Geneva for a Perfect 3-day Itinerary
Perfect 3 days in Geneva Updated: November 1, 2021
A perfect 3-day itinerary in Geneva can be a lot of things because Geneva has it all! From chateaus, vineyards, romantic hotels to high-end Michelin stars cosy dining and mountains to lighthouses! Geneva is a perfect romantic getaway plus a lot more!
Planning a European City trip?
You might like to visit the following cities as well:
Geneva — A City by the Lake
This romantic destination is simply known to the locals here in Geneva as Lac Léman — Lake Geneva. Geneva is indeed a City by the Lake, a huge lake surrounded by the Alps and Jura mountains with dramatic views of Mont Blanc. The views are absolutely beautiful, mesmerising and wonderfully romantic. It is especially charming and delightful in the evening to watch the sun set over the mountains.
Fusion of Cultures, History & Politics!
Besides offering a beautiful backdrop to a a romantic destination, Geneva offers a fusion of cultures. Much of this is reflected in the wide varieties of cuisine that are available here. German, French and Italian with the Swiss-French being widespread. So, if your favourite culinary delight is fondue, this is the perfect City for you to master your skills!
In addition to its culinary delights, Geneva is popularly known as the birthplace of Swiss watchmakers. It has also become the de facto home for politics and diplomacy, home to one of the four United Nations Headquarters and Red Cross. So, a visit here will fulfil varying interests — history, politics, shopping and much more. So, a visit here will fulfil varying interests – history, politics, shopping and much more.
Geneva’s fusion of cultures, fondue, vineyards and cosy dining with the back-drop of the mountains is a ready-made setting for a perfect romantic getaway. Added to this, Geneva is home to extraordinary and charming exquisite villas and hotels offering high-end indulgence of fine wine and dining.
Moments in Geneva makes one’s experience even more special no matter how one chooses to experience this lovely city by the lake. We chose Geneva for 3 days and packed in quite a lot!
Geneva for 3 days
Our beautiful moments in the city by the lake did not involve rushing around ticking off a long do-list. What we did have was a travel plan from the outset.
A travel plan is important as it gives structure to your vacation, and in this case our 3-days itinerary in Geneva.
Our travel plan to Geneva embodied 3-days, 2 nights. It included a full-on 10-hour day trip to Mont Blanc on Day 2 and a rather flexible itinerary for the rest of the time to explore Geneva, the City by the Lake.
Georgina suggests: To get the best of your time at a city getaway or a short-break getaway, getting an early morning flight is a good idea.
1 | Day 1 of 3 days in Geneva, Switzerland
An early morning flight to Geneva from London saw us arriving at mid-morning. With less than 2 hours journey in a very comfortable flight, we were upbeat when we arrived. The journey from Geneva International Airport to the hotel in city centre was a short one too. With early check-in and a quick drop-off of our bags, we were ready to explore.
Exploring Geneva meant that we had time for a stroll around the City where we discovered the flea market at Plainpalais, then along the lake, taking-in the impressive sight of Jet d’Eau.
We hopped onto a taxi-boat for a quick ride to the other side of the shore, from the left bank to the right. Our adventure led us to discover and explore the labyrinth streets of Geneva’s Old Town, appreciating the history and architecture of the City, stopping every now and again to admire the surroundings and make time for those clicks. A summary of the highlights is below.
Highlights of Day 1 of 3 days in Geneva
1.1 | Jet d’Eau
The Jet d’Eau is a large fountain in the lake and is a symbol of the city. You can’t miss it! The fountain shoots up 140m high, with over 7000 litres of water in the air at any one time. It lits up at night, with colours changing, giving the lake a beautiful setting and it was indeed a spectacular view.
1.2 | Exploring the left-bank of the lake in Geneva
Exploring the left-bank was exciting and interesting, no rush. Had brunch in a nearby cafe and we were eager to get across to the other side of the Lake.
Recommended: One-hour sightseeing cruise of Lake Geneva
1.3 | Exploring the right-bank of Lake Geneva and Geneva’s Old Town
1.3.1 | Geneva’s Old Town
Geneva’s Old Town was a remarkable experience, one that I will cherish for a long time. This is a place where history, culture and architecture abounds. The fusion of all three was very present and evident! A leisurely walk through the stone walls and winding streets transports you to the past. There are secrets here behind those old walls which I would love to explore but it will be at another time.
