From WikitravelEurope : Central Europe : Switzerland : Lake Geneva : Geneva Jump to: navigation, search For other places with the same name, see Geneva (disambiguation).
Panorama of Geneva from Le Saleve
Geneva (French: Genève, German: Genf) , Switzerland's second-most populous city, is one of the world's major centers of international diplomacy, having served as the site of the initial headquarters of the International Committee of the Red Cross. Although the United Nations is now headquartered in New York, the organization still retains a large presence in Geneva at the Palais des Nations and many of its sister/child organizations, such as the World Health Organization and ILO. Pop. (metro) 645,000 (2000). Geneva was one of the eight host cities in the 2008 European Football Championships.
Geneva is officially a French-speaking city, although with the large international presence English takes a close second. Spanish, Russian, Portuguese, and Arabic speakers abound and of course you will also occasionally hear German and Italian.
In 1536, a young man named Jean Calvin, fleeing Catholic persecution in France, spent a night in Geneva. As it turned out, he was to do a lot more there than sleeping. After being expelled from Geneva for nearly three years, Calvin returned triumphantly in 1541 to help elevate the city to the rank of a Protestant Rome. The intellectual influence of the Reformation extended to all realms of Genevan life: politics, economy, and administration.
Geneva was an independent republic from at least the 16th century until it became a Swiss Canton on 31 Dec 1813. This is a point of some pride to the Genevois, who still refer to their Canton as the République et Canton de Genève. A favorite festival is the yearly celebration of the Escalade, which commemorates a failed attempt in 1602 by the forces of the Dukes of Savoy to invade the city by climbing and otherwise breaching the city walls. Having turned aside this invasion attempt at the cost of only 16 lives, Geneva had secured its liberty, since the House of Savoy was never again strong enough on this side of the Alps to attempt such an invasion.
Geneva is still a very proud city. Some find it downright stuffy, although there is quite a bit more life to be found if you look under the surface, especially if you speak some French.
 Get in
Due as much to its location as its international status, Geneva serves as a transportation hub for most of French speaking Switzerland and for access to the Swiss Alps from points west.
 By plane
Geneva airport is served by almost all European carriers, by a few daily trans-Atlantic flights, one from Washington Dulles on United, one from New York, JFK on Swiss and one from Newark on Continental. Qatar Airways also offers four flights a week from Newark. Otherwise, when flying from the U.S. you will have to change planes at your airline's hub airport.
Within the last few years, Geneva itself has become a hub for the low-cost carrier Easy Jet  serving a number of destinations in Europe including Great Britain.
The airport itself has an UBS bank with ATMs and exchange machines in the arrival area. There is an American Express office just beyond passport control in the departure lounge. There are several cafes and duty free shopping as well, open 8AM-11PM.
To get into town from the airport, taxis cost approximately 30CHF. The number 10 bus leaves every 15 minutes from 6AM-11PM. Get off at the 22-Cantons stop for train station. All trains leaving Geneva airport train station stop at the main train/bus station. Train/bus tickets are around 3CHF (valid for one hour) and can be purchased at machines at the bus stop and in the station. A free transport ticket to the city of Geneva can be obtained from the Geneva Transport kiosk in the airport arrival terminal. This ticket is valid for 80 minutes anywhere in Geneva, but make sure to get it before you leave the baggage claim area. There is a change machine next to the UBS ATM and at the bus stop.
 By train
The Swiss Federal Railway (Called "CFF" in Geneva) serves Geneva's Gare de Cornavin (also called Genève Cornavin or simply Cornavin) with trains to Zürich, St. Gallen, Basel and Bern every hour. Regional trains heading to Coppet, Nyon and Lausanne leave every half-hour.
International trains leaving from Cornavin are the SNCF (French National Railway) high-speed TGV service — there is a direct service from Geneva to Paris, journey time of three hours and a direct service to Nice, journey time of six hours. Geneva is also the starting point for the night train service to Barcelona, a journey time of nine and a half hours. Many Italian cities are connected to Geneva, notably the "Cisalpino" service, connecting Geneva to Milan and Venice. There is also a night train service to Florence and Rome Termini Station.
