Are you wondering where to stay in Geneva? Check out our list of the top 7 places to stay in Geneva for all needs and budgets.
When people think Switzerland, Geneva, Switzerland’s second most-populous city, doesn’t immediately come to mind. But, Geneva is a sparkling gem in Switzerland’s crown in its own right, even if it doesn’t capture the popularity of most European cities.
Perhaps best known as a world-recognized center of diplomacy, Geneva is truly a global city that hosts more international organizations than anywhere else.
This recognition has earned Geneva the nickname “The Peace Capital.” It is also a world financial center and an extremely livable city, with more and more people of all ages moving there every year.
With a rich history and a stellar international reputation, Geneva is a can’t miss place to visit on your next journey to Switzerland.
Once you decide to stay in Geneva, you’ll need to start looking for accommodation. Because Geneva hosts so many international events, the city is a best-in-class example of hospitality.
Price, style and availability for hotels and hostels all change depending on the season you visit and how far in advance you book your trip, as reservations go quickly.
But, be prepared: Switzerland has one of the highest costs of living in Europe, and Geneva is no different. Expect to pay a good portion on accommodation alone.
Though you may see some great deals open up the longer you wait to book, it’s better to reserve your spot in advance so your trip is stress-free.
7 Best Areas Where to Stay in Geneva
1. Old Town, the best area where to stay in Geneva
When tourists visit Old Town Geneva, they are instantly transported to ancient Switzerland, greeted by richly historic, winding cobblestones streets and beautiful old buildings.
In other words, be prepared for a lesson in culture when staying in Old Town, as there is no shortage of things to see and do. Here, you’ll find quaint cafes and hearty restaurants next to stately buildings and adventure around every corner.
A can’t miss sight of Old Town, and perhaps of all of Geneva, is the Cathédrale St-Pierre, a world-famous relic. Founded in the 4th century, the Cathédrale St-Pierre was originally built as a Roman Catholic Church.
It currently sits at the highest point in Old Town and even houses the largest archeological site north of the Alps – but, be prepared for a steep climb to see the cathedral and its stunning panoramic views.
After climbing back down, check out the La Place du Bourg-de-Four, the oldest town square in Geneva and a Roman marketplace back in the day.
Now, it is a bustling epicenter of activity and a great place to shop or enjoy a cup of coffee – you can even enjoy delectable chocolates at Chocolates Tea Room while taking in the people watching.
You’ll also want to check out the Promenade de la Treille, a tranquil and beautiful promenade offering 360-degree views of all of Geneva.
Geneva also hosts incredible art museums and galleries, including The International Museum of the Reformation for historical pieces and La Galerie Insolite for contemporary art.
Old Town is arguably the most popular place to stay in Geneva, so expect high prices for accommodation here. In addition, many of the hotels here have a desirable quaint aesthetic and are popular for their centrality.
If you’re looking for some old-world charm and an easy walking distance to most everything the city has to offer, Old Town is a great place to stay in Geneva.
2. Paquis, where to stay in Geneva for nightlife
Derived from the French word “pâturage,” translating to “pasture,” Paquis was once miles and miles of green meadow on the outskirts of Geneva.
Though the area still retains its peace and tranquility, it has also grown into a lively cultural and nightlife scene, with amazing dining options, bars and clubs. It is also Geneva’s functioning Red Light District.
A little bit gritty and a whole lot of fun, Paquis is definitely a great place to stay for the on-the-go traveler looking for an immersive experience.
A great place to start a day in Paquis, especially during the summer, is at the, a popular artificial beach in Geneva. Here, you’ll catch sunbathers soaking some rays and swimmers taking a dip in the lake.
And, even when the colder months hit, you’ll still be able to enjoy the Bains from the saunas and Turkish baths nearby. You can also take a yellow taxi boat from here and see Lake Geneva up close.
If you want to stretch your legs, take a walk down the Paquis Lake Promenade. You’ll see joggers and rollerblades zipping by, as well as some beautiful flower gardens, monuments and art sculptures, all with stunning Lake Geneva as a backdrop.
Though once concurrent with a sleazy reputation, Paquis’ nightlife and cultural scene has rejuvenated in recent decades, offering some of the best dining and bars in Geneva.
One of the hottest streets to see and be seen is Rue de Berne. Kick up your heels at nightclub The Mambo and then, before you go to bed, check out Scandale, a bar right next to the train station great for grabbing a final cocktail or bite to eat.
Accommodation in Paquis is somewhat on a spectrum. On one end, you have luxury hotels overlooking the lake, including the world-famous Hotel President Wilson.
In the middle you have cheaper hotels great for a no-frills stay. In addition, Geneva’s two youth hostels are located in Paquis, which are great low-budget options for young travelers.
Though Geneva is an incredibly safe area, Paquis can get a bit seedy at night. So, if you plan on going out, always take a friend with you and arrange for a ride home ahead of time to avoid walking after dark.
