Geneva has a public transport system that matches its status as a major European city and, what’s more, it’s completely free to visitors staying in any of the city’s hotels, hostels or campsites. That’s right, when you check in at your accommodation you’ll be issued with a travel pass that can be used on all public transport within the Geneva region and which is valid for the duration of your stay, including the day of departure. If you arrive at Geneva’s Cointrin airport you can take a ticket from the machine in the baggage collections hall which will get you into the city centre free of charge.
Cointrin Airport is just one stop from Cornavin train station in the heart of Geneva. All trains departing the airport will stop at Cornavin, regardless of their final destination. The journey lasts just a couple of minutes, so don’t get too comfortable. Departures to and from the airport are frequent and the station is right inside the airport terminal building so you don’t have to trek far with your luggage.
While visitors may find that they can navigate the city on foot, it may be the case that using public transport will help make the most of the time available, especially during weekend trips. The city is well covered by a network of efficient and regular trams and buses that are a pleasure to use. Wheelchairs users and parents with pushchairs can use some of these vehicles and, when space allows, pedal cycles can also be carried. If you don’t have a free travel permit (perhaps you are just passing through for a day), you can buy your tickets from news-shops and kiosk, from the vending machines at bus and tram stops, or, in some cases, directly from the driver (on services offered by Unireso, this is not permitted). If you are paying cash, when purchasing from the machines, you have the option of paying in Swiss Francs (CHF) or with Euros. Daily cards are available and naturally represent better value than single tickets which are valid for one hour (and with which you can make changes during that hour).
There are four tramlines and numerous bus routes. Tickets are valid for buses, trams or the boats (known as ‘mouettes’) that ferry passengers between little docks at the eastern end of Lake Leman. These tickets are not valid for the larger boats that sail from Geneva to the other cities that lie further round the lake.
To visit Mont Saleve, which is in France but gives terrific views over Geneva and Lake Leman, you can take a bus which terminates close to the border. A five minute walk brings you to the cable car which lifts you to the summit of Mont Saleve. If you are using cash, don’t forget to take some Euro with you.