The BFH Healthy Travel Guide to 3 Days in Geneva, Switzerland
I recently spent two weeks exploring the majestic city of Geneva, Switzerland, and have distilled it to a bangin’ 3 day guide. I reckon most people tend to spend 2-3 days on their European travels, but if you happen to be staying longer, check out the bottom of the guide to mini day/ half-day trips to make from Geneva.
I’ve included some alternative restaurants, as well as my go-to places to get groceries, in case you decide to cook most of your meals at home (I always favour home cooked meals!), and a few optional gyms/ fitness classes, in case you would like to squeeze one in.
HEALTHY cafés + local (traditional Swiss/ French) restaurants:
Bio Fred: for teas, smoothies, sandwiches, breakfast bowls, and other goodies. He has a daily vegetarian meal, as well as a soup (raw in summer, cooked in winter), they also have organic meat options on the menu. Everything is organic and curated with love. 250 mls of fresh cold-pressed ginger (or turmeric) was my go-to, he also makes homemade kombucha and kefir. All his soups, teas, etc are made using RO filtered water that is then restructured using swirling and classical music frequencies (HELL YES). You can also pay $10 for a glass bottle, and re-fill it as many times as you like. This was a life saver for me, I drank his water the entire two weeks I was in Geneva. Rue de la Boulangerie 3, 1204 Genève
La Buvette at Les Bains de Pâquis: have a killer set up, with everything from fondu, to oysters, soups, cheese board, charcuteries, and an epic daily meal. The daily meal runs along the lines of beef cheeks, salmon, duck, and other delicious feasts full of veggies. The restaurant in a little canteen style bar, where you can either eat outside with views of the lake, or inside. Either way, this place is poppin’ summer and winter alike, the food is homemade without any nasty ingredients. They make their own bread from their own starter, their olive oil is organic, and they make real good food. They also serve a warming ginger tea and outside fire pits in the winter. Quai du Mont-Blanc 30, 1201 Genève.
La Buvette at Les Bains de Pâquis.
Ou Bien Encore: vegan/ vegetarian organic spot for breaky or lunch. All your typical stuff: breakfast and lunch bowls, smoothies, pancakes, salads, soups, wraps, cakes, bars, veggie burgers. You can check out their menus HERE. They also sell fresh juices, baked bread, and other products in the shop. Rue des Bains 61, 1205 Genève
Ou Bien Encore.
Qibi: is healthy food made yum. From free-range chicken wraps to lentil pots, their food is organic and innovative. Rue de la Mairie 2, 1207 Genève or 12 Rue Kléberg 1201 Genève
Le Relais de l'Entrecôte: has only one thing on their menu: steak frites. This famous Parisian restaurant opened up a Geneva location and you better get there early because the lineup starts before the restaurant opens up for dinner service. Every steak starts with a simple green salad, and the only thing you have to order is how you like your steak done (…and if you want one of the many desserts).
La Limite: is your go-to for a cheap steak frites (unlike Le Relais, that will run you $40+ per person), and charcuterie. Rue des Charmilles 11, 1203 Genève
Bistrot du Boeuf Rouge: popular Lyonnaise bistro, definitely one for meat lovers. Open M-F Rue Docteur-Alfred-Vincent 17, 1201 9
Bistrot du Boeuf Rouge.
Cafe du Soleil: very popular Geneva restaurant, especially known for their cheese fondue. Place du Petit-Saconnex 6, 1209 Genève
FiskeBar: speakeasy vibes epic fish bar located in the Ritz. Closed Sundays and Mondays. Quai du Mont-Blanc 11 1201
Gouzer Oyster Bar: epic hidden gem of Geneva. Closed Sundays and Mondays. Rue Philippe-Plantamour 37
La Bottega: contemporary Italian/ Mediterranean in the Old Town, with great vibes. Simple menu but gorgeous plates, with meat and fish options. Two recent Michelin stars. Rue de la Corraterie 21, 1204 Genève
La Chocolaterie de Genève: Swiss chocolates. Rue des Alpes 25, 1201 Genève.
