With its renowned banking connections, and as host to many international organizations such as the Red Cross and the United Nations, Geneva is a truly cosmopolitan city where a large percentage of the population comes from other countries.
The city’s Cornavin Airport is situated just 4 km from downtown. It is regularly used as a hub airport, meaning that the possibilities of doing a Geneva airport layover are very strong. One of the advantages of stopping here is the extremely efficient and reliable public transport connections to the center of town. Both trains and buses leave regularly, and the journey only takes about twelve minutes. As an added advantage, any trains or buses are free if you catch them within eighty minutes of landing at the airport.
There are dozens of ways to pass the time on a Geneva stopover and as transport is easy. The only thing you will have to worry about is storing your bags so that you are not burdened during your adventure.
6 hour Geneva layover
Generally, on a short layover, you need to really limit what you do in order to allow yourself plenty of time to catch your next flight. With public transport so easily available, a Geneva airport layover leaves you a little bit more room to maneuver.
The city is situated on Lake Geneva which is the biggest lake in Switzerland and one of the largest in Europe. If you plan ahead, you have plenty of time to do a two-hour cruise on one of the many boats plying this inland waterway. You will have the choice of everything from river taxis to Belle Epoque paddle boats.
There are dozens of cruises to choose from but on all of them, you can be assured of fabulous views of both Geneva and the surrounding mountains. If you plan your pleasure cruise correctly, you may even be able to enjoy a meal on board.
- The many pleasure boats plying the waters of Lake Geneva offer an ideal and unusual way to see the city.
- You will need to do a little research so that you can move straight from the airport to your boat operator on your short Geneva layover.
- Stow your bags at a convenient luggage storage service in order to make the most of this unique trip.
8 hour Geneva layover
With two extra hours available to you, you might just have time to squeeze in visits to two of the city’s many tourist attractions. The Old Town is a terrific place to pass a few hours and soak up some of the local atmosphere. There you will find Maison Tavel, the oldest house in the city, as well as the fabulous Cathedral de St-Pierre.
The cathedral has a tower, and after climbing its one hundred and fifty-six steps you're rewarded with stunning views of the city. The old town is littered with quaint little boutiques and coffee shops, meaning that it would be easy to lose track of time so you need to be aware of that.
Leaving the cobbled streets of the old town, make your way to the Jet d’eau which is undoubtedly Geneva’s most iconic tourist attraction. This unusual feature was originally created by accident when workmen left a valve closed when working on the city's water system. The resulting pressure build-up created a huge spout of water. Locals decided that it was so attractive that they replicated the error and that has been Geneva's most photographed landmark ever since.
- Despite having a couple of extra hours on your hands it would be very easy to overstay, so keep an eye on your watch and allow plenty of time to catch a connecting flight.
- There is so much to do in Geneva that it is going to be a case of deciding what to leave out rather than what to put in.
10 hour Geneva layover
An extra two hours in Geneva means you could see a little more of the city before making your connection. Drop off your bags at a Geneva luggage storage and get some fresh air at Parc de la Grange. This waterside park offers great views of the beautiful lake and also contains a rose garden and a theater. In the summer, there are many shows and concerts put on in the park, so if you’re lucky you’ll get some entertainment while you enjoy your surroundings. There are also many walking trails where you can stretch your legs and get some exercise before your next flight.
- Get some exercise at Parc de la Grange.
- You might be lucky enough to catch a show or concert during the summer.
- Enjoy the lakeside views at any time of year.
12 hour Geneva layover
With a whole day to spend in the city you're going to be able to take in not only two or three of the major tourist attractions but perhaps enjoy a pleasant meal in the process.
One way to get to grips with a city quickly is to take a guided tour. There are many to choose from in Geneva but some of the walking tours will not only introduce you to many of the city’s hidden gems, they will also allow you to soak up some of the atmosphere which you might not have done in a bus or car.
Geneva has a rich collection of museums where you will easily be able to while away a couple of hours. One of the more unusual ones is the Museum of the Red Cross and Red Crescent. Few other museums in the world offer such a rare insight into the workings of the humanitarian sector.
If you still have time for lunch in the city, Geneva offers you a wealth of choices. With such strong international connections, you can choose from anything from Arab to Italian or from Turkish to American cuisine. If you decide to really turn your short layover into a memorable one, then head to one of the many lakeside restaurants where you will be able to choose from some of the top-end gastronomic delights while admiring the impressive view.
- Geneva has many fascinating museums, but one of the more unusual ones is the Museum of the Red Cross and Red Crescent.
- Guided tours provide a useful way to get to grips with the most essential landmarks quickly.
24-hour Geneva layover
An overnight layover in Geneva means that you get to sample some of the nightlife that might not otherwise be available to you on a shorter Geneva stopover. With so many bankers and diplomats in the city, it is easy to perceive it as being somewhat starchy. In fact, Geneva has a booming nightlife.
There are three main areas to consider. Place de l’Ille is situated on an island in its own river and its pubs and clubs offer a unique atmosphere. The rue de la Ecole de Medicine is a favorite with students, and you’ll have no trouble finding bars and clubs in this district. The other area with plenty of discotheques is Carouge.
If pubbing and clubbing are not quite what you had in mind for a night out just before catching an international flight, then there are other options that you might like to consider. The Grande Theatre de Geneve is an impressive building and inside the opulent gilding provides an ideal setting for taking in an opera. The acoustics are reputed to be sublime. Even if you are unable to take in a show, the building itself might be an attraction to add to your list.
- Nightlife in Geneva is highly varied and there’s plenty of it despite the impression that it is dominated by bureaucrats and bankers.
- When reserving a hotel for an overnight stay consider access to the airport when you head off to catch a connecting flight.
- It’s always a good idea to book a wake-up call for the morning after an overnight layover.