1.3.2 | St Pierre’s Cathedral, Geneva
St Pierre’s Cathedral sits up on a hill. It’s structure dates back to 1160. This Cathedral is significant, both as a historical site and as an archaeological excavation site. It’s neo-classical design and iconic pillars makes it a unique feature which must not be missed by any visitor to this City.
1.3.3 | The Place du Bourg-de-Four, Geneva
The Place du Bourg-de-Four is the oldest square in Geneva. It was established in the 9th Century as a market. Today, this square is the heart of the Old Town, where there are cafes and bars, terraces where you can just sit and enjoy your coffee or lager. It is a buzzing hub for tourists and the local alike throughout the day and well into the night.
Beside being a buzzing hub for tourists, the Old Town is the heart of historical Geneva. Given its rich history, it has many secrets which I could not discover on this trip. It was not in our itinerary to explore the historical Geneva deeply on this trip but it is one City which I will return to and is on my bucket list.
1.4 | L’horloge fleurie
L’horloge fleurie or the Flower Clock is well-known to represent Switzerland’s watchmaking tradition. The Flower Clock was created in 1955 in recognition of this. It is an outdoor flower clock located on the western side of Jardin Anglais Park and is created from about 6,500 flowering plants and shrubs. The clock looks different as the flowers change according to season and it is one of the main attraction of the City.
1.5 | Day 1 of 3 days in Geneva was almost over
It was the evening and almost the end of Day 1 of our 3-Days in Geneva. We wanted to explore the area around the lighthouse which we had noticed earlier. We also had dinner in mind and looked forward to having seafood. Our evening adventure led us to discover a vibrant part to the City! Loud music, beach volleyball and live entertainment!
We watched a couple of games here and made our way to the lighthouse. It was still bright, not dusk yet, busy and there was a lot of action here.
Evenings at the Lake in Geneva
On both days, we spent our evenings at the heart of Geneva, at the lighthouse in Lake Geneva. We sat around on the rocks and dangled our feet in the water. We watched the Jet d’Eau shoot-up amidst the noisy crowd around us. Each one waits for the other to leave so they can catch the quietness of gentle waves against the rocks. The sounds of chatter soon dies-off giving way to another – the nightlife entertainment.
The area around the lake becomes a centre for entertainment with live music and food, for both adults and children.
The lighthouse itself was charmingly delightful when the lights came on. This attracted a different crowd, mainly couples seeking a good photo opportunity with the lighthouse and Jet d’Eau as the backdrop.
With the crowd slowly disappearing, we watched the sun set behind the fountain and the mountains in the backdrop. The gentle breeze, the coolness and the waves of the water against our feet was wonderfully perfect for me. This is an experience you must not miss when you are in Geneva
2 | Day 2 of 3 days in Geneva: Chamonix-Mont Blanc
Day 2 of our Geneva for 3 days was an early start! As mentioned earlier, Day 2 in our travel planning included a day trip to the mountains, Chamonix-Mont Blanc.
Chamonix-Mont Blanc | A trip from Geneva, Switzerland
A day-trip to Chamonix-Mont Blanc from Geneva made perfect sense to us. It was an opportunity to explore a unique area and a ‘must’ for us because we were so close to it. Mont Blanc, also known as “White Mountain” is the highest mountain in the whole of the Alpine system, hence in Europe. Lake Geneva is situated at the foot of this mountain. We were thrilled to add a little adventure to our 3 days itinerary in Geneva.
We selected a customised tour of Chamonix and Mont Blanc, allowing ourselves to sit back and relax whilst experiencing it from all angles.
Our itinerary began at 08:00, aboard an air-conditioned coach. The journey was a pleasant ride, taking us through a 90-minute scenic journey to Chamonix.
Mont Blanc is on the western Alps, located on the border between France and Italy. So, our journey to Chamonix was across the border on the French side.
Point to remember: You will need your passport or ID card (EU Member countries) with you!
