17 Oct Tips for Visiting Geneva, Switzerland
To be honest, as much as I love Switzerland, I’ve never wanted to stay in Geneva longer than one or two nights. Compared to the rest of the country, it’s just not as exciting as you’d think it should be. Nevertheless, it’s not a bad place. Here are some tips I’ve found through my research and personal experience to help make the most out of a stay in Geneva, Switzerland.
1. Free transit passes for hotel guests
The Geneva Transport Card is now available free of charge to every guest staying in a hotel, hostel, or campsite in Geneva. This gets you free tram, bus, train, and yellow taxi boat rides anywhere within Geneva’s city limits. Additionally, look for a ticket machine in the baggage claim area if you arrive at Geneva International Airport to get a free 80-minute ticket to your hotel.
We were in town for only 24 hours and we made great use of this card- riding the bus from downtown out along the lake to Geneva Beach and then hopping on and off taxi boats all day. It’s a really great incentive for tourists to see the city!
2. Ride the boat taxis
As I mentioned above, we made good use of the Geneva Transport Card, primarily on the Mouettes (boat taxis) that cross the lake. Even in October, they came around pretty frequently and continued running into the evening. It’s a truly unique and memorable way to see the city- even better when it’s free!
3. Walk the lakeside
The center of Geneva sits around mouth of the Rhône River where it feeds into Lake Geneva. From there, you can enjoy two nice promenades along either side of the lake. The southeastern side takes you through the English garden and then along Quai Gustave Ador, which is bordered by a large park on one side and a marina on the other. If you started instead up the northwestern side of the lake, you would pass the Bains de Paquis (steam baths) and continue on Quai Wilson to another series of parks, eventually connecting to the botanical gardens and the United Nations campus.
At the end of either of these walks, you’ll find yourself near one of the taxi boats or buses that can take you back toward the center of town. And of course, be sure to enjoy the various views of the Jet d’Eau, a geyser-like fountain that shoots up from the lake.
4. Explore Old Town
We chose our hotel location, the Hotel Sagitta, for its proximity to Geneva’s Old Town because it’s such a charming area to walk around. Along Rue du Rhône and Rue du Marché you’ll find high-end shopping but start walking up the hill and you’ll be transported back in time. There you can explore winding, cobblestone streets and charming squares.
5. Go out at night
For some reason, Geneva seems a little more magical and interesting when seen by the glow of the street lights. We took a taxi boat after dinner and then returned for another walk through Old Town after dark, and the city took on a new, more romantic atmosphere.
The weather was a bit unpredictable on our last visit to Geneva, but had it been more pleasant, we would have taken advantage of the free bike share program with Genèveroule. The English side of their website is not super helpful, but essentially you can show up to one of their bike stations with your passport and a $50 deposit. Keep the bicycle for up to 4 hours and get your deposit back when you return. Biking would be a great way to explore the parks along the lakeshore and to see the United Nations area, as these are mostly flat, pedestrian areas.
Those are some of my recommendations from a couple brief stays in Geneva. I hope others who know more about the area will share their tips and favorite discoveries in the comments below. I’d love to know if I’m missing anything.
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