For more information:
- Swiss Federal Railway website , telephone 0900-300-300 from within Switzerland or +41-900-300-300 from outside. Provides a useful online travel planner, which includes information about local bus and tram services, as well as rail services and can plan your journey from any address to Geneva.
All trains arriving in the Gare de Cornavin will usually have the Geneva Airport as their final destination (if they come from elsewhere in Switzerland), which means you don't have to use the TPG tram or bus to get there.
 By car
The motorway network brings you right into Geneva, only 40km from Annecy and 80km from Chamonix with customs at Bardonnex - Saint-Julien. You need the compulsory motorway sticker (single annual 40CHF fee) to come through this customs office. Purchase of the motorway tax sticker at one of the customs is obligatory in order to drive on Swiss motorways.
 By bus
Geneva is served by a number of regular international bus routes (Bus station: tel. +41(0)22 732 02 30). Additionally, the TPG (Geneva Public Transport) provide regular services from the neighboring French towns of Saint-Julien, Archamps, Thoiry, Ferney-Voltaire, Moillesulaz (tel. +41(0)22 308 34 34). See the website  for bus timetables.
 By boat
Regular boat service is provided, mainly in turn of the last century steamboats, from ports all around Lake Geneva by Compagnie Générale de Navigation . All boats arrive at the Paquis port after docking briefly at Parc des Eaux Vives and the Jardin Anglais.
Private boat tours and transfers from Geneva to any port on the lake by Léman Transfers. Groups of up to six passengers can be privately chauffeured around the lake.
 Get around
Geneva, like most cities in Switzerland, is a marvel of public transportation efficiency. Transports Publics Genevois  provides frequent bus, tram, 'mouette' (boat), and suburban train service to within a block or two of most locations in the city and canton.
The law changed this year and anybody staying in a Geneva hotel/hostel is entitled to a free daily travel pass for the local Transport TPG. This is provided by the hotel.
 By foot
The old-town can be easily visited by foot starting anywhere around the tour boat dock on Lake Geneva. Crossing the bridge (Pont du Mont Blanc), you'll get to the English Garden with the famous flower clock and a sculpted bronze water fountain. Then you can cross the street (Quai de General Guisan) and go up the hill (on Place du Port and Rue de la Fontaine) and up the long stairs passage and end up behind Saint Peter's Cathedral. After visiting the cathedral, which is Geneva's well-known landmark, you can exit the courtyard and be right in front of Geneva City Hall. From there you can easily walk down to the Bastions Park where you can find the famous Reformation Wall memorial. This park is very quiet and romantic, especially at the beginning of the fall season when the leaves start falling. See this walking route in pictures .
 By bikeGeneva's pro-bike campaign poster ('velo' = 'bike' in French)
Geneva is a great town to get around in by bicycle. Except for the old-town, the city is fairly flat, and though there are some streets that are dangerous to ride, there is almost always a safe, fast route to your destination. If you want to know the best routes, you should get a copy of the beautifully designed VELO-LOVE plan de ville, which is available at all bike shops in Geneva, or by writing to: firstname.lastname@example.org or calling (+41) 22 418 42 00.
A social organization called Genève Roule  lends bicycles free of charge for the day, from 30 April through 30 October. A passport or identity card must be shown and a refundable deposit of 50CHF is required. Four kiosks, staffed by asylum seekers, are located along the lake, behind the railway station, and in the plaine de Plainpalais.
 By bus
Tickets, which cover both trams and buses, must be bought from ticket machines (located at every stop) before boarding the transport.
Tickets cost 2CHF for a short hop (three stops or less, or a one-way crossing of the lake). 3CHF for one hour with unlimited changes on tram, bus, boat, and rail within greater Geneva, 7CHF for a pass valid from 9AM to midnight, and 10CHF for a 24-hour pass valid from the time it is purchased. Holders of the SBB Demi-Tarif/Halbtax card get 20-30% off these prices. The ticket machines do not give change, if you have over paid, keep the ticket and take it to a TPG office (located at the airport, Cornavin railway station and in the middle of the rond-pont de Rive), where the difference will be refunded to you.
