Living in Geneva: Things to Do and See in Geneva, Switzerland

Geneva—An Important Global Center of Finance, Diplomacy, and Culture

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Everything You Wanted to Know About Living in Geneva, Switzerland

An important financial and diplomatic global center, the cosmopolitian city of Geneva is Switzerland's French-speaking city and the second-largest in the country. One of the crowning symbols of Geneva is the monumental Jet d'Eau, a fountain of water pumped 140 meters into the air.

What to Do and See in Geneva?

The city is great to explore on a bicycle or on foot starting from the old town. Among Geneva’s most notable sights are the Cathédrale St-Pierre, and the Bourg-de-Four square at the heart of the Old town, a square, dominated today by café terraces amidst magnificent 16th-, 17th-, and 18th-Century architecture and the iconic 18th-Century flowered fountain. Cologny, located some six kilometers northeast of Geneva, is a well-known and somewhat refined suburb, also known as the "Beverly Hills" of Geneva, offering spectacular views over Lake Léman, the largest and bluest of all the lakes in Switzerland. Geneva Golf Club, a beautiful course with stunning panoramic views over Lake Geneva, is also located in this suburb. This golf course is popular among those holidaying in Geneva and remains open from March through December; it features 18 holes, a golfing school, driving range, practice areas, and restaurant with excellent views to the lake.


Cologny's landscape is very different from Geneva’s urban style. It consists mainly of villa-style residential housing, with very few commercial outlets. Its country lanes weave between fields and open woods. Several luxury estates are located here, with one of the most famous ones being Villa Diodati on the Chemin de Ruth, and where Lord Byron stayed during the summer of 1816, writing and touring the lake region with Percy Bysshe Shelley and Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. It is said that the idea for the novel Frankenstein came to Mary Shelley during her stay at the villa in Cologny. Bibliotheca Bodmeriana, in Cologny, provides a great museum attraction, and one of the greatest private libraries ever assembled; 160,000 works of literature of unique historical value can be found there, including medieval manuscripts, one of the few copies of the Gutenberg Bible, and the oldest surviving text of the Gospel of St. John. The municipality, which is on the left bank of Lake Geneva, includes several further sub-sections or (villages) such as Saint-Paul, Stade-de-Frontenex, Rampe-de-Cologny, Ruth-Nant d'Argent, and Prés-de-la-Gradelle.

Where to Eat in Geneva?

Geneva has a huge number of restaurants for a city of its size, which is mainly due to its international community bringing a far greater culinary variety than in any other Swiss city.

Where Are the Expat Communities in Geneva?

There are several expat community hubs in the Geneva area due to the high number of international organizations and companies in the area, in addition to the world-renowned international schools. Large communities of expats can be found in the charming villages of Nyon, St. Sulpice, and Rolle, home of the prestigious boarding school Institut Le Rosey. Slightly further east on the other side of Lausanne, towns such as Vevey and Montreux are hosts to villages like Pully, Blonay, St. Légier, and Tours-de-Peilz that are hotspots for expats.

Can Foreigners & Non-Residents Buy a Home in Geneva?

Yes. In Switzerland there are federal laws in place, commonly referred to as the Lex Koller, which place a quota and certain restrictions on non-EU/EEFTA/non-resident foreign citizens wishing to buy property. As of 2018, non-residents wishing to retire in Switzerland or purchase a holiday/vacation home in Switzerland must apply for and receive a permit from the local cantonal authorities.

How Many People Live in Switzerland?

As of 2018, the estimated population of Switzerland is 8,508,898 people.

What Language Is Spoken in Switzerland?

There are four official languages in Switzerland: German, French, Italian, and Romansh. German (both High German and Swiss German) is the most widely spoken language, used by about 63% of the country. One of the most important linguistic facts about the German-speaking region of Switzerland, which is mostly in the east, north, and center of the nation, is that the while the Swiss German dialect is used orally, all written language uses High German exclusively. This means that while all German-speaking Swiss can understand and speak traditional High German, not all foreign German speakers can understand Swiss German; this makes learning the language more difficult for foreigners. However, about three-quarters of the Swiss can also speak English in addition to their first (and sometimes second) language. French is the second most prevalent language, spoken by 23% of the population in the western part of the country, referred to as Romandy. About 9% of the population, mostly centered around the southern border with Italy, speak Italian. Romansh is the least spoken official language, by less than 1% of the Swiss population, and is spoken limitedly in the southeastern region of Switzerland. It is a Romance language derived from Latin that emerged in Switzerland under the occupation of the Roman Empire.

What is the Currency in Switzerland?

The franc is the currency and legal tender of Switzerland, as well as Liechtenstein. Its code is CHF, which stands for Confoederatio Helvetica Franc—or Confederation Helvetica. This was the Latin name for the area considered modern day Switzerland, and is used today in the spirit of inclusivity towards the four main language groups.

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