Switzerland seems awesome. And I have super duper Continent-envy for anyone living in or near Europe, because the travel time is so minimal between some pretty spectacular places. Kaamna at Momaboard is currently living in London, and I’m so pleased she offered to share her experience of Geneva with kids!
For this year’s half-term holiday in February, we took the kids skiing to Verbier, and decided to spend a couple of days in Geneva on our way out. I am so glad we did! As you land in Geneva you are accosted by its beauty and simplicity, and after two days of strolling around in the winter sun, we had all fallen in love with this elegant city.
The biggest advantage of Geneva is that it’s small and very walk-able. There are a few worthwhile historical landmarks that aren’t as difficult to navigate as sites in other major European cities. You can enjoy a peaceful stroll around Geneva’s old town, window-shopping before you stop at St. Pierre Cathedral. This beautiful 12th century church is part Roman, part Medieval and a thrill for lovers of art and history. The kids will particularly enjoy the 150-step climb to the top, (very manageable, even my 2 year old did it, albeit quite slowly) for panoramic views of Geneva, the Jet d’eau and neighboring France.
When you have taken in enough views, set down for a traditional Swiss lunch in what looks like a stuffy but kid-friendly restaurant: Les Armures, and enjoy arguably the best fondue in Geneva.
Of the other prominent Geneva sites that the kids will love is of course, the Jet d’Eau. One of the largest fountains in the world, the Jet is the most well recognized symbol of the city and can be seen from many parts of Geneva. In the summer get close enough to enjoy the sprays but even in the winter it provides enjoyment to onlookers. The Flower Clock, a symbol of Geneva’s dedication to nature and to clock making is another favorite with kids. Finally, political and diplomacy aficionados will enjoy a tour of the United Nations office, the largest outside its headquarters in New York.
The best part of Geneva is that beautiful, free public parks abound, the most impressive of which is of course the Botanical Gardens. Home to over 600 million plant specimens from around the world, it is considered a “living” museum. It also houses a small animal farm, playground and café, along with offering some of the beautiful views of the Alps and Lake Geneva. Also located in the Gardens is the Museum of Natural History with a number of activities for kids.
The only downside to Geneva is that is extremely expensive. Yet, with so many activities and beautiful sites available free of charge, it’s definitely worth a visit.