Geneva (French: Genève, German: Genf), Switzerland’s second-most populous city and the largest French-speaking city in Switzerland, is one of the world’s major centers of international diplomacy, having served as the site of the headquarters of the International Committee of the Red Cross since its foundation in 1863. Although the United Nations is now headquartered in New York, the organization still retains a large presence in Geneva at the Palais des Nations and many of its sister/child organizations, such as the World Health and International Labour Organizations.
- I History and Geography
- II Best time to go to Geneva
- III Getting Around in Geneva
- IV Major attractions and Sights
- V What to do in Geneva
- VI Shopping in Geneva
- VII Eating Out in Geneva
- VIII Nightlife in Geneva
- IX Work in Geneva
- X Stay safe
- XI Telecommunications in Geneva
- XII Cope
- XIII Anything of local interest
- XIV Go next
Geneva, in the French speaking side of Switzerland, is the second largest city in the country with Zurich being the largest. Well known for the lake that it stands on, it is considered a global city because of all the international organizations that have their home here. The Geneva Conventions were signed here which deal with treatment of prisoners of war, and the United Nations and the headquarters of the Red Cross can also be found in this beautiful city.
1536, a young man named John Calvin, fleeing the persecution of Protestants in France, spent a night in Geneva. As it turned out, he was to do a lot more there than sleeping. After being expelled from Geneva for nearly three years, Calvin returned triumphantly in 1541 to help elevate the city to the rank of a Protestant Rome. The intellectual influence of the Reformation extended to all realms of Genevan life: politics, economy, and administration.
Geneva was an independent republic from at least the 16th century until it became a Swiss Canton on 31 Dec 1813. This is a point of some pride to the Genevois, who still refer to their Canton as the République et Canton de Genève. A favorite festival is the yearly celebration of the Escalade, which commemorates a failed attempt in 1602 by the forces of the Dukes of Savoy to invade the city by climbing and otherwise breaching the city walls. Having turned aside this invasion attempt at the cost of only 16 lives, Geneva had secured its liberty, since the House of Savoy was never again strong enough on this side of the Alps to attempt such an invasion.
Geneva is still a very proud city. Some find it downright stuffy, although there is quite a bit more life to be found if you look under the surface, especially if you speak some French.
Geneva is officially a French-speaking city, and the vast majority of the population speak French phrasebook (81% in 2020). All advertisements, information, and signs are in French. With the large international presence and a strong diaspora, English and Portuguese (both about 10%) take a close second. Spanish (7%), Italian (6%), and German (5%) speakers abound. You may also occasionally hear Serbian/Croatian, Albanian and Turkish as well as Arabic surprisingly often.
History and Geography
The city of Geneva is located at the south-west end of the lake, just where it flows into the Rhone. There are two mountain ranges surrounding the area, the Alps and the Jura. In the lake itself, two rocks, the Pierres du Niton, stand out and these are thought to have been here since the ice age. This is the place that was chosen as the reference point for surveying for all of Switzerland. There is also a second river that flows nearby, the Arve River, which itself flows into the Rhone, just as the lake does.
Those who love winter sports are literally spoiled for choice here since Mont Blanc can be seen in the distance and is only about one hour away by road. However, Geneva itself, being at lake level, is usually quite mild in the winter and very warm in the summer.
Best time to go to Geneva
If it is meadows full of wild flowers and the kind of countryside one would imagine that Heidi lived in, summer is definitely the time to visit. However, if it is snow sports in the surrounding mountain ranges, winter is also a fun time.
Rain is adequate and pretty much spread out throughout the year with autumn seeing above average rainfall. In the summer, many visitors go swimming in the lake and there are several beaches to enjoy. June to September sees temperatures around the mid twenties with winter going as low as four degrees.
Getting Around in Geneva
The city is served by no less than two train companies – the Swiss network, SBB-CFF-FFS, and the French SNFC network. People can get here by train from as far away as Paris and Marseille or Montpelier and Lyon. There are also great motorway connections to France and the rest of Switzerland so expect to see European tourists here and there.
There is good public transport in the form of a bus, trolleybus or tram system that covers the city itself and the whole region. Some lines will extend into France too. There are boats which transport passengers across the lake and others that take people further afield.
Taxis are often a problem since they are usually booked in advance. They also tend to not take children or infants because of the stringent seating laws here. Car hire is a must if skiing holidays are being taken since visitors can spend time in the mountains during the day and enjoy the city and its entertainment at night.