Since January 2008, if you stay in a hotel, hostel, or on a camping site, you will get free public transport. Typically, you will receive a Unireso Geneva Transport Card at check-in. It will be authorised for use for the length of your stay. You are supposed to carry your passport or identity card with you at the same time, to ensure validity. The ticket is valid on trains as far as the airport.
 By car
If you want to explore the mountainous countryside or go skiing in one of the ski resorts in the Alps, getting a car is a better option. Numerous local and international car rental service providers operate from the airport. They provide customized traveling services to the needs of tourists visiting Geneva.
 By train
Regional trains to suburban areas run every half hour during the day and every hour after 8PM. The last train to the eastern terminus, (Coppet), leaves at 12:03AM. Though these "Regios" mostly serve commuters, at least two of their station stops, Versoix and Coppet, have several good restaurants and historic main streets. As with buses and trams, tickets must be bought before boarding the train. If you are only travelling with the canton of Geneva, a bus/tram ticket is valid on the train and vice versa; travelling further afield will cost more.
 By tramTram in Geneva
Geneva has an expanding network of super frequent trams. Many lines have their hub at the Cornavin train station, a few others at Place Bel-Air on the old-town side of the river. Tickets which cover both trams and buses must be bought from ticket machines (located at every stop) before boarding the transport.
[add listing] SeeSt Pierre Cathedral
Please notice that contrary to popular belief, the Swiss are beyond punctual when it comes to closing hours. So if a museum is supposed to close at 5PM, expect that at 4:45PM you will be asked to leave and if you point out that closing hours are still 15 minutes away you might get expelled. If you arrive after 4:30PM, you'll more than likely be denied entrance. The same applies to shops and pretty much every public activity with a schedule.
The Jet d'Eau in Lake Geneva
- Jet d'Eau, the Rade (visible from most of the Lac Léman waterfront). daily 10AM-11PM. One of the crowning symbols of Geneva is the monumental Jet d'Eau, a fountain of water pumped 140m into the air. The spectacular plume was once an occasional pressure release for hydro-power generation on the Rhône River, but people liked it so much that in 1891 the city created a permanent pumped fountain. It's beautifully lit at night. Best viewed from a distance — the surrounding half kilometer is soaked with water. Free. edit
- Cathédrale St-Pierre, Place St. Pierre (At the highest point in the Old Town), . Jun-Sep, M-Sa 9AM-7PM, Su 11AM-7PM; Oct-May, M-Sa 10AM-noon and 2PM-5PM, Su 11AM-12:30PM and 1:30PM-5PM. The new Espace Saint Pierre pass includes entrance to all three sites of Cour Saint-Pierre, a noteworthy space of unique spiritual and cultural importance. The Cathedral and its towers, which both embody the high point of the Reformed tradition and explore the origins of Christianity with an extensive archaeological site are now complemented by the International Museum of the Reformation on the ground floor of the Maison Mallet. An underground passage, reopened when the Museum was created, connects the two buildings. Nearby, the Auditoire, where Calvin taught, completes a complex that is both representative of the past and open to current questions. The new Espace Saint-Pierre thus aims to contribute to our understanding of today’s world – between tradition and modernity, cultural experimentation and spiritual practice. These three buildings invite the visitor to explore the city’s history. Religious denominations aside, Espace Saint Pierre represents a spirit that continues to guide the city and citizens of Geneva today. For schedules and information about free live organ performances in the cathedral, go to the website  Adults 16CHF (Seniors, Disabled, Students aged 16-25, and groups of more than 15 qualify for a 10CHF pass, children aged 7-16 qualify for an 8CHF pass. Entry to the church itself is free, of course, but donations are welcome.). edit
