What to do in Geneva

Follow me to Switzerland for a long weekend!

Hello, hello, From Brown Eyes! It has been quite a moment since I last posted a blog here. I’ve mostly been writing on my other blog Sweden and Me over the last two years, but finally I am back on FBE!

My partner Nick and I recently traveled to Geneva, Switzerland for a long weekend. Here is what we got up to!

Thursday

We left Copenhagen airport late on a Thursday night in early June and landed in Geneva at 10:30pm. We flew EasyJet both ways and have always had great experiences with them! We went straight to Tiffany Hotel and checked in. They were so accommodating with our late arrival and even turned on the sauna for us despite the late hour. And nothing feels better than a sauna after a flight and a full day of work! Then it was off to bed.

Friday

We started the day with breakfast at Tiffany’s (had to say it!) before gearing up for a lot of walking. It looked like rain in the forecast around lunch, so we went straight to the botanical gardens in the morning. They are open to the public and are completely free, and we really enjoyed walking around as the local school children played. We also took refuge in the green houses when the rain started to pour down! I would really recommend stopping by the gardens for an hour or two if you are in Geneva! Plus, there are some cute animals you can see, too!

Ready for lunch, we went to Café du Centre where the food was fresh and seasonal. I had the asparagus risotto, but Nick’s fish of the day was the real winner.

With full bellies, we continued our first full day in the city by popping into the designer shops and admiring the beautiful lake-side boardwalk. Two of the famous sites to see are the Jet d’Eau and the Flower Clock.

The water fountain is the icon of Geneva and quite impressive! The water reaches 460ft / 140m high and we could see it from the plane when we departed. Each second, two pumps shoot 500 L / 130 gl into the air at a cost of over half a million CHF per year. When the wind is blowing in the right direction, the Jet d’Eau also provides a nice cooling mist along the boardwalk.

Geneva, known world-wide for the production of luxury watches, plays homage to this industry with their L’horloge fleurie. The clock is fully functional and is comprised of about 6,500 flowering plants and shrubs. It is worth a quick peek if you are passing through the Jardin Anglais.

As you gaze at the turquoise water, see locals and tourists feeding the swans, and gaze at the classic European architecture of every building, I’m sure you’ll see why this area is called the Swiss Riviera.

We went for dinner at Tosca, a one Michelin star restaurant that was absolutely fantastic and the perfect way to kick-off our trip. We had the four course menu, which amounted to about nine courses, including four dessert courses. We especially loved the chicken ravioli. And they kindly gave me a cake as an early birthday celebration (I will turn 30 in July!). Overall, it was a great experience in a relaxed atmosphere with a warm staff.

Saturday

After a last breakfast, we checked out of Tiffany Hotel and left for Morges, a small town outside of Lausanne. The trains in Switzerland are easy to use, timely, and so clean! But they are expensive (a 40-minute trip can easily cost over 20 CHF per person). I’d recommend snagging a seat on the upper deck and enjoying the views.

We arrived in Morges and walked the 5 minutes from the train station to our hotel La Maison d’Igor, a very cute B&B.

After an early check-in, we dropped off our suitcase and caught a train to Lausanne. Lausanne is a quaint town filled with winding, steep streets and red-roofed buildings. Since it was Saturday, the streets were filled with markets and teeming with energy. It was about 30C/86F, so we grabbed some sandwiches to go from Le Charlot and found a park bench under a tree. And, if you get thirsty or hot, there are plenty of public water fountains to refresh yourself with.

We then walked to the Lausanne Cathedral and enjoyed a surprise organ performance while admiring the stained glass windows. It is worth coming to the cathedral for the views alone!

We then popped into the Musée Historique, which is free to the public on the first Saturday of each month. The staffed kindly changed the videos into English for us and we enjoyed learning all about Lausanne and the role it played in Switzerland’s history. We ended our time in Lausanne with a coffee at BEL-AIR, where the owners offer a few Scandinavian coffees like Drop.

Once back at our hotel in Morges, Nick and I were ready to cool off before dinner. We spoke with the B&B owner about the ability to take a dip in Lake Geneva. The nearest public beach was a 30-minute walk away, but this kind woman offered to let us use her mother’s private pier, just a two-minute walk down the lane. It was amazing and one of the highlights of the trip! The water was crisp and the views of the alps in the background were stunning. It always pays to make friends while traveling!

After a quick shower, we walked downstairs for dinner at the hotel’s restaurant InVivo, where we had some fantastic Italian food.

After dinner, we took a long walk around the lake — feeling too stuffed for even a gelato!

Sunday

After a light breakfast, we departed for a day in the Lavaux region! The main purpose we booked a trip to Geneva was to walk along the vineyard terraces, 800 hectares of UNESCO-protected vineyards surrounded by Lake Geneva and the Swiss alps.

