Top Tips for Travelling to Geneva and on into Switzerland

Lake GenevaThere are a large number of budget airline flights flying into Geneva with carriers such as easyJet. Geneva airport is just a short distance from the city and you can pick up a free travel ticket into the town from the machines just before you exit arrivals. There is also an excellent direct train service from the airport to the rest of the country.

Geneva is ideal in the spring and autumn. Don’t forget to visit the old town and go along the shoreline. Also check out their extensive and entertaining annual programme of free events.

One idea is to buy a Swiss Travel Passes before you go which will provide you with travel all over Switzerland with plenty of other discounts.

Jet d'Eau Fountain, GenevaSwitzerland doesn’t have to be an expensive place to eat, look out for lunch deals in the larger department stores. Also, in Geneva some of the colleges provide lunch time meals to visitors. Soup is a popular at lunchtimes. 

An excellent spot to catch the sun and a reasonably priced meal is the Bains des Paquis opposite the Jet d’Eau. I have spent many delightful hours sunning myself, enjoying a drink or having a meal overlooking the lake.     

Remember that if you are staying in a hotel in Geneva, then ask for your free travel pass which gives you travel on the small ferries, trams, trains and buses in the city. Take the bus using your free pass to the end of the E line, walk down to the lake and enjoy a drink or snack in the café next to the small caravan site.  

The Valais is a delightful part of Switzerland and accessible from Geneva so if you get a chance go to the finals of the fighting cows of Switzerland held in the village of Aproz usually in May. It is an amazing event and very Swiss.

Valais Alpine dwellingIf you are going to stay for any length of time in Switzerland, then try to find a half board deal as this will probably be much more cost effective than eating out all the time. 

You will find the buses and train timetables are co-ordinated, so you will usually get to your destination on time.

Bern, the capital of Switzerland, should be on any list of places to see. After exploring the historic arcades take a walk to the bridge at the end of Main Street.

You will usually find someone in Switzerland who speaks English, especially if you ask someone in their twenties or thirties.  

Swiss cheese is exceptional and a visit to Gruyeres is well worth the effort. Raclette and fondues are still very popular. Also dig deep and spoil yourself with a coffee and cake in one of the many delightful coffee shops.

Look out for locally advertised musical events, some of these may include food and will give you a chance to meet the locals.

ZurichZurich is an easy city to get around and has the advantage of a river and lake. Try to get to the Freitag shop. Talk to any Swiss person and they will often have a bag, wallet or purse made from recycled lorry covers. They may be pricey, but they have a unique international reputation for quality. 

The carnivals held throughout Switzerland are well worth visiting. Good locations include Zurich and Lucerne. Held around February or early March they are great fun and very noisy.

Some of the most spectacular scenery can be found high up in the mountains. Cable cars and funicular railways can sometimes be very expensive but try the local post buses which often travel between high altitude villages and give a really good insight into life outside the valleys.

Silver Travel Advisor recommends Kirker Holidays for city breaks, and Inghams for trips to Switzerland.

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Godfrey Hall

Award-winning travel writer

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