As a seat of international power with big league organizations like the United Nations headquarters and the International Red Cross, the vibe in Geneva is definitely different than in other Swiss cities, but you’ll still find plenty of Swiss-made flavor like its cobblestone streets, Old Town, distant alpine summits, and eponymous lake.
Geneva is also a city that has one of the most restful (and free) places to visit. The Geneva Botanical Gardens is a favorite stopover in and out of the city. Since it’s only 6.4 km (4 mi) east of the airport, it’s the perfect place to decompress and marvel at the thousands of species of flora and fauna in dedicated biological habitats, greenhouses, and zoos.
Here is what you need to know before visiting Geneva Botanical Gardens.
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Officially known as the Conservatory and Botanical Garden of the City of Geneva, this 28-hectare park is a living museum located in Pregny-Chambès. It is open every day of the year with no admission fee. Opening hours are from 8 am to 5 pm between October 30th and March 27th with extended hours in the summer.
Onsite facilities at the garden include a restaurant, The Enchanted Forest Playground, The Carrousel of Fairy Tales, a restaurant, and a gift shop selling eco-friendly items like nature books, educational games, and herbal teas. Opening hours for the restaurant and gift shop vary.
Dogs and bicycles aren’t allowed for safety reasons. Except for certain parts of the greenhouses, it is wheelchair assessable. Parking for one hour is available at the adjacent street Avenue de la Paix and at nearby parking garages for 2 CHF per hour on weekdays and 1 CHF per hour on weekends and holidays.
History of the Geneva Botanical Garden
One of Switzerland’s most notable natural culture assets, the Geneva Botanical Garden (Conservatoire et Jardin Botanique de la Ville de Genève in French) was created in 1817 by Augustin Pyramus de Candolle. The first site for the gardens was at Bastions Park but was relocated to Rue de Lausanne in 1904. The large park with its trees, flowers, biotopes, greenhouses, and zoo opened to the public that year. Over the years, it has grown into one of the most important botanical gardens in the world.
Highlights of the Geneva Botanical Garden
The expansive gardens and multiple greenhouses at the Geneva Botanical Gardens feature more than 16,000 species of plants including dazzling rose bushes, seasonal flowers, exotic blooms, native Swiss plants, herbs, and medicinal plants. The plants are categorized by their native habitat with panels providing information.
The garden area is divided into sectors – Greenhouses, Rockery, Arboretum, Japanese Garden, and Winter Garden. Although not always open to the public, the Herbarium is particularly captivating. It houses around 6 million specimens of plants and fungi from the Far East, the Mediterranean region, South America, and other parts of the world.
The small zoo at the Botanical Garden houses colorful exotic birds, endangered species, spotted deer, and old strains of domestic animals. Flamingos and ducks can be seen in special water biotopes, and parrots, parakeets, and other exotic birds are housed in aviaries. The animals are in fenced-in areas except for the peacocks which roam about freely.
Families with children will especially appreciate The Enchanted Forest playground with its play equipment, sand pit, and merry-go-round. Picnic tables for families are also available
How To Get There
The Botanical Garden’s address is Chemin de l’Impératrice 1. Since it can be a challenge to find parking, public transport is highly recommended. Getting there depends on your departure point, but generally, you will take the tram 15 to Nations, the final stop. Buses 1-25 leaving from the train station also go to the Botanical Gardens.
At least five entrances lead to the gardens, but the main entrance is Place Albert Thomas on the Rue de Lausanne. Tram 15 stops there as well as buses 1, 11, 25, and 28. Other entrances often used include Chemin de l’Impératrice, Avenue de la Paix, and Rive Droite (right bank leftside.)
Going by train is also an option. It stops at Genève-Sécheron station, and the gardens are a five-minute walk away from there.
If you don’t mind walking for about 40 minutes, you can get to the main entrance from the lakeshore via the Quai Wilson Lake promenade. It’s a beautiful walk that passes through several parks.
Courtesy of Wikimedia for the image header.