Your essential guides to Geneva
By Caroline Bishop
September 22, 2022
Find your bearings
The beautiful Lake Geneva is the heart and lungs of Geneva, so make the most of the central location of Mandarin Oriental, Geneva by taking a stroll along the lakeshore. Cross the river Rhône to the Jardin Anglais, stop for a photo by the city’s symbol, the jet d’eau, then walk on towards the tranquil Parc de la Grange with its stunning landscaped rosebeds. You’ll finish up at Geneva-Plage, a dedicated bathing spot and watersports centre where you can swim in the Olympic-sized pool or hone your wakeboarding skills on the lake.
Feed your mind
The art scene in Geneva may not be as internationally known as Swiss rival Basel, but it deserves to be. Clustered in the hip Quartier des Bains district are numerous private galleries and public museums, including modern art museum ography museum was recently overhauled by Zurich architects Graber Pulver and won European Museum of the Year in 2017. Further away but well worth the short tram ride is the International Red Cross Museum. Its permanent exhibition takes visitors through the remarkable work of this humanitarian organisation over the past 150 years and will leave you truly moved.
Work by artist Wade Guyton at Geneva's modern art temple, MAMCO.
International Red Cross Museum
The unique International Red Cross Museum is a place to reflect on humanitarian work.
Red Cross Museum
Inside the International Red Cross Museum
Shop like a local
The luxury watch and jewellery shops and designer clothes stores of Rue du Rhône are a short walk from the hotel. From here, head up into the winding streets of the Old Town for antiques, books and art. Or make the effort to get out to Carouge (a 15-minute tram ride from the hotel). Within the area’s beautiful Italianate architecture you’ll find artisan workshops and independent stores offering children’s toys, clothing, jewellery, shoes and unique gifts.
See some sights
For one of the best views of the city, take the 157 steps to the top of the Romanesque-Gothic St Pierre Cathedral in the Old Town. Or get higher still by making the short trip out of the city to the Salève, known as Geneva’s ‘home’ mountain (even though it’s actually over the border in France), where a cable car will whisk you up nearly 1,000 metres for a literal overview of the city, the lake and the mountains beyond.
Toast your arrival
Geneva has a thriving cocktail scene, meaning quality is high. Enjoy a mojito on the terrace of MO Bar, sample the inventive creations of the mixologists at the speakeasy-style Le Verre à Monique in Quartier des Bains, or head to the stylish Rooftop 42 on Rue du Rhône for a drink with a view.
Make time to unwind
Dine in style
For a seasonal Swiss lunch and a glass of local wine try Café Papon in the Old Town, set within an historic vaulted building and sporting a large terrace overlooking the pretty Parc des Bastions. Top Genevan chef Philippe Chevrier has a popular grillhouse,Chez Philippe, on Rue du Rhône, while his two Michelin-starred flagship restaurant, Domaine de Châteauvieux, just outside the city in the vineyards, showcases his haute cuisine. For those seeking laid-back vibes paired with the finest fresh seafood ceviche, Yakumanka is a traditional cevicheria inspired by the popular local restaurants of Peru, and headed up by Chef César Bellido, Gaston Acurio's right-hand man.
Yakumanka by Gastón Acurio
Yakumanka is a Peruvian restaurant serving authentic cuisine centred around fine seafood.
Essential City Guide To Geneva | Mandarin Oriental, Geneva
Explore the best of Geneva with visits to MAMCO, Red Cross Museum, shopping at Carouge and fine dining at Chez Philippe or Café Papon
Geneva became a watchmaking centre after Reformation leader John Calvin banned the wearing of jewellery in the mid-16th century. This sparked the city’s goldsmiths to turn their talents to making watches instead.
Where to chill out in Geneva
Nip from one bank of Lake Geneva to the other on a mouette boat – a quick way to experience the lake if you don’t have time for a sightseeing trip further afield.
Bains des Pâquis
The Bains des Pâquis are public bath houses on a pier in Lake Geneva, which become a sauna in winter. Photo: M.Sobreira, Alamy
Geneva's Botanical Gardens
Geneva's Botanical Gardens. Photo: David Pearson, Alamy
Lake Geneva's Amphion Beach. Photo: Jack Sullivan, Alamy
Parc des Bastions
Enjoy oversized board games at Parc des Bastions. Photo: imagebroker, Alamy
Parc Des Eaux Vives
Take time out in Parc Des Eaux Vives. Photo: Alamy