Why are you in Geneva? Are you on business? Are you out on a family vacation? Are you an archaeology exchange student? Are you a new couple that chose Geneva as their dream honeymoon destination? Or are you merely looking for an escape from your hectic life abroad?
Geneva has much to offer tourists, wherever they may have come from, whatever interests they may have, and whatever the purpose of their visit.
A day in the city is simply not sufficient to fully experience Geneva. However, there are some particular sites and attractions that can be regarded as definitive of the city.
Such a primary place of interest is the Old Town district. This will delight you particularly if you are an intellectual with an interest for queer things, or you just love secluded alleys, narrow, mysterious cobblestoned streets, and a medieval fragrance in the air. This district makes you feel as if you have entered a living medieval community in the modern era, with cafes, bars, snack joints, shops and retail outlets, and religious, commercial, as well as residential buildings just alive with the medieval spirit. A popular coffee house, "la Clemence", is frequented by the intellectual elite of Geneva. Similarly, you can find local old-timers talking about the strangest conspiracy theories, extra sensory phenomenon, and supernatural occurrences - but most of them are usually just a time killing activity. But it surely makes for some amusing time spent with the locals. If you are on the lookout for grand architectural feats, you would be truly awestruck by the Old Town. The famous Cathedral St-Pierre, located in the heart of the Old Town, is a sure treat for the eyes. Climb the 157-step staircase of the north tower of the Cathedral, and you would be standing virtually above Geneva, enjoying beautiful panoramic views of the city.
So you want to relax but you are on a honeymoon and your wife keeps nagging you to take her places? Chill. If you are short on funds, Geneva is the ideal place to take nagging wives. The various shopping districts around the city, the expensive ones, are sure to keep her longingly window shopping for hours on end, while you can sit back and relax at a nearby coffee house checking out other people. The Paquis and Rue de Rhone districts are quite expensive when it comes to general shopping for clothes, accessories and items of daily use. You should prefer the Migros or Coop retail supermarket chains for these items. The flea markets located around the Plainpalais and the Place de la Fusterie districts are the ideal markets for any tourist, as you can strike up quite satisfying bargains there.
As a mere travel enthusiast, the various monuments and landmarks around Geneva would be a better option for you. With internationally renowned sites like the Jet d'Eau at the downtown are around Lake Geneva, and the amazing Flower Clock, located in the English Garden on the left bank of the Lake, Geneva is sure to keep you entertained as you hop around from one attraction to the next in the same neighborhood.
If you have come to Geneva for taking a break, you've made a very wise choice. Geneva is referred to as the "City of Parks" - more than 25% of the city's land area is covered by parks and gardens. The highly developed and ultra modernized city still has a close link to nature, and its parks offer a soothing experience for even the most restless of souls. A special mention is the Batie Woods which are in the Jonction neighborhood, a natural reserve for wildlife, covering more than 20 hectares of land.
If you love eating, Genovese restaurants can fill you up like no other. Be warned though, that a Genovese restaurant may not usually be a Swiss restaurant, or a restaurant serving Swiss food. Most of the restaurants around Geneva are owned and operated by foreigners, and that is what makes the experience of eating out in Geneva truly memorable, with a new surprise at every street cafe to the most exquisite five star hotels.
If you are with family containing pestering kids, why not let them indulge in playful frolic at some of the most popular amusement parks around the city? Gotcha! deserves a special mention, as it is a truly family experience, providing limitless hours of fun to the whole family at quite reasonable prices.
Whatever your aim in exploring Geneva in a day, keep in mind that the city can be drastically different from your home city, and so can get quite confusing. Hence it is always advisable to get a little background information before you embark on your little independent adventure. It is better to pick up some brochures from the Tourist Information Offices located around town, and even better to let a guide help you out.