Lay of the Land
Geneva is the largest city located in the French speaking part of Switzerland (the French border is a short tram ride away). It is truly one of the world’s most global cities, hosting the highest number of international organizations in the world along with the headquarters of both the United Nations and the Red Cross. It is also home to CERN, the world’s largest laboratory for particle physics and the birthplace of the Internet.
With a history dating back to the Protestant Reformation, Geneva’s Old Town is traditional in feel, with cozy, cobblestone streets and narrow alleyways. The city center is easy to navigate, and can be observed from St. Peter’s Cathedral, which overlooks downtown (climb the 157 steps up the north tower for panoramic views.)
The city is located in the southwest corner of Switzerland, where the Rhône River meets Lake Geneva. Also known as Lake Léman, Lake Geneva is the life of the city and one of the largest lakes in Western Europe. In the summertime, locals spend their days swimming and boating. Boat tours run often, and introduce visitors to the quaint towns, neighborhoods, castles and terraced vineyards surrounding the lake’s shores.
With one of the most expansive and efficient tram systems, Geneva is very easy to navigate (most locals live in the countryside and commute into the city for work). Though the city is easily explored on foot, most hotels provide guests with a tram ticket to use throughout their stay in Geneva, making it easy to access the areas beyond the city center.
A short tram ride from the Old Town is Carouge, a charming neighborhood comparable to New York’s West Village (albeit much smaller). Nearly every storefront is occupied by a chic restaurant or boutique. This area is well worth a visit for those who have more time to explore the city.