Geneva, Switzerland – A Welcoming Destination
Geneva has been called the Protestant Rome, highlighting the city’s incredible influence on European politics, finance and culture. As the second-largest city in Switzerland, Geneva has a lot to offer visitors. The city a birthplace of Calvinism, and it remains a sophisticated, cosmopolitan and welcoming destination. Whether you are a history buff, an architectural enthusiast or just someone eager to explore a center of European culture, a trip to Geneva is the right choice.
Traveling to Geneva
Geneva is a well-connected city, and it is easily accessible from just about anywhere in the world. The Genève Aéroport is located less than three miles north of the city center, which means it is a breeze to depart or arrive by air. You will find frequent flights to and from major European cities as well as a handful of flights from North America daily.
While most travelers come to Geneva by plane, the city is also accessible by rail. The Swiss Federal Railway is known for being punctual and efficient, which makes train trips in and out of Geneva a delight. You can catch trains from cities like Bern or Zurich at least once an hour throughout most of the day. Even getting to Paris, France, takes just three hours by train from Geneva.
The roads in and around Geneva are easy to navigate and can be enjoyable, but not many visitors to the city opt to rent a car. That is largely because the public transport options are so reliable, but it also has to do with the Swiss vignette. If you want to drive on the motorways in Switzerland, you need to pay for a special vignette, or sticker, for the privilege. These are readily available at tourist offices and gas stations, but they are an extra expense in a city where gas and diesel are already expensive.
Once you’re in Geneva, make sure you pick up a Unireso Geneva Transport Card. These are free for every single person who is staying at a hotel or hostel in the city of Geneva. They allow you to get around by bus, by tram or even by boat for free as you navigate Geneva and enjoy all that the city has to offer.
Best Time of Year to Visit Geneva
Although Geneva is certainly a popular summer vacation spot, it is a remarkable destination every single month of the year. Compared to much of the region, Geneva has a mild climate that is somewhat moderated by the waters of Lake Geneva. However, it does have four distinct seasons. Winter can be cold, and Geneva experiences a handful of snowy days each winter. Summers are warm and frequently sunny, although extremely hot days are rare.
Beyond climate, Geneva has a number of seasonal events to be aware of. Summers are by far the busiest time of year for the city thanks to international visitors and school holidays. It is also when you can experience events like the Bol D’Or Yacht Race, the largest of its kind in all of Europe, and the Fête de la Musique, an enormous music festival that takes over the city of Geneva for three whole days. Winters can be just as charming thanks to an abundance of Christmas lights and decorations throughout the city. It is also close to major ski destinations in Europe, making it a fantastic add-on to a ski or snowboard holiday in the region.
Packing For Your Trip to Geneva
Major organizations like the Red Cross, the World Health Organization and the United Nations have a strong presence in Geneva. This means that many of the city’s residents dress in business attire, and visitors should keep that in mind as they pack for their trip. Of course, summer travelers dress casually, but there are a number of bars and restaurants where business casual clothing is recommended.
Travelers will definitely want to wear comfortable shoes suitable for walking, because Geneva is such a pedestrian-friendly city. Also, it is wise to bring along a waterproof jacket for any occasional rain, or at least a small portable umbrella. Residents don’t let the weather postpone their activities, so be prepared for it all.
For longer stays, the Swissgear 7811 28″ Expandable Spinner Luggage is a great luggage choice. Like all Swissgear luggage, this suitcase is made of quality materials and is designed to get you through busy airports and train stations with ease. You will appreciate the spacious interior and double cinch pockets perfect for keeping your clothes and shoes in place, not to mention the padded handles and aluminum locking handle. Eight 360-degree multi-directional spinner wheels allow you to turn on a dime, and the case affords the protection of hardside luggage without the added weight.
If you’re traveling to Geneva on a shorter trip, you might want to pack everything in the Swissgear 7811 20″ USB Carry On Spinner Luggage. Swissgear luggage is at the forefront of technology for travelers, and these spinners are no exception to the rule. You will love the front pocket that serves as a convenient laptop sleeve and integrated USB port and cord suitable for on-the-go charging of your electronic devices. This carry-on suitcase may not be hard shell luggage, but it will keep your items secure at a weight of just 6.14 pounds. If you plan on staying in Geneva longer than expected, be sure to review our travel luggage sets.
