It’s often mistaken for being the inspiration behind the entirely fictional land of Genovia in The Princess Diaries.
And I must admit – I thought it was too before I visited.
But apart from it being an equally beautiful Instagram-worthy city, Geneva is very much real and has its own signature style.
From the breathtaking backdrop of the mountains and famous Jet de L’eau to the contemporary art, rich history and delicious Swiss cuisine, there’s something for everyone.
Here’s why Geneva should be your next break
Take a guided walking tour to learn about the best of Geneva’s rich history (Picture: Shutterstock)
The best way to learn about Geneva’s history is to take a guided walking tour through the city.
Our lovely guide, Sandrina Palomera, walked us through cobbled streets, showed us the famous Chapel of the Maccabees, took us to the international Museum of Reformation, the Jet de L’eau and St Peter’s Cathedral, among other beautiful attractions.
Tickets cost around £12 (15 CHF) for a two-hour guided tour on foot or if you’ve got a Geneva Pass, it’s free.
There’s plenty for everyone (Picture: Tanveer Mann)
Art in Geneva is incredibly young.
Due to its Protestant history, art was banished in the city until around 50 years ago.
That means that the art you see in the museums and in exhibitions is still very fresh and new.
In the past few decades, Quartier des Bains, dubbed Geneva’s little Soho, has rapidly developed and now has numerous art galleries, exhibition spaces and museums.
It’s home to the impressive MAMCO, which is the equivalent to New York’s MOMA.
The four-storey museum is currently undergoing renovation but is unique in that art is not contained to just walls, but is everywhere – the staircase, toilets, lifts and even entrance hall floor.
Hotel Edelweiss offers fondue-making classes for 50 CHF (Picture: Tanveer Mann)
What would Switzerland be without its cheese? Nowhere TBH. It’s what keeps me coming back.
And Geneva, specifically, is home to delicious fondue which is made up of Gruyere and Vacherin Fribourgeois.
You can try making your very own fondue at the Hotel Edelweiss where you can get a crash course in fondue-making followed by a lavish three-course meal.
The restaurant is designed like a Swiss chalet so the moment you step in, you feel like you’ve been transported to a snowy mountaintop in the Alps.
The price of a fondue-making class with dinner is £40 (50 CHF). You can book your fondue experience here.
Carouge, Geneva’s treasured italianate districtCarouge is Geneva’s hidden treasure (Picture: Shutterstock)
Carouge, Geneva’s Italianate district, is the hidden gem of the city, created by a bunch of architects from Turin in the 18th century as an independent town.
You only have to take a 10 minute tram ride from the centre and you’re in an entirely different world.
From the chocolate maker to the locally manufactured soap, as well as its numerous hidden terraces and shuttered windows, Carouge is really unique.
It’s home to the famous market on the Place du Marché, which is open from 8am to 1pm on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
It’s also littered with a number of small boutiques selling unique items such as this cute little tea shop called Betjeman & Barton, which is run by a lovely Moroccan couple.
Jean Kazes holds the Guinness World Book of Record for the largest pendulum clock ever (Picture: Tanveer Mann)
Carouge is also home to Jean Kazes, the Guinness World Book of Record holder for making the largest pendulum clock.
A man of few words, he clearly lets his work do the talking.
As soon as you enter his store, you’re greeted by the tick tock tick of custom-made clocks everywhere – all created by him.
(Fun fact: He’s currently creating an even larger clock for a wealthy businessman in Dubai).
The viewsAwesome views (Picture: Shutterstock)
Geneva is basically centred around the famous Lake Geneva.
On one side you have the Old Town (the Vieille Ville), which is the largest historic town in Switzerland, dominated by St Pierre Cathedral.
On the other, you have the newer part of Geneva, which is considered the more hip and affordable side.
You can see awesome views of the entire city if you take a trip up the Cathedral.
Tickets are only £4 (5 CHF) but be warned – it’s 157 steps to the top so wear comfortable shoes.
Thanks to its university and art scene, Geneva has quite a young feel to it.
You only have to walk through the city centre and you’ll stumble across dozens of night clubs dotted around the area.
