Elegantly perched along the banks of the Rhône and the shores of Lake Geneva, the second largest city in Switzerland is a sophisticated city of countless delights. Geneva combines a rich cultural heritage with refined aesthetics, jaw-dropping natural beauty and endless opportunities for outdoor activities.
Gateway to the Alps, Geneva is framed by three mountain chains – the Jura mountains to the east and the French Alps to the west, with the snow-capped summit of Mont Blanc visible on the horizon. Whether you come in summer or winter or are looking for indoor or outdoor activities, Geneva always has plenty of experiences on offer in an idyllic alpine environment. Capture perfect alpine images for your Instagram on a lake cruise or strolling down the lakeside promenade along the shores of Lake Geneva or discover the Altstadt (Old Town).
If a cultural experience is your thing, Geneva does not disappoint. Choose from more than 30 museums and art galleries that capture the full spectrum of the most significant cultural and historical influences on the city. If you are the outdoorsy type, you will be spoilt for choice in Geneva – in both winter and summer.
In winter there are abundant activities on snow, ice and water to choose from. Spend a day on the slopes at any of the world renowned ski resorts located nearby such as Chamonix, Verbier or Gstaad before heading to the hot water pools at Vitaparken to soak away any aches. In summer immerse yourself in the pristine waters of Lake Geneva or take advantage of one of the many city beaches. Come to the gateway to the Alps and book your flight from London to Geneva now.
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How do you get from the airport to Geneva?
Genève Aéroport (Geneva Airport) is located approximately 4 km (2.5 miles) from the city and has excellent public transportation links via train, bus, shuttle and taxi. The train journey from the airport to the central train station Gare Cornavin is only 6 minutes, and from here there are excellent links to trams and trains to anywhere in the city. The journey by bus to downtown Geneva from the airport takes 20 minutes. Depending on where you are staying, your hotel may also offer a free shuttle service from the airport. Taxis are also in plentiful supply outside the terminals.
What about public transportation around the city?
Geneva offers free public transportation when you stay in a hotel, youth hostel or campsite in the Republic and Canton of Geneva. The “Geneva Transport Card” is free for the duration of your stay and provides unlimited travel on the public transportation services in the city (UNIRESO: bus [TPG], train [CFF] and boat [Mouettes Genevoises]). The Swiss public transportation system is legendary for its efficiency and timeliness and Geneva is no exception. The Mouettes Genevoises (Geneva Gulls) are little yellow water buses that run from one side of the lake to the other, and with the Geneva Transport Card you can board them for free. From mid-April to mid-October you can rent a bike free of charge for four hours. The city terrain is mostly flat and has an excellent cycle lane network, enabling you to experience Geneva at your own pace.
What else is good to know?
You may want to consider getting a “Geneva Pass”. Available for durations of 24, 48 or 72 hours, it enables the discovery of the best of the city with free public transportation and access to more than 50 attractions and activities including museums, lake cruises, rafting, a tour of the Old Town in a mini-train and more. Another option is the two-day EasyPass, providing access to the essentials and free public transportation.
Discover Geneva, the lakeside heaven
Nestled at the foot of the Alps amid spectacular natural surroundings, the Capital of Peace is also a global center for finance, diplomacy and culture, with a long history of diversity and tolerance dating back to the Protestant Reformation. Whether you seek a non-stop outdoor adventure or an entertaining, relaxing or cultural experience, Geneva delivers. We have collected the best attractions in Zurich:
- The Art and History
- Helicopter flight
- Lake cruise
- Sport for every season
- Guided tour of the United Nations European headquarter
- L’horloge fleurie (the Flower Clock)
The Beaux-Arts-style building at Rue Charles-Galland 2 is the home of the Art and History Museum – the largest in Geneva and one of the largest in Switzerland. The impressive catalogue of over one million pieces from archaeological, applied and fine arts is curated over three wings in a total exhibition space of 7,000 m2 (75,000 ft2).
