While Geneva is renowned as an important centre of business and international affairs, it should never be discounted as a destination to visit simply on its own cultural and touristic merits as well. There is plenty to see and do, but with an international airport servicing one of the busiest hubs in Europe, it seems almost everyone is just passing through from one place or another. |
At just an hour and a half from the UK by air, and with the airport just 5km from the city centre, Geneva is accessible enough to consider for even the mini-est of mini breaks!
As the airport is uniquely situated on the border of France and Switzerland, you'd be forgiven for thinking it may be confusing. However, just like everything the Swiss do, it's very well organised and clearly signposted. If you're arriving for a holiday in the city itself you'll exit on the Swiss side, clearing customs and then entering straight into the arrivals hall.
While there are public transport options, the most convenient and stress free way of getting directly to your accommodation is to pre-book a Geneva airport taxi. The driver will meet your flight and then you'll set off on the short drive into the centre. It only takes about 15 minutes (traffic permitting) and, depending on where you've booked to stay, you may get your first glimpse of the famous lake and the Jet d'Eau – although, if you have a window seat, you can actually see it from the air as you come in to land.
It's a good idea to ask your Geneva airport taxi driver to give you a quick tour of the city on the way to your hotel, to point out the major attractions and help you get your bearings.
Attractions of the City
Because it's a major centre of commerce, the city is quite busy during the week, but on the weekends it's a different story. If you can manage to visit over a weekend you'll enjoy a far more relaxed atmosphere.
Possibly the most recognisable waterspout in the world, and the iconic symbol of the city, the Jet d'Eau spurts 500 litres of water per second up 140 metres in the air – all day, every day. If you want to get up really close and personal you can take a taxi boat to the centre of the lake, but for the best vantage points on dry land, head to the Promenade du Lac or the Pont du Mont Blanc.
Jet d'Eau, Quai Gustave-Ador, 1207 Geneva, Switzerland
The eclectic, character-filled Old Town is a far cry from the contemporary glass and metal architecture of the business centre. Set on a small hill, its centrepiece is the lovely Cathedrale Saint-Pierre on the Place du Bourg-de-Four. Apart from visiting the archaeological remains in the crypt beneath the cathedral, it's more about the ambience and architecture of the Old Town than anything else. Explore the quirky boutiques, stop for a coffee and a spot of people watching, or take a wander along the promenade and take in the views of the picturesque Jura Mountains.
A visit to the European seat of the United Nations – where some of the world's most important and pressing issues are nutted out – is a no brainer. The home of the UN is officially known as the Palais des Nations, and you certainly can't miss its famous giant 'Broken Chair Monument'. Even if you're a very independent traveller, this is one place where a guided tour is an excellent investment so you can learn more about its workings. You can combine it with a visit to the nearby International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum, which hosts an incredible permanent exhibition charting the humanitarian work of those organisations.
Palais des Nations, 1211 Geneva, Switzerland
Anyone with even a passing interest in science and physics can't pass up the opportunity to visit CERN, home of the famous Large Hadron Collider – a 27-mile underground ring of superconducting magnets. The most important centre of physics in the world, CERN is open for guided tours, revealing a fascinating laboratory where the world's most important brains delve into the mysteries of the universe.
CERN, CH-1211 Geneva 23, Switzerland
You should also make time to visit some more off-the-beaten-track places like the fabulous Plainpalais flea markets and the tiny artisan workshops of Carouge. If you want to get out in nature, you can take the cable car from Veyrier (across the border in France) up the imposing Saleve mountain, for the most spectacular views imaginable over the city and across to Mont Blanc.
As well as these suggestions, your Geneva airport taxi driver will be an excellent source of local tips, so make sure you get your money's worth on the short trip downtown!
Lukas Johannes is a driver for Shuttle Direct, the number one provider of shared and private airport transfers all over Europe and northern Africa. If you’re looking for an affordable Geneva Airport taxi, Lukas and his colleagues can make sure that you and your luggage get to and from the airport swiftly and safely.
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