First Day in Geneva, Switzerland

Pink, orange and yellow streamed from behind the darker silhouette of the mountain line. The pilot told everyone to look to their left if possible. Sunrise over the Swiss Alps. What an incredible sight! It was the natural beauty I had hoped for and we hadn’t even touched down in Geneva. I felt like I would connect with Switzerland as soon as I booked but soon that turned to worry that it wouldn’t live up to the expectations.

Switzerland had been raved about on blogs, travel company sites and also by friends who had visited. Geneva was decided on a few months ago for my New Year’s Eve getaway. As the sun rose while I sat descending in the plane, I suspected I’d made a good decision.

What would I do?

A question I had been asked a few times and something I thought about and researched. I want to see fireworks over Lake Geneva on NYE. I love a good firework display and its quite an iconic place in Switzerland so that would be great. History and culture would be up there for things to find out about. Sadly the Palais des Nations is closed for tours until 4th January but museums are open. Old Town was the first stop so this morning, I headed out to the other side of the Lake.

Cathedrale Saint Pierre

Cathedrale Saint Pierre & nearby statue

Switzerland feels clean and its expensive! These are the two things that hit me in the first five minutes in the city. I’m getting roughly 1.3 Swiss Francs to the British pound and a coffee costs 7.40 Francs. That is some expensive coffee! In my first day, I have managed to sniff out a few budget things. I will explain later. There is no litter and the train was spotless. My hotel is very clean and tidy and streets, parks and the lake are all well maintained.

Geneva is a pretty place. From the lake with boats bobbing along to the historic buildings, squares and parks and obviously the backdrop of mountains. It is beautiful. Its easy too. Walking everywhere is completely fine plus I got a free transport pass when I checked into my hotel. There are pedestrian only parts and, at the moment, its not crowded.

Jet d'Eau on Lake Geneva

Jet d’Eau on Lake Geneva

Seeing the Jet d’Eau was actually nice. I’d seen it in photos and while it wasn’t a major thing to see on my list, it is impressive at 140 feet. At the other side of Lake Geneva, I was reminded of one of the things this city is famous for – clocks. Well watches really but the flower clock symbolises the watchmaking history.

Flower Clock Geneva

Flower Clock

The second delightful sight was chocolate! Beautiful, handmade truffles and bars. I must resist. I must resist. Who am I kidding? I’ve had half a bar already!

Chocolates Geneva

Chocolate of the Swiss variety

Old Town begins just across the road from the Lake and the architecture is easily recognisable. I love old buildings and winding cobbled streets. This was going to be good!

Old Town Streets Geneva

Old Town Streets

The cathedral Saint Pierre is visible from many places in the city due to being on a hill and I knew I wanted to visit. So I headed in that direction. There are a lot of maps dotted around showing heritage sites and museums. This is a whole area of history to explore.

Old Town Geneva

Old Town Geneva

I will do a full blog post on Cathedral Saint Pierre because I’d recommend visiting. For now, I’ll share a photo of the huge organ at the back (confusingly next to the entrance!) of the cathedral. There are info boards showing the past organists and it is a famous feature of this place.

People bustled in and out while I was there but it is possible to get a quiet spot and reflect for a moment. There are also services that are open to everyone if you wish to worship.

Famous organ in Cathedral

Famous organ in Cathedral

So far my day had been free. By free, I mean no money had been spent. It was lunch time and I decided to go to a café in the Old Town. I ordered Spaghetti Carbonara and a diet coke and spent 30 Swiss Francs including a tip. That’s around £20. It was a good sized bowl and I didn’t need much tonight but it was expensive.

I started looking around after that for deals and the plat du jour looks like a good deal. Usually two or three courses and a soft drink/coffee for 20 Swiss Francs. For alcohol, sangria maison is 5 Swiss Francs or beer/wine can be bought in shops. A good one I’ve found is Coop which sells fruit, veg and meals as well as snacks and alcohol for much cheaper. I think it’s possible to do things in a budget way here. You just need to plan and research a bit first.

Coop shop in Geneva

Budget food and drinks

I continued to walk around after lunch. Meandering down and out of the other side of the Old Town, I found some museums, a park and the Grand Theatre.

Walled Old Town

Walled Old Town


Great old cafe

Great old buildings

Squares and parks look like great places with a small ice skating rink and giant chess pieces to play with opposite the theatre. Tree lined pedestrian walkways and gardens that would be in full bloom in warmer months are dotted around the city. The touches of nature and quiet spots as well as the historic buildings are the things I loved about Geneva today.

Grand Theatre in Geneva

Grand Theatre in Geneva

A great first day in Geneva. I can’t wait to explore more tomorrow and have New Year’s Eve celebrations at night. Have you visited Geneva, Switzerland?


  • Looks like you’ve had a wonderful day! If I ever visit Geneva I’ll be sure to take a flask and a jar of coffee to take out with me 😀

  • Never been to Geneva! But Switzerland has never disappointed me. You inspired a new travel, thank you!

  • Stefan says:

    I felt like I travelled through Geneva with you (no seriously, I’ve forgotten to switch the heating on so I’ve got a draft…) It reminds me of those beautiful European old towns, crying out to be explored and photographed. But those chocolates – major major #nomnomnomnom 🙂

  • Sarah says:

    We have been to Switzerland, but not for many years, as, although I love mountains and lakes and am keen to return, I do worry about the cost, especially now there are four of us. But reading your post makes me so sure we would enjoy it. I’ve never been to Geneva, but it looks gorgeous.