For those with Champagne tastes, experience winter with a difference. Take a helicopter to nearby Gstaad on a shopping excursion via a stopover on Glacier 3000 and marvel at the breathtaking landscape and view to the Northern Alps while sipping a glass of chilled Champagne. Taking a helicopter is a common mode of transport in these parts and a good way to beat the traffic. It’s a short chopper ride to the world-class ski fields and fresh, deep powder of the Alps.
Geneva is surrounded by water, so don’t miss the boat. There are many ways to get out and about on the water. Take a lake cruise for fabulous vistas of the surrounding alpine landscape or rent a boat in summer and captain your own adventure around the shoreline of Lake Geneva.
In winter, put on a pair of snowshoes and explore the magic of the surrounding alpine wonderland or relive your childhood and go sledging. Head to the Parcs des Bastion to admire the famous Reformation Wall that is built into the walls of the Old Town and overlooking the park. Then warm up with a skate around the huge outdoor ice skating rink.
In summer take your game to the water with wakeboarding, rafting or kayaking. Charter a private boat fishing trip on Europe’s biggest freshwater lake and see how many char, perch, fera or lake trout you manage to catch.
Learn about the work of the United Nations on a guided tour of its European headquarters in the Palais de Nations. On the way, stop off at the Place de Nations to reflect on the symbolism of Daniel Berset’s artwork the “Broken Chair”, campaigning against the use of landmines.
L’horloge fleurie (the Flower Clock) has been keeping time with Swiss precision ever since. Comprising around 12,000 flowers and plants, which are changed depending on the season, the Flower Clock has the longest seconds-hand in the world – an impressive 2.5 meters (8.2 feet).
See Geneva’s attractions for yourself in our Geneva travel guide.
Culinary tips for Geneva
To the residents of this elegant lakeside heaven, food is a serious business, so your taste buds are in for a treat. The culinary landscape is an enticing and tasty blend of traditional Swiss fare and a dazzling array of international cuisine that reflects the socially and ethnically diverse character of the city. There’s something to suit every taste and every budget.
Budget-friendly food options can be found in Geneva’s international precinct Pâquis-Nations. The social and ethnic diversity of the area is reflected in the wide variety of international cuisines offered in the restaurants and cafes lining the streets in this part of the city.
The regional cuisine of Geneva is known as “cuisine du terroir” with specialties such as “Omble chevalier à la genevoise” (Lake Geneva trout), a variety of casseroles made with lobster, artichoke or pork, raclette, pork sausages and of course Geneva fondue, featuring Gruyere and Emmental cheeses, and special guest, Walliser. Learn how it’s done and try your hand at a cheese fondue cooking and tasting class. Or head to the authentic Swiss Chalet known as Hôtel Edelweiss at the Place de la Navigation in the heart of Geneva. This is home to the Edelweiss Restaurant where you can experience an unforgettable evening of fondue and yodeling.
Geneva is chocoholic heaven. Discover, explore, learn, taste and taste some more on a tour of the Favarger Chocolate Factory. To get a chocolate fix on the go, head to the local supermarket where you’ll be hard pressed to choose from a mouth-watering assortment of the finest Swiss chocolates, pastries and the local specialty Paves de Geneve (chocolate truffles).
Find more dining tips for Geneva in our comprehensive guide.
Shopping in Geneva
Despite its compact size, Geneva is listed as one of the world’s best shopping destinations alongside Paris and New York. Geneva’s impressive cultural heritage supports its reputation as a specialist in the finer things in life. The area that follows the banking district to Eaux-Vives along the Rue du Rhône and Rue du Marche is Geneva’s dress circle for shopping. Here is where you’ll find world famous luxury Swiss watchmakers, master chocolatiers, designer fashion labels and the Malbuisson Clock, the chiming bells of which have rung out every hour since 1962 and set in motion the 42 bronze marching figures.
London - GenevaFlight duration: 01:40 hrs total, Frequency: 2 x daily
Arrival GenevaDistance to city centre: 6 km