Geneva is a picturesque city that brims with attractions and activities for expats of all ages who are looking to enjoy some of the finer things in life.
Seasonal activities are vastly different and range from a warm day at the lake during summer to an alpine ski trip in winter. Thanks to its central geographic location, it is also an ideal base to explore the rest of Western Europe.
Shopping in Geneva
When it comes to shopping, Geneva is a paradise for luxury brand names, and expats will have no trouble spending their hard-earned francs. Despite its size, it rivals shopping meccas such as Paris with its wide variety of luxury goods. The parallel Rue du Marche and Rue du Rhone are the main shopping streets and are lined with watchmakers, retailers and cafés.
There are also options for those who don’t want to spend a fortune. The Place de la Madeleine is great for finding clothing and book bargains, while the Plaine de Plainpalais is home to Geneva’s largest flea market and stocks everything from fresh fruit and vegetables to leather goods.
In general, shops in Geneva don't stay open until late in the evening, and most places close between 12am and 2pm for lunch during the week. On Saturdays, grocery shops only stay open until 6pm, and most places in Geneva are closed on a Sunday. Many choose to do their weekly grocery shopping across the border in French towns such as Annemasse or Ferney-Voltaire, where shops are open until 12pm on a Sunday.
Nightlife in Geneva
Geneva isn't necessarily known for its lively party scene, but there are still plenty of opportunities to grab a drink, meet new people and enjoy a night out. Revellers should be prepared to pay, though, as Geneva's prices can be exorbitant.
Plaine de Plainpalais is popular with younger crowds, with Rue de l'Ecole-de-Médecine often crowded by students from the nearby medical college. Place de l'Ile, on the Rhône River, has some expensive bars and some excellent views of the city. Place du Marché and Rue Vautier in the Carouge area are also popular hangouts with many bars and clubs.
Eating out in Geneva
Foodies will be spoilt for choice in Geneva. The city boasts more than 1,000 restaurants and it's undoubtedly Switzerland's cuisine capital. Some areas that expats can explore for restaurants and cafés are around the lake, the Paquis, Eaux-Vives and Carouge.
Expats should endeavour to try local specialities such as fondue, raclette, lake fish dishes and smoked sausage. However, those looking for familiar tastes from home shouldn't struggle to find what they're looking for. As a cosmopolitan city with many different cultures, expats will be able to sample food from around the world.
Sports and outdoor activities in Geneva
There is much for expats with a sense of adventure and love of the great outdoors to experience. Geneva is perfectly placed for winter sports and mountain adventures in the Swiss Alps, with more than 200 ski resorts within 60 miles (100km) of the city limits.
Other activities on offer include wakeboarding and sailing on Lake Geneva, mountain biking, rock climbing and rafting on the two rivers that run through the city. For those who don't wish to travel far, the parks of Geneva offer open space and greenery on their doorstep.
►See What's On in Geneva for the city's best annual events
"I like that it is a small city, which feels cosy, and that it is so close to the lake and the mountains. As far as quality of life, I think that it is slightly higher than where I’m from simply because the salaries are so much higher. It makes things like travel much easier. I think, too, that people here stop and enjoy life more – either by going for a hike or taking hours to have a meal with friends."
For more about American expat Melissa's experiences in Geneva, read our interview with her.
Are you an expat living in Geneva?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Geneva. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
Expat Health Insurance
With 86 million customer relationships in over 200 countries, Cigna Global has unrivalled experience in dealing with varied and unique medical situations and delivering high standards of service wherever you live in the world.
GeoBlue is one of the best international health insurance plans for US expats abroad or internationals residing in the USA. The GeoBlue Xplorer plan includes worldwide coverage and great customer service with access to a premium international network of hospitals and doctors including the Blue Cross Blue Shield network in the USA.
Sirelo has a network of more than 500 international removal companies that can move your furniture and possessions to your new home. By filling in a form, you’ll get up to 5 quotes from recommended movers. This service is free of charge and will help you select an international moving company that suits your needs and budget.