Countless lakes, the high Alps and a famous chocolate - yes, about Switzerland it's about! Discover one of the most beautiful cities of the country and find out why Geneva is the perfect location for a citybreak. The city's sophistication and distinguished architecture will give you a better understanding of Switzerland's diverse culture. In this travel guide you'll find details of what to see on a city break, as well as nearby excursions, prices, accommodation, transport and local food.
Geneva airport is about 4 km from the city and you have 3 options: bus, train and taxi. The journey by bus 5, 10, 23 and 28 will take about 15-20 minutes to the city, depending on which stop you get off at. Every 10-15 minutes at least one bus arrives at the stop outside the terminal. Buses run between 6-24. The train is also a quick option to get into town, as the journey takes only 10-15 minutes. It runs every 10-20 minutes between 4:40-1am.
For both train and bus, you can get a free Unireso ticket valid for 80 minutes in zone 10, i.e. from the airport to the city centre. The machine that issues free tickets is located in the baggage claim area. Keep your ticket as it can be checked by the ticket inspectors in the transport. Otherwise, bus or train tickets from the airport to the centre cost CHF 3 (about 3 euros).
And the most convenient and expensive option is the taxi. Access is allowed for only 4 passengers, and trips from the centre to the airport cost about 45-65 euros. Details are also available on http://www.geneva.info/airport/transport/ .
Getting around Geneva
Geneva's public transport system, called UNIRESO, is very well set up. You can choose to travel by bus, tram, train or mouette (mini-buses). The best part is that when you check into a hotel, you get a free card that allows you to travel on any public transport in Geneva for the duration of your stay. Swiss hospitality really is at a high level!
GENEVA CITY PASS
We recommend this city pass if you visit Geneva! With Geneva City Pass you get free access or discounts up to 50% to sights or tours, as well as access to free public transport if you are not staying in Geneva and you stay only 1 day. You have options for 24 hours (30 euro), 48 hours (40 euro) and 72 hours (50 euro). You can find all the details about the card and purchase it on https://www.geneve.com/en/plan-a-trip/geneva-city-pass .
Accommodation in the city starts from 95 euros per night on Booking, while on AirBnb you can find accommodation from 70 euros per night. Get ready for a breathtaking view, as in some of the accommodations you can admire the famous Lake Geneva from your balcony. How does a morning of sipping a good coffee on the balcony, feeling the cool air and enjoying the unique view sound?
Meininger Hotel Geneva Centre Charmilles It starts at 115 euro/night and is less than 2 km from the centre. There are both single and double rooms, as well as family rooms for 6 people. The hotel has a bar and a 24/7 reception. You have a private bathroom in your room, Wifi, AC and TV, and the hotel also has a shared kitchen.
Tourist attractions Geneva, Switzerland
Water Jet is a huge fountain located right next to the lake and is the most famous tourist attraction of the city. It ranks among the highest fountains in the world. You can walk along a path leading to the fountain and admire the unique landscape with few splashes, of course - but ideal for the warm season!
A kayak trip on the water in the Jet d'Eau area is sure to be a beautiful experience, and with the Geneva City Pass you get 20% off the full price of 88 euros. Find details on https://www.geneve.com/en/attractions/hike-under-the-jet-d-eau.
Old Town of Geneva reveals the most impressive buildings and is also the largest historical centre in the whole country. On an afternoon stroll, you can admire some of Geneva's most famous sights, such as Wall of Reform.
Also here you will pass through some of Switzerland's biggest boulevards and squares, such as La Treille Promenade and Bourg-de-Four square. If you came on holiday to Geneva with your camera, get ready to photograph as many of Geneva's treasures as possible, because the Old Town is full of them!
Conservatory and Botanical Garden of Geneva
Botanical Garden of Geneva is an entire open-air museum comprising more than 12,000 plant species. The fresh air and nature that will surround you will make you forget that you are in the middle of one of the largest cities in Switzerland. Access is free and Botanical Garden is close to the centre and Lake Geneva, so you can easily walk there.
