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).
Nightlife in Geneva is fairly understated, but the bar scene in trendy Les Grottes is thriving. The city also welcomes plenty of touring European DJs. The formerly seedy Pâquis is one of the liveliest places to spend an evening, but you’ll also find lots of buzzing bars, clubs and late-night cafés in Carouge (its nightspots are dotted along Rue Vartier and Place du Marché, while Qu’Importe on Rue Ancienne has a lengthy tapas menu and wine list). Eaux-Vives has a good selection of cocktail bars.
The Old Town is home to a number of cosy pubs perfect for holing up in after a day in the mountains. You’ll find plenty going on in Rue de L'Ecole de Médecine next to Plainpalais – it’s the most popular place with thirsty students, meaning the bars and pubs are not too expensive. Place de l'Ile, an island on the middle of the river Rhône, is also home to a number of bars and clubs, and you’ll find the best whisky selection in Geneva at the Leopard Bar at the Hôtel d’Angleterre.