Top Attractions in Geneva
The best place to begin your visit to Geneva is in the Old Town, better known as the Vieille Ville. This is true historic Geneva, and there are plenty of narrow streets leading to the city square, historically significant buildings and lots of charm. To further your knowledge about the culture and history of Geneva, make your way to the International Museum of the Reformation or the Musée d’Art et d’Histoire, which is home to a large collection of pieces by Swiss artists.
Perhaps the most iconic tourist attraction in all of Geneva is the Jet d’Eau, a spectacular fountain that shoots water more than 450 feet into the air. Beware of standing in the splash zone, because this epic fountain is best seen from a few hundred feet away. Then, head over to the Palais des Nations, once home to the League of Nations. Today, the Palais des Nations is open to the public, but travelers will need a passport or similar ID for entry.
While architectural and historic landmarks like the Cathédrale St-Pierre and the Monument Brunswick are still more worthy destinations in Geneva, travelers may also wish to escape to a green park for a chance to unwind. The Parc de la Grang and the Parc des Bastions are two fantastic options with wonderful scenery and clearly marked paths.
Where to Stay in Geneva
There are many accommodation options in Geneva, but most hotels are mid-range or above in terms of price. Anywhere on the banks of the river or next to the lake will be more expensive, but hotels closer to the airport can be a better choice for budget-friendly travelers. Overall, Geneva is a very safe city, and there are no districts that are considered unsafe places to stay overnight.
If you wish to find budget accommodation in Geneva, hostels can be a good choice. Often, youth hostels accommodate travelers of all ages, and most are within walking distance of the central train station. Since you may need to use a shared bathroom, keep all your hygiene essentials in one place with the Swissgear 2612 Dopp Kit. This toiletry bag is unique thanks to two compartments rather than just one and interior organization pockets for items like combs or toothbrushes. There is even a convenient wrist strap that makes the kit easier to keep on hand and prevent from getting lost or left behind as you’re moving from one spot to the next on your travels.
Day Trip Itineraries From Geneva
Geneva’s central location makes it the ideal home base as you explore Europe on shorter day trips. Instead of bringing your suitcase with you, grab your travel backpack and head to the mountains, charming local villages or even entirely new countries. In a little over an hour, you can get from Geneva to Chamonix by train. In the winter, you might choose to hit the slopes, and in the summer you can hike Mont-Blanc and admire the gorgeous mountain in all its glory.
If you want to experience a different Swiss city, you might travel an hour to Lausanne, a university town with Renaissance art and architecture as well as access to the Sauvabelin Forest. If you are up for a big adventure, grab a train from Geneva to Paris, a journey of three hours that will allow you to experience the City of Light in a single day.
To make the most of these day trips, be sure to bring a travel backpack like the Swissgear 2762 Laptop Backpack. This ScanSmart laptop backpack is already a popular pick for airline travel thanks to its lay flat compartment with a padded compartment perfect for getting laptops through airport security in a hurry. However, this ScanSmart backpack also lets you travel hands-free with the supplies you might need for a day of exploring. Bring your computer and catch up with emails on the train, or keep your tickets and itineraries in the organization pockets. The backpack boasts mesh straps to keep you cool on summer hikes in the Swiss mountains and an insulated cooler compartment to keep a water bottle chilled.
Cuisine and Souvenirs: What Not to Miss in Geneva
Geneva is strongly associated with both chocolate and cheese, so be sure to try both while you’re in the city. A local’s tip is to skip the expensive souvenir shops and look for the big bars at any grocery store. The chocolate is the same high quality at a fraction of the price! Although fondue is not a staple in the Swiss diet anymore, tourists may want to check out a fondue restaurant for cultural treat. To do as the locals do, take the cable car called the Téléphérique du Salève over the border to France and shop for delicious and affordable cheeses there.