How to Spend a Summer Day in Geneva, Switzerland

Introducing guest blogger Ashley from Born Explorers

Geneva has a reputation for being a sleepy, stuffy town with not a lot of action.  But visit in the summer, and you will see a whole different side of this small city!

We have lived in Geneva for five years; summer is by far our favorite season here. In the summer, Geneva comes alive, and life revolves around the crystal clear Lac Leman, as locals call it. 

Of course, it’s only fitting that you start your day at the Genevois institution, Bains de Paquis, right on the lake and after some sightseeing, come and end your day along the lake too!  Here is how we would recommend spending a full day in Geneva with kids: 

This post is part of our Explore My City series – come and visit cities around the world through the eyes of local parents

Are you looking to stay a little longer? We’d highly recommend renting a car in Switzerland and trying one of these fabulous day trips from Geneva.

The Perfect Summer’s Day in Geneva

9:00 am Breakfast at Bains de Paquis

Located on the right bank, Bains de Paquis has been a popular spot with locals since 1872.  We love to start the day here with bircher muesli and coffee while the kids play on the pebble beach or even go for a swim if it’s going to be a hot day.  Admission is a reasonable 2 CHF per person, and the prices of food are quite reasonable for Geneva standards.

10:30 am Stroll through Old Town

Take a walk through the Old Town, and if your legs are feeling up to it, climb the tower of Saint Pierre’s Cathedral for sweeping views of the lake and surrounding mountains. 

Old town in Geneva
Climb the tower of Saint Pierre’s Cathedral

For a reward, you can let the kids take what will probably be the most expensive carousel ride of their lives at Place de la Madeleine! Continue the bribery as you walk along Rive, the shopping street where you can stop at Laderach and pick up some of the BEST Swiss chocolate.  If the promise of a carousel ride doesn’t convince them to climb that tower, then this chocolate surely will! 

12:00 pm LunchTime

Geneva is not known for its kid-friendly restaurants, but Molino in Place du Molard is an Italian restaurant that is about as family-friendly as it gets.  With a kids’ menu and a goody bag to entertain them, it’s a definite winner.  They have great pizzas and pasta, but don’t expect cheap…this is Switzerland, after all! 

1:30 pm Dessert

Head back toward the lake but this time on the left bank.  If you’re not too full from lunch, make a stop at Mövenpick on Rue du Rhone, where you can taste the best ice cream in Switzerland!

2:00 pm Le Petit Train 

After lunch, continue exploring along the lake, but this time on the left bank by taking Le Petit Train.  It’s a 30-minute circuit between the Jardin Anglais and Parc des Eaux-Vives that the kids will enjoy while you all give your legs a break and enjoy the scenery.  You can also spin the Ferris wheel right where you purchase tickets for the train, and always a big hit with kids in the summer. 

Family fun on Lake Geneva

3:00 pm More Fun on the Water

At this point, you have a few options.  If you have very young kids, we’d recommend some play time at the Baby Plage, Geneva’s only sandy beach.  It’s small but free and a good place for the littles to take a dip or build a sand castle. 

If you have school-aged children, we’d recommend Tropical, a hip water sports club right on the lake.  You can sign your kids up for a SUP class (book this in advance!) or rent a couple of boards if your kids don’t need lessons.  Tropical also has food and drinks and you can easily spend a couple of hours hanging out here! 

If you don’t want to get wet, there’s a spot on the lake near the Jet d’Eau where you can rent a paddleboat or a mini boat for the kids to try.  You can also walk out under the iconic Jet d’Eau where the mist will cool you off on a hot day. 

6:00 pm Light Dinner

Now everyone is probably exhausted from a full day in the sun, so we’d recommend either grabbing a light dinner at Tropical or Paninis and an Aperol Spritz from one of the stands along the lake.  The kids can feed the swans, and then you can call it a full, but hopefully very fun day!

If you have heard those rumors about Geneva being sleepy or boring, you’ll probably be shocked at the vibe of Geneva in the summer!  Sometimes it feels like everyone hibernates all winter (or, more likely, just heads to the mountains every weekend), but when the sun starts shining, people come out and live it up! 

Once you lay eyes on Lake Geneva in the sunshine, it’s easy to see why everyone wants to live the lake life.  So come make like the locals and enjoy our beautiful lake and all the city has to offer!     

About the Blogger

Ashley Klukowski is a mom with a serious case of wanderlust and the author of the blog Born Explorers.  She is a mom of three and has been traipsing around the world with them since their infant days.  She and her family have been expats in Europe for nearly a decade, and they especially enjoy exploring off-the-beaten-path travel destinations.  She believes strongly that adventure doesn’t have to wait until the kids are older!       


With thanks to Ashley for her contribution to our guest series.  You may also like to learn more about these 3 Swiss hidden gems perfect in summer, or check out our Explore My City guides to Zurich and Basel.

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