fbpx

Gentle Geneva // One Day in Switzerland’s International Capital

St. Pierre Cathedral Geneva Geneve Switzerland
  • Save
This blog post likely contains affiliate links, including Amazon Associates links. If you make a purchase through one of them I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

To be completely honest, there was no real part of me that was dying to visit Geneva. The simple fact of the matter was that it was the cheapest place in Switzerland to fly out of. My lack of a desire to visit Geneva probably contributed to my considering just skipping it all together and spending a longer time in Zurich. In the end, I’m glad I visited the place, but for different reasons than one might expect.

I arrived in Geneva around 9:00 at night and walked quickly to my hostel, where I immediately passed out after a long day.

The next morning, I set out to get to know the city by taking Free Walk Geneva’s Heart of Geneva walking tour. I met the large group at the designated meeting spot, and off we went. Out of the two walking tours that I took with Free Walk Switzerland during the time that I was there, this one was definitely my favourite. We covered a lot of ground, and it was super informative.

If you only have one day in Geneva, Switzerland, you might have to rush. Take a free walking tour and visit the UN. What to do in Geneva with only one day.
  • Save

We learned the story of a woman who made enough soup to feed the city…

Saw the Reformation Wall and the hastily added on name of a woman far off to the side…

If you only have one day in Geneva, Switzerland, you might have to rush. Take a free walking tour and visit the UN. What to do in Geneva with only one day.
  • Save

If you only have one day in Geneva, Switzerland, you might have to rush. Take a free walking tour and visit the UN. What to do in Geneva with only one day.
  • Save
Yeah…

Visited St. Peter’s Church, the namesake of my hostel and John Calvin’s church…

If you only have one day in Geneva, Switzerland, you might have to rush. Take a free walking tour and visit the UN. What to do in Geneva with only one day.
  • Save

If you only have one day in Geneva, Switzerland, you might have to rush. Take a free walking tour and visit the UN. What to do in Geneva with only one day.
  • Save

Saw what Geneva claims to be the longest wooden bench in the world

If you only have one day in Geneva, Switzerland, you might have to rush. Take a free walking tour and visit the UN. What to do in Geneva with only one day.
  • Save

And many other things along the way.

The tour broke around 12:45, and with a grumbling stomach I went to find some lunch.
In the afternoon, I made my way to the United Nations and the famous broken chair monument.

If you only have one day in Geneva, Switzerland, you might have to rush. Take a free walking tour and visit the UN. What to do in Geneva with only one day.
  • Save

If you only have one day in Geneva, Switzerland, you might have to rush. Take a free walking tour and visit the UN. What to do in Geneva with only one day.
  • Save

I sat outside the place for a little while. Unfortunately, it was a Saturday, so the UN was closed and I couldn’t go inside for a tour. Instead, I spotted the Botanic Gardens on Google Maps only a few minute a way, and decided to while away my afternoon there. The place was that classical kind of botanic garden beautiful, with white framed greenhouses and tropical plants galore. It was easily my favourite part of the city.

If you only have one day in Geneva, Switzerland, you might have to rush. Take a free walking tour and visit the UN. What to do in Geneva with only one day.
  • Save

If you only have one day in Geneva, Switzerland, you might have to rush. Take a free walking tour and visit the UN. What to do in Geneva with only one day.
  • Save

If you only have one day in Geneva, Switzerland, you might have to rush. Take a free walking tour and visit the UN. What to do in Geneva with only one day.
  • Save

In the late afternoon, I went to the Maison Tavel, a free museum that the guide on my walking tour had recommended.

The star of the show was easily the scale model of Geneva. Auguste Magnin spent 18 years making it, walking around Geneva sections at a time in order to get all of the details right. It also featured a large wine barrel in the cellar – though it wasn’t anywhere close to the size of the barrel I had seen a few days before in Heidelberg Castle.

If you only have one day in Geneva, Switzerland, you might have to rush. Take a free walking tour and visit the UN. What to do in Geneva with only one day.
  • Save

If you only have one day in Geneva, Switzerland, you might have to rush. Take a free walking tour and visit the UN. What to do in Geneva with only one day.
  • Save

My favourite part of my trip to Geneva had absolutely nothing to do with what I saw that day, though.

When I returned to my hostel that evening, I was greeted by several new faces in my dorm room. After a week and a half of living in Swiss hostels with absolutely no social atmosphere, I wasn’t really expecting much out of that night. But instead, a few of us gathered around a table and talked late into the night. One girl was from Japan, completing a month long internship at the UN. Two others were from Europe, attending a model UN summit at the actual UN.

