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A local’s guide to Geneva

Fondue, fireworks and a little bit of France: our Geneva local shares his insider tips on Switzerland’s second city.

Avoid the tourist traps and crowded streets of Switzerland’s second city with our local’s guide to Geneva. Showing us more to be found than chocolate, watches and tennis players, local resident and Skyscanner marketing graduate, Jack Jewsbury gives us his insider tips on where to find the best fondue and fireworks and even time for a sneaky trip to France.

1. Take a cruise around Lake Geneva

There’s no better way to go Château spotting or take in views of Mont Blanc than by boat. If you’re watching the pennies (or francs), take a short trip on a yellow taxi boat for free (if you have a Geneva Transport Card). Alternatively, splash out and take a cruise on Lake Geneva with CGN on one of their vintage vessels.

More: 10 free things to do in the world’s most expensive cities

2. Grab a drink in the old town

Le Clémence is a true Geneva institution, in the heart of Bourg-de-Four Square it’s the ideal spot to refresh and recharge after a busy day getting lost in the Old Town’s winding streets. With a quintessential European menu and a great wine list, grab a drink and enjoy the sunshine or get cosy with a coffee during the wintertime.

3. Fête de le musique

If you’re visiting in June, don’t miss Geneva’s Fête de le musique. Celebrating different genres of music from jazz to hip hop and everything in between. Over three days the city plays host to over 500 concerts, gigs and shows.

4. Geneva International Motor Show

Motoring giants including McLaren, Mercedes and Ferrari descend on Geneva every March. No, F1 don’t have a new location, it’s the Geneva International Motor Show. Whether you want to lust over the latest models of luxury cars, geek out on the newest motoring tech or snap up your next set of wheels, this show does not disappoint.

5. Cool off at Bains des Pâquis

Relaxing on a beach with a cocktail in hand? Surely not in land locked Switzerland? Bains des Pâquis is one of the few places in Switzerland where you can do just that. A favourite with locals and open all year round, Bains des Pâquis offers sun lovers a little bit of paradise and quite possibly the best fondue in town. Take a dip in the lake, show off your skills on the diving platforms or, for those who prefer a slower pace, take advantage of the saunas and Turkish Baths in winter, all at an affordable price.

6. Green Getaway: Parc des Bastions

Tree-lined walkways and life-sized chess sets, you’d be forgiven for thinking Parc des Bastions has been Instagramed. This luscious green sanctuary in Geneva’s city centre is a historical and cultural haven, admire the Reformation Wall, Palais Eynard and the University of Geneva as you stroll through the park.

7. Carouge

Officially a separate city to Geneva (but only a tram ride away), Carouge is distinctly different from its neighbour. Heavily influenced by its Italian founders, Carouge has held on to its classic Italian charm thanks to its hidden passageways, terraces and independent cafés and restaurants. When the sun goes down this city really starts to shine and the locals come out to play. Party into the small hours with live music and DJ sets at Chat Noir and La Baroque.

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8. Fêtes de Genève fireworks

In July and August the city celebrates Fêtes de Genève, a month-long cultural festival with events from around the world. Think food festivals, concerts and funfairs! Switzerland’s largest outdoor festival closes with a world class fireworks display on the banks of Lake Geneva. They’re the best fireworks I’ve ever seen, it’s like all the New Year’s Eves rolled into one display.

9. Genève plage

Genève Plage is a traditional 1930s lido on the banks of Lake Geneva with the modern-day addition of waterslides! For a small price (from seven francs for adults) you can avoid the terrifying feeling every time something brushes past your leg while swimming in the Lake and peacefully enjoy views of Lake Geneva from the comfort of the Olympic-sized swimming pool. For the more adventurous, Genève Plage also offers SUP (stand up paddleboard) lessons, aqua Zumba classes and hydrospin (spinning in a swimming pool).

10. Mount Salève

Alright yes, it’s in France and technically not Geneva but the views from the top make it worthy of its spot on this list. After a short stroll across the border and a quick ride up the Mont-Salève cable car take in spectacular panoramic views of Geneva and The Alps. Mount Salève is a prime spot for mountain biking, trekking and paragliding, why not ditch the cable car and fly back down? For the more ‘let’s just enjoy the view’ type there’s a bar for a cheeky glass of vino at the top.

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