I thought I’d drawn the short straw when I was assigned the Geneva guide. Why? Because the unanimous opinion among everyone and their second cousin was that Geneva is SO BORING. Don’t believe me? Google “Geneva is…” and “…so boring” is a top result (“…so expensive” comes next, FYI).
But it turned out that this oft-repeated “Geneva is so boring” phrase is actually just a cliché. Okay, let’s make one thing clear: with a population of less than half a million, Geneva is definitely not London, NYC, or Shanghai. But it is a lot of fun, and punches far above its weight.
If you check out looser, more laid-back areas like the Paquis quarter and Carouge, you’ll find alternative clubs and late night bars that compete with the best in Europe, proof that this city that can at first seem up in the clouds also knows how to let its hair down.
They say: “There are no cool bars in Geneva”
We say: “WRONG!”
Le Bateau Lavoir, a cabin-like café-bar-restaurant floating on the Rhone, is pretty cool and attracts hip locals. Best of all is its super popular roof terrace where we spent the afternoon having drinks and soaking up the rays. The minimal looking Rooftop 42 couldn’t be more different, with it’s glamorous crowd sipping cocktails and dancing to DJs as they watch the sun dip under the lake. For laid-back licks and fresh tunes, head to Le Chat Noir in Carouge, a pilgrimage site for Geneva’s music lovers. The downstairs venue hosts great bands, while its cosy, pub-like upstairs bar attracts a diverse, chatty crowd, dispelling those stereotypes of the reserved Swiss.
They say: “There’s nothing fun to do”
We say: “WRONG!”
For starters, you’re surrounded by some of the most diverse and incredible nature where you can hike, ski, bike – and more. Our favourite activity was white water rafting on the Arve River – it’s a real adrenalin-fueled adventure. From a base not far from Geneva’s centre, rafters are kitted out with wet suits and paddles and driven upstream to face the River Arve’s rapids, clearing six waterfalls within eight kilometres. For a tamer way to spend your day, head to the MAMCO for some cutting-edge contemporary art. Geneva has something unusual here – a modern and contemporary art museum that actually feels genuinely contemporary. It’s become a focal point for Geneva’s artistic life.
They say: “The restaurants are uptight and ridiculously expensive”
We say: “WRONG!”
Poking out into Lake Geneva on a pier, the beachy Buvette des Bains is as popular for its very mixed, often hip crowd as it is for its food. It’s affordable, healthy, and very laid-back. Something of a creative hub for the regenerated Quartier des Bains district, Cafe des Bains is a meeting point for local gallerists and arty types. The food is eclectic and international, including Italian, French and Asian dishes depending on the day of the week, while its adjoining bar is popular throughout the day, making this understated place seem both lively and chic. Meanwhile, the hip, arty and slightly tongue-in-cheek, restaurant and bar Le Calamar is popular both for its juicy burgers and its late serving hours. There’s also a long list of cocktails that go down well with its fun, arty crowd of twenty and thirty-somethings.
So there you have it – if you think Geneva’s boring, you’re probably hanging out in the wrong places. Following GuidePal’s Geneva guide for more tips.