Getaway Fact sheets
You are here: ninemsn > Travel > Getaway > Fact sheets

Geneva, Switzerland

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Geneva is the second most populous city in Switzerland, after Zürich. A 2006 survey found Zürich was first and Geneva second in the world for high quality of living. Geneva is where the Rhône River exits Lake Geneva and lies at an altitude of 374 metres above sea level.

It is the watch and clock capital of the world and is a centre for exquisite jewellery, chocolate and army knives. The city is known for being extremely clean, tidy and orderly. Things tend to run smoothly and on time. Its official language is French, but German and English are widely spoken.

Many international organisations such as Red Cross and United Nations are based in the cosmopolitan city. The Palais des Nations is open to the public. Geneva has over 40 public and private museums and many art galleries. Collections cater for all interests — archaeology, ethnography, nature, fine and applied arts, science and technology.

A good way to burn off some of those chocolate calories is to stroll up the hill from the shopping district to the Old Town. There are quaint buildings, some dating to the 1300s.

The site of St Peter's Cathedral has been occupied since the fourth century. Archaeologists have unearthed the remains of several churches under the existing Cathedral. Construction of St Peter's began in 1160 and lasted 150 years. Events such as a series of fires led to restorations and reconstructions, considerably modifying the original design.

In the middle of the 16th century, the advent of the Reformation with its philosophy of austerity, upset the entire interior of the building. All ornaments, altars, statues, paintings and furniture were removed and coloured décor whitewashed. Fortunately, stained glass windows were spared. The neo-classic façade dates from the middle of the 18th century. It replaced the original Gothic façade.

One hundred and fifty seven steps lead to the summit of the cathedral's north tower and to fabulous views of the city and lake. Clémence, the queen of the bells, is quite enchanting. Weighing over six tons it was hoisted to the tower in 1407.

Just so you can say you did it, why not sit on the world's longest bench? It stretches 120 metres along the romantic Promenade de la Terille. Shaded by old chestnut trees, residents sit and wait the unfurling of the first leaf to usher in spring. It doesn't count with any other tree — it must be a chestnut. Once that happens and spring is in the air, the feeling in the city changes to light heartedness. The bench was built in 1767 by the Genevan State, but no one is sure just why.

Not far from the long bench is the International Monument to Reformation. It honours many of the individuals, events, and documents of the Protestant Reformation by depicting them in statues and bas-reliefs.

The Wall is in the grounds of the University of Geneva, which was founded by John Calvin, and was built to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Calvin's birth and the 350th anniversary of the university's establishment. It is built into the old city walls of Geneva, and the monument's location there is designed to represent the fortifications, and therefore the city of Geneva's integral importance to the Reformation.

During the Reformation, Geneva was the centre of Calvinism, and its history and heritage since the 16th century have been closely linked to that of Protestantism. Due to close connections to that theology, the individuals most prominently depicted on the Wall were Calvinists but key figures of other theologies are also included.

The four-star Hotel Cornavin was totally renovated in 1999. Cherry wood furniture has been used throughout and it has a friendly and informal atmosphere. Its restaurant overlooks Mont Blanc, the Lake's Water Fountain and the city through ceiling to floor windows.

Hotel Cornavin is home to the world's largest pendulum clock. It is nine-storeys high and each floor of the hotel gives a different view. You have to go to the top of the hotel to see the top of the clock.

Les Armures Restaurant serves Swiss specialities such as raclette and fondue, as well as French cuisine. It is one of Geneva's oldest restaurants and has become a favourite for locals and travellers. It is open for lunch and dinner every day.


The south-west of Switzerland.


Insight Vacations is offering 14-day Country Roads of Switzerland Tours out of Zurich. They go to Geneva, St Moritz, Interlaken and Zermatt and include accommodation, transport, some meals and a tour director. Getaway viewers who book before December 28, 2007 will pay $2925 per person twin-share. That is a saving of $1000 per couple. Bookings can be made through Travelworld.

St Peter's Cathedral is open from Monday to Saturday between 10am-5:30pm and on Sundays between noon and 5:30pm. Entry to the Towers of the Cathedral is around $4 for adults and $2 for children.

Monument to the Reformation is open from Tuesday to Sunday between 10am-5pm.

Emirates has flights to Zurich.

From fare
Adelaide via Melbourne
Darwin via Perth

On sale until December 18, 2007, and for travel between February 1-December 18, 2008. Conditions apply. Connecting flights from Zurich to Geneva are available.

For more information

St Peter's Cathedral
Cours St-Pierre 6
CH-1204 Geneva
Ph: +41 (0)22 311 75 75

Monument to the Reformation
4 rue du Cloître
CH-1204 Geneva
Ph: 41 22 310 24 31

Hotel Cornavin
Gare de Cornavin
CH-1201 Geneva
Ph: +41 22 716 12 12
Fax: +41 22.716 12 00

Les Armures Restaurant
1, rue Puits-St-Pierre
CH-1204 Geneva
Ph: +41 22 310 34 42
Fax:+41 22 818 71 13

Insight Vacations
To book phone Travelworld on 13 14 35

User comments

Related links


Brochure Search

Free electronic brochures with information, resources and holiday ideas for unique getaways.

Select a destination:
Sign up nowTo Receive the free Getaway newsletter