- Palais des Nations, 14, Avenue de la Paix (Number 8 bus, stop at Appia), ☎ +41-22-917 48 96 (email@example.com, fax: +41 22 917 0032), . Open daily Apr-Oct 10AM-noon and 2PM-4PM; Jul-Aug 10AM-5PM; the rest of the year M-F 10AM-noon and 2PM-4PM (except over the Christmas period). Originally built to house the League of Nations, the Palais is worth visiting just to take in the magnificent Assembly Hall, in addition to the large collection of public art, the library, and the landscaped grounds. 8.50CHF each for adults. (groups of 20 adults or more qualify for a 20% discount; private tour of 1-14 adults 127.50CHF; 6.50CHF each for students, senior citizens, and disabled persons; 4CHF for schoolchildren; free for children under six years old). Passports are required for entry. edit
 Museums and Galleries
- International Museum of the Reformation, 4, rue du Cloître (Bus n° 36 to Cathédrale/ Bus n° 2, 7, 20, stop Molard/ Tram 12, 16, stop Molard), ☎ + 41 22 310 24 31 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +41 22 310 74 45), . Open daily, except Monday, from 10AM-5PM. Closed on 24, 25 and 31 December and on 1 January. Open Easter, Pentecost, and Jeune Federal Mondays. Access for disabled visitors.. Installed on the ground floor of the magnificent Maison Mallet (next to Saint-Pierre Cathedral), this new Museum presents the main spiritual and cultural elements of the Reformation. Unique objects, manuscripts, rare books, engravings, and paintings illustrate the close ties between Geneva and the Reformation. State-of-the-art technology welcomes a modern audience: films, a music room, and demonstrations, including many for children, invite visitors to both rediscover the past and imagine the future. 10CHF for Adults; Seniors, Disabled, Students from 16-25 years old qualify for a 7CHF admission fee; Children age 7-16 years old and groups of 15 or more qualify for a 5CHF admission fee; Children under 7 are free. For another 3CHF, you can explore the archaeological site beneath the cathedral and climb the tower inside the cathedral, which has some amazing views of the city. edit
- Museum of the International Committee of the Red Cross, 17, Avenue de la Paix (8, F, V, or Z bus to Appia 1.80CHF from the central station), ☎ + 41 22 748 95 25 (fax: +41 22 748 95 28), . Open Daily, except Tuesday, from 10AM-5PM. Closed on 24, 25 and 31 December and on 1 January. Access for disabled visitors.. The Museum of the I.C.R.C. is one of the best in Europe, providing detailed photographic and other physical evidence of the I.C.R.C.'s service to humanity during countless wars and natural disasters. The displays are striking and affecting, but somehow manage to avoid taking sides. 10CHF for Adults, Children, I.C.R.C. members, the elderly, and others qualify for a 5CHF admission fee. edit
- Musée ARIANA, Avenue de la Paix 10 (About midway between Place des Nations and the entrances to the Palais and the I.C.R.C), ☎ +41 22 418 54 50, . Open daily (except Tuesdays) 11AM-5PM. Occupying a big chunk of what would otherwise be the UN campus, the Ariana Museum offers a huge collection (16,000 pieces) of ceramics from around Europe and the far East. 8CHF. edit
- Musée d'Art Moderne et Contemporain, Rue des Vieux-Grenadiers 10 (Number 1 bus to Ecole des Medécins), ☎ +41 22 320 61 22, . Tu-F Noon-6PM. Sa-Su 11AM-6PM. Late modern, post-modern, and contemporary works by internationally known artists, as well as a special collection of Swiss conceptual work. 8CHF. edit
- Musée d'Histoire Naturelle, Route de Malagnou 1 (Bus 1-8 (arrêts Tranchées & Muséum) 20-27 (arrêt Muséum), trams 12-16 (arrêt Villereuse)), ☎ +41 22 418 63 00, . Tu-Su 9:30AM-5PM. Geneva has a nice museum which is worth a visit, especially if you have youth and children. Free. edit
[add listing] DoGeneva in Winter
- Téléphérique du Salève, Veyrier, France (Number 8 Bus to either Veyrier Douane or Veyrier Tournettes. Or line 41 to Veyrier Ecole). Just over the French Border, this high alpine ridge has a stunning view of Mt. Blanc and the Lake Geneva area and miles of walking trails. A cute little corner shop in Pas de l'Echelle Village (France) sells about 100 varieties of French cheeses and is open on Sundays. Don't forget your passport. The Association Genevoise des Amis du Salève (AGAS, Tel: 022 796 41 33 or ) organizes free hikes around Geneva every Sunday. Start at 10AM (sharp) at terminus (End station) of bus number 8 at Veyrier-Douane.
