City Guide: Geneva

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Language: French/German/Italian
Currency: Swiss Franc (CHF)
Time: Geneva is in the Central European Time zone (CET) = GMT +1 hour

Visa info

If you are a British citizen, or a British Subject with Right of Abode in the UK, you will not need a visa to enter Switzerland. Those with any other British Passport are advised to check with the nearest Swiss diplomatic mission.

To tip or not to tip?

In Geneva, a service charge will usually be included in the bill or stated on the menu before ordering and therefore it is not necessary to tip on top of this. However, leaving a few coins will always be welcome as a polite gesture, signalling appreciation for the service received.

What time do we eat?

Breakfast is taken a little bit earlier than we’re used to in the UK. Lunch usually begins at Noon and is the main meal of the day. There is often an afternoon snack at around 4pm called “Zvieri”. Finally, dinner is often the lightest meal of the day and it taken at 6-7pm.

What time do we work?

Forty-two hours is considered the normal number of hours to work per week. But Swiss employees receive four weeks holiday as well as public holidays. The normal working day with start between 8:30 and 9am, and end 5:30-7pm.

Do you speak English?

The three main languages spoken in Geneva are French, Italian and German. French is the main language spoken in Geneva, but most residents will also speak a second language. If English is the only language you speak then you’ll be pleased to know that English is spoken by around a quarter of those from Geneva and by most foreigners living there.

Local Customs

Handshakes are the common greeting in Switzerland, with everyone being greeted. Handshakes should also take place at the end of a meeting. Swiss people are very time conscious (perhaps that’s why Swiss watches are considered some of the best in the world) and punctuality in vital, especially in business situations.

Last names and titles are used to address people in Switzerland, with first names reserved for close friends and family. Poor posture is frowned upon, you shouldn’t slouch or stretch in public. And pointing your index finger to your head is considered as insult.

You should dress in a very smart and neat fashion, Swiss people do not care for messy attire. And don’t litter, you’ll be publicly scolded (not literally!) and handed a fine (literally!).

Getting around

Boat

Take a boat; it is great way to explore the city. Yellow shuttle boats, also known as Les Mouettes (the seagulls) cross Lake Geneva every 10 minutes between 7:30am to 6pm in the summer months. They depart from Quai du Mont Blan, Quai Gustave Ador, Perle du Lac and Parc des Eaux Vives. The same ticket can be used for the buses and trams as well.

Public Transport

Much of the Old Town in Geneva is off-limits to cars, so catching a bus or a tram is the easiest way to get around the city. Trams and buses are run by Transport Public Genevois (TPG) and they operate daily from 6am to midnight depending on the service.

A Noctombus is a night bus that runs on Friday and Saturday nights from midnight to 4am. Tickets can be purchased at vending machines, various newsagents and the TPG office.

Where to work?

Geneva is a great location to do business, it boasts over 400 convention halls and some 14,000 hotel beds.

The Seflo is a great place to have lunch and meet with customers, clients and business partners. The restaurant offers quality Italian cuisine; their specialities are their risotto and pasta dishes. Although The Seflo can be quite pricey, the trendy décor, busy atmosphere and summer terrace makes dining here a real treat.

Where to play for a few hours

If you’re making a quick turnaround, make sure you see this before you leave:

Jet d’Eau

The Jet d’Eau is one of Geneva’s most famous landmarks. Sitting where Lake Geneva empties into the Rhone River, the fountain can be seen right across the city and makes for spectacular views. 500litres of water are fired 140m into the air per second – it’s even visible during a flight over Geneva at 33,000ft. But beware if you take the stone jetty on the left bank of the lake, a slight change of wind direction and you might find yourself getting a bit wet.

Where to play for a day

If you’ve got a day to spare and want to see some more of Geneva, you can’t leave with seeing:

Palais des Nations

The Palais des Nations (United Nations) complex attracts thousands of visitors a year. It is the second largest UN Centre after the UN Headquarters in New York. Situated in a park with huge lawns and roaming peacocks, it really is worth a visit. The Palais itself is only available to the public via guided tours and you must have a valid photo ID with you to join one.

Where to play for a weekend

If you’re taking a longer stay, make sure you visit:

Geneva Old Town

Geneva's Old Town has plenty to offer. Its cobblestone streets lead to many of Geneva's tourist attractions, including Saint Peter's Cathedral, the Art and History Museum and Maison Tavel- the oldest house in the city.

Where to Eat:

Faim?

Faim? Is a funky place for a spot of lunch. Faim? Is right in the heart of the town and serves a variety of dishes including, soups, salads and sandwiches. Its infamous brunch and homemade burgers, both made from fresh produce at reasonable prices are well worth a try.

U Bobba

If you are looking for great food and culture with beautiful views, look no further than U Bobba. Located in Rue de la Corraterie, U Bobba has one of Geneva's best roof terraces, delightful all year round especially in the summer months. The menu is bursting with inventive, French-inspired dishes including veal medallions with nuts and Gorgonzola-dunked gnocchi.