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Geneva: waterside delights

The world’s most compact city wraps around the south-western tip of Lake Geneva. With the eye-catching Jet d'Eau (Fountain of Geneva) in the middle, the lake fascinates and entices. Stroll along the quay past the marinas, the English Garden and neoclassic hotel façades, or sail across the lake, taking in views of the Mont Blanc, vineyards and castles.

In Geneva water is never far away. Not only does the largest Alpine lake, Lake Geneva, lie right outside the door of stately buildings, the Rhône River also flows from here to the French border – right through the city. North of the river you'll find the district where most international organisations are located, while the old centre can be found on the southern bank. From the centuries-old cathedral tower you will get an amazing view of the city, the mountains and the lake.

The fountain at sunset

High-pressure fountain

The Fountain of Geneva in the heart of the harbour sprays water up to 140 metres into the air. It is a valve that was originally built to help depressurise the water supply system and occasionally sprayed water. The current fountain was not constructed until 1951. Since then, it has been spouting water into the air at 200 kilometres per hour, which then descends again as water vapour. The rainbow is practically made to order.

Loyal to the pier

Ask the residents of Geneva about their favourite spot and many will say it's the Bains des Pâquis. During the winter, people flock here for the sauna and Turkish hamam and, in the summer, for swimming. There are also free tai chi lessons here on Sunday evenings in the summertime. If you prefer something to eat, enjoy a famous cheese fondue on the jetty. No charge for the views of the harbour with the setting sun.

Bains des Pâquis
Cruising past vineyards

Steamboats from the belle époque

The view of the lake itself is plenty rewarding, but the panoramic views from the water are absolutely amazing. Steamboats from the belle époque offer you unparalleled views of the Fountain of Geneva as well as the vineyards and castles along the waterfront. Weather permitting, you may get to enjoy views of a snow-topped Mont Blanc. The tours vary from 1-hour round-trip boat rides to luxurious ‘lake gourmet cruises’, culinary tours during which you can enjoy award-winning wines from the vineyards you cruise past.

Photo credits

  • Bains des Pâquis: Michelle, Flickr
  • Cruising past vineyards: Michelle, Flickr