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Geneva Travel Guide

Geneva is the second most populous city in Switzerland and the biggest city in Romandy, the French speaking part of Switzerland. Built on the mouth of the River Rhône and Lake Geneva, the city has been a major settlement since its capture from the Gallic tribe of Allobroges by the Romans in 2nd Century B.C. A major financial and diplomatic capital, Geneva is home to the headquarters of many big and influential banks and businesses, and also to the headquarters of many international organizations, several of which are prominent United Nations agencies. Often called the most compact metropolis in the world, Geneva is also bestowed the honour of the title “World Peace Capital”. Isolated from the rest of Switzerland by Lake Geneva, the city is very close to the French border.

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General Information About Geneva

Country: Switzerland
Region: Romandy
Area: 15.92 km2
Language: French
Average temperature: 10 °C
Climate: Temperate
Vegetation: Forest
The difference between GMT: GMT +2
Telephone Code: +41
Currency: Swiss Franc
Socket Type: Type J


How to Get to Geneva?

Pegasus Airlines offers direct flights to Geneva from Istanbul, Ankara, and Antalya.

The flight duration from Istanbul is 3 hours and 5 minutes. You can buy your direct flight tickets to Geneva from here.

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Transportation from Geneva International Airport to the City Center

Geneva International Airport is located about 4 km away from the city center. You can get there either by bus, taxi or train or on foot, as there is a walking trail stretching all the way from the airport to the city center.

If you want to take the bus, you need to take the line number 10, the journey takes about 20 minutes.

The train will take you to Gare Cornavin inside the city, a central hub of transport from which you can catch a tram or train anywhere.

The city of Geneva offers all who arrive by plane the right to claim a free Unireso ticket at the airport, in the baggage claim hall. This ticket will be valid for 80 minutes and can be used with any public transportation service inside Zone 10, which covers the central Geneva area, including the airport and most hotels. Remember to keep your plane ticket with you to validate your free ticket in case of a ticket inspection.

You can also enjoy the city with a rental car. Pegasus Airlines car rental service has great offers for a comfortable trip.


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Public Transport in Geneva

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Geneva has an advanced network of transportation. The local bus and tram system is available all around the city. You can buy your tickets from the machines in most stations as well as at newspaper stands. The prices depend on the zone covered by the ticket and also on the tickets validity duration. More information about ticket prices can be found here. Geneva also offers free bicycles to explore the city with and the city is mostly flat with a very extensive bicycle path network. Finally, there are the lake boats. These lake boats offer rides across the lake, to and from the right and left banks. Not only is this a budget option to get from one half of the city to the other, but it is also very popular with tourists for the scenic view of the city it provides. Tickets cost 2 CHF for adults (2019). 

Best Time to Visit Geneva

Summer is the best time to visit Geneva. The pleasant weather makes it the best time of the year to enjoy Lake Geneva. Of course, you may wish to plan your trip around local festivals as well, more information about which is available in the next section. Two days are enough to explore this compact metropolis, but you may want to extend your stay to relax by the banks of Lake Geneva.

Festivals in Geneva

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  • Antigel Festival (February)
  • International Geneva Motor Show (March)
  • Electron Festival (April)
  • Geneva Marathon (May)
  • Geneva Music Festival (May) 
  • L’Escalade (December)

Places to Visit in Geneva

The beautiful architecture and its stunning harmony with nature, especially with Lake Geneva, offers visitors a feast for the eyes. Not only that, but being a “diplomatic capital”, Geneva has many cultural landmarks to visit.

Jet d’Eau

Jet d’Eau is a large fountain at the mouth of Lake Geneva where it empties into the River Rhône. It was originally installed in 1886 as a safety valve for a hydraulic power network and could reach a height of 30 meters. Soon after, in 1891, the people of Geneva realised the fountain’s potential for spectacle, and it was moved a little further upstream and was operated for the first time as a spectacle to commemorate the 600th anniversary of the foundation of the Swiss Confederation. The present fountain pumps 500 litres of water 140 metres into the air every second at a speed of 200 km/h. At any moment there are about 7000 litres of water in the air above the Jet d’Eau.

St. Pierre Cathedral

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St. Pierre was a Roman Catholic cathedral that was converted into a protestant church during the Reformation. Famous for being the adopted home church of John Calvin, one of the foremost proponents of the Protestant Reformation movement. Originally a gothic cathedral, the interior was stripped of all decoration and art during the Reformation. In the 18th Century, a neoclassical main façade was added, giving the cathedral a uniquely Roman feel.

Russian Church

Officially known as “La Cathédrale de l’Exaltation de la Sainte Croix”, this is a historical Russian orthodox church. It was built between 1863 and 1866 with the initiative of Grand Duchess Anna Feodorovna of Russia who had moved to Switzerland after separating from her husband Grand Duke Konstantin. Its golden domes and Byzantine striped arches, as well as the alien architecture, Russian revival, make this a fascinatingly beautiful little landmark in the city, one of the few examples of its kind in Western Europe.

Palais Wilson

Built originally in 1873-1875 as a hotel, it was renamed after U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, one of the founders of of the League of Nations, when Switzerland joined the League of Nations and the building became the organization’s headquarters. It currently serves as the headquarters for the UNHCR. It must be said that despite never actually serving as a “palace”, Palais Wilson (Wilson Palace) deserves its name.

Brunswick Monument

This monument is a mausoleum built in honour of Charles II, Duke of Brunswick. The Duke bequeathed his fortune to the city of Geneva upon his death in 1873 and asked that a monument be built in his name in the city. It is a breath-taking landmark built in the style of the Scaliger Tombs in Verona. The ornate decorations, the sculptures that adorn all sides, as well as the centre piece makes this monument a must see.

 

Where to Stay in Geneva?

There are many options for accommodation in Geneva. You can find a good hotel in the districts of Paquis, Grottes - Saint-Gervais, Plainpalais and Eaux Vives no matter your budget.


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What to Eat in Geneva?

Though you can find restaurants of cuisines from around the world, Geneva’s specialty is cheese-based dishes. The most famous of these is the Fromage Fondue, which we recommend heartily.

  • French Cuisine: Cafe de la Place
  • Fondue: Cafe du Soleil
  • Meat: Grizzly

 

Shopping in Geneva: Best Souvenirs to Buy 

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Geneva is home to many famous and luxurious stores. These stores and many more are mostly centered around Place du Molard, the Rue de Rhône and the Rue de Marché. Swiss army knives and chocolate are the two things that immediately spring to mind when one thinks of Switzerland and the best chocolateries are Coop City, Arn Chocolaterie and Rohr.

 

Nightlife in Geneva

The nightlife in Geneva is vibrant and lively. Plainpalais is a popular destination for a fun evening. Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings are the most popular times of the week for nightlife. 

Essential Numbers

Country Code: +41

City Code: 22

Geneva International Airport: +41 22 717 71 11

Ambulance: 114

Police: 117  

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