As if that wasn’t impressive enough, we soon learned that one of those two girls was from Kosovo. She was only a year or two older than me, but she had been a refugee of the Yugoslav Wars. And now, she was attending a really legit model UN event. I can’t even begin to fathom how much she had gone through in her life, but she was so matter-of-fact about it. Her stories really opened my eyes to a whole world of experiences that I had never really given much thought to before. It was so unbelievably humbling.

Towards the end of the night, we all brought out our passports to compare them.

I almost felt guilty as I pulled out my two, extremely powerful Swiss and American ones. The text of the cover of the Kosovo passport has already rubbed off. Because the government was too cheap to use good quality materials. Not only that, but many places (including the UN) don’t recognize Kosovo as a country.

If you only have one day in Geneva, Switzerland, you might have to rush. Take a free walking tour and visit the UN. What to do in Geneva with only one day.
  • Save

I didn’t fall in love with Geneva. It’s not the most beautiful of cities because of the influence of Calvinism, and the part of me that comes from German-speaking Switzerland is naturally predisposed to hate it. But I will always treasure the memory of this night in the tiny hostel by John Calvin’s church. I wouldn’t trade that experience for the world.

Because of this night, I couldn’t recommend Home St. Pierre in Geneva any more.

Combination student residence and hostel, Home St. Pierre is centrally located in the Old Town of Geneva – right across from the St. Pierre Cathedral. I stayed in the 10 bed female dorm. It was well equipped with HUGE lockers and a kitchen and dining table right in the room! I had to search far and wide to find this hostel, and it was a little bit more trouble to get a booking than normal. But it was so worth it. The only two hostels on Hostelworld (my normal go to) in Geneva were far out from the center of town and apparently very sterile and unsocial. Home St. Pierre was the opposite of that, and led to the best hostel experience I’ve ever had. If you’re ever in Geneva, stay there.

Have you ever had an experience like this while traveling? Met someone amazing? Learned about something you never knew? Tell me your stories in the comments down below!

Like what you read? Pin It!

If you only have one day in Geneva, Switzerland, you might have to rush. Take a free walking tour and visit the UN. What to do in Geneva with only one day.
  • Save

This week, I’m linking this post up with Lauren, Marcella, Van, and Isabel for Wanderful Wednesday.

St. Pierre Cathedral Geneva Geneve Switzerland
  • Save

MY FAVORITE TRAVEL TIPS & RESOURCES

Booking Flights: The first place I turn when I’m searching for flights is actually just Google Flights - it’s great to figure out what sort of routes are available. Then, I check Skyscanner and Kiwi for deals. I also love Kiwi for its destination: anywhere feature!

Transportation: I love Omio for figuring out the cheapest way to get from one place to another, and Trainline for booking train tickets within Europe.

Accommodations: I absolutely love Booking.com for finding great hotel deals. After you stay a certain number of nights, you get Genius discounts! For hostels, Hostelworld is my go-to, and I use Airbnb occasionally as well (click here for $40 off your first booking!)

Travel Insurance: I knew that I shouldn’t travel without insurance for the longest time, but I really learned my lesson when I got an infected cut in Bali. Thank goodness I had travel insurance! I use and love World Nomads for their extremely comprehensive coverage.

Travel Insurance: I knew that I shouldn’t travel without insurance for the longest time, but I really learned my lesson when I got an infected cut in Bali. Thank goodness I had travel insurance! I use and love World Nomads for their extremely comprehensive coverage.

Tours: I always check Urban Adventures for great day tours of cities first–I’m obsessed with them! GetYourGuide and Viator are also great options. For multi-day tours, I highly recommend Intrepid.

Camera Gear: I use a Sony Alpha A6300 camera with an 18-105 mm lens and a 35 mm lens. My tripod is the MeFoto Backpacker Air and I loooooove it! I also use a DJI Mavic Air and a GoPro and which allow me to capture everything my regular camera can’t.

7 thoughts on “Gentle Geneva // One Day in Switzerland’s International Capital”

  1. Pingback: A Two Week Eurail Itinerary // Paris, Swizterland, and Germany • Addie Abroad

  2. Pingback: Wind & Water // A Copenhagen Canal Tour • Addie Abroad

  3. haha I also visited Geneva because it was the cheapest to fly into! I found incredibly cheap flights for a weekend from Madrid, so a few friends and I just went. It was really fun, but I think because of the people I went with. The city itself was beautiful, but SUPER expensive and I didn’t find there was too much to do. Seems like your hostel choice really made all the difference! I think Geneva would be perfect to do as a day trip!

  4. Pingback: Scottish Castle Hopping // A Day Trip from Home • Addie Abroad

  5. I’ve spent only a very short time in Geneva catching planes so I enjoyed reading what there was to do there in a day I may try to make a day of it next time. It sounds like the interesting people you met were what made your trip! #WanderfulWednesday

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Share via
Copy link