We selected the following activities:
i | Cable car ride to the summit of Aguille du Midi;
ii | Lunch at one of Chamonix’s traditional restaurant and exploring Chamonix Valley;
iii | Mer de Glace.
2.1 Aguille du Midi
The Aguille du Midi is the highest point and stands at 3842m directly across from Mont Blanc. It is the gateway to the Alps. To get here, is a 20-minute ride aboard the Aguille du Midi cable car from Chamonix Valley.
It is a two-stage journey to the summit from the valley floor. The first takes you to Plan de l’Aiguille which is at 2317m. Here, you have the option to exit and hike to Montenvers Railways. We did not hike. We went on the second stage of the car ride which took us to the top station, Piton Nord at 3778m. This part of the ride is a steep ascent.
We exited here, at 3778m, onto terraces that offer breath-taking views over the massif. A lift takes you to the summit terrace situated at 3842m, where you will have a clear view of Mont Blanc.
We were totally in awe at what awaited us here. The views were simply breathtaking. We could see the dark-grey peaks peeking through here and there in the distance, in-between clouds, in an otherwise snow-covered-pyramid shaped massif. Awesome. Beautiful. You need to see it.
Le Pas dans le Vide
Exiting the lift, you can take ‘A step into the Void’ (Le Pas dans le Vide), a 2.5m glass cage out, suspended from the side, at a 1000m above glaciers below. Picture below.
Stepping out of the ‘A step into the Void’ area, there is ‘The Pipe’, which offers five-windows to admire the Mont Blanc. It is a safe, 32m long steel gallery, with lots and lots of space below, which allows you to walk all around the pinnacle, offering you a 360-degree view of the Alps.
The 360-degree view of the Alps from ‘The Pipe’ at Aguille du Midi is the closest where one can get to Mont Blanc. It offers breath-taking views over the massif, the glaciers towards Mont Blanc, Chamonix Valley and the Alps as far as you can see across to the surrounding countries. Simply awesome!
This is a popular attraction not just for tourists but also for mountaineers and skiers.
It is difficult to convey what an awesome experience this was! A seamless ride up on a single cable, ears popping more than once, the sun’s reflection off the snow and the windy chill … This is highly recommended and an experience you ought to have at least once in your life.
Some specific travel tips to consider when visiting Aiguille du Midi/Chamonix Mont Blanc
i | Wrap up warm as there is a marked drop in temperature from the valley floor due to the wind chill;
ii | Don’t forget your sunglasses! You will need it, as the sun’s strength is amplified at altitude and reflects off the snow;
iii | Just a gentle caution to vertigo sufferers, please consider whether ‘A Step into the Void’ is something for you;
iv | The souvenir shop and the cafeteria here is open all year round;
v | The ‘3842m’ restaurant has a unique setting and serves Savoie dishes;
vi | Allow at least 2 – 3 hours for your visit.
2.2 | Chamonix Mont-Blanc Valley
The picturesque alpine town of Chamonix, surrounded by the Alps mountains and glaciers, is the main town in this valley. It is a popular destination for tourists and mountaineers as it is the gateway to the Alps. English is widely spoken here, so ordering our meals was not a problem.
It was a late lunch – freshly baked baguette to accompany the traditional french onion soup, and ham & cheese sandwiches. Not a perfect combination but we liked it.
2.3 | Mer de Glace
The Mer de Glace, also known as ‘Sea of Ice’ is another popular attraction in the Chamonix Valley. At 7km long and 200m thick, the Mer de Glace is the largest glacier in France. Sadly, it is also the most visible symbol of climate change.
To get to Mer de Glace, we boarded the iconic red cog railway (Montenvers train) from Chamonix town centre. The train runs on a single track, with one passing point, about 5km uphill to the top station at 1913m.
2.3.1 | From the Viewing Platform to the Ice Cave
Exiting at the top station, you will step onto a large viewing platform, offering you a panoramic view across and of the glacier below. You can also see how much the glacier has receded over the years. There is also a small bar here where you can grab a drink and/or a snack.
