Situated along the banks of Lake Geneva at the foot of the Alps, Geneva is recognised as one of Europe's most beautiful cities. Home to the European headquarters of the United Nations, Geneva has a long history of diversity and tolerance dating back to the Protestant Reformation. Today, the city of Geneva is a cultural center, featuring world class entertainment, top rated restaurants and unlimited opportunities for recreation in the beautiful nature that surrounds the city.
If you like a city which is organised, practical, efficient transport and has some of the best views of Europe, then Geneva won't disappoint you! It's an expensive city for many, but luckily it's size is just right to explore for a weekend or few days. For hikers and nature seekers, as well, it's the perfect destinations, all years round for sports.
Climate and temperature:
The climate of Geneva is moderately continental, with cold winters and warm summers. The city is located at 400 meters above sea level, on the shores of the lake of the same name, which makes for colder winters than usual and hot summers with a feeling of more humidity. The daily average temperature ranges from 1 °C in January to 23.5 °C in July. but these temperatures can also reach as low as -8 C in Winter and 30 C in the Summer.
The best months to travel to Geneva are May to June and September to October, though Autumn tends to be wetter. If you want good temperatures all day round, and don't mind the busy and high season then July and August are also good months to travel.
Geneva is a great city by its reliable, frequent and easy connections, not only to Geneva city, but many people travel here to travel onwards to France or other cities in Switzerland, thanks to the quick trains and links from the airport and Geneva main station. (Geneva Gare Cornavin).
Arriving at the Airport, the best and cheapest way to travel to the city centre, is by train. All trains departing from / going to Genève-Aéroport station stop in the City Center at Geneva-Gare Cornavin station (7-minutes trip between the two stations).The best thing is that the ticket cost if FREE! Genève Aéroport offers passengers on arrival a free ticket to use public transport in Geneva during 80 minutes, including the journey by train Genève-Aéroport - Geneva-Gare Cornavin. It can be picked-up from the machine in the baggage reclaim area (Arrivals). Note, that after leaving the baggage claim area you won't be able to return to pick a ticket and then need to pay the normal price.
Also, it's possible to take the train from the airport, without a change to most Swiss cities like Bern, Bienne, Fribourg, Lausanne, Lucerne, Montreux, Neuchâtel, Sion, Vevey, Zurich, etc. Additionally, depending on your location, there are many local busses or regional buses operating from the airport to Geneva, France, or outside areas of Geneva. From the airport you can also take bus 5 or 10 to Geneva city centre.
Once in Geneva, the transport is very efficient. Comprises rail, busses, trams which are all integrated into the operating transport system of Geneva and are divided in Zones. Geneva city belongs to Zone 10 for example. (see map below). Single tickets cost CHF 3, valid for 60 minutes. Day unlimited tickets cost CHF 8. For more information on the transport and routes in Geneva check the offical website for transport: Unireso.com
Below you can find the transport maps for Geneva available to download:
What to see and do?
Geneva's most famous monument, Jet d'Eau, is the world's tallest water fountain and provides a constant landmark for exploring the city. From there, visit Geneva's ancient Old Town, which offers a living glimpse of the past. If you want to explore further and learn more details about the city, you can visit Geneva's more than thirty museums and art galleries, including the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum and the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MAMCO). Later for a change of pace, you can take a cruise on the lake or relax in one of Geneva's main waterfront parks. Whatever your interest, Geneva has a wide range of options to keep you busy in the city, and outside of it, with plenty of trails, countryside scenery and mountain terrain ideal for sport lovers and active tourism. Below you will find some of the highlights of the city:
- Et d'Eau: It's the biggest and tallest fountain in the world. The word literally means 'water jet'. Originally, in 1886 they built the fountain to control and release the excess pressure of a hydraulic plant at La Coulouvrenière. Shortly it became remarkable symbol of the city and so it was amplified and relocated to the center of the Lake. The Fountain presence gives the power to the place, every time you look on its majesty you are reminded that you are in the powerful and well organized country. Soon after being finished, the fountain became the symbol of strength, ambition and vitality of Geneva and Switzerland. Its strong engines pump 500 liters of water per second to the height of 140 meters. The best thing about the fountain is free to see! Also take advantage and stroll around The Lake, you can take a dip at Bains des Pâquis (entrance is CHF 2, but need to bring your own towel) or just relax in one of the lakeside parks or cafes. For a unique perspective on the city, take a one or two hour boat cruise around the lake. Starting at CHF 18 for an hour loop boat ride!
Day trips around Geneva:
Geneva is the perfect home base for exploring the surrounding countryside. Whether you enjoy boating, hiking, biking, wine tasting or are looking for the ultimate Switzerland ski vacation, Geneva offers easy access to paradise as well as numerous organized tours. Day trips to the nearby towns of Montreux, Chamonix and Lausanne are also popular taking the train or the bus.
But if you are looking for something closer and less expensive, why not take the bus to the town of Hermance. It's 30 min away by bus from the bus stop of Rive. Take bus E to the last stop. Once there, walk around the traditional swiss town, sample some restaurants or simply walk along the lake side, admiring some impressive views.
The same as all Switzerland, staying in Hotels is not cheap or affordable for many pockets. Hotels are good standard all around and even basic hotels can have small rooms starting at €80 per night! Central hotels to the city centre are around €100-150. For a more budget conscious traveller, consider staying in France, close to the border with Switzerland which will bring the prices down substantially, despite you need to take transport every day. Also Airbnb will offer better prices if you don't mind having a private room with shared bathroom. Hostels are not that popular in Geneva, but dorms can be found for around €30 a night.
Recommended stay duration:
Despite the cost associated with Switzerland, Geneva is not a big city where you need to stay very long to discover it. Walking around the city, seeing it's main sites and old town can be done in a day, with the help of the public transport. Can't miss a trip to Salève, which requires half day trip! Going to the many museums and galleries will take additional time to take in all the history and culture. In all, a 3 night stay in Geneva to take in most of the highlights and not break the budget would be enough.