When you land at Geneva airport, just before you leave the baggage reclaim area, there is a machine by the door that gives you free travel in Geneva for 90 minutes anywhere in the city.
You have to get it BEFORE you leave baggage reclaim though. Once out the door, turn left in arrivals lounge and go all the way to the end into the Station. Walk in a little way and turn 180 degrees and go up the stairs behind you and come out right at the bus stop and get the number 10 which takes you to Gare Cornavin (the main station in Geneva).
Geneva Airport, in the Baggage Reclaim area just before the doors to leave.
This house contains artifacts of daily life in Geneva from the Middle Ages through the late 1800s and gives a concise history of the city and its frosty relations with France and the rest of Switzerland (Geneva was an independant republic for many years). There is even the guillotine which Geneva was forced to install (by French Revolution law) in Place Neuve in March 1792. The attic contains a scale model of pre-1850s Geneva when walls still surrounded the city.
Skip the overpriced archeological remains under St Peter's Cathedral as this museum tells you more about Geneva's history and has free entry. Great for children.
Follow the signs to the museum from Cours St Pierre in the old city
The Promenade des Bastions runs from the old city down to Place Neuve (the main square of Geneva) and goes past the Mur des Reformateurs - check out the chess boards with giant-sized chess pieces for the public to use for Sunday afternoon games.
There are also numerous cheap cafés.
The Promenade des Bastions is a 30 min walk from Cornavin train station and 20 mins from St Peters Cathedral in the old city
If you go to Ile Rousseau to see the bird sanctuary or to have a drink at the café, wait until after 9am when the waiters of the café have gotten rid of the homeless people and tramps who inhabit the benches of Ile Rousseau.
The Jet d'eau is the most famous landmark in Geneva and it's quite impressive as it shoots water to a height of 400ft.
It's better if you walk along the jetty which extends from the port to the fountain itself.
The Jet d'eau is on the Rive Gauche side of Lake Geneva - a 30 min walk from Cornavin train station
Les Paquis is one of the smartest parts of Geneva as it's right next to Lake Geneva and has some trendy (ie expensive) shops as well as some cheaper souvenir shops.
There are shady little squares and swish mansions and is a good part of the city to see on your way back to Cornavin train station.
Beware of pickpockets though!
Les Paquis is on the Rive Droite side of Lake Geneva and is west of Quai Wilson
For a comprehensive tour of Geneva I recommend this route:
From Cornavin train station, go down Rue du Mont Blanc and cross the river Rhône via the Pont Mont Blanc, stopping to admire superb views of Lake Geneva, St Peter's Cathedral, Ile Rousseau and Pont des Bergues.
Once across Pont Mont Blanc, walk alongside the Rhône river via the embankment to see Port St Gervais and enter the shopping district of Geneva.
Walk along Rue de la Conféderation, Rue de la Croix d'or and Rue du Rhône.
Turn off Rue de la Conféderation at Place Madelaine and walk up into the old city to Place Bourg Four (good cheap cafés here) and climb Rue de l'Hôtel de Ville to look at the murals depicting the history of Geneva and the cannons.
Enter Cours St Pierre and visit St Peter's Cathedral. Then descend back to the shopping district and head to the Jardin Anglais to see the famous Jet d'eau and flower clock.
Walk alongside Lake Geneva (Rive Gauche) - for children there is a beach on this side of the lake.
Go through the Jardin Anglais, go across Pont Mont Blanc and walk alongside lake Geneva (Rive Droite) stopping to admire views of Mont Blanc across the lake and see the Brunswick monument.
Return to Cornavin train station via Les Paquis district (to the west of Quai Wilson). Go up Rue de Lausanne and follow signs to Cornavin train station.
St Peter's Cathedral can be seen from everywhere in Geneva and is the symbol of the old city of Geneva.
Its interior is truly impressive and for 3 CHF you can climb the 157 steps up to the tower for stunning views (tip: if you can't or don't want to climb up to the tower than the same view can be seen on a poster just next to the entrance). The exterior of the cathedral is a curious mismatch of building styles too with a Romanized façade (columns).
Cours St Pierre - a 30 min walk from Cornavin train station
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