Geneva is a hub of activity throughout the year and is easily accessed by train from other great European cities such as Barcelona, Milan, Paris, and Hamburg. France is literally just a ferry ride across the lake, plus the city is served by a growing number of low-cost airlines from throughout Europe.
The months of June, July, and August are high season here, when long summer days offer warmer temperatures and beautiful views of Mont Blanc and the Alps beyond. Lake Geneva is a hive of outdoor activity, with sailing, windsurfing, and boat tours available. Summer music festivals also abound, including the citywide (and simply named) Music Festival in June. Geneva is also a busy gateway during the annual Montreux Jazz Festival, held on the opposite shore of Lake Geneva in late June and early July.
The spring and fall months of April, May, October, and November bring fewer people to the city and better deals. However, check to make sure resorts are open, since some shut down during the shoulder seasons. The weather is fairly mild, but pack an umbrella or rain jacket for occasional showers.
The city slows somewhat during winter, although the lower temps don’t dissuade locals from celebrating the city’s most heralded festival, the annual Escalade. This fête, held December 11–12, commemorates the successful battle against the Duke of Savoy to retain independence and features costumed revelers thronging the streets of Geneva’s Old Town quarter. This uniquely local festival is one of the best to experience in Switzerland. Public and private guided Escalade tours are offered in English before the festival for a more immersive experience. Since ski-related travel through this Alpine gateway hits its peak from January through March, plan to book hotel reservations at least a month in advance.