This area, as you may have guessed, may not be the most-kid friendly compared to other options on this list.
3. Plainpalais, great organic shopping and kids activities
Beautiful Plainpalais is a popular area with novice tourists and seasoned residents alike, known for its friendly atmosphere, walkable streets and community-oriented activities.
Here, between quaint, open air markets and shops is a proud cultural scene that surprisingly, was mentioned in Mary Shelley’s classic novel, Frankenstein. You can even catch a Zombie statue hailing the cameo in the Plainpalais skatepark.
But, beyond this spooky piece of trivia, Plainpalais has grown into a distinct area all its own that continues to grow.
Plaine de Plainpalais is an open, uniquely-shaped space in Plainpalais that serves as a great landmark to orient yourself in Geneva, as it is such a central location. And, it is a meeting place for people and businesses of all walks of life.
Plainpalais is perhaps best known for hosting the biggest combination farmer’s and flea market in Geneva.
On Sundays (and in a smaller capacity during the week), aisles of fresh fruits, vegetables and specialty meats and cheeses line the Plaine, offered at great prices and great quality. There’s also small fast food stalls for a quick bite, representing various countries across the world.
The Plainpalais Flea Market is another great option for shopping, with second-hand items like books, toys and clothes discounted to low prices.
Plainpalais is also a great place where to stay in Geneva if you have kids.
The Plainpalais skatepark is a regular meeting-point for skaters and roller-bladers of all skill levels and there are several playgrounds on the Plaine.
For more family fun, touring carnivals and theme parks set up regularly in the Plaine during the year. And, check out the sprawling Université de Genève campus to really see Geneva’s world-class education in action.
For the weary adults, check out Rue de l’Ecole-de-Médecine, Plainpalais’ nightlife hotspot, once the kids go to sleep.
As Plainpalais is a popular area with visitors, specifically those traveling for business, hotels and accommodation here can be a bit on the pricier side. But, if you want stunning river views, easy access to the sights and a mix of lively and calm, Plainpalais is the place for you.
4. Carouge, cool neighborhood where to stay in Geneva
A walk in Carogue may make you think you’ve been whisked to the trendy boutiques and upscale vibrance of Lower Manhattan. So much so, that this area has been nicknamed “Greenwich Village,” and now retains the reputation as Geneva’s hippest suburb.
And, Carogue has an extremely unique history. The area previously belonged to the French and Italian and was modeled after the classic-Mediterranean style of Nice, giving it the distinct seaside flair and unique architecture you’ll see today.
Beloved by residents and tourists alike, Carogue, the former trading town now bohemian artisan mecca, is a great stop during a stay in Geneva, situated perfectly by the River Arve.
A stroll in Carouge will introduce you to artisans and craftsmen of all kinds. Check out glass-blowing shops, antique furniture stores, second-hand bookstores and much more on Rue St-Joseph and into Place du Marché, exploring as you go along.
If you’re looking for more retail goods, check out Centre Commercial de Carouge, which has a major toy store on the first floor for the kids to check out.
Carouge is bustling at any time of day, but during the afternoon, make sure to check out any one of the cafes, patisseries, boulangeries or eateries for a bite to eat.
And, there’s more than likely to be a festival or event to attend. For the athletes, Carouge is home to Piscine de la Fontenette, an Olympic-sized swimming pool with an adjacent water slide and diving board which can get especially crowded during the summer months.
For indoor activities, try the Théâtre de Carouge for popular films and the Musée de Carouge to learn more about Carouge’s history.
Once nightfall hits, it feels like you’re being transported to a romantic, dreamy evening in Tuscany. Carouge is becoming famous for its burgeoning cocktail scene, and you’ll be sure to find a bar or restaurant on Rue Vautier, a hotspot for young people and visiting tourists.
Bar du Nord is famous for its whiskey drinks and Club Chat Noir combines great drinks and live music. For a real fist-pumping experience, try Bypass, Geneva’s biggest club. To walk off your meal, take an evening stroll along the Arve river and reflect on the magic of Carouge.
Despite its hopping nightlife, Carouge is significantly more calm than other areas of Geneva and maintains a large residential population. So, you may find more apartments for rent or AirBnB-style accommodation here versus other areas.
Accommodation is less expensive here than in Old Town, but as the area grows more popular, its seen an increase in price. But, this family-friendly area is close to everything you’d want to see and offers great hotels.
5. Eaux Vives, best place to stay in Geneva for families
Calm, eclectic and inviting Eaux Vives is another area people may forget when thinking of Geneva. But, this area is not one to be left out, and has really transformed from its location as Geneva’s harbor decades ago.
Eaux Vives successfully mixes urban and rural, giving you the impression you’re in a small city while also being surrounded by green spaces and playgrounds.
With no shortage of things to do, it’s not surprise that Eaux Vives is growing more popular with tourists, even when the locals would rather keep it a hidden gem.
