An affluent place that is home to many international organizations and embassies – as well as the United Nations – Geneva is the second largest city in the country Switzerland and is well worth visiting for its plethora of amazing sights. Full of lovely old buildings, museums, parks and more, it is a fantastic place to wander around, with loads to see and do.
The lake is unquestionably the star of Geneva’s show. It is the background for many of the loveliest city views and itself has the unmatched backdrop of snow-covered Alps. You can get from one part of the city to another on its Mouettes Genevoises, motor-launches that have shuttled between lakeside quays since 1897. Or you can explore the lake on one of the regular boats that connect Geneva with Lausanne, Montreux, and other lakeside towns, some of the most popular places to visit near Geneva. For a taste of lake travel of long ago, opt for a cruise on one of the historic paddle steamers.
Temple de Saint-Pierre
Dating back to 1150 as the Cathedral of Saint-Pierre, the Romanesque church at the highest point of Geneva’s old town features some Gothic elements. During the Protestant Reformation, in which Geneva played an important role, the name was changed to Temple de Saint-Pierre and it became a protestant church. John Calvin preached sermons here from 1536 to 1564, and his followers stripped out the altars, paintings, and statuary, leaving only the carved capitals and the stained glass from its original decoration.
Located in the fantastic Parc Des Bastions, the Reformation Wall is a must-see when you are in Geneva; the monument depicts an important moment that changed Europe’s history forever. Built to honor the main individuals who influenced the movement, the Reformation Wall documents the Protestant Reformation and the schism that took place in Western Christianity in the 16th century. Beautiful to behold, there are numerous statues and bas-reliefs of such influential figures as John Calvin, Oliver Cromwell, and William Farel.
Natural History Museum
Opened in 1966, the Natural History Museum houses a fine collection that covers everything from taxidermy and insect specimens to moon rocks, fossils and the evolution of man. A great place for all the family to visit, the exhibitions are very well laid out and lots of display panels explain exactly what it is you’re looking at; young ones will particularly enjoy stopping by the floors devoted to the animal kingdom. In total, there are over 200 taxidermies on show, as well as countless moon rocks and fossils. One of the most interesting and impressive things to see at the museum is actually a living tortoise called Janus that has two heads who has defied biological norms to live for over 20 years.