Paquis Baths is the place set up as a beach right in the heart of the city. In summer you can relax in the sun, swim and enjoy the special scenery in front of you. There are also hammams (heated Turkish baths where you can bathe), saunas and many other facilities for tourists. You can get here by bus lines 1 or 25 and get off at the Place de la Navigation station, or you can take mouette lines 1, 2 or 3 and get off at the Paquis station.
Admission costs 2 euro/adult and 1 euro/child under 16, while children under 6 have free access. Prices for access to the sauna and hammam cost around 20 euros. The lively evening atmosphere is among the most popular places. You can also try the dishes at the restaurant here while enjoying the priceless view of Lake Geneva. The complex is open from 10-21 Monday-Saturday and 9-21 Sunday.
Museums in Geneva
A holiday in Geneva gives you the chance to discover the history of the city influenced by neighbouring peoples over the years. So it would be a shame to miss out on some of Switzerland's most famous museums, such as Museum of Art and History (free access) with collections from past centuries to the present day, Museum of Natural History (free admission to permanent exhibitions, 8 euro/adult ticket to temporary exhibitions or free with Geneva City Pass) with fauna and flora collections or Ariana Museum. (free access to permanent exhibitions, temporary exhibitions require a 15 euro/adult ticket or free with Geneva City Pass, free for young people under 18)
St. Pierre Cathedral
12th century cathedral is one of the most outstanding buildings in Geneva, with Gothic, Romanesque and Neoclassical architecture. Access to the cathedral is free, and to visit the North and South Towers you will have to pay 5 euros/adult and 2 euros/children aged 6-16. Access is free with the Geneva City Pass. Tickets can be purchased at the entrance desks.
Chamonix-Mont Blanc is just 80 km from Geneva, and the journey there will take your holiday to a whole new level! With lakes and mountain views straight out of the movies, 1 day in Chamonix-Mont Blanc will be unforgettable.
You can opt for 1 day trips to Chamonix-Mont Blanc with prices between 100-300 euros on Trip Advisor (https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attractions-g188057-Activities-c42-Geneva.html) With the Geneva City Pass you get 10% discount on the following tours: https://www.geneve.com/en/attractions/chamonix-day-trip-09-15-shared-excursion#/ and https://www.geneve.com/en/attractions/excursion-chamonix-mont-blanc-08h30#/ . If you wish to go on your own, you can take the Swiss Tours bus to Chamonix Sud from the Geneva bus station for about 18 euros per person.
Gruyère Pays-d'Enhaut Regional Park
Gruyere Park is the definition of picturesque landscapes! With small villages in the valley and gorgeous meadows, Gruyere is known for its production of Gruyere cheese. And if you end up in Switzerland, it's worth discovering this place too to really understand the hospitality of the locals and the beauty of the country!
With the Geneva City Pass you get 10% discount on the 1 day trip which includes transportation, guided tour, village visits, chocolate tasting at chocolate factories and cheese tasting. The initial price is 200 euro/adult or 130 euro/child and you can find details on https://www.geneve.com/en/attractions/excursion-gruyeres#/ . Another option is to book a trip on Trip Advisor (https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Products-g188057-t11889-zfg11867-Geneva.html) from 100 euros per person. Or you can travel the 140 km from Geneva to Gruyere by train in about 2 hours for 40-50 euros per person.
Swiss dishes include many dishes adapted from German or French gastronomy, but you will also find some purely Swiss ones. So you will find malakoff stuffed with cheese, the cheese cruste (inspired by French cuisine), longeole (sausages with cumin) and the famous chocolate bowl at the marmite de l'escalade.
Where do you eat in Geneva?
Taste Swiss cuisine at Les Armures Restaurant located in the area of the Museum of Art and History with prices between 7-49 euros for dishes such as Swiss soups, Alpine meat, snails or Swiss sausages. Or you can try Restaurant du Boeuf Rouge with French influences at prices between 5-50 euros.
A holiday in Geneva will certainly be different from one in Zurich, as the city is strongly influenced by French culture. But the charm of the Lake District is the same, and the streets are lined with buildings of various architectural styles, from Romanesque to neo-Gothic. Even in a city break of just 3 days you can visit the main sights. We have prepared a list of some links in case you are planning your holiday in Switzerland!
In case you are thinking about a possible holiday in Geneva, we will leave you a list of links to help you with the organisation of your trip.