s Brunswick Monument looking all kinds of gothic…

If you continue your walk around Lake Geneva along Quai du Mont-Blanc on the western side of the lake, then you’ll also come across the Brunswick Monument.

This mausoleum dates back to the 1800s and was built to commemorate Charles II, Duke of Brunswick.

Its Gothic architecture is said to resemble the Scaliger Tombs in Verona, Italy.

Parc de La Perle du Lac

Keep following the lake and you’ll come across Parc de La Perle du Lac within roughly 20 minutes of the Brunswick Monument.

This is most people’s favourite view of Lake Geneva because, on a clear day, you can see Mont Blanc on the other side of the lake.

Views of Mont Blanc across Lake Geneva
More pretty Lake Geneva views with Mont Blanc as a backdrop

Evening: Lake Geneva Cruise OR Geneva Botanical Garden

If you find you have time left after seeing everything mentioned above, then you have a few options on how to spend the rest of your afternoon and evening.

You could head straight for dinner. Or you could make time for a cruise along Lake Geneva or even a wander through Geneva’s Botanical Garden.

Lake Geneva Cruise

The Lake Geneva cruise usually departs at 5pm, but you’ll need to make your way back past the Brunswick Monument to board the boat.

While this is a popular experience with families and boat enthusiasts because it involves a vintage boat, you’ll enjoy most of the same views as you did during your walk. So it’s not an essential experience!

Note: This cruise is free if you have the Geneva City Pass or you can book your ticket separately via Get Your Guide.

Geneva Botanical Garden

Geneva Botanical Garden & Conservatory
The Conservatory in Geneva’s Botanical Gardens

Alternatively, you’ll find Geneva’s Botanical Garden within a short walk of Parc de La Perle du Lac mentioned earlier.

The best bit? The gardens are free to visit and close at 9pm, so there’s plenty of time for a late afternoon/early evening wander.

Here, you’ll find over 12,000 species of plants – both local and exotic – as well as a tranquil zen garden complete with its own Torii gate and Bamboo walkway.

Top Tip: Depending on which exit you use to leave the Botanical Garden, you might wander past Geneva’s infamous ‘Broken Chair’ landmark. It sits near the edge of the southern side of the botanical gardens.

Getting Around Geneva

While each of the sights mentioned in this Geneva itinerary are within a short walking distance of each other, Geneva also has excellent public transport options.

The Geneva Public Transport Network (UNIRESO) is an interconnected system of buses, trams, trains and even shuttle boats (aka mouettes) in and around the city.

And the best bit?

The entire system uses the same ticket, so you can hop onto different routes and modes of transport as many times as your ticket allows.

If you happen to be staying in a Geneva hotel, then you should be given a free public transport card.

Otherwise, you’ll need to buy a ticket before boarding, which is valid for either one hour or one day (depending on which option you choose).

You’ll also have access to free public transport if you have the Geneva City Pass.

I hope you’ve found this one day in Geneva itinerary helpful ahead of your trip. If you have any questions, please let us know in the comments below…

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One Day in Geneva Itinerary For First Time Visitors
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Justine Jenkins

Justine is one half of the married couple behind the Wanderers of the World travel blog. She lives in Bristol, UK and has travelled extensively within Europe and beyond since 2013. After her trips, she shares detailed travel itineraries, helpful travel guides and inspiring blog posts about the places she's been to. When she's not travelling overseas, you'll find her joining her husband, Scott on various day trips, weekend getaways and walks within the UK, which she also writes about on Wanderers of the World. Aside from travelling and writing, she also loves reading, crafting and learning about nature.

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