Geneva: Local Travel Info
The Peace Capital
Internal flights and major international airports
Geneva’s main airport, Cointrin International is centrally located within Geneva and easily accessible from the centre. Though it is fairly small for an airport there are a large number of local and international daily flights arriving from and departing to destinations all over the world. Main airlines are Swiss Air, Easyjet, BA, Air France, Fly Baboo, Bmibaby, and Lufthansa. Due to the location of Geneva, there is also a French side of the airport for visitors without relevant visas/ passports allowing them to enter Switzerland.
Getting to and from Geneva Airport
Geneva Cointrin International Airport is easily accessible from the city centre. There are regular shuttle trains departing from and to the train station within Geneva Airport which link directly to Geneva’s main train station, Gare Cornavin. A single journey, which takes about seven minutes, will cost approximately CHF 5.
Taxis are available to and from the airport but it is advisable to book in advance where possible. A single journey in a taxi costs approximately CHF 30 and takes about 15 minutes.
There are regular buses to and from the airport to the city centre and the bus stops are located on the arrivals and departures levels at the airport. A single fare can cost about CHF 2.50. Some hotels in the city also offer a courtesy shuttle bus to the airport.
Renting Cars in Geneva
If you’re looking to venture off on your own without the need for public transport and want to hire a car, there are a number of recognised car rental companies in Geneva including Avis, Europcar, Budget and Hertz. However, rentals can be expensive (approx CHF 170 per day) and driving around Geneva can be time consuming with the high volume of traffic, especially at peak times. Parking is limited and expensive and traffic wardens are hot on dishing out tickets. Also, don’t forget that the Swiss drive on the right hand side of the road!
Drivers licenses requirements in Geneva?
The legal age for driving in Switzerland is 18 years old. Any visitor to Switzerland may drive as long as they have a valid international driving licence and third party vehicle insurance. If you are looking to stay in the country for more than 12 months, you will need to exchange your existing licence for a Swiss driving licence.
Rules in Geneva
Driving is on the right hand side of the road throughout Switzerland and international signs are displayed. The Swiss are very strict on driving speed limits and they will not hesitate to issue on the spot fines. Seat belts must be worn at all times by all passengers. If you are looking to travel on the Swiss motorways you will need a valid Vignette (toll sticker) to display on the windscreen. If you are looking to travel by car outside of Geneva into France, don’t forget your passport – it’s an easy mistake to make!
Geneva by Bus/ Tram
Geneva’s main public transport network is run by Unireso The transport service, Transports Publics Genevois (TPG), run a large number of buses and trams throughout the city centre, suburbs, and routes into France. The bus and tram services throughout Geneva are excellent, efficient and affordable. The benefits of public transport in Geneva far outweigh the benefits of using your own car or hiring one in the city; less traffic, less money spent, less time spent trying to find parking, and doing your bit for the environment. Buses and trams run from 06:00 to 24:00 daily and each stop has a detailed plan or map of the city’s network. For those of you who want to party further into the night there is a night bus service, Noctambus, which runs on Friday and Saturday nights. A 24 hour night ticket costs about 10 CHF.
Bus and tram tickets can be bought from the vending machines at the stops, the TPG office, or from the Gare Cornavin. Many hotels, hostels, and campsites offer a free visitor’s card upon your arrival which allows you to travel around the city free of charge on bus, tram, or boat, for the duration of your stay. A day ticket covering all areas of Geneva costs between 3 CHF and 7 CHF.
There are a number of buses and coaches departing Geneva to other destinations within Switzerland and France. These depart from the Gare Routière and details of the services can be found on www.gare-routiere.ch.
Geneva by Car
Travelling around Geneva by car can be stressful, time consuming, and hectic. The legal age limit to drive is 18 years old. Cars are driven on the right hand side of the road and there are numerous speed cameras scattered throughout the city. The Swiss are extremely strict about adhering to speed limits and don’t think just because they are not easily visible, they are not there – look out for small grey concrete boxes on the side of the roads and stick to the speed limit. Speed limits in Geneva are 120 kmph on motorways, 100 kmph on dual carriage ways, 80 kmph on main roads, and 50 kmph in towns. To drive on any Swiss motorway, all cars are required to purchase and display a vignette toll sticker in their windscreen. This is the road tax and is valid for one year. The vignettes can be purchased at borders and Swiss tourist offices. Roads in Geneva are well maintained but weather conditions during the winter can make driving difficult. Snow tyres or snow chains might need to be used during the winter months.
Like any other busy city, Geneva’s central city roads are often congested and parking is limited. If you do not need to use a car, it might be easier to stick to the efficient public transport within Geneva city.
Geneva by Taxi
Taxis operate within Geneva city 24 hours a day and there are over 60 authorised ranks scattered throughout the city. Taxis can also be booked in advance or hailed in the street. Taxi drivers are required by law to speak English (except for mini-cab drivers), and the fares are displayed on the meters, and include VAT and a tip. However taxis can be expensive in Geneva city and fares start with a basic fee of CHF 6.50 and a charge of approximately CHF 3.30 per kilometer.
Geneva by Bike
Geneva is a great place to cycle around with plenty of on and off-road cycle paths throughout the city. Bikes can be hired from Gare Cornavin and the Quai du Mont-Blanc near the Bains des Paquis, for a small deposit. From May to October bike hire is free of charge to encourage greener travelling. If you are looking for a more challenging bike ride, try the steep slopes of Old Town Geneva. If it’s a relaxing ride, you’re after, the best cycle routes can be found alongside the lake with spectacular views along the way. Remember to lock up your bike if you are going to leave it unattended as theft is not uncommon in the city.
Geneva by Boat
A great way to see Geneva’s panoramic sights is by lake boats upon Lake Geneva. There are regular ferries operating between the Left and Right Bank of Geneva throughout the daytime all year round. The ferries are part of the TPG transport network and tickets range from between 2CHF and 4 CHF. Schedule information can be found at www.swissboat.com/en/shuttles.php
Hitch hiking in Geneva
Hitch hiking in Geneva city itself can be difficult due to the intensity of the traffic. If you are going to do it perhaps head out of the city centre along one of the main roads and find a safe spot where you can be seen easily and cars can pull over safely. Don’t forget to take your passport with you though in case you have to go over the Swiss/ French border to get to your destination. Remember that hitch hiking has its risks in Geneva just like any other city in the world.