Geneva, Switzerland

Guide for the rail traveller

Information

CurrencySwiss Franc
Local languageGerman / French
Country Switzerland

Introduction

Geneva is Switzerland’s most cosmopolitan city, situated in western Switzerland on the southwestern tip of Lake Geneva (Lac Leman). The city with only one hundred and eighty thousand inhabitants shares the majority of its borders as well as its language with France, though Italian and Swiss-German (a unique German dialect) also continue to be in use. The river Rhone bisects the city with the rive droite (right bank) on the north side and rive gauche (left bank) on the south side. An array of international organizations such as the International Committee of the Red Cross have located their headquarters in Geneva.

Modern Geneva has also become a major banking center bringing a new diversity and high concentration of international inhabitants as well as wealthy tax exiles to the city! Consequently excellent dining and top class entertainment are in high demand throughout Geneva, combining reliable Swiss efficiency with a dose of French charm, this is delivered in real style. The beautiful views over the River Rhone and over Lac Leman with the green hills in the foreground and a backdrop of spectacular mountains are truly unique.

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Things to do

On the Rive Gauche you will find the Old Town, shopping streets and countless museums. The Rive Droite is where many hotels and the International Area are located.

The Cathedrale St-Pierredominates the Old Town. Situated next to the Auditoire, it houses one of Europe’s largest underground archaeological sites (Site Archeologique), meanwhile the tower offers excellent views of the city. Another beautiful view this time of the port of Geneva can be enjoyed from the lle Rousseau, a little island on the River Rhone right in the city center.


There are many museums such as MAMCO (Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art) and Musee International de la Croix-Rouge et du Croissant-Rouge, said to be Geneva’s most impressive. The International Red Cross and Red Cross Crescent Museum tells the story of the founding of the Red Cross.

An alternative to the museums is to visit one of Geneva’s many Parks mostly situated along the shores of the lake, known as the ‘City of Parks’ the choice is wide and includes the Jardin Anglais. Dating from eighteen fifty-four. The English Garden is home to the National Monument as well as L’Horloge Fleurie (the Flower Clock) which is decorated with well over six thousand plants. Meanwhile the beautiful Jardin Botanique (Botanical Gardens) were created in eighteen seventeen.

Geneva is also home to the second largest United Nations center, the Palais des Nations. Built in the nineteen thirties to house the League of Nations, these days it is the European headquarters of the United Nations and attracts many visitors.

Local transport

As you would expect from the Swiss, Geneva’s public transport network is highly efficient with local buses and trams operating every few minutes on all major routes within the city. Coupled with the ease and pleasure of walking around the center it is the best way to get around and explore the city. Make sure you obtain a pre-purchased or validated ticket before you board the buses and trams. All stops have vending machines for tickets which allow free circulation for specified time periods. One day passes (carte journaliere) and multiple journey tickets can be obtained from ticket agents and most newsagents.

Day trips

Switzerland is only approximately two hundred and ten miles from north to south and one hundred and thirty miles from east to west, therefore your options for day trips are plentiful. One suggested option and also situated on the Lac Leman, thirty-eight miles from Geneva is the city of Lausanne. This beautiful place is easily reached via a 40-minute train journey. A boat tour on the beautiful Lac Leman is a further recommended option. The many options for boat tours include short trips across the harbor as well as daylong cruises.

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