Here we look at all the best things to do in Geneva Switzerland with kids. Geneva is a stunning city located right on the shores of Lake Geneva Switzerland.
Famous for its banks, chocolate and beautiful lake, Geneva is surrounded by mountains and vineyards, as well as other beautiful lakeside towns and cities in the area, such as Vevey, Montreux and Lausanne.
This week we welcome a guest post from Anna from Expert World Travel. Anna lives in Switzerland and gives us all her insider tips of what to do in Geneva with kids. So if you are looking for fun things to do in Switzerland with kids, read on for lots of inspiration.
If you are looking for places to visit in Geneva, there are loads of Geneva tourist attractions, both indoors and outdoors, to keep you going for days. From Lake Geneva activities and tasty treats, to even something a little more educational, here are some of the best things to do with kids in Geneva.
Whether you and your family like spending time outdoors, indulging in a little culture or just taste testing your way around all the chocolate shops, Geneva is a great place to spend a few days.
And, if you can also squeeze in some of the local events while you are here, it will be a visit you will never forget!
The Old Town & The Ancient Arsenal
If you spend any time exploring the old city of Geneva – and you certainly should explore it for a few hours – I have a few tips for you.
Taking in the views from the top of Saint Peter’s Cathedral is one of the top things to do in Geneva. It has a tower you can climb, which the kids will love, and you get one of the best views of the town.
You can also explore the rear of the cathedral and the hidden staircases that lead back down towards the shopping district and the lake.
While out and about in the cobbled streets, make sure to check out the Ancient Arsenal, which is actually quite small and easy to miss. It is simply a couple of well restored cannons and murals hidden under some arches on the side of a small street.
Sure, it’s not going to blow you away, but the mural is worth taking a peek at and the kids will love the cannons!
To make your Geneva sightseeing tour more fun, check out this fun Secrets of the Old Town Discovery Game. This self-guided game/tour gets you to answer riddles as you go to take you to your next location. Fun and educational!
Bastions Park & The Reformation Wall
Bastions Park is where to go in Geneva to combine a little history with some quality time in a centrally located park. Bastions Park is where the famous Geneva monument – the Reformation Wall is located.
It is a memorial to the Reformers of the Catholic church who made sweeping changes to large parts of Switzerland in the 16th century. And interestingly, the wall itself is also quite historic as it had its 100th birthday in 2009.
For the kids, there are also a few things to do in the park, once they quickly get bored with the historical aspects. For example, they can have a go at giant chess, even if they don’t yet understand the rules.
There are also ping-pong tables and a decent playground, as well as an ice-skating rink if you’re looking for things to do in Geneva in winter. And for the parents, there is even a great spot for a coffee break.
Le Boir de la Batie Park & Zoo
If you are looking for free things to do in Geneva and your kids like the outdoors, then this parks is one of our favourite Geneva places to visit on a sunny day. There are quite a few parks in Geneva, but this one has a few great things going for it.
First, it has a large playground and a paddling pool for the days when the temperature in Geneva gets really hot. It’s a lot easier and safer than a big swimming pool, and free as well.
They also have a free zoo on site which is the perfect way to see some local animals that I can honestly tell you are actually quite hard to see in the wild. Things like the Mountain Ibex, pictured here in this image. Of course, they also have more run of the mill animals which all kids love like various birds, deer and pygmy goats.
The Art History Museum
One of the best museums in Geneva is the Art History Museum. It contains a mind-blowing one million exhibition pieces, which range from ancient times to modern day.
They also have a special family day every Wednesday at 3pm, however it is not clear if it is available in English, so be sure to check ahead of time. Otherwise, you can partake in the audio guide or just browse the collections as a family, which is a great way to introduce kids to history.
There is also a convenient playground next door to the museum, if you want to promise your kids something more “fun” as a treat if they can survive an hour in the museum. And of course, there is a handy cafe inside, where you can also take a break for a drink or snack.
The Museum of Natural History
A more child-oriented museum, and another of the best things to see in Geneva, is the Museum of Natural History. With a huge range of exhibitions, both static and interactive, this place is seriously geared towards kids.
They have a lot of animal related material, but also some on science. And depending on the time of year, there are also specific displays on in the museum.
Another added bonus of this Geneva museum is that it is free and open on Sundays. Something that is not often the case in Switzerland or many European cities, as I have had the pleasure of discovering.
Visit The Franz Carl Weber Toy Store
I remember the first time I experienced the insanity of a Franz Carl Weber toy store. These multi-story toy stores are one of the most popular kids attractions in Switzerland. They have such a huge and wide range of toys it’s sometimes hard to leave. Even as an adult.
So, be prepared to spend an hour or two in this place, and maybe part with a dollar or two. Because your kids will be spoiled for choice and have their toy hungry minds blown!
Try True Swiss Chocolate
Sure, you may have had Lindt chocolate before, but when you are in the land of chocolate itself, you have to go a little more niche. There are a lot of chocolate tasting options when you are in a city like Geneva, so you and your family are a little spoiled for choice.
From the mass produced, to the little corner chocolatier, here are a few of the best places in Geneva:
Laderach– grab a few pieces off their slabs of chocolate. The choices are amazing.
Du Rhône Chocolatier– hand-crafted chocolates to die for.
