Choose from 99 Fun Things to Do in Switzerland
Carouge is where Geneva goes to unwind. It was ever thus: what is now a suburb started life outside the then city walls in the mid 18th century as a parcel of land belonging to the King of Sardinia, who hoped it would provide refuge for Catholics and other minorities from puritanical Protestant Geneva. The area still bears the imprint of the Italian architects he drafted to design the area.
This charming district has developed over the years into something of a bohemian center, with all sorts of artisanal activity going on during the day and a wide selection of bars and restaurants to occupy you through the night. The Place du Marché forms the heart of the district, with its quirky Italianate church at one end and a regular produce market which has been in operation for over 300 years.
From the main railway station, Gare Cornavin, take tram number 12 or 13 and get off at Marché, the center of Carouge.
From Roman mosaics in the foundations to the neoclassical columns of its facade, the Cathédrale de Saint-Pierre is not only Geneva’s main house of worship, it is also a fascinating time capsule of the different influences that have dominated the city over the centuries. Depending on how you approach it, you could be forgiven for thinking the cathedral is actually a group of smaller buildings huddled together, as successive building programs – most notably Romanesque and Gothic – never completely wiped out previous traces.
Saint-Pierre is associated above all with the Protestant reformer John Calvin, who preached here in the 16th century; his rather uncomfortable looking wooden chair is still on display. And if you’re feeling energetic, just nearby is the entrance to the cathedral’s north tower, which will reward your 157-step climb with one of the best views of Geneva.
The cathedral, in the center of the Old Town, can be visited free of charge, though there is a small fee for climbing the tower. There is also an admission charge for the archaeological site in the cathedral’s foundations, featuring late Roman mosaics and the remnants of Geneva’s oldest Christian shrines, which is reached by a separate entrance.
This is no mere monument – the Geneva Flower Clock is also a fully functioning clock, among the largest of its king in the world, with a diameter of 5 meters and a seconds hand reaching over 2.5 meters long. The impressive floral arrangement now features eight dials and is replanted 4 times a year, with local landscapers creating ever-more elaborate designs each time, utilizing seasonal blooms and on-trend color schemes.
There’s more to this lakeside haven than great picture spots though – hike from the lake on one of the area’s 500 kilometers of walking trails, explore the traditional villages littering the lakeside or get a bird’s eye view of the lake by catching the old steam train from Brienz up the nearby Brienzer Rothhorn mountain. Most spectacular are the Giessbach Falls on the south shore, 500 meters of plummeting waterfalls reachable via the country’s oldest funicular railway from Giessbach village.
Thankfully, less-skilled mountaineers can still enjoy a number of hiking and climbing trails on the Eiger, the most famous of which is the Eiger Trail, which runs along the foot of the famous North Face. The dramatic landscapes of the Eiger can also be viewed by taking the scenic train ride to Jungfraujoch, where Europe’s highest train station and observation deck is aptly nicknamed the ‘Top of Europe’.
- Known as “the slowest express train in the world,” the full journey between Zermatt and St. Moritz takes 7.5 hours.
- Tickets for children between the ages of 6 and 16 are half the adult price; children 5 years old and younger are free.
- Tickets must be booked in advance and seats are reserved.
- Lunch is not included in the ticket price.
- Glacier Express trains are accessible for wheelchair users.
- First Cliff Walk is ideal for adventure travelers.
- Entry to the cliff walk is included with a paid gondola ticket.
- There’s an on-site restaurant and souvenir shop as well as bathroom facilities.
- The narrow and unstable walk is not accessible to wheelchairs.
- Tickets for Glacier 3000 include entrance to the Fun Park, Glacier Walk, the Ice Express chairlift, and the Peak Walk.
- It can be chilly on the mountaintop even in the summer months, so be sure to wear appropriate clothing.
- The cable car and Botta restaurant are both wheelchair accessible.
Geneva’s Old Town (Vieille Ville) contains some of the city’s foremost attractions, including the Barbier-Mueller Museum, the Cathédrale St-Pierre and the Maison Tavel. It is also the site of the International Museum of the Reformation, which underlines Geneva’s importance in the great religious upheavals of the 16th century, particularly through the work of French theologian John Calvin, who lived and preached here.
But this historically significant district offers much more than just indoor pursuits; exploring the area on foot is a pleasure, with a number of the narrow, winding streets closed to traffic and numerous cafes offering refueling stops along the way. The beautiful Place du Bourg-de-Four is the traditional center of the Old Town and a great place to enjoy an early evening drink.
From the main railway station, Gare de Cornavin, take bus number 5 to Palais Eynard and make your way downhill through the Old Town on foot.
Bahnhofstrasse is the shopping street in Zurich. Running from Bahnhofplatz outside the main train station all the way to the lake, it's full of luxury shops selling designer fashion, furs, porcelain, and, of course, chocolates, clocks and watches. Halfway along is Zurich's first, biggest and best department store Jelmoli. The basement food-hall is a must. Or if you want the best in Swiss chocolate, take a break at Cafe Sprungli, the epicenter of sweet Switzerland since 1836.
Bahnhofstrasse follows the line of the moat of medieval Zurich and is mainly pedestrianized, although watch out for the trams running along it. It runs parallel to the river Limmat and it's easy to punctuate your shopping with visits to churches and other important sites of Zurich dotted in the narrow streets between. Culture and consumerism: Zurich has them both.
Bahnhofstrasse is in the heart of Zurich. The main station, Hauptbahnhoff is at one end of Bahnhofstrasse and here trains arrive from all over Zurich and Europe. The city also has an excellent tram network which converges on this central area.