From the top station, take the gondola lift down to the Ice Cave. There are about 480 steps from the arrival of the gondola lift to the entrance of the Ice Cave, on both the outward and return walk. Walking these steps were literally breath-taking, at times challenging, aching knees and major cardio experience, to say the least! But, it had to be done.
2.3.2 | The Ice Cave at Mer de Glace
The Ice Cave is a man-made grotto and it takes you to the very heart of the glacier. Each summer, the grotto had to be carved out of the glacier because the glacier moves, making its way downhill at a rate of 80m per year.
At the entrance to the cave, you will see the old entrance from previous years which are no longer in use. The Ice Cave is 100m long and you can find ice sculptures, coloured lights and mannequins portraying historical life in the mountains, depicting the early 19th century. The Gallery of Crystals showcased a collection of the finest crystal specimens in the Mont Blanc massif.
Travel tips to consider when visiting Mer de Glace
i | The bar and the viewing platform at the top station is a good place to relax for a little while over a drink from the bar – you will need one after those steps!
ii | Not advisable for people with limited mobility;
iii | Opens daily and all year round. Check opening times as it varies to season;
iv | Allow yourself 2 – 2.5 hours;
v | Access is via the train of the Montenvers from Chamonix town centre.
Heading back to Geneva from Chamonix Mont Blanc
Our return journey was equally swift (90 minutes) and pleasant. This trip to Chamonix proved to be good value for money and we were glad to select this as part of our 3-Day itinerary in Geneva.
Once in Geneva, a short break at our hotel to freshen-up, we headed out again – I think you know where our restless feet took us on this evening.
Day 3 in Geneva
Like all beautiful vacations, it soon ends with beautiful memories. But wait! Our Day 3 in Geneva has not ended yet!
Our flight was scheduled for later in the day, giving us the morning to explore Geneva further.
3.1 | United Nations Offices in Geneva, Switzerland
Exploring further the parts of Geneva took us to United Nations building at Palais des Nations. A visit here was added onto the itinerary at the last minute and I can assure you, it was an interesting morning. There are guided tours available in languages other than English and French, so a visit could be worthwhile.
3.2 | Testing the Public Transport in Geneva
We had a few more hours to spare before heading to the airport and we wanted to grab lunch and have a quick walk around the Old Town. So, off we went to grab a quick lunch. A quick hop onto the tram, and 45 minutes later saw us back in the heart of the City. We really only wanted to test the trams which was fun!
4 | Our accommodation
Our hotel was a 5-star hotel, rather new and super-clean accommodation! Every evening when we returned to our room, we were pampered with bottles of fresh water and chocolates on our pillow. They left the breakfast menu on our bed too, to inspire us to have a lazy morning and order room-service instead of rushing for breakfast before 10:30!
For our accommodation, I booked through booking dot com as they offer a good selection and competitive pricing. You may want to do a search and find out what is available for you.
5 | The Public Transport in Geneva
The public transport in Geneva is named UNIRESO. It is one of the better ones which we have experienced and it is good value for money. The system is interconnected and One ticket gets you on the buses, trams, *mouettes and trains within the City.
Mouette – Yellow public transport boats that takes you from the left bank to the right. They have 4 harbour points in the City.
The tickets are timed and commonly only valid for 60 minutes. So, ensure you only buy one ticket at a time – buy what you need.
Tickets can only be purchased from ticket machines located at every tram or bus stops. Unlike most other cities, you cannot purchase them aboard a tram or a bus.
Ticket machines accepts coins only — no credit cards.
5.1 | Free Public Transport Ticket
Not many to the city by the lake know this but you can access public transport in Geneva for free. Here’s how you could:
i | If you are staying in a hotel/hostel located in Geneva City (like we did), you get a FREE transport card for the duration of your stay. You collect this from the Reception at the hotel you are staying at.
ii | When you fly into Geneva International Airport, you are entitle to a FREE 80-minute ticket for Geneva Public Transport. You can obtain this ticket from the ticket machines located in the baggage hall.
The train gets you into the City.
6 | Recommendations on Geneva, Switzerland
I would highly recommend the following to be embedded in your Geneva Itinerary:
6.1 | Geneva’s Old Town
Exploring the Old Town gives you the real feel of the City’s history. If you are a history geek like me, you may want to explore the secrets behind those stone walls as you walk up the cobbled streets.
