Set around glittering Lake Geneva, this gateway to the Alps is also the European headquarters for the United Nations.
Sidestep the flashy billboards and you’ll discover a slick, quietly cool city with a burgeoning food scene, a rich history of religious turmoil and a clutch of fascinating monuments and museums.
Arriving at Geneva Airport
GVA has only one runway, tucked up against the craggy Jura mountains. But whichever approach you make – over the mountains themselves, the foothills of the Alps, or sweeping across Lake Geneva – it’s a picturesque one.
Getting away from the airport is very simple. There is a CFF train station attached to the main terminal and all trains go to Gare Cornavin, Geneva's main station (the journey takes about seven minutes). From there, you can easily connect onto Geneva's bus and tram network.
You can also take the number 5 or 10 TPG (Transport Public Genevois) bus from the airport – go up to the ground-floor check-in level, exit the airport and turn left towards the train station entrance.
Avoid taking an expensive taxi from the airport into town (a run between the airport and the city centre can cost CHF35—45, without luggage). Trains and buses are free if you pick up a ticket in the baggage reclaim hall. It’s best to pre-book car-hire if you need your own wheels (although traffic within Geneva itself is heavy and parking is expensive).
Food and drink
Geneva likes to bill itself as Switzerland’s gastronomic heart, and it’s got a pretty good stake to the claim. More than 1,000 restaurants serve up just about every sort of world cuisine imaginable, and you can fill your belly everywhere from Michelin-starred cellar restaurants to al fresco seafood huts.
Geneva borders France, so fondue is practically compulsory here. You’ll find many places in town serving a good moitié-moitié (half Gruyère, half Vacherin); some of the best include Les Armures – a traditional restaurant attached to the five-star hotel of the same name – and the extensive terrace of the Buvette at Bains des Pâquis (which hosts al fresco fondue nights in winter).
On Wednesdays and Saturdays, a fresh produce market takes over Place du Marché in Pâquis, a bohemian neighbourhood near Gare Cornavin in the city centre. The giant square of Plainpalais is home to Geneva’s biggest farmers’ market on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays; on Wednesdays and Saturdays, it takes a break from food to play host to a sprawling flea market.
Pâquis is relatively small but packs in plenty of bars, cafés and restaurants, including many of the best experimental or globally inspired food spots. You’ll find plenty of seafood on offer on the marina at Promenade Michel d’Ornano; if you’re ready to splash the cash, try Le Chat-Botté, a Michelin-starred restaurant in a restored cellar near the water.