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World Travel Guide > Guides > Europe > Switzerland > Geneva

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Things to do in Geneva

Beach life

Geography dictates that Switzerland will never be associated with beach holidays, but the whopping great body of water on Geneva’s doorstep means the summer months do offer plenty of beach-like activities. Join the locals for a swim in the lake at the Bains des Pâquis (tel: +41 22 732 29 74; www.bains-des-paquis.ch), a 1930s-built public bathing area which also offers a hammam, spa treatments and a great little bar.

Cruising

You can't come to Geneva and not venture onto the lake at some point. The number of cruising options is fairly extensive: find full-blown luxury cruises where fine dining accompanies the view, leisurely Sunday cruises, one-hour cruises, fondue cruises, lunch cruises, sunset cruises and the list goes on. The Compagnie Générale de Navigation (tel: +41 900 929 929; www.cgn.ch), which operates the lake's main passenger boats, has a variety of enticing options. 

Rafting

It’s possible to go rafting through Geneva's city centre with local company Rafting Loisirs (tel: +41 22 784 0205; www.rafting-loisirs.ch). Inflatable rafts cover an 7km (4 mile) route, taking in eight waterfalls along the way, along the Arve River. Take in the heart of Geneva itself, as well as the more rustic environs of the surrounding countryside, before arriving into the city and flowing into the Rhône River.

Skiing

Geneva is situated within striking distance of some of the Alps' best resorts. Among them are Gstaad, Zermatt and Crans-Montana, as well as the French towns of Val d’Isère and Chamonix. If you want to test your sliding skills without going too far, head to the Jura resort of Les Rousses (www.lesrousses.com) - only 40 minutes from the city.

Wine tasting

The vineyards on the sunny slopes above Lake Geneva hold plenty of wine tasting opportunities, especially in the UNESCO heritage region of Lavaux. Catch a 'wine train' through the vines (tel: +41 848 848 791; www.lavauxexpress.ch). Visit Geneva in May and you may catch the annual caves ouvertes (open cellars), when local wine producers throw open their doors to the public for a day of wine tasting.

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Featured Hotels

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Le Richemond

Gigi author Colette enjoyed her own suite at Le Richemond, one of Geneva's most established high-end hotels. The property rewards visitors with an enviable setting on the banks of the Rhône and 109 sumptuously appointed rooms and suites. There are also four flexible meeting spaces with its Le Jardin restaurant serving fine Italian cuisine. Additional facilities include a spa and limousine service.

Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues Geneva

Billed as Geneva's first hotel, the Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues Geneva has been standing on the shores of Lake Geneva since 1834. Modern highlights include a spa and fitness facilities, but the real pull lies in the chance to sample the charm of a bygone era. If you've got the cash, this is arguably the finest hotel in Geneva.

Hôtel Edelweiss

Just a short walk from Lake Geneva, Hôtel Edelweiss is a sensible budget option in Geneva. Decorated in the style of a Swiss chalet, the hotel offers 42 rooms and a Swiss-style restaurant, where evening entertainment and folk music are provided for the guests. All rooms are en suite and equipped with telephone and mini-bar. There is also a small business centre and free Wi-Fi access.

Crowne Plaza Geneva

The Crowne Plaza Geneva hotel is just a short ride from the airport and offers 366 rooms. Other facilities include a fitness room. International cuisine is served at Seventy5, brunch at the Café Jardin and snacks at Le Bar. The hotel has an extensive range of conference and banquet facilities for up to 1,200 people and also offers a free shuttle service to and from the airport.

Mövenpick Hotel & Casino Geneva

Located in the International Centre Cointrin (ICC) business complex the Mövenpick Hotel & Casino Geneva is situated just 0.8km (0.5 miles) from the Palexpo Exhibition Centre and 15 minutes' drive from the city centre. Trendy types and the business community enjoy this mini-city which provides everything from an airline check-in desk and discotheque to a casino piano bar and business centre. In short a solid bet in terms of price and location.

Hotel De Genève

Just streets away from Lake Geneva itself, there are no whistles and bells at Hotel De Genève, but what you get is a plum location and a choice of 39 rooms which straddle the line between modern design and historic home comforts. It’s clean, cheap and offers free Wi-Fi and a breakfast buffet.