Geneva, located at the southern tip of Lake Geneva, is the second most populated city in Switzerland (after its capital Zurich) and home to the headquarters of the United Nations. Tourists flock to the city for its stunning natural landscape as not only does it have easy access to the lake, it also gives you stunning views of the Alps and Jura Mountain. While most tourists visit Geneva in the summer when the temperatures rise and the city comes alive with festivals and outdoor picnics, head to Geneva in winter and watch the city transform into a winter wonderland right before your very eyes.
Winter in Geneva is a truly magical time of year and contrary to popular belief, there’s a lot to do! Here are some of the activities you can enjoy in Geneva in winter:
For someone who has never experienced snow before, Lake Geneva in the winter looks like something out of a fairytale and as the lake freezes over in the frigid temperatures, a lot of winter lake activities become available for those few months. Here are a few you can choose from:
- Ice Skating: A cheaper alternative to skiing, many families head to the numerous ice skating rinks all around the lake. The rinks are open from November to March with the natural rinks closing earlier. Rent a pair of ice skates for as little as 2SHF an hour (around Rs 135/-) and twirl around to your heart’s content!
- Snowshoeing: Rent a pair of snowshoes for the day and go on a scenic trek. Take in the views of the beautiful snow covered city while burning some calories you’ve gained eating all that chocolate and fondue! This activity is great for everyone as it requires no previous experience whatsoever.
- Ice-fishing: Whether you’re a regular or an amateur, ice-fishing is a great winter activity. Avoid all the seasickness and relax on the ice as your bait does all the work, a perfectly relaxing way to pass your time.
Day Trip to Mont Salève
Take a scenic cable car ride up to the nearby Mont-Saleve for panoramic views of the city and if you’re lucky and happen to head up on a nice day with clear skies, you will also be treated to views of Mt. Blanc (the highest mountain in the Alps). While here, you can go paragliding, hiking, trekking or cross-country skiing.
Explore the city
After all those amazing outdoor activities, don’t miss out on the countless other experiences Geneva in winter has to offer. Home to a wide range of incredible places to visit, here are a few you cannot miss:
- CERN(Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire): Learn all about the Big Bang at the largest particle physics laboratory in the world. Entry into this research lab is free but be sure to book a tour in advance for a more informative experience.
- Museum of Natural History (Museum d’Histoire naturelle): is a great place to visit especially if there are kids in your group. Centrally located and filled with exhibits of creatures of all shapes and sizes you’ll find that you lose track of time as you go through the three floors of this museum.
- Patek Philippe Museum: Learn about the rich history of watch making and the intricacies it involves. Enjoy their enormous collection of watches through the years that is sure to fascinate you regardless of the level of interest you have in the subject.
Palais des Nations: Take a tour of the world-famous headquarters of the United Nations overlooking the stunning lake and surrounded by beautiful greenery. Become a part of its history as you take a tour inside this magnificent building where some of the world’s most important meetings and conferences are held.
- St Pierre Cathedral: This architectural beauty is situated in the heart of the Old Town of Geneva. Head up its 157 steps for a great view of the city or go in the opposite direction and discover the ancient ruins discovered underneath.
So the next time someone tells you to avoid travelling to cold countries in the winter, prove them wrong by following this list to an absolutely jam-packed, magical trip to Geneva. And remember that much of Switzerland can be seen on a budget.