Perched on the northern tip of Lake Geneva, or, as the locals would have it, Lac Léman, and flanked by snow-capped mountains, Geneva is a tiny jewel of a city. Cosmopolitan, dignified and packed with things to do, it’s hard to imagine a better place for a winter break.
Once an ancient market town that, bizarrely, was part of the kingdom of Sardinia, the small suburb of Carouge retains a distinctly Mediterranean feel. Most of the buildings, nearly all of which were designed by Italian architects, contain charming little boutiques or restaurants specialising in lake fish and Swiss classics such as raclette. As night falls, the streets of Geneva’s most bohemian district become packed with Genevois, heading to one of the many bars for a glass of local wine.
Local wine tasting
Switzerland’s vintages might not have the same name recognition as those from neighbouring France but Geneva has plenty for wine buffs to love. Most of the local vineyards are clustered around the picturesque little towns of Montreux and Vevey, a short ferry ride across Lake Geneva, and open their doors to tourists on Saturday mornings. Better still, tastings are usually free.
Thanks to the surging Swiss Franc, you won’t find many bargains during a winter break to Geneva from Aberdeen Airport, but what you will find is world-class luxury. Watches, in particular, are big business – there’s even a dedicated watch museum (Rue des Vieux-Grenadiers 7), where you can see vintage examples dating back to the 1500s – while Philippe Patek and Piaget are both headquartered in the city. The central Rue du Rhône and the Rue de Rive are the best places to start: you’ll find a plethora of watchmakers and designer boutiques, as well as Globus (Rue du Rhône 48), Geneva’s biggest department store.