  • Sabine says:

    I have visited Switzerland many times, just not yet Geneva. Switzerland is really a very beautiful country, so I guess Geneva will be as well. You’ll love it. Let us know how New Year’s eve went 🙂

  • We were only able to go to interlaken when we were in Switzerland. Apart from the crazy expensive prices, we loved it!

  • Geneva looks fantastic! I would love to taste this lovely Swiss chocolate! But I imagine it really is as pricey as you say,so it probably takes a bit of planning to sniff out all the cheapest options.

  • Rebecca says:

    WOW what a gorgeous place. I admit it I’m jealous now. Simply beautiful.

  • I’d love to visit Geneva, or live there for a bit actually. It is home to many NGO HQs (and I work in that sector), but these posts are in high demand. Your photos motivated me to send those applications off…

  • Tara says:

    I’ve flown into Geneva but never spent much time there!!

    It looks beautiful but jeeeezzz that is expensive!!! Is the coop anything like the Co Op in England??

    Hope you’re enjoying your time there!

  • Kinga says:

    Looks like a very charming place to visit! I would probably go crazy seeing all this chocolate, which is too bad as I’m currently on no-sugar diet. 😛

  • Veronika says:

    Hi! I have not visited Geneva, but from what i saw online, Switzerland offers some stunning sites! What else is on your schedule in Switzerland?

  • I knew that Switzerland is expensive but 7.40 francs for a coffee??!! Ouch! At least the alcohol seems to be better priced. I’ve always dreamed about making a ton of money and saving enough money to visit Geneva to buy myself a Rolex in cash, hehe. I’m glad you had a great first day in Geneva, enjoy the rest of your time there.

  • Jenna Kvidt says:

    That’s great you found some budget options because those prices do sound expensive, especially for the coffee!! Switzerland sounds like a fantastic country though, I would love to visit some day! NYE fireworks over Lake Geneva sound great–hope you had a fun time!

  • I went to Zurich a few years ago, but spent my time in Zurich. It was also very clean and very expensive! But it sounds like you’re having a great time so far 🙂

  • alexis says:

    I’m dying to get to Switzerland!!! Looking forward to seeing more of your adventures!!

  • SLioy says:

    I’m impressed that you could limit yourself to half a bar of chocolate! Great read, I never made it to Geneva and reading this has me wondering why.

  • Marta says:

    I’ve been to Geneva a few times but until my last trip there, in the spring, I can’t say I really loved it. My first impression was of a grey, working city, but the old town and the beautiful backdrop of the mountains made me change my mind. I agree it’s expensive but I found many places to be really good so overall I think it’s wel worth visiting

  • carolcolborn says:

    I actually did when I was still working, about 20 years ago so didn’t really see much. Main thing I remember are my fondue meals!!! I plan to go back. Yes, that was a nice day!

  • shussey27 says:

    I think Geneva and Switzerland as a whole would be a lovely place to visit, as you can clearly see from your post. But the country is so expensive! Everything is ridiculously priced….it puts me off a little.

  • Katharina says:

    I haven’t been to Switzerland yet, but I LOVE chocolate so I have to go someday! 😀 Those chocolates in the picture look soooo good!! The town itself seems to be beautiful, too.

  • Marjorie says:

    Last New Year’s eve I decided that in 2016, I would greet the New Year in another country. I can only afford somewhere in Asia so I’m a little envious that you did it in Switzerland. I also want to go to that country, I’ve two friends who have been there for business but they had the time to at least go around and their pictures are absolutely amazing. Just like the photos that you posted here. And they also sent me Swiss chocolates, oh my god they are the best!

    I love what you saw during your walk, so many beautiful sites.

  • Nina says:

    Geneva sounds like a great place to visit! I love Switzerland in general, except that it’s expensive. But, so beautiful and great people!

  • Alli Blair says:

    The town looks so beautiful. My eye caught sight of those chocolates pretty quick! I haven’t been to Geneva but I’ve been to Lucerne and my favourite thing to do was just stroll the pretty streets and bombard every chocolate shop!! 🙂

  • Oh Switzerland! One of my favorite countries. Very expensive indeed. I am so happy we’re able to go to a privately owned family house here, by car (full of food) – it saves so much money! Cause the country for me is too beautiful not to go 🙂

  • Svet Dimitrov says:

    I remember two things impressed me the most in Geneva – the super clean streets and the drinkable water everywhere! Oh, and the river Rhône – sooo clean. Amazing.

    But in general, Geneva looks a little dull – for a young tourist looking for fun. And it is quite expensive. Thanks for sharing the good deals!

    One remark – the fountain Jet d’Eau is 140 metres (459 feet not 140 feet) :))

  • Jessica Ayun says:

    May you enjoy the rest of your time in Geneva. This is just one day but I am already inspired enough to see it by myself. 🙂

  • Wow Switzerland really is expensive. Might have to hold out on visiting until the Canadian Dollar is doing much better .. if that ever happens ha! Enjoy the rest of your time.

  • We absolutely fell in love with Switzerland this year. We flew into Geneva but didn’t see much unfortunately but we know it is a country we will return to and hopefully live in for a while. We visited Basel, Interlaken and Lucerne, its such a beautiful country and full of adventure too. It’s just quite expensive but I do love using the Franc instead of Euro!

  • Wow what a beautiful place! I have never been but it’s on my list!

  • Leticia says:

    That is an expensive coffee. Was it just a regular coffee or a Starbucks-style one with cocoa and stuff?

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