- March Motor Show (best in Europe).
- May Caves Ouvertes  — Free annual event. Sample wine at Geneva's wineries while exploring the canton's rural side.
- June Bol D'Or Yacht Race (biggest in Europe).
- June Fête de la Musique, +41 22 418 65 32, Free, . For three days in June, the whole City of Geneva is a stage. Actually, there are on the order of 40 of them. The musical offerings include children's choirs, punk rock, chamber orchestras, jam bands, avant-guard jazz, klezmer, and drum and bass DJs. The venues are as diverse as the music, with stages inside and out of l'Usine, Parc des Bastions, and even Cathédral St. Pierre.
- August Fete de Geneve — Week long party, including best fireworks display in Europe.
- December L'Escalade.
It's worth taking at least a day to explore the green places of Geneva, of which there are quite a few, not the least because some of the more interesting parts of town are between those green places. There are a number of suggested promenades for which there are maps available at the tourist office on the Ile de la Machine.
- Parc des Bastions, entrance at Place Neuve or just down rue St. Léger from Place Bourg de Four. This lovely tree lined park, which is home to the liberal arts campus of the University of Geneva features giant chessboards and even larger statues of Geneva's Calvinist founding fathers, and it's directly between the old town and Plain de Plainpalais, so it makes a good transitional area for exploring.
- Parc des Eaux Vives, entrance at the far end of Rue des Eaux Vives and the number 2 bus line. There's also a boat dock, with service from the Pâquis. This park offers promenades and views over the lake of the U.N. campus and the Palais des Nations. Geneva beach is at the end furthest from the city, on the lakefront.
- Bois de la Bâtie — Just over the river Arve from Jonction. Most of this woodsy bluff has been left in a more-or-less natural state, though there are walking trails around the edges. The trails connect eventually with a sidewalk which crosses a railroad bridge to the St. Jean neighborhood. There is also a small zoo at the western edge of the woods.
List of parks on Geneva's official tourism website .
- French language lessons are available, both through formal courses and informal arrangements, but in both cases they can be more expensive than other French-speaking countries.
- Geneva University also offers quite cheap classes and there are a number of the big language schools, including Berlitz and Inlingua.
- One well-known school is The Ecole Du Monde  located near the train station and near the lake of Geneva.
- Migros also offers language courses at rather decent prices.
 Higher Education
There are several English language universities in Geneva, mostly focusing on international business and relations.
 ResearchCern tunnel
The world-famous European Organization for Nuclear Research CERN  is in Meyrin, just outside of Geneva. Currently under construction is the Large Hadron Collider (LHC)  which, at 27km in circumference, already holds the title of "world's largest machine" When finished it will hopefully answer many fundamental questions in particle physics and open a host of new ones. CERN has a famous summer student program that accepts 150 European students, 20 American students, and a handful from other countries. If you are interested in this program, you might want to read the Camp CERN Manifesto . CERN also features an exhibition open to the public and tours can be arranged in advance .
Most non-Swiss professionals working in Geneva are employed by one of the United Nations agencies or international banks. UN employees do not need a visa to live and work in Switzerland, but the jobs can be hard to find unless you are already in Geneva.
For more information on working for the UN: UN-Employment  — How to find a job with the UN. A list of current opportunities with Geneva-based international organizations can be found on the UN jobs website .
It is also possible to find work as an au pair, a housekeeper, or at one of the many bars. You really do need to be in town to set this sort of thing up. If you want to do household work, you will probably want to advertise on the bulletin boards which can be found at the entrances of most grocery stores, at the English and American churches, and at the American Women's Club. For a bar tending job, you do what you would do to get a similar job anywhere else, go talk to the manager (you should know enough French to serve drinks, obviously).