Although it was pouring rain when we departed Morges, it was clear skies when we arrived in Saint-Saphorin. We explored the charming little village before stopping for lunch at Auberge de l’Onde, which was fantastic.

We then started our adventure. Every step was breathtaking!

We quickly ascended above Saint-Saphorin’s main streets and were immediately rewarded with views of vineyards, water, mountains, and blue skies. The photos speak for themselves, but it was one of the most beautiful places I have even been to.

We made our way to Vinorama, where Nick had reserved us a wine tasting. We tried three wines each – the “Red” and “Chasselas” packages. Chasselas is a white wine native only to this region of the world and was really delicious. It is fresh, clean, low in acidity, light, and easy to drink.

We made our way back up to the path, which is very easy to follow with clearly marked signs along the cement trail (which is also bike-able) and plenty of places to pull off and enjoy the view. You can also easily descend down to the main road and catch an SBB train to a different city within the region. There is also a cute local train called the Lavaux Express which will take you all across the region, stopping at different stalls and stands along the way.

We started to notice more and more people holding wine glasses with them as they were walking the path and became curious to know more. With rain clouds starting to roll in and thunder cracking ominously in the background, we made our way to a monastery-turned-winery, finding shelter just as the rain started to pour down. It was here that we found out about Vaud Open Cellars, an annual event where around 200 wine producers in the region open their doors to let ticket-holders try their wines. The event last two days (June 4th and 5th) and we just happened to be there during the final day! The ticket (wristband) cost 45 CHF (~$45USD) and we bought it then and there. We were handed our glasses and asked which of the eight wines we would like to try. The staff was so friendly and knowledgable and offered us some gruyère cheese to nibble on while we sipped the three wines we selected. By the time we walked out, the sun was shining again!

We followed the wine bottle signs through a vineyard and toward the lake and main street. We ended up at Domaine du Dézaley, where Sébastien and Esther Butticaz welcomed us to their winery. Sébastien and Esther were the most fantastic hosts, sharing stories about their winery, the region, fun anecdotes about their neighbors, and even a local dish made by Sébastien’s mother (a thin cake topped with an apple and pear reduction. Yum!). After trying all of the wines Sébastien had to offer, he decided to take us and three Italians we made friends with into this wine cellar. Here, he opened some casks and poured us wine that was six-months from being fully mature. It was such a fun and memorable experience!

But it was about to become a lot more memorable.

After walking back up the steep vineyard toward the main walking path, Nick and I came to a nice view point. And he got down on one knee and proposed!

Of course, I said yes.

With dinner reservations at 20:00 in Lausanne, we made our way to a nearby train station for the 20-minute ride. We had delicious salads and cocktails at Brasserie de Montbenon, shared the good news with my parents and brother via FaceTime (Nick had told them his plans beforehand!), and toasted to our new relationship status! What a fantastic day.

Monday

Our final half-day! We generally spent this day enjoying being in our engagement bubble and sharing the news with friends and family. We had a great breakfast in the hotel garden and then packed up and checked out to head back into Geneva before our flight. After leaving our bags at Tiffany Hotel, we ventured for a coffee at Boréal and lunch at La Potinière. We then took a final walk around Lake Geneva before heading for the airport and making our way back to Sweden.

Needless to say, it was one of the best trip we have ever taken. Filled with fantastic food, wonderful people, incredible views, and a very special moment in our hearts.

This was just the most incredible trip and a place I would love to go back to year after year – perhaps for Vaud Open Cellars next June?!

Is Geneva and the Lavaux region on your must-see list? Drop a comment below!

Noteworthy Tips

  • Geneva is French-speaking and English is not widely spoken (especially by the older folks), so have Google Translate handy.
  • Card was accepted everywhere and we never needed cash on us (the Swiss Franc is the currency).
  • It was about 26C/78F when we were there in early June, but we did have thunderstorms one night!
  • Download the SBB app for train travel in Switzerland and be sure to create an account and buy a ticket before you board.
  • The vineyard terrace walk extends from Lutry to Saint-Saphorin. We decided to start in Saint-Saphorin and walk toward Lutry as it was a Sunday and many lunch spots would be closed for the day, so we smartly based the direction of our walk around the restaurant hours. However, I would suggest doing this walk on a Saturday, as many restaurants were open then, and walking from Lutry to Saint-Saphorin so you have the view of the alps in front of you the entire time!

P.S. If you are curious to read more about our travels to Switzerland, check out these posts: Basel and Grindelwald.

9 thoughts on “What to do in Geneva

  1. NK

    Indeed a memorable trip. It will be fun to go back on tradition – both to relive, but also to make new memories which we can add to our bank 😉

    I will second these suggestions and highly recommend the Swiss Wine Trail to any traveler/adventurer/wine fanatic!

    Liked by 1 person

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