Geneva, which is the second largest city in Switzerland after Zurich, offers an international appeal that is hard to deny. More than 200 international organizations call this "global city" home, and they include the United Nations European Headquarters and the International Red Cross. The fact that Geneva is located in the extreme southwest of Switzerland and is essentially surrounded by French territory lends to the fact that French is the predominant language. Other languages are often heard in the streets, including English, which is widely spoken. An orderly city, Geneva is easy to approach, and its relatively small size helps to also make it easy to manage. A walking tour is one of the best ways to take in all the great attractions in Geneva, and lush city parks provide visitors and residents alike with attractive spots to break for a while.
Geneva is a particularly clean city, which has a lot to do with the north winds that sweep through with regularity. Helping to make Geneva travel even more enticing is the city's idyllic location on the banks of Lake Geneva. This alpine lake, locally known as Lac Leman, is one of the largest alpine lakes on the planet. The Alps border its southern shore, and Mont Blanc is even visible from various vantage points in the area. Geneva is situated between the Alps and the Jura Mountains of neighboring France, which lends to the city's attractiveness. In addition to urban exposure, those who are enjoying Geneva vacations can also escape into the surrounding countryside to enjoy a range of recreational activities. In winter, skiing is popular, while the summer months encourage outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy things such as swimming, cycling, and hiking. Sailing is also one of the most popular things to do when the weather warms up, and every June, the Bol d'Or takes place. This lake regatta is one of the city's top annual events.
While exploring the city streets on Geneva vacations, visitors can take in any number of interesting attractions, including the famous Jet d'Eau fountain and the Flower Clock. The former is a lakeside fountain that spews water some 450 feet into the air, while the latter is a clock made of flowers. This fascinating clock keeps perfect time, as one might expect in a city that is known for its watchmaking prowess. The Flower Clock can be found in the English Garden at the base of the Mont Blanc Bridge. After viewing the clock, heading over to the bridge to enjoy the views of Mt Blanc is recommended on clearer days. The Jet d'Éau fountain and the Flower Clock can be found on quays, which are essentially wharfs or small islands that lie along the shores of Lake Geneva. Small boats carry passengers from quay to quay. Walking tours along the quays can also be enjoyed.
After exploring some of the city's quays, those who are engaging in Geneva travel might head over to the Old Town for a look. Set on Geneva's Left Bank, the Old Town is a charming district that is home to cobbled streets and the city's main cathedral. While it isn't the most attractive cathedral in Switzerland, the Cathedrale de St. Pierre boasts a mix of architectural styles and deserves some attention nonetheless. The St. Pierre archaeological site, which adjoins the church, offers insight into the city's early Roman days. It is open between June and September, and free audio guides help visitors make sense of the crumbling ruins. Another popular thing to do on a visit to the Cathedrale de St. Pierre is climb the 145 steps of the north tower. The views of the city and the surrounding countryside are worth the work.
While many Geneva travel itineraries only include tours of the quays and the Old Town, some of the city's other neighborhoods are worth checking out. One of the most interesting neighborhoods in town is the Les Paquis District, which is home to a collection of boutiques, banks, bistros, and bars. Geneva isn't known for its nightlife, but the Les Paquis District offers some trendy nightclubs that are among the hippest places to hang out once the sun goes down. General sightseeing is one of the highlights of Geneva vacations, and the city is home to a fine collection of museums for those who are interested in the city's cultural side. Two of the best attractions in Geneva are the Museum of Art and History and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum. At the Museum of Art and History, visitors can view an array of fascinating relics, some of which are historical pieces, others of which are priceless artworks. Among the highlights are the medieval stained glass pieces, the collection of Egyptian art, and the collection of Etruscan pottery. Over at the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum, visitors can learn all about the fascinating history of the Red Cross.
A vacation to Geneva Switzerland can involve any number of fun pursuits, and shopping is one of them. This city is a shopper's delight, especially for those who are in the market for high-end watches and jewelry. Other products that the city is known for include music boxes, cuckoo clocks, and chocolate. Visitors will be wise not to fill up on chocolate; at least not too much. Geneva is one of Europe's gastronomic destinations of choice, and visitors should try the local wine and cheeses as well. In addition to a number of good shops and restaurants, Geneva is also home to an array of good hotels, which makes spending at least a couple of days here worth considering while traveling through Switzerland.