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Geneva: Lakeside sophistication

Situated at the mouth of the Rhône and confluence of the Rhône and Arve rivers, Switzerland’s second most populous city Geneva stretches elegantly along the shores of its namesake, Lake Geneva.

Surrounded by the majestic backdrop of three mountain chains – two of the Jura mountains to the east and the French Alps to west – Geneva is the epitome of lakeside alpine sophistication. Geneva has a grand cultural heritage and has evolved to be recognized as one of the world’s most cultured and beautiful cities. The city combines aesthetically pleasing and jaw-dropping natural beauty with a rich and sophisticated history dating back 4,000 years. Geneva should be a bucket list destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Known as ”the gateway to the Alps”, the snow-capped summit of the 4,808.7 m (15,777 ft) Mont Blanc can be seen to the south-east of the city.

Whether you are into outdoor adventures as swimming in summer or skiing in winter or prefer the more sedate pace of a cultural experience, Geneva is bursting with opportunity. Amenable to lakeside promenades, mountain hikes, lake dips and panoramic views – marvel at the mountains and watch swans gliding gracefully across the water as you stroll lakeside to the Jet d’Eau.

With all the activity you are guaranteed to work up an appetite and food is a serious business in Geneva. The city’s culinary landscape is a satisfying mix of traditional Swiss fare and dishes from around the world with something for everyone.

Collect your own experience and book your flight to Geneva now.

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. Geneva Airport is also connected to the city via bicycle-friendly routes that are located away from major roads, providing convenient access for those who travel light. 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 about Geneva?

You may want to consider getting a “Geneva Pass”. Available for durations of 24, 48 or 72 hours, it enables 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.

Discover Geneva and collect memories

Geneva is recognized as a worldwide center for diplomacy, finance and culture set amidst unparalleled and inspirational natural beauty. Come discover the Capital of Peace for yourself. Whether you are looking for an adrenalin-fueled adventure, entertainment, culture or relaxation at a legendary Swiss spa, it’s all right here in Geneva.

  • Beaux-Arts-style Art and History Museum
  • Lake Geneva
  • The flower clock
    • Visit the Beaux-Arts-style Art and History Museum – the largest museum in Geneva with an impressive catalogue of over 1 million pieces organized across the three wings of Archeology, Fine Arts and Applied Arts with a total exhibition space extending over 7,000 m² (75,000 ft²).

      Don’t miss the boat – there is a lot of water in and around Geneva and plenty of ways to get out and about on it. 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 shores of Lake Geneva.

      Spend time admiring the renewable, living masterpiece that is the Flower Clock. Be impressed by its Swiss precision timekeeping. First created in 1955, the clock comprises approximately 12,000 flowers and plants, which change depending on the season, and the clock features the longest seconds-hand in the world at 2.5 meters (8.2 feet).

      Special outdoor activities in summer or winter

      Beat the winter traffic and take a helicopter to any of the famous ski resorts nearby including the world-renowned fields at Chamonix and Verbier and the Royal favorite Gstaad. In winter there is always plenty to see and do in Geneva. Don a pair of snowshoes and explore the surrounding alpine wonderland or relive your childhood and go sledging. Head to the Parcs des Bastion to admire the famous Reformation Wall built into the walls of the Old Town and overlooking the park. Warm yourself up with a skate around the huge outdoor ice skating rink before heading to one of the winter terraces to enjoy an al fresco meal surrounded by a magical vista.

      In summer, the play moves to the water with multiple opportunities for wakeboarding, wake surfing, wake foiling, rafting, kayaking and of course swimming in Lake Geneva and it's surrounding beaches.

      Find out more about the city of time in and Geneva’s attractions in our travel guide.

Food and drinks in Geneva

Introduce your taste buds to the varied range of gastronomic experiences on offer in Geneva. Food means business in this elegant lakeside city, where you’ll find everything from traditional Swiss cuisine to international dishes and something to suit every taste and every budget.

Budget-friendly options can be found in the Pâquis-Nations area. The social and ethnic diversity of this area is reflected in the wide variety of international cuisines offered in the restaurants and cafes lining the streets in this most international part of the city.

The regional cuisine is referred to as “cuisine du terroir” and includes local 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 by taking a cheese fondue cooking and tasting class. Or head to the authentic Swiss Chalet at Place de la Navigation in the heart of Geneva, home of the Edelweiss Restaurant where you can experience an unforgettable evening of fondue and yodeling.

If you have a sweet tooth, you’re in the right place – Geneva is a chocolate lover’s paradise. Discover, learn and taste on a tour of the Favarger Chocolate Factory or go to the local supermarket for a mouth-watering assortment of the finest Swiss chocolates, pastries and the local specialty Paves de Genève (chocolate truffles).

Wine connoisseurs won’t want to miss a Geneva Mont Blanc wine tour, which takes you on a bicycle excursion through the countryside to taste some very fine wines. Electric bikes are available for those who prefer a more relaxed form of transportation.

You’ll find a few tips for dining in Geneva in our guide.

Shopping in Geneva

Despite its compact size, Geneva is renowned as one of the world’s great shopping destinations. In the same league as Paris and London, Geneva has a reputation as a specialist in the finer things in life. The area of the city that extends from the banking district to Eaux-Vives, Rue du Rhône and Rue du Marche forms the golden quadrant for shopping in Geneva. Here is where you’ll find world famous luxury Swiss watchmakers, Geneva’s 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 its 42 marching bronze figures.

For a shopping excursion in a Swiss department store, head to the multi-level Globus on Rue du Rhône which has everything from clothing and cosmetics to houseware and groceries. In the next street over you’ll find the upmarket Bongénie Grieder Genève department store, which has been at this location at Rue du Marché 34 since its establishment in 1891. A shopper’s paradise extending over 5,000 m2 across seven levels of high-end fashion with a nail bar, niche perfume store, tailor-made department and two restaurants where you can recharge before taking on the next level.