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World Travel Guide > Guides > Europe > Switzerland > Geneva

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Travel to Geneva

Flying to Geneva

Airlines offering direct flights to Geneva from the UK include British Airways, easyJet, Jet2 and Swiss. As a travel gateway to some of Europe’s finest ski slopes, including Tignes, Verbier and Val d'Isère, flight prices tend to be highest from November to March, so book in advance to get the best deals. Swiss and United operate direct flights from the USA.

Flight times

From London - 1 hour 35 minutes; New York - 7 hours 45 minutes; Los Angeles - 12 hours 45 minutes (including stopover); Toronto - 9 hours 45 minutes (including stopover); Sydney - 23 hours 30 minutes (including stopover).

Travel by road

Swiss roads are generally good, although mountain routes can be narrow and winding. Chains and/or snow tyres may be required in winter, and some routes may be closed altogether after heavy snowfall. There is a telephone number for information on national road conditions (tel: 163 in Switzerland only).

Traffic in Geneva drives on the right and the minimum driving age is 18. Speed limits are 120kph (75mph) on motorways, 100kph (62mph) on dual carriageways, 80kph (50mph) on main roads and 50kph (31mph) in towns.

On minor roads, traffic going up a mountain has priority. Road numbers on green signs indicate toll expressways, where a toll vignette (sticker) must be displayed. You can order one online before you travel (www.swissrailways.com). Stickers are valid for one calendar year. A national driving licence is sufficient documentation, although Green Card insurance is recommended.

There are two motoring associations in Switzerland: Touring Club Suisse (TCS) (tel: +41 844 888 111; www.tcs.ch) and Automobil Club der Schweiz (ACS) (tel: +41 31 328 3111; www.acs.ch).

Emergency breakdown services

TCS (tel: 0800 140 140, in Switzerland only) or ACS (tel: +41 44 283 33 77).

Routes

Geneva is connected to the rest of Europe by an excellent network of motorways. From the south, motorists can follow the 'Route Blanche' to the outskirts of Geneva. The French skiing resort of Chamonix/Mont-Blanc is within 90 minutes of the city, and Italy is two hours away.

A branch of the same motorway provides rapid links from Grenoble in the south of France and Lyon in the west, with good connections from Paris. Lausanne, Bern and Zurich are all on the northbound A1 road.

Coaches

Geneva's coach station, the Gare Routière (tel: +41 22 732 0230; www.gare-routiere.com), is situated at Place Dorcière close to the railway station. Eurolines (tel: +41 844 257 244; eurolines.ch/fr/) runs coach services to Geneva, connecting the city with regional destinations, with ski resorts in the Alps and with major cities across Europe.

Time to city

From Lausanne - 55 minutes; Bern - 1 hour 50 minutes; Zurich - 3 hours.

Travel by Rail

Services

Rail travel in Switzerland is comfortable, hassle-free, punctual and often scenic. The main railway station in Geneva is Gare de Cornavin, located on Place de Cornavin. Inside the terminal there are over 20 shops selling everything from newspapers to perfume. The station also has lockers, bicycle rental and money transfer services.

The rail network provides rapid connections within Switzerland and Europe, with links to Lausanne, Bern, Basel and Zurich. There are also direct routes to Paris and Milan.

Operators

Schweizerische Bundesbahn, Chemins de Fer Fédéraux Suisses (SBB-CFF) (tel: +41 848 446 688; www.sbb.ch) is the national railway system, covering most of the country.

The high-speed train TGV Lyria connects Geneva with Lausanne, Paris, Marseille, Nice and many other destinations in France. 

In some alpine areas the railway is still operated by whichever private company initially provided the service. This, however, will only be relevant to travellers outside the main tourist regions.

Journey times

From Zurich - 2 hours 40 minutes; Lausanne - 35 minutes; Bern - 1 hour 45 minutes; Basel - 2 hours 40 minutes; Paris - 3 hours 10 minutes; Milan - 4 hours.

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Featured Hotels

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Mövenpick Hotel & Casino Geneva

Located in the International Centre Cointrin (ICC) business complex the Mövenpick Hotel & Casino Geneva is situated just 0.8km (0.5 miles) from the Palexpo Exhibition Centre and 15 minutes' drive from the city centre. Trendy types and the business community enjoy this mini-city which provides everything from an airline check-in desk and discotheque to a casino piano bar and business centre. In short a solid bet in terms of price and location.

Hotel De Genève

Just streets away from Lake Geneva itself, there are no whistles and bells at Hotel De Genève, but what you get is a plum location and a choice of 39 rooms which straddle the line between modern design and historic home comforts. It’s clean, cheap and offers free Wi-Fi and a breakfast buffet.

Genève Cottage

What it may lack in location, Genève Cottage more than makes up for in quality and quaintness. Situated 20 minutes from the city centre by train (with a 10-minute walk), this family-run hotel is a home away from home with individually decorated sleeping quarters, queen-sized beds and modern en suite bathrooms. Ask for a room at the back of the house to enjoy a little more peace, plus views of the lovely gardens.

Starling Residence Geneva

Not only does the Starling Residence Geneva boast a supreme selection of 93 modern, clean and restful rooms and studios, but the staff are amongst some of the best in the business. With flatscreen TVs, free Wi-Fi and free travel cards all available, this is the best budget accommodation in the city.

Le Richemond

Gigi author Colette enjoyed her own suite at Le Richemond, one of Geneva's most established high-end hotels. The property rewards visitors with an enviable setting on the banks of the Rhône and 109 sumptuously appointed rooms and suites. There are also four flexible meeting spaces with its Le Jardin restaurant serving fine Italian cuisine. Additional facilities include a spa and limousine service.

Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues Geneva

Billed as Geneva's first hotel, the Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues Geneva has been standing on the shores of Lake Geneva since 1834. Modern highlights include a spa and fitness facilities, but the real pull lies in the chance to sample the charm of a bygone era. If you've got the cash, this is arguably the finest hotel in Geneva.