Favarger chocolate– try their dark chocolates, even if you are not normally a fan.
Sprungli– ok, this is more of a cake and chocolate store, but you have to try the Luxemburgerli. See the tower of them in the picture!
Want more chocolate? Click here to book a chocolate tasting tour of Geneva!
Lake Geneva for Kids
One of the great pleasures of Switzerland in summer is the ability to go swimming completely naturally. Almost all swiss lakes and rivers have dedicated locations for swimming in summer, and you will always find a crowd and often life guards as well.
And even though Geneva is a big city, it is no exception to this phenomena and so one of our top Lake Geneva kids activities is swimming!
The most central location to go swimming is the Bains des Pâquis, which is located along the left-hand side of the lake on the promenade itself. It is also relatively cheap at 2CHF for adults, 1CHF for children and free for under six year olds.
Another option, especially if you have toddlers or very young children is the baby plage (or Baby Beach in English). It’s a small public sand beach located right on the lake, and suitable for young children.
Baby Beach is located on the other side of the bridge, just behind the water jet, so you certainly won’t have trouble with directions. Just keep walking past the jet.
The Water Jet (Jet d’Eau) & Surrounds
No trip to Geneva is complete without a visit to see the water jet. It is the most iconic landmark in Geneva, and always on people’s lists of what to see in Geneva.
A soon as you are near Lake Geneva you will see it. The jet shoots some 140m (460ft) into the air and has been a part of the Geneva landscape since 1886.
It’s not only a destination in and of itself, but you can also combine it with the Baby Beach, or a visit to some other Geneva points of interest on that side of the lake.
One is the Flower Clock, which is exactly what it sounds like – a clock that is actually made of flowers. Ok, except for the actual mechanism. That certainly isn’t. There is often a fun fair on that side of the lake as well as the English Garden around the clock to explore.
The English Garden is also a great spot for a picnic in summer, so don’t forget to head to the supermarket in the morning and prepare!
Events In Summer
Many of you will have the pleasure of visiting Geneva in the summer and it’s a great time to be in the city. Everyone is outside enjoying the sun and swimming, but on top of that, there are also some amazing festivals on.
Depending on the exact time you are in town, here are some ideas for events worth checking out.
Fête de la Musique
Taking place between June 21-23rd this year, the Geneva Music Festival has a wide range of outdoor music events, the majority of which are free.
Depending on the age and music taste of your children, I am sure you can find something you can all enjoy. There is certainly nothing like a relaxed evening with a picnic and a little background music.
Outdoor Cinema in Geneva
Another unique and fun event for the whole family is an outdoor movie on the shores of Lake Geneva. Be sure to book ahead, as they tend to fill up fast. But there is certainly nothing like waiting for the sun to set in order to see a movie – outdoors!
International Geneva Motor Show
If you are in town during March, boy are you in for a treat. Geneva hosts one of the premiere car shows in Europe, the Geneva International Motor Show, and it’s a place many a manufacturer will bring their latest and greatest cars.
It’s also a great option for rainy day activitiy in Geneva, because not surprisingly, it’s all indoors
Where to stay in Geneva with Kids
Geneva is home to Switzerland’s largest concentration of 5-star hotels, so if you are looking for luxury hotels in Geneva, you are in for a treat. All of the big brands are represented here, including the Four Seasons, Mandarin Oriental and Ritz Carlton.
And while you obviously can’t go too far wrong with any of these big brands, who will bring you fabulous facilities, luxury accommodation and plenty of dining options, not everybody’s wallet allows for such a stay.
So here are some more options for family hotels in Geneva.
This luxury hotel in Geneva is very well set up for families. They offer a range of kid-friendly features, including interconnecting rooms, complimentary rollaway beds, child-size bathrobes, kids menus, games and toys and even Wii consoles on request.
This 5-star boutique Geneva hotel offers a range of dining options, including the Windows restaurant with views over the lake and the jet d’eau. The Bain des Paquis outdoor swimming area of the lake is just a short stroll away.
Hotel Edelweiss Geneva
If you want to go all traditional Swiss, Hotel Edelweiss is a fun option for a mid-range hotel in Geneva. The Swiss chalet atmosphere will have you thinking you have escaped to the mountains, but you are in fact just a few minutes stroll from the lake and right in the centre of the city.
Their family rooms consist of two interconnecting rooms – one double with shower room and one twin with bathroom, and cots are available on request. Their restaurant dishes up traditional Swiss cuisine, including fondue and raclette to the sound of traditional folk music. There’s even yodeling every night!
La Reserve Hotel Geneva
Ok this option isn’t cheap but if you want to push the boat out a little, this is an amazing choice for a family friendly hotel in Geneva.
The 73 rooms and 29 suites have been decorated to resemble African, while the hotel is set amongst 10 acres of landscaped gardens, with facilities including an indoor swimming pool.
For families they offer 50% off a child’s connecting room, which they will fill with an abundance of kid-friendly touches, such as kids furniture, lion-shaped rugs, a wigwam, toys and colouring to make their stay extra special.
Each of the five restaurants has kids menus – and best of all – this luxury Geneva hotel has a complimentary kids club, La Petite Reserve, open to kids aged 6 months to 13 years old.
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