Country: Switzerland
Currency: Franc (CHF)
Peak Season: December-February
Shoulder Season: March-May
Median Temperature: 10.40 C / 50.72 F
Main Languages: French, German, Italian, English
Primary Modes of Transportation: Bus, tram, trolleybus, taxi
Recommended Duration of Stay: 3 days
Recommended Pocket Money: $200.00/day
Tourist Passes: Geneva Transport Card
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Geneva is the place to visit if you have money to spend or if the idea of unruly, mundane teenagers deters you from visiting Europe. For a city whose expanse covers only 6.2 square miles, Geneva—in all its compactness—will tantalize you with its articulate Swiss architecture, beautifully evoked by both new-age skyscrapers and historic, religious buildings. But should the confines of the city come as so-so to your taste, you can engage in variety of activities in the Alps, particularly skiing during the tolerable winters or hiking and basking in the sunshine of the pleasant summers. Or, rekindle that lost romance with your lover with walking and boat tours around crescent-shaped Lake Geneva. And let’s not forget the marvelous shopping experience (which ladies will heart for), particularly Swiss-made watches and chocolates.

But persons with history savvy are likely to tell you that the leisure trips are only the primer of one’s stay in Geneva: the city’s ascent to becoming a vanguard of international financial standards and, more importantly, human rights, are evident with the popularity of the Swiss banking system and the 1949 Geneva Convention, which have since become household names. In terms of civility and politeness, you can be assured that the Swiss are unpretentious and are willing to foster a lasting friendship with foreigners. If you haven’t thought about going to Geneva (or Zurich), we suggest you do. Tier Switzerland with Germany and France and you’ll have one most of the most fulfilling trips to Europe ever. You might learn a thing or two about austerity and the finer points of life.

Packing List

  • Credit cards, extra cash, a duffel bag and a pocket guide of what things to buy there; even the thriftiest people have the propensity to allot an entire month’s salary on Swiss items
  • Light, fashionable clothing—the weather doesn’t get into extremes, so it’s okay to bring a cardigan instead of a heavy jacket; consider bringing slacks and Capri instead of denim
  • Hiking gear: a pair of comfortable-but-sturdy walking shoes, a hiking staff, a rucksack and a first aid kit; hiking in the Alps is no easy feat, so think twice about going there
  • Essential medication and toiletries—most brands are available here, but pharmacies won’t let you purchase some usual OTC medication unless you present a prescription
  • A decent camera, plenty of film and batteries—a tripod and zoom lenses compliment the great nature photography; bring a GPS and a map when hiking along mountain trails

Things to Do

  • Marveling at the 229-foot gushing of Jet d'Eau, Switzerland’s largest fountain and its most iconic landmark; it operates everyday from 11:30 am to 4:00pm, and is again illuminated during the evening
  • Visiting the controversial Large Hadron Collider at CERN, situated at the city’s northwestern suburbs; the massive particle accelerator attempts to understand the universe’s origins by colliding proton beams
  • Paying a visit to the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum, located just across the street from the UN Office; the museum is known for its exhibits that portray the appalling effects of war
  • Feeding your mind at the Natural History Museum—famous for its highly competent team of archeologists; the first three floors display a good grasp of the various epochs in the past six billion years
  • Recollecting at St. Pierre’s (Peter’s) Cathedral, whose entrance resembles the Pantheon more than it does a cathedral; built in the 12th century, it is a pivotal structure of the spread of Protestantism in Switzerland

DON'T

  • Overspend—Geneva is one of the most expensive places to live in; remember to take advantage of free travel passes, and instead of hotels, consider staying at youth hostels
  • Be loud, sarcastic and taunting, as the Swiss practice discreetness almost everywhere; the Swiss also value their privacy, but are open to discussing social like politics and science
  • Force your French if it isn’t perfect—English is completely fine with locals, but don’t shock them with American slang; a handshake is customary primer for conversations
  • Bring house clothes to restaurants—jeans and t-shirts are perfectly acceptable at most restaurants, but it’s good to dress sharply, considering most people here dress their best
  • Eat like an unrefined person, and never arrive even a few minutes late for a meeting—both punctuality and good table manners will get you and your country good points