Geneva travel guide

Historic lakeside Geneva is a city made for walking, in summer sunshine or wrapped up against the chill, writes Brian Johnston.

By Brian Johnston
Le Bar des Bergues, Geneva, Switzerland
Four Seasons Hôtel des Bergues
Opened in 1834, this grande dame of Swiss hotels has a city-centre location on the Rhône River at its junction with Lake Geneva. Some guest rooms have contemporary interiors; others are Louis Philippe style. Many rooms have snow-capped alpine views. Public areas are lavish, and service is impeccable but never stuffy. The hotel's northern Italian eatery, Il Lago, has a new Michelin star; the terrace of Le Bar des Bergues is a perfect summer hangout. 33 Quai des Bergues.
Hôtel les Armures
A warren of nooks, crannies and corridors linking four historic buildings creates eccentric charm at this boutique Old Town hotel. Decorative plasterwork, tapestries and antiques are leavened by contemporary furnishings and bold colour. The armour-decorated restaurant serves excellent Swiss dishes, particularly pleasing in winter for raclette and fondue. 1 Rue Puits-Saint-Pierre.
International Red Cross Museum
This compact, innovative museum, revamped in 2013, outlines the history of the benevolent society founded in the 1860s by Geneva businessman Henri Dunant. It explains its worldwide activities and vividly illustrates the horrors of warfare through the ages. Personal stories in the "chamber of witnesses" are compelling. It's what a museum should be: thought-provoking and challenging. 17 Avenue de la Paix.
Promenades and parks
To take in the beauty of Geneva's lakeside setting and stunning alpine views, start walking at Parc William Rappard in the city's north through parks and along promenades to the city centre. Cross the Mont Blanc bridge and continue past the floral clock and through the Jardin Anglais to Parc des Eaux-Vives on the opposite shore. This park is one of Geneva's most romantic spots, particularly on a sunny day, surrounded by roses and towering cedars.
La Halle de Rive
Looking for fine fare for a park picnic? This covered market is known for its regional cheeses, cold cuts, garlicky sausages, chocolates and wines. On Wednesday and Saturday mornings, the fruit-and-veg action expands outdoors. 29 Boulevard Helvétique.
Auer Chocolatier
Queues form outside this city-centre shop for the truffles and pralines that are made by hand each morning. 4 Rue du Rive.
Auberge de Savièse
The down-at-heel Pâquis district, between the main station and Lake Geneva, is favoured by locals for its authentic eateries. This busy, family-run auberge serves popular Swiss dishes, including raclette, lake fish and fondue; the combination of Gruyère, Emmenthal and Vacherin cheeses is traditional. 20 rue des Pâquis.
L'Olivier de Provence
This Provençal restaurant in fashionable Carouge has wooden beams, starched linen and an open fire. The menu ranges from fish soup to lamb with couscous; we like the guinea-fowl thighs with morel mushrooms. The 50-franc lunch menu is a bargain. 13 rue Jacques-Dalphin, Carouge.
Restaurant de l'Hôtel de Ville
This upmarket brasserie is resolutely old-fashioned, with brusque waiters perfecting Gallic impatience. Travel into the time warp for regional cuisine that includes the lake fish omble chevalier in butter sauce, seasonal game and local wine. 39 Grand-Rue.
  • undefined: Brian Johnston