My biggest advice regarding groceries in Geneva is: plan a head! Switzerland is expensive on the food front, I highly suggest stocking up on your favourite cans of sardines in organic olive oil, and cured meats before hitting up Swiss land. Many people actually drive over the French border to grocery shop in France. But for fresh produce:
Bio C’ Bon (but all big stores like Coop have a small but decent organic section) Rue de Carouge 76, 1205 Genève
Bio Fred has a small selection of organic things for purchase Rue de la Boulangerie 3, 1204 Genève
Marché de Vie (Life Store): is the biggest organic shop in Geneva (it’s still pretty small!) but you’ll find bee pollen, chocolate, kimchi and sauerkraut, nuts and seeds, most dry goods (beans, pasta, oats, etc), pasta sauces, as well as body care, supplements, essential oils, and a small selection of fruit and veg. Rue des Eaux-Vives 25, 1207 Genève (near the Jet D’eau)
Nature en Vrac: is a bulk food store Place des Grottes 1, 1201 Genève
Budé Farm farmers market, and an urban organic farm. You can get fruits and veggies in season, as well as local fish, organic eggs, and cheese. Tue & Fri 9am-6pm; Sat 9am-4pm Chemin Moïse-Duboule 2, 1209 Genève
Indigo Fitness (Gym): epic gym near the old town/ waterfront. Incredible views of the mountains, free water, coffee, tea, and towels, and the changerooms have steam and sauna (they offer 1 week free trial!) Rue du Rhône 14, 1204 Genève
Colife Pâquis Yoga Pilates: self-explanatory. Great studio with two locations (they offer first 3 classes free)
INNERCITYOGA Urban Yoga Center: another great studio, they even have outdoor classes in the warmer months (they offer first 3 classes free). Rue de Rive 3, 1204 Genève
Hosukwan (martial arts school): for classes and courses including QiGong and TaiChi. Chemin de la Florence 8, 1208 Genève
Whether you’re arriving from the airport (GVA) or into the main train station (Cornavin), it’s uber easy to hop on public transport (or ideally walk) to your accommodation. The city is small, and really well connected transport wise.
In the warmer months (April-October), Geneva also has a free bicycle rental program called Geneve Roule, from 4 locations: Gare Cornavin, Carouge, Plainpalais, Paquis, Lakeside. If you’re visiting in the off season you can rent one from Bike Switzerland.
The BFH Healthy Travel Guide to 3 days in Geneva
Day 1: Walking Tour of The City + Museum or Boat Ride on Lake Geneva
Have breakfast at: Cottage Café, near the lake, this park cafe serves Euro dishes from a former gardener's cottage. Breakfast from 7:30am: bircher muesli, organic bread with butter & homemade jams, freshly squeezed juice.Rue Adhémar-Fabri 7, 1201 Genève
Take yourself on a walking tour of the city. Top rated items would be:
Jardins Anglais: These famous Geneva gardens are on the waterfront, on your way to the Jet D’eau. Don’t miss the big flower clock!
Jet D’eau: I mean, it’s not that exciting to see up close (it’s more of a sight from far away), but I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least mention it. The small pier leading up to it is quite pleasant and has some benches to sit and on and read or have a chat.
The Big Chair (across from the UN Headquarters): again, not the most exciting of sights considering it’s a bit out of the way,,. But it’s a Geneva landmark, and if you’re checking out the Botanical Gardens, it’s not much farther.
The Botanical Gardens: Ok this day isn’t going to sound too exciting by my description, but again these are kind of like any other Botanical Gardens, which is not (necessarily) a bad thing! The park is beautiful and there are greenhouses with exotic plants n’ stuff. Hours 09:30 – 17:00 (October to March), 08:00 – 19:30 (April to September).
Parc La Perle du Lac: runs along the waterfront from the city up towards the Botanical Gardens. It’s a nice stroll with beautiful views of the lake and mountains in the distance.
La Jonction (the river split): is where two rivers Rhône and Arve, meet. Both rivers are different colours and it’s a pretty cool spot. In the summer it has a definite vibe, people hang out and swim. In the winter, it’s pretty creepy and desolite.
Optional: Take the ferry to get a different vantage point of the city; you’ll find the main ferry station right in town at Quai du Mont-Blanc.
Grab lunch at Ou Bien Encore: this organic vegan joint near the museums has bowls, sandwiches, soups, and other goodies enough to tide you over until dinner.
Hit up one of the many museums:
Natural History Museum: Hours: 09:30 – 17:00, Closed Mondays. Location: Route de Malagnou 1. Cost Free.
