Flying to Geneva is the best way to reach the city as the international airport serves airlines from various countries. Almost all European carriers fly here along with a few trans-Atlantic flights too. Geneva is also the best city to get local connections to other cities such as Zurich or Bern. Some European destinations such as Amsterdam, Barcelona, London, Madrid and Paris are served by the low-cost airline called EasyJet. When it comes to international airlines, Air France and British Airways fly here regularly. The Geneva airport is very convenient for travellers with ATMs and Exchange machines directly in the arrivals area along with cafés and duty-free shopping.
From the airport, the best way to get into the town is to get the free public transport ticket from the baggage claim area. The ticket is valid for 80 minutes for Geneva and will even take you as far as CERN. Do remember that the ticket will be valid only if you have your boarding pass, so do retain it. Using this ticket, you can use either a train or a bus to reach Geneva. Trains are generally faster, and the station is in the building adjacent to the airport building. Trains run every fifteen minutes and they stop at Geneva Cornavin and the journey takes only 6 minutes.
The bus station in Geneva is quite close to the train station. Buses from several European countries such as France come here quite regularly. There’s a very helpful app and the website too that offers information about bus timetables. Buses are mostly used by those coming from nearby French ski resorts.
If you’re planning to drive down to Geneva from nearby Annecy or Chamonix, you will need the motorway sticker which is compulsory. The motorway sticker is in fact obligatory if you want to drive on the Swiss roads. This can be bought at various places such as petrol stations, post offices or tourist offices.
There are ports all around Lake Geneva where boats arrive daily. These boats travel all through the year and you can use the Eurail pass for the trip. There are also private boat tours and transfers to any port on the lake from Geneva.
Travelling to Geneva by train is the most common way of reaching the city. Geneva’s train station is called Gare de Cornavin and has trains to and from various cities such as Bern, Interlaken, Zurich, Basel and Valais to name a few. These trains run every half an hour and are very efficient. International trains run several times a day usually connecting to various cities in France such as Nice or Paris. There are connections to Italian cities such as Milan and Venice as well. An interesting thing to note is that most trains that arrive at Gare de Cornavin have the Geneva Airport as their last destination. You do not have to get down to take another means of transport to the airport, should you wish to go there.
The station is well-designed and there are bus and tram terminals just outside the station, making it easy to get into the city once you reach the station. There is a shopping area in the basement and an underground passage that connects it to the main street directly, so that tourists don’t have to cross the busy streets as soon as they arrive here.
Taxis are available in Geneva but might be used as the last resort because of the excellent public transportation system. There are taxis available outside the train station and they can even be booked online.
There are hardly any cities in the world where so much of public transport is available for free. When you’re in Geneva, whether you take the bus, train or tram, you can travel on all these modes of transport for free. To ensure this, you need to get the Geneva Transport Card, which can also be availed for free. The pass is valid for 15 days and is valid even on the day you check out from your hotel. Legally, anyone staying in a hotel or hostel in Geneva is entitled to travel for free but if you’re only visiting, then you can buy tickets from ticket machines which are located at each stop before you board the bus. If the bus stop doesn’t have a ticket machine, you can buy the ticket on the bus itself. The tickets vary, based on the number of stops you plan to take or how long you will be travelling.
Geneva is one of the few cities where getting around on a bicycle can be most delightful. The old town is a bit hilly, but the rest of the city is quite flat. Bicycles can be availed free of charge for four hours and then a fee of CHF 2 for every extra hour. Booking these bicycles is made easy if you have the app on your phone. Don’t forget to bring proof of identity with you to expedite the paperwork.
There are several car rental service providers if you want to go exploring the countryside or go skiing. A car is a good idea in these cases. The car rental service providers often provide customised services based on the travellers’ needs.
There are suburban trains which travel to the outskirts of the city every 30 minutes. If you are travelling within Geneva, then your bus or tram ticket can be used in the train but if you are travelling further away, then you will have to buy a regional ticket.
For those who wish to explore Geneva by tram, there are numerous tram routes and their hub is the Cornavin Train Station. You can use the Geneva Transport Card even here. If you don’t have a transport card, then you will have to buy the tickets which are located at every stop. Remember to do this before boarding the tram.
There’s nothing quite as pleasurable as walking along the streets of Geneva, enjoying the many splendours the city has to offer. Exploring the Old Town on foot can be quite fun and charming too and you can begin right from Cornavin Station or from the tour boat deck on Lake Geneva. There are some remarkable places to see such as the English Garden with the flower clock or even Saint Peter’s Cathedral. The Bastions Park and the Reformation Wall memorial are also important places you can see when you walk around the city. Do remember that street names change frequently, so there are chances of getting lost if you’re not very careful.