The first thing you notice is the spectacular natural beauty of Geneva’s physical location. Sitting pretty on the banks of the Rhône and shores of Lake Geneva, Switzerland’s second biggest city is set against the majestic backdrop of the Jura mountains and the French Alps.
The snow-capped summit of the 4,808.7-m (15,777-ft) Mont Blanc is seen to the south-east of the city. Geneva’s reputation as a specialist in the finer things in life is well-deserved. As the birthplace of Patek Phillippe and Rolex luxury timepieces and home to CERN (creator of the world wide web), the Geneva Conventions and boutique chocolatiers on every corner, Geneva is the epitome of lakeside sophistication.
Beneath its flawless exterior Geneva has a rich and diverse heritage dating back 4,000 years. Sports buffs and outdoor enthusiasts should make Geneva a bucket list destination – year round outdoor opportunities are plentiful. Paddling, kayaking, wakeboarding and swimming in the pristine waters of Lake Geneva, cycle tours, skiing, snowboarding and sledging in the deep powder of the Alps or mountain hikes. Experience horse riding in Geneva – host of one of the world’s most prestigious equestrian competitions. Take a helicopter ride, land on Glacier 3000 and enjoy a glass of chilled Champagne and stunning views.
For a more sedate experience, visit any of the 30+ museums and art galleries in Geneva, or take a lakeside stroll to the 40-meter (3.5-foot) high Jet d’Eau. Explore the ancient maze of alleyways in the Vieille Ville (Old Town) to reach the Place du Bourg-de-Four, the oldest square in Geneva. Stop for a coffee break at any of the cafes and admire the masonry facades of the surrounding buildings before visiting the 9th century St. Pierre’s (St. Peter’s) Cathedral.
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How do you get from the airport to Geneva?
Genève Aéroport (Geneva Airport) is 4 km (2.5 miles) from the city with excellent public transportation links. The train journey from the airport to the central train station (Gare Cornavin) is 6 minutes and from here there are connections to anywhere in the city. A 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 a bicycle lane network located away from major roads. Taxis are also available 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 citywide public transportation services. The Swiss public transportation system is legendary for its efficiency and timeliness and Geneva is no exception. The Mouettes Genevoises (Geneva Gulls) are water buses that cross the lake and are free to ride with the Geneva Transport Card. Rent a bicycle free of charge for four hours from mid-April to mid-October. Explore Geneva at your own pace on relatively flat terrain and excellent cycle routes.
What else is good to know?
Consider a “Geneva Pass”, which is available for durations of 24, 48 or 72 hours. Experience the best of the city with free public transportation and access to more than 50 attractions and activities including museums, lake cruises and more.
Explore Geneva and it’s attractions
Geneva is a worldwide center for diplomacy, finance and culture set in idyllic alpine surroundings. Come discover the Capital of Peace for yourself.. Whether you want an action-packed adventure, entertainment, culture or relaxation at a legendary Swiss spa, you will be impressed by Geneva and it’s attractions:
- Winter sports in Geneva
- Lake Geneva
- Bellerive Castle
- The Botanical Gardens
- Geneva’s museums
- The Broken Chair
- Palais de Nations
- Bain-Bleu Hammam & Spa Genève-Plage
Sport activities and outdoor life in Geneva
Chopper into any of the world-renowned ski resorts nearby including Chamonix, Verbier and royal favorite Gstaad. Explore the surrounding alpine wonderland on a pair of snowshoes or a sled. Ice skate at Parcs des Bastion by the famous Reformation Wall before heading to a winter terrace for an al fresco winter meal surrounded by magical vistas.
In summer take your game to the water on a kayak, raft or wakeboard. Embark on a cruise on Lake Geneva for an hour, a day or for dinner and capture the majesty of the surrounding alpine landscape, taking in sights such as the Mermaid Statue and Bellerive Castle.
Geneva has more than 20 parks and green spaces in the city center where you can rest, reflect and relax. Visit the 28-hectare Botanical Gardens and see how many of the 12,000 species you recognize while enjoying a living museum.
Art and history
Geneva’s largest museum is housed in the Beaux-Arts-style building at Rue Charles-Galland 2. The Art and History Museum curates an impressive catalog of a million pieces across a total exhibition space of 7,000 m2 (75,000 ft2). The Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art is housed in an old factory building and is a dynamic museum bursting with works of modern art, including those of its muse Marcel Duchamp.
Relaxing in Geneva
See Daniel Berset’s emblematic 21st century masterpiece campaigning against the use of landmines, “The Broken Chair” at the Place de Nations. Then pop across to the Palais de Nations building for a guided tour of the European headquarters of the United Nations.
Unwind after a day of sightseeing at the 3,000-m2 Bain-Bleu Hammam & Spa Genève-Plage and take your pick from an indoor or outdoor pool, steam bath or relaxation area.
Find out more attractions in Geneva in our Geneva guide.
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Geneva: Where food means business
The hugely varied range of gastronomic experiences on offer in Geneva makes choosing one difficult. Food means business in this elegant lakeside city, where you’ll find everything from traditional Swiss cuisine to international dishes for every taste and budget.
For a gourmet feast for both eyes and taste buds, choose from any of the 15 Michelin-starred and Gault-Millau-recognized restaurants that call Geneva home.
The Swiss Chalet at the Place de la Navigation in the heart of Geneva houses the Edelweiss Restaurant, where you can enjoy an unforgettable evening of fondue and yodeling.
Discover food tips for Geneva in our comprehensive guide.
Nightlife and Shopping in Geneva
Dance the night away to the sound of music at one of the river- and lakeside nightclubs. If jazz and blues is more your style, you’re in luck: Geneva is known for it’s sophisticated music scene. Live music venues can be found all over the city, especially in the summertime.
Upmarket department store Bongénie Grieder Genève, which has been at its location at Rue du Marché 34 since its establishment in 1891, offers 5,000 m2 of luxury, high-end shopping over seven levels.
If markets are your thing, take your pick of fresh food and wine at the Place du Marché market in Carouge on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The Plaine de Plainpalais hosts Geneva’s biggest farmer’s market on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays and is a short distance from the 85-meter (45-foot) long structural masterpiece the Pont Hans-Wilsdorf bridge spanning L’Arve River.
Los Angeles - ZurichFlight duration: 10:55 hrs total, Frequency: 5 x daily
Departure Los AngelesTerminal: Tom Bradley InternationalCounter opening time: 3 h prior to departure
Boeing 777-300ERHeight: 18.50 mLength: 74 mSeats: 340
Crew:Pilots: 2Cabin crew: 14
Transit Zurich (ZRH)Arrival: 15:15Transit time: 1h 45m
Zurich - GenevaFlight duration: 00:50 hrs total, Frequency: 8 x daily
Airbus A320-214Height: 11.80 mLength: 37.60 mSeats: 136-168
Crew:Pilots: 2Cabin crew: 4
Arrival GenevaDistance to city centre: 6 km