Art and History Museum: Hours:10:00-18:00, Closed Mondays. Location: Rue Ch.-Galland 2. Cost: Free, and 5$ for the temp exhibitions).
Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MAMCO): Hours: 12:00-18:00, Closed Mondays. Rue Des Vieux-Grenadiers 10
International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum: Hours: 10:00-17:00, Closed Mondays. Location: Av. de la Paix 17. Cost: 15 Francs.
Dinner at La Bottega in the Old Town: contemporary Italian/ Mediterranean with great vibes. Simple menu but gorgeous plates, with meat and fish options. Two recent Michelin stars. Rue de la Corraterie 21, 1204 Genève
Day 2: Relax at PÂquis and Hit Up the Old Town
Late breakfast/ early lunch at at Bio Fred (get sandwiches and taken them to the edge of the old town, where you have a view of the snowy mountains in the distance) Rue de la Boulangerie 3, 1204 Genève
Daytime stroll through the Old Town, make sure not to miss:
St Pierre Cathedral (10 Francs, and climb to the top for a view of the city)
Maison Tavel (medieval house once owned by the nobility, now a museum of Geneva’s history)
Promenade de la Treille (for a stroll down the tree lined promenade with panoramic views of Geneva)
The Old Arsenal (five 19th-c cannons in the heart of the old town)
Hit up Bains de Pâquis around midday. If you’re there in the fall/ winter, you’ll have access to the sauna, hammam, turkish bath and cold plunge in the lake (20 Frs for the day) or if you’re there in the summer you can sun tan and hang on the deck and swim in the lake (2 Frs). Year round the cost of admission gets you a change room/ locker. You can also book in a massage. Quai du Mont-Blanc 30 CH - 1201 Genève
If you’re going for the sauna, make sure to bring two large towels, water, and flip flops. Everything can be rented if you like ($$). Also note: these are clothing optional, co-ed saunas! It’s an epic experience to be free like that, and although it’s not mandatory, I definitely suggest giving nudie sauna a go. In between rounds you can take an invigorating jump in the cold lake.
Late lunch/ early dinner at: La Buvette, the “restaurant” (more like a canteen, but epic food) at Bains de Pâquis. Quai du Mont-Blanc 30 CH - 1201 Genève.
Digestif at The Stag winebar: this place has a definite vibe (open M-F 5-10pm) Rue des Etuves 1, 1201 Genève.
Day 3: Hike Mont Saleve
Hike to the top of Mont Saleve:
From the central station (Gare Cornavin) in Geneva, hop on the number 8 bus towards “Douane”, get off at the last stop. Make sure to bring passports/ IDs because you pass through to the French border. Once you get there, follow the signs (less than a 10 min walk to the base of the hike). If you’re not heaps into hiking, you can take the cable car up, or down, or both (note that the the cable car is only open Fri-Sun in the winter). Gorgeous views of Geneva from the top either way! Oh, and don’t forget to pack a lunch!
Dessert at La Chocolaterie de Genève: Switzerland is known for its chocolate. This spot will please all the crowds, with conventional sugary options, as well as organic, dairy and sugar free! Rue des Alpes 25, 1201 Genève.
Day Trips from Geneva If you’re in town longer than 72 hours:
50 minute bus to Annecy (France): a quick bus ride and you can stroll through the magical old town of Annecy (also known as the “Venice of France”)
60 minute train to Montreux (Switzerland): beautiful old town with majestic castle.
75 minute bus to Chamonix (France): take a gondola ride up the iconic glacier, hike, or ski- Chamonix is one for the adventure lovers.
90 minute train to St- Maurice (Switzerland) + Lavey Les Bains hot springs: a bit farther but totally worth it. Train to St-Maurice where you’ll find stunning cliffs and a quaint little town, and a 20 minute walk (or 5 min bus ride) will get you to Switzerland’s warmest natural hot springs. They have sauna and steam, as well as a cold plunge, resting rooms, and a spa. Don’t forget your towel (they aren’t provided) but you can rent a robe for 10F.
Switzerland’s currency is the Swiss Franc, and although you can pay in Euros, the price will stay the same. Since the Swiss Franc is weaker than the Euro (and the prices there are already steep!) you better convert money over during your stay!
French is definitely the dominant language there, but essentially everyone speaks English too.
Many things are closed Sunday and Mondays, as well as in between lunch and dinner. Check before showing up!