Geneva is the transportation hub for the French-speaking Switzerland and the western access point to the Swiss Alps.
- Geneva airport (also called Geneva Cointrin). It is served by almost all European carriers and has good connections from most major Northern African and Middle Eastern airports. From North America there are a couple of daily direct flights from New York, Washington D.C. and Montreal and in addition to that Air China has four weekly non-stop flights from Beijing. Geneva is a hub for the low-cost carrier EasyJet serving a number of destinations in Europe including Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Edinburgh, London, Madrid, Manchester and Paris.
The airport has a UBS bank with ATMs and exchange machines in the arrival area. There is an American Express office just beyond passport control in the departure lounge. There are several cafés and duty free shopping as well, open 08:00-23:00.
To get into town from the airport, taxis cost approximately Fr. 30. The quickest way is by train which is the same price/tickets as with the buses. The number 10 bus leaves every 15 minutes from 06:00 to 23:00. Get off at the 22-Cantons stop for train station. Bus 5 also goes to the central railway station but along a different route passing close by the UN building and stopping at rue de Lausanne. Both buses then continue to the southern side of the city. All trains leaving Geneva airport train station stop at the main train/bus station. Train/bus tickets are around Fr. 3.50 (valid for one hour) and can be purchased at machines at the bus stop and in the train station. A free transport ticket to the city of Geneva can be obtained from the Geneva Transport (TPG) machine in the baggage claim area. This ticket is valid for 80 minutes anywhere in Geneva and suburbs, for trains, buses and yellow boats (with this ticket you can go as far as CERN or Anières or Veyrier). There is a change machine next to the UBS ATM. The best alternative is to take the free public transport ticket, hop on any train to Geneva (5 minutes) and either take a taxi from there or continue on the public transport system.
Travel by train to Geneva
The Swiss Federal Railway, abbreviated CFF in French, serves Geneva’s main railway station (simply called Genève, but traditionally also called Gare de Genève-Cornavin, or simply Cornavin) with direct trains to and from Neuchatel, Biel, Lucerne, Winterthur, St. Gallen every hour, and Bern and Zurich every half-hour. Regional trains heading to Nyon, Morges and many other villages along the northern shore of Lake Geneva, and inter-regional trains heading to Lausanne leave every 15 minutes, and further to Vevey, Montreux, Martigny, Sion, and further to the back of the mountainous Valais in Visp and Brig at least every half-hour. Normally they depart from Genève-Aéroport.
The Gare des Eaux-Vives is another public transport station and it is situated on the southeastern side of the lake on the other side of the river Rhône. It has French bus services with the SNCF to and from Evian, Chamonix and Annecy. It’s being renovated, since a new rail line has been built to link Cornavin to this train station.
International trains leaving from Genève include the French (SNCF) and Swiss National Railways (SBB CFF FFS) coorporating high-speed TGV-Lyria service. There is a direct service from Geneva to Paris (570 km) with a journey time of three hours seven times per day, as well as a direct service to Lyon (2 hr), Avignon (3 hr), Marseille (3.5nhr) and Nice (6.5 hr). There is a direct connection between Milan and Geneva, traversing the Alps through the Simplon massif four times a day. Once a day this EuroCity (EC) service directly connects Geneva with Venice via Milan.
For more information:
- Swiss Federal Railway (SBB CFF FFS), telephone +41 900 300 300. Provides a useful on-line travel planner, which includes information about local bus and tram services, as well as rail services and can plan your journey from any address to Geneva. The mobile app can also be used to buy train tickets, an account with a valid credit card has to be set-up beforehand.
Unless otherwise announced, most trains arriving in Genève will usually have the Genève-Aéroport as their final destination (if they come from elsewhere in Switzerland), which means you do not have to use the TPG (transport publis genevois, or Geneva’s Public Transport company) tram or bus to get there.
Geneva’s main railway station is well designed, and a key part of Geneva’s public transport network. City tram and bus routes converge at a stop located directly outside the front doors of the station, called Gare Cornavin and making transition from train to public transit extremely easy. If you’re staying in a hotel, hostel or campground, do not buy more than a single ticket. Geneva provides free transit passes to any tourist staying in one of these types of accommodation. Ask the reception if you did not receive it at check-in. The station also features a basement-level shopping concourse, along with an underground passage which connects to the south side of the busy main street, permitting new arrivals to avoid crossing busy roads. The passage also connects to an open-air pedestrianized shopping street, leading down to the lake.
