Geneva : arrival
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Quai des Bergues (©_OTG)
Geneva’s international airport, just 5km northwest of the city on the French border at Cointrin, has to be one of the best-designed in the world. With just 200m walking distance from plane to train, it needn’t take more than half-an-hour from touchdown for you to be done with all the formalities and heading into the city.

There’s only one terminal, replete with English-language signing. The tourist information and airport information desks (both daily 6am–midnight) are in plain view, offering free maps and advice and hotel reservations boards (with complimentary phone). To the left of tourist information is a revolving door giving access into the adjacent CFF train station.

For transport on from the airport, the simplest and cheapest way to go is by city bus #10, which departs from the top of the escalators just inside the train station’s revolving door. A fifteen-minute drive can drop you directly on the Rue du Mont-Blanc (for the Rive Droite) or Place Bel-Air (for the Rive Gauche) in the centre of town – buy a Fr.2.20 ticket from the machine before you board. The airport train station is the beginning of the line, and all trains from here pass through Geneva at the start of their journeys (Fr.4.80; 6min; last 11.55pm) – if you’re heading straight for the mountains you can generally get to where you want to be directly from the airport, avoiding train-changes in Geneva. If the ticket desks (daily 6am–8.30pm) are closed, use the self-explanatory ticket machines nearby. The train station is the best place in the airport to change money (daily 6.20am–8pm), and the concourse also has luggage lockers (Fr.3/5) and a staffed left-luggage office (daily 6.40am–8.40pm; Fr.5/day). Taxis gather just outside the terminal, but charge a steep Fr.25–35 into the city.

By train
The city’s main train station – the Gare de Cornavin – couldn’t be more central, barely 400m north of the lake. The station is also a terminus of the French rail network: if you’re arriving on an intercity SNCF train (TGV or not), from Paris, Lyon or Grenoble – which come in on platforms 7 and 8, separate from the rest – you’ll be directed to pass through both French and Swiss customs and passport control before joining the throng within the station proper. The station has the usual array of facilities, including a change bureau (daily April–Oct 6.45am–9.30pm; Nov–March 6.45am–8pm) and bike rental (Mon–Fri 6.50am–6.45pm, Sat & Sun 7am–12.30pm & 1.30–5.45pm). There’s also a city transport office, giving out tram and bus maps and selling tickets (daily 6.15am–8pm).

Sporadic French SNCF local trains from Evian, Chamonix and Annecy, connecting at Annemasse and La Roche, arrive at the tiny Gare des Eaux-Vives, well to the east of the centre. Opposite the station is a terrace of houses, to the right of which is the Rue de Savoie heading 50m up to the main road, from where trams #12 and #16 head right into the centre.

By bus
All international buses into Geneva arrive at the Gare Routière, on Place Dorcière (022/732 02 30, www.gare-routiere.ch), just off Rue du Mont-Blanc in the heart of town. Most are massive overland hauls from the far corners of Europe, although there are also plenty of more useful arrivals from nearby points in France, such as Chamonix, Grenoble, Lyon, Annecy and Evian, and a daily service from Turin.

By car
Geneva is in an odd position for drivers, surrounded on all sides by France – the only Swiss motorway into the city is the N1 from Lausanne and Nyon. In addition, parking in the city centre is a nightmare, and you’d do well to get rid of your vehicle as soon as possible on the city limits. The long-term car park at the airport train station offers a discount to train users, bringing the price down to a bargain Fr.9 for the first 24hr, and Fr.6 per day following. Otherwise, the long-term car park P51, next to World Trade Centre-2 at the airport, 300m from the terminal building (bus #10 stops outside the adjacent WTC-1), costs Fr.15 for the first 24hr, with every 4hr following adding Fr.1. On-street parking in the centre is metered, with heavily restricted hours. There are plenty of garages – the ones under Place Cornavin (022/731 66 61) and beneath the south side of the Pont du Mont-Blanc (022/310 01 30) are two biggies that allow you to reserve a place in advance – but you’ll be paying Fr.25 or more per day.

By boat
By far the most romantic way to arrive in Geneva is by boat, on one of the many services (April–Oct only) from towns on both shores of the lake. Boats operated by the Compagnie Générale de Navigation sur le Lac Léman (CGN; 0848/811 848) village-hop along the French shore (Rive Gauche) from Thonon and Yvoire, and along the Swiss shore (Rive Droite) from Lausanne and Nyon, stopping at one or all of the CGN jetties within Geneva itself: Eaux-Vives, east of the Jet d’Eau; Les Pâquis, near the Casino; and the Jardin Anglais and Mont-Blanc, at each end of the Pont du Mont-Blanc.

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