Start a day in Eaux Vives by waking up with an incredible cup of coffee. Eaux Vives has several local cafes to choose from and friendly staff.
While strolling with your beverage, check out what is perhaps Geneva’s most famous landmark, the Jet D’Eau. Otherwise known as the Geneva Water Fountain and directly translated to “water jet,” this spectacular fountain is one of the tallest in the world and a symbol of the majestic strength of Geneva.
The Pierres du Niton (Neptune’s Stones) are also within eyesight here, and showcase remnants of the last Ice Age.
For more beautiful sights, stroll through the nearby Parc de la Grange, a former private garden with a beautiful rose display now open to all or the grassy Parc des Eaux-Vives.
Eaux-Vives is an incredible place to visit for anyone that has a sweet tooth or appreciates good food. Home to two delicious ice cream parlors and various dining options, Rue des Eaux-Vives offers several options for a sit-down dinner or a quick bite to eat.
If you feel like catching a post-dinner movie or just relaxing, check out Les Scala Cinema for a film or Bain Bleu for spa relaxation, rooftop views and a tasty cocktail.
Like Carouge, Eaux-Vives is more on the residential side and isn’t as bustling as other places on this list. Still, because it wouldn’t be Switzerland without the high prices for accommodation, the hotels in Eaux-Vives are still pricey.
Eaux-Vives is a great area where to stay in Geneva if you’re traveling with kids or just want a quiet getaway.
6. Saint-Gervais et des Grottes, a proud history meets modern innovation
Nothing if not dynamic, complex, artsy and alternative, Saint-Gervais et des Grottes is a walking contradiction of a district. Home to artists and craftsmen of all trades, Saint-Gervais is a far cry from the white-collar professionals of Geneva’s financial center.
And, for good reason. The area and its residents have had to fight for its survival many a time, having faced demolition in the past. This spry, humble grit can still be seen the atmosphere of Saint-Gervais et des Grottes today.
As you walk through the narrow streets, you’ll be reminded of walking in a quaint little village, with original buildings, small shops and historic constructions all around you.
You may also seem some funny-shaped and colorful homes. Take it all in and prepare for an amazing day in this unique area.
Saint-Gervais et des Grottes is easy to reach. The Cornavin railway station is located at the center of the area and is close to the Mont-Blanc commercial and shopping area, a very popular spot with tourists.
If you walk down Rue de l’Industrie, you’ll see the remnants of an industrial hotspot, with old workshops and watchmaking warehouses all around, bearing witness to the hard-working past of Saint-Gervais et des Grottes.
But, one sight in the area you’ll never see anywhere else is a complex housing structure fondly known as the “Schtroumpf” Building, a building with asymmetrical volumes, eclectic colors and curved walls.
Its name calls on the fact that the building resembles the tiny mushrooms of a Smurf village.
Nightlife in Les Grottes is as exciting as many other areas on this list, with small cafes and bars great for a casual night out.
Saint-Gervais et des Grottes has become a very popular spot in recent years, as tourists have flocked to see the area that residents have worked so hard to preserve.
Accommodation here isn’t cheap, but you’re sure to find great apartments or AirBnBs for rent at a good deal.
In addition, if you’re feeling fancy, the Ritz Carlton Hotel de la Paix is a close walk from here and offers stunning views of Lake Geneva for a pretty penny.
7. Airport area, where to stay in Geneva on a budget
Unlike some other cities, Geneva’s Airport, Genève Aéroport, is fairly close to the rest of the city. And, Swiss transport is best-in-class, simple and fast, so getting to the center of Geneva is a quick journey – but still budget for at least 6 hours if you have a layover.
In addition, make sure to check your bag before going through customers if you plan on leaving the airport.
As you step off the train, take a short walk to the Mont Blanc Bridge. This historic bridge spans Lake Geneva and the Rhone River and is a great way to take in the sights and some fresh air.
If you’re internationally-inclined, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum is only 1.5 miles from the airport and is a testament to the incredible humanitarian efforts of history.
You can also take a tour of the Palais de Nations, the home of Europe’s U.N. Office and hosting up to 25,000 delegates every year.
The Jardin Botanique – Villa le Chene is also a mere 2 miles from Geneva’s airport, so if you’re keen to see blossoming flowers and plants, an Alpine rock garden and even a critter or too, this is a great stop.
Because Geneva’s airport area sees thousands of travelers a day, the hotels and accommodation options here are wide and diverse.
There are many budget options if you’re hoping to save some money, and many hotels offer business services like internet desks, dry cleaning and transportation options.
If you’re in Geneva for a business trip, staying near the airport is a great option, as the hospitality here is in a class of its own.
No matter where you decide to stay in Geneva, you can’t go wrong by staying in an area on this list. Each area offers a unique flair and cultural experience and you’ll be sure to find something you like. Come visit Geneva today and take in all this great city has to offer!