The motorway network brings you right into Geneva, only 40km from Annecy and 80km from Chamonix with customs at Bardonnex – Saint-Julien. You need the compulsory motorway sticker (single annual Fr. 40 fee) to come through this customs office. Purchase of the motorway tax sticker (aka Vignette) at one of the customs is obligatory in order to drive on Swiss motorways.
To avoid the purchase of a vignette, you can enter Geneva through other crossing points at Thônex-Vallard or Moillesulaz, for example. If, however, you decide later to drive on the motorway, you will need to purchase a vignette — you can generally purchase the vignette at Petrol Stations, Post Offices or at Tourist Offices.
Geneva is served by a number of regular international bus routes (Bus station: tel. +41 22 732-0230). Additionally, the TPG (Geneva Public Transport) provide regular services from the neighbouring French towns of Saint-Julien, Archamps, Thoiry, Ferney-Voltaire, Moillesulaz (tel. +41 22 308-3434).
Regular boat services are provided, mainly in paddle steamers built between 1904 and 1927, from ports all around Lake Geneva by Compagnie Générale de Navigation. All boats arrive at the Paquis port after docking briefly at Parc des Eaux Vives and the Jardin Anglais.
Rue du Perron, Old Town
- Old Town (vieille ville) and St. Gervais
The old-town can be easily visited on foot starting anywhere around the tour boat dock on Lake Geneva, or if you come from the Cornavin station, walk down to the Bel-Air island and continue straight on uphill to the old town. Crossing the bridge (Pont du Mont Blanc), you’ll get to the English Garden with the famous flower clock and a sculpted bronze water fountain. Then you can cross the street (Quai de General Guisan) and go up the hill (on Place du Port and Rue de la Fontaine) and up the long stairs passage and end up behind Saint Peter’s Cathedral. After visiting the cathedral, which is Geneva’s well-known landmark, you can exit the courtyard and be right in front of Geneva City Hall. From there you can easily walk down to the Bastions Park where you can find the famous Reformation Wall memorial. This park is very quiet and romantic, especially at the beginning of the fall season when the leaves start falling. See this walking route in pictures.
Geneva is fairly walkable but the fact that the name of some streets change frequently as you walk can make navigation difficult. For instance the street from Bel-Air square to Rive roundabout has five different names on a section of less than a kilometre.
Geneva is a great town to get around in by bicycle. Except for the old-town, the city is fairly flat, and though there are some streets that are dangerous to ride, there is almost always a safe, fast route to your destination. If you want to know the best routes, you should get a copy of the beautifully designed Velo-Love plan de ville, which is available at all bike shops in Geneva, or by writing to: firstname.lastname@example.org or calling +41 22 418-4200.
A social organization called Genèveroule lends bicycles free of charge (for four hours and then a fee of Fr. 2 per extra hour), from 30 April through 30 October. A passport or identity card must be shown and a refundable deposit of Fr. 20 is required. Six stations are located along the lake, behind the railway station, in Eaux-Vives (Terrassière) the Plaine de Plainpalais and at Carouge. While this service is quite convenient, be sure to bring ID and contact information, including hotel phone number, to speed up the paperwork.
Otherwise, if you’re looking for a road bike or a trekking bike, then there is a shop very near the train station called “Bike Switzerland”.
By public transportation
Geneva, like most cities in Switzerland, is a marvel of public transportation efficiency. Transports Publics Genevois (TPG) provides frequent bus, tram, ‘mouette’ (boat), and suburban train service to within a block or two of most locations in the city and canton.
Tickets cost Fr. 2 for a short hop (three stops or less, or a one-way crossing of the lake). Fr. 3 for one hour with unlimited changes on tram, bus, boat, and rail within greater Geneva, Fr. 8 for a day pass valid 09:00-23:59, and Fr. 10 for an extended day pass valid from the time it is purchased until 05:00 the next morning. Holders of the SBB Demi-Tarif/Halbtax card get 20-30% off these prices. If you’re staying for more than a few days, consider buying a week ticket for Fr. 38. It’s sold at official TPG offices, located at Cornavin station, Rive roundabout and the suburb of Grand-Lancy (the last