Even if you fancy a slightly quieter night out, there are plenty of good bars which line the main street in Geneva.
And if, like me, you love a good rooftop bar, there’s the swanky Rooftop 42, which has its own outdoor terrace and blankets to keep you warm.
I was lucky enough to visit the Antigel festival during my stay, which hosted a fantastic concert in water at Les Bains de Cressy.
Champagne and pool party? Yes please! (Picture: Tanveer Mann)
The festival is over now but, don’t worry, the Electron Festival, which showcases the best of Swiss electronic culture, will be taking place next month (April).
And if you miss that, there’s also Geneva’s favourite music festival which will be taking place from June 1 to 18, where more than 500 free concerts of all kinds will be held.
Five-star dining at Le Flacon (Picture: Tanveer Mann)
Oh, I would go back just for the food – and I don’t mean simply the chocolate and fondue.
Whether you’re vegetarian or a serial meat eater, there’s something for everyone here.
In the old town of Carouge, there’s some hidden gems like Le Flacon, which mainly use local products to make their dishes.
I had lunch there and was amazed by how full it was as soon as doors opened at noon.
L’Addresse restaurant is part boutique shop, part cafe (Picture: Tanveer Mann)
There’s also a lot of choice for people looking for something a little less fancy, like L’addresse which you’ll find up a small staircase hidden behind a tiny red door.
When you reach the first floor, you’ll find a vast luminous space that resembles part-boutique, part-café,
It also has a rooftop where you can wile away summer days reading your favourite book.
These salmon blinis with popcorn will leave you pleasantly surprised. (Picture: Tanveer Mann)
If you’re exploring the art quarter, stop by the Café des Bains, which is conveniently located opposite the MAMCO.
I tried the above dish and was pleasantly surprised. Turns out salmon blinis with popcorn is quite a tasty dish. Who knew?
Take a break at the Bain Bleu Spa (Picture: Tanveer Mann)
It gets tiring doing all that exploring but luckily there’s plenty of really good spas in Geneva that will have you relaxed in no time.
I visited the Bain Bleu Hammam and Spa in Geneve plage, which is about a 10-minute tram journey from the main central station.
It has its own rooftop pool and café where you can grab a bite to eat while lounging on the deck chairs.
Hamman packages cost £80-£150 (99-185 CHF). (Picture: Tanveer Mann)
Downstairs there’s the heated public pool featuring water jets (but as it can get quite noisy as children are allowed during the day, I’d suggest booking the Hamman experience).
The Hamman area is adults only so it’s worth having the whole package if you really want to relax.
The only downside is that the hamman area is mixed, and as you’re given just a slinky scarf to cover your modesty, you can end up feeling a little uncomfortable!
Packages cost between £80 and £150 (99-185 CHF).
Where to stay
Hotel N’vY is conveniently located just a nine minute walk from the main Mont Blanc bridge (Picture: Baldeep Ghataore)
I stayed at the boho-chic Hotel N’vY, which is perfectly located just two stops away from the main train station and just a nine-minute walk from the main Mont Blanc bridge.
The suites on the 8th floor have their own balconies and mine had an awesome view of the famous Jet de L’eau.
The views of the city were excellent and the rooms got bonus points for the lovely graffiti art above the beds.
How to get around
Use your Geneva Pass to explore the city by public transport (Picture: Getty)
One thing you notice when you go to Switzerland is that everything runs on time.
So if you’re even half a second late, they won’t wait around (a welcome change from the forever delayed tubes in London!).
With your Geneva Pass you can get around super easy and it’s valid for 24, 48 or 72 hours. It can be bought from the Geneva Tourism website for £21 (26 CHF) for a one-day pass.
How to get there
A one-way ticket to Geneva costs around £35 (Picture: Shutterstock)
I flew from London Gatwick to Geneva with easyJet.
Flights take just over an hour and a half and cost around £35 one-way.
When you arrive at the airport, you can get a free 80-minute train ticket from the arrivals hall, which takes you directly to the main Geneva train station in just five minutes.