[add listing] Buy
Chocolate can be bought at any number of specialty stores, but the stuff at the grocery is just as good for a fraction of the price (1-3 CHF a bar). Meanwhile, if you have a place to prepare meals the grocery stores in Switzerland offer the best possible dining deal for your money. For many fresh foods you'll pay a lot more than you are accustomed to paying in the U.S. or Britain.
Wine and spirits cost much less than in Anglophone countries, and the local stuff is particularly cheap, and not just drinkable but quite good. Some say that the only reason Swiss wines are not well known internationally is that the Swiss drink all of it.
Shopping for clothing and accessories can be disappointing in Geneva. Most offerings are usually expensive and uninteresting, unless you're really after that floor-length purple fur coat with the rhinestone trim. Geneva is home to several watch manufacturers, and there are many jewelers and horologers with a great selection.
If you are interested in taking or sending home some outwardly Swiss souvenirs you can certainly find them in Geneva, mainly along the main streets leading down to the lake from Gare Cornavin. There are also a couple of good spots on the other side of the lake near the end of the Mont Blanc bridge. You should be able to easily find at reasonable prices:
- Cuckoo clocks (in fact originally from southern Germany and formerly produced in Hong Kong *(now in mainland China)... but who cares!)
- Swiss Army Knifes, with Wenger and Victorinox being the two most well-known brands (Best price at Migros/Coop)
- Almost any sort of object with a cow or a Swiss flag printed on it
Want more? La Rue du Marché, a 5 minute walk southwards from the train station, has just about everything. From the traditional to the modern, from souvenirs to household appliances to libraries to prescription glasses. This is one of Geneva's busiest streets, and is kept clean and appealing. Prices are fair for the most part, but checking several stores before buying, or asking a friendly-looking passer-by for shopping tips can't hurt.
[add listing] Eat
Geneva has a huge number of restaurants for a city its size, and the international community means there's more variety than you'll find in most Swiss cities. On the downside, Geneva is possibly the most expensive city in an expensive country.
In addition to the listings below you might try Resto-ranG .
There are many budget spots located around the train station and in the nearby Paquis district, or near rue de l'Ecole de Médecine off of Plaine de Plainpalais.
- Buvette des Bains (Bains des Paquis), 30, quai du Mont-Blanc (jetée des Bains des Pâquis), ☎ +41 22 738 16 16 (email@example.com), . Wonderful place in the middle of the lake. Beach in Summer, fondue restaurant in Winter. Good "plat du jour" all day for CHF 12 12-20CHF. edit
- Expresso Club, rue des Pâquis 25 (just off of Place de Navigation), ☎ +41 22 738 84 88. M-F until 2AM. A tiny bar and three tables means this little local spot is usually packed with a very international crowd of people who know where to get the best pizza, salads, and pasta dishes in town, with many vegetarian selections. Espresso club keeps the ovens going late for late working customers and it's a nice spot for a cafe and newspaper afternoon as well. Unfortunately the quality of its customer service does not mirror that of its pizzas. 1-20 CHF. edit
- Café Art's, rue des Pâquis 17, ☎ +41 22 738 07 97. M-F 5PM-2AM, Sa-Su 11AM-2AM. Café Art's (sic) has a limited menu of salads and pasta dishes, but all around or under 15 CHF and service is non-stop all day. 8-20 CHF. edit
- Boky, rue des Alpes 21 (also Rue Neuve du Molard 19), ☎ +41 78 628 16 99. 6PM-midnight. Large selection of chinese and japanese dishes. Fast, but impolite service. Quality Chinese food (it's always full of Chinese customers) but no fancy atmosphere. 14-20CHF. edit
- Piment Vert, 4 place Grenus (the small plaza behind the Manor department store), ☎ +41 22 731 93 03. Indian and Sri-Lankan fast food in a charmingly appointed space. There's also a terrace during warm weather. 14-20CHF. edit
- Chez Ma Cousine. A chain with a simple menu: chicken, chicken, or chicken. The roasted chicken is what they're famous for, and two chicken salads make the rest of the regular menu, each under 14.90CHF. edit