Geneva has a lot to offer and planning your first visit might seem overwhelming. Thanks to the United Nations and the banking industry, the city of Geneva feels very much like an international hub. With all that diplomacy and finance packed in roughly the landmass of Cambridge MA, we have compiled this visitor's blueprint to help you maximize your stay in Geneva!
On your first day, take advantage of your hotel provided public transportation pass and hop on one of the yellow boats to explore the lake. We did three of the four lines consecutively, which took about one hour and allowed us to see the city from different perspectives.
Line M4 starts at the beautiful and worthwhile botanical garden at "De-Châteaubriand" and runs every 30 minutes. From there, cross Lake Geneva to the yacht harbor and beaches across, at "Genėve-Plage". Next, switch to line M3 which provides you with photo ops for the gigantic water fountain, the Jet d'Eau!
Once you arrive at "Pâquis" back on the other side, take line M1 to "Molard". From there, it is just a few steps to the famous flower clock and the Old Town ("Vieille Ville")!
Stroll the cobblestone streets at your own leisure but keep heading towards the St. Pierre Cathedral. The panoramic views from atop the clock tower should not be missed!
If you still have time, walk to the nearby Russian church. It is an incredible architectural sight:
The United Nations
A visit of the United Nations and the Palace of Nations should be on anyone's list of things to do! Plan a separate day for this and get started early. You do not need to rush, but visitors in the front of the line will be admitted between 9:45 and 10:00 AM. Thus, we would recommend you arrive at 14 avenue de la Paix by 9:30 AM.
Important: Bring your passport or Swiss ID card in order to be admitted, and avoid any large bags or purses if possible. After security clearance, you will be able to buy a tour pass for CHF 12.
Where to Stay
We have not found the perfect hotel yet, although Hôtel International & Terminus provided a very pleasant stay near the main station. For different budget requirements, check some hotel ratings online, browse the available apartments at Airbnb or consider Couchsurfing. One thing we have realized though is that Geneva is fairly small, so you do not need to limit your search to just the area between the station and the lake.
The public transportation system includes frequent busses and trams, so you can reach a hotel on either side of the lake in little time. From Geneva's main station "Gare Cornavin", it might take about 5 - 7 minutes to reach the Old Town ("Place de Neuve").
Dimitri loves discovering new trends and covers architecture, design, start-ups and tourism.
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