6.2 | The lighthouse at Lake Geneva
Go here at least on one evening to dangle your feet in the water and experience the positive vibes that just ignites everyone to have fun.
6.3 | Do a day trip
Consider at least doing one of the many day-trips to Germany and France which are exceptionally good value for money. You may also wish to consider skiing or scuba-diving whilst you are in Geneva.
6.4 | Experience Geneva’s Public Transport
Try it even for fun! The City is small and easily walkable! The transportation system here is one of the better ones that I had experienced. You only need One ticket to experience the trams, and buses. Alternatively, try the incredible value for money Geneva Pass.
Geneva Pass > Access to offers and discounts at 40+ attractions.
Our takeaway of Geneva, Switzerland
Our trip to Geneva for 3 days was designed to experience the best and fuel our passion — a little luxury, experience the City and an added thrill of an adventure. We achieved this! Geneva was special and one of the highlights in my life. The glittering lake and the bright, wonderful nightlife was quite awesome! Everyone was friendly and the locals are inviting. Adding an adventure to the Alps was just awesome.
I am sure that you too, whether you spend a week, a weekend or a few days in between in Geneva, filled with romance and inspiring moments, sightseeing or adventuring, you will return home feeling that little bit more special!
Geneva has a lot of places to visit but we did not do them all. We covered what we planned and more. At the end it’s the experiences that creates memories and not the volume of sights we tick-off on a list.
Are you ready to book your trip?
Booking a trip is easier said than done! As a person who travels often, I spend a lot of time researching flights, accommodation and travel insurance plus any activities to fit into our itinerary to make our vacation special to us. Sometimes these prep-time is stressful only to eliminate the stresses that might await us if I don’t do the research etc. I share a simple guide below should you need to use it:
Travel resources at a Glance
Planning your dream vacation? Excellent! Here are all the Resources and Practical information you need for your self-guided or guided vacation.
Legal entry/Tourist travel Visa
Check Visa requirements with iVisa, a leading independent company in the travel documentation industry.
I have a few choices. Search Google flights because they offer very competitive prices. You could also try Opodo for cheap airfares. For special experiences, go to On the Beach and Jet2Holidays. My all time favourite has been Qatar Airways for long-haul flights for the comfort and their first-class service. I use British Airways as well. For all other global deals >> kiwi.com
My favourite website for booking hotels is booking.com – I love their flexible cancellation policy which means I’m covered till the last minute. I also like that the totals show up for the whole stay so it helps me budget better. Other favourites of mine areMillennium & Copthorne Group of Hotels and Resorts for their consistent high quality accommodations and service. You could also take a look at the Radisson Hotels chain that caters for all budget. For accommodations in UK that has a personal touch and affordable luxury, stay at Hotel du Vin.
Unique experiences & tours
My all time go to resource for unique experiences and tours is Get your Guide. I am also a fan of Viator for their special deals. You shall find suggestions on recommended tours sprinkled throughout TTS on each experience I write about.
Never travel without travel insurance and never overpay for travel insurance! I use and recommend World Nomads for your travel insurance needs. They even insure on the go. Before purchasing any any travel policy, read through the terms to ensure that the plan is right for you and your trip.
Never travel without these! I use and fully endorse all the products on this page but especially: High powered wireless power bank, Universal travel adapter and unlimited portable pocket wifi.
What do you think? Is this post valuable to you in planning your visits to Geneva? Have I missed anything that should be included? I would love to hear your thoughts.
My sincere wish is that this post is valuable to your travel plans to Geneva. If so, use the links embedded in this article and related articles to book your accommodation and activities. We earn a commission at no cost to you at all and your support helps keep this blog going. As always, your custom is much appreciated.
Have a splendid time exploring Geneva.
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“I should like the window to open onto the Lake of Geneva and there Id sit and read all day like the picture of somebody reading”
John Keats, Letter, 1819
Geneva for a perfect romantic 3-day Itinerary first published at timelesstravelsteps.com
Updated: November 1, 2021