Geneva

Welcome to Geneva

With its stunning setting wedged between Lake Geneva and the foot of Mont Blanc, Geneva is a diamond of a city that ranks as one of Europe’s most beautiful. It's small wonder, then that so many world organisations have chosen to camp out here, with the city housing the headquarters of the World Health Organization, the Red Cross, parts of the UN and hundreds of other important international outfits.

An impressively elegant place, it's also remarkably cosmopolitan, and Geneva's inhabitants can seem to speak just about every known language, which is handy if you are ever lost and find your French is rusty. The largest city in French-speaking Switzerland, it has long played a key role in the Francophone world, making the Swiss capital Bern look tiny and provincial by comparison. Be warned, however, that Geneva's beauty and elegance can come at a price, and dining out and shopping can hit your wallet hard. Dig a little deeper, however, and you'll find interesting, worthwhile places that are a little easier on your budget.

Don't let the city's sparkling lake, mountain air and conspicuous wealth fool you into thinking it's entirely prim and pristine, however. If you check out looser, more laid-back areas like the Paquis quarter and Carouge, you'll find alternative clubs and late night bars that compete with the best in Europe, proof that this city that can at first seem up in the clouds also knows how to let its hair down.

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Quick facts

  • Inhabitants in Switzerland:
    ca 8 milllion
  • Inhabitants in Geneva:
    184,758 City of Geneva (City and Canton: 434,473 )
  • Official language
    French
  • Currency
    Swiss Franc (CHF)
  • Time zone
    GMT Central European Time
  • Emergency number
    117 (police), 144 (ambulance), 118 (fire)
  • Constitution
    Federal Republic
  • Country phone code
    +41
  • Country code
    CH
  • Local transportation
    Bus, Tram, Train, Boat, Bicycle