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Geneva is Switzerland's second-most populous city and 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.
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.
Geneva is officially a French-speaking city, and the vast majority of the population speak French. All advertisements, information, and signs are in French. 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.
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.
Geneva airport is served by almost all European carriers as well as a few daily trans-Atlantic flights. The airport itself has an UBS bank with ATMs and exchange machines in the arrival area.
To get into town from the airport, the cheapest way is to take the free public transport ticket from a ticket machine located in the baggage claim area - to the left before the the Green Corridor of Swiss Customs. Train Station is adjutant building to the airport building. Trains usually go every 15 minutes or more frequently, and all of them stop at Geneva Cornavin (Geneva Central Train Station). The journey takes 6 minutes.
Bus number 10 bus leaves every 15 minutes from 5am to 1am. The stop is near Airport Arrivals level, Entrance number 4. Get off at the 22-Cantons stop for central train station. Bus 5 also goes to the central railway station but along a different route passing by close to the UN building and stopping at Rue Lausanne. Both buses then continue to the southern side of the city.
The Swiss Federal Railway serves Geneva's Gare de Cornavin with trains to Neuchâtel, Bern, Basel, Zürich, St. Gallen, Luzern, Interlaken and the Valais (e.g. Sion, Visp --> Zermatt, and Brig) at least every hour, or even half an hour. Regional and InterRegional trains heading to Nyon, Lausanne, Vevey, and Montreux leave every 15 minutes.
Geneva, like most cities in Switzerland, is a marvel of public transportation efficiency. Transports Publics Genevois provides frequent bus, tram, 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. Read more about it in the section "by bus".
Old Town and St. Gervais
What to see in Geneva
Jet d'Eau, the Rade. 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.
Cathédrale St-Pierre, Place St. Pierre. 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, originally Catholic, both embody the high point of the Reformed tradition and explore the origins of Christianity with an extensive archaeological site and they are now complemented by the International Museum of the Reformation on the ground floor of the Maison Mallet.
Old Town (Vieille Ville). Aside of the cathedral the Old town in general is worth walking around in for a hour or two. Among the highlights are the city hall with the cannons in the little square opposite to it, Rousseau's birth house and various antique shops with all sorts of interesting stuff in the windows.
Quartier des Grottes, Place des Grottes. An area with interesting shops and most importantly, a series of residential buildings called "les Schtroumpfs", where the architects tried to avoid all straight lines, leading to an unconventional Gaudi-like appearance.
Monument Brunswick, Quai du Mont-Blanc. An impressive monument, constructed in 1873 as a Mausoleum for the Duke of Brunswick, as a replica of the tomb of the Scaligeri family in Verona.
L'Ile. Worth visiting for the old Tour de L'Ile, the remains of a fortified castle erected in the 13th century. Very good.
Jardin anglais. Small garden at the lake where people like to spend their lunch break. See the famous Flower Clock.
Carouge. A suburb of Geneva that once belonged to the Kingdom of Sardinia and hence retains a distinct Italian flavour.
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 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.
Parc de la Grange. — Just along the south side of the Lake Geneva promenade, Parc de la Grange is a large park which contains a rose garden, an historic mansion and a tree-lined path leading to the nearby Parc des Eaux Vives.
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
November 09, 2014
I liked very much the car rental, and also the car too. was a great experience. renato
September 07, 2014
Very impressed. had a few mins of wait in the queue but at the counter it was quick and painless. easy drop off too. have not seen the credit card bill yet but i do not expect issues there.
May 04, 2014
Excellent price, excellent service. will certainly work with rentalcargroup and sixt again.
May 04, 2014
Timely, short notice arrangments, good service!
March 13, 2014