Sleek and cosmopolitan, Geneva is a rare breed of city. It’s one of Europe’s priciest. Its people chatter in every language under the sun and it’s constantly thought of as the Swiss capital (which it isn’t). This gem on the sparkling shores of Europe’s largest Alpine lake is in fact only Switzerland‘s third-largest city.
Yet the whole world is here, like the UN, International Red Cross, International Labour Organization and World Health Organization. Almost all top governmental and nongovernmental international organizations can be found in Geneva, meting out world affairs with astonishing precision and authority. They fill the city’s bounty of plush four- and five-star hotels with big-name guests. They feast on an unbelievable choice of international cuisine, while they help prop up the overload of banks, luxury jewelers and chocolate shops for which the city is known. It’s no wonder why many want to arrive in style and charter a private jet Geneva.
Must See: The République et Canton de Genève (Republic and Canton of Geneva) commands sweeping views of the French Alps and the French Jura from its fortuitous position at the southwestern tip of Lac Léman. The water flows straight through the city center and into the River Rhône en route to Lyon and the Mediterranean, leaving museums, shops, restaurants, and parks to jostle for space on its history-laden south shore, known as Rive Gauche. Busy shopping streets underline the hilltop Vieille Ville, the Plaine de Plainpalais lies to its west, and Eaux-Vives stretches along the quays to the east.
Lodging: Private jet Geneva visitors will find the palace-style hotel continues to be the defining image of the city’s hospitality. There is something quintessentially Geneva about the wealth these places ooze, and the waterfront ones on the Right Bank give you sweeping views of the city’s other iconic features: the Jet d’Eau, Old Town, the waterfront, river, lake, and mountains.
Geneva hotels do err on the expensive side, and the practice of massively hiking up rates during events persists. Large events can also suddenly fill entire hotels, so book as early as you can. Because this is a conference-and-convention driven town, leisure visitors will find lower prices on weekend stays.
Our top hotel choice is D’Angleterre in Les Paquis, regularly cited as the finest hotel in Switzerland and one of the best examples of a luxurious boutique hotel you’ll find anywhere. Impeccable taste, total discretion, and a passion for detail mark this stylish hotel where thematic decorations stretch from African to Baroque. Desks are equipped with office supplies, breakfast can be tailored to your needs, and afternoon tea is included in room service. Guest rooms are individually decorated, while the fitness room features a private hammam (Turkish bath). The Leopard Room bar has a working fireplace and live music six nights a week. Windows, the quayside winter-garden restaurant, serves creative French cuisine with a front-row view of the Jet d’Eau and Mont Blanc.
Ground Transportation: The Geneva Cointrin International Airport is connected with both the Swiss Federal Railways network and the French SNCF network, including to Paris, Lyon, Marseille and Montpellier line. Geneva is connected to the motorway systems of both Switzerland (A1 motorway) and France.
Taxis in Geneva can be difficult to find, and may need to be booked in advance especially in the early morning or at peak hours. Public transport by bus, trolleybus or tram is provided by Transports Publics Genevois (TPG). Public transport by boat links the two banks of the lake within the city.
Recommended Books: Angels & Demons, Dan Brown (2000). The bestselling mystery-thriller novel introduces Robert Langdon, also the protagonist of Brown’s subsequent blockbuster 2003 novel, The Da Vinci Code, and others. Set in Geneva, the book features many of the same elements used later by Brown, including conspiracies of secret societies, a single-day time frame, and the Catholic Church.
Currency: The Swiss franc is the local currency.
Calling Code Geneva: 011 + 41 + 22 + number
Best Travel Dates and Packing Tips: Hot and sunny with a slight breeze in summer, crisp and clear in spring and autumn, rainbow-prone in June—Geneva’s weather, when it’s good, is spectacular. There are other days—whole weeks of them in winter—when stratus clouds coagulate between the mountains and gray out everything in sight. But relief comes from La Bise, the often bitingly cold north wind that blows in off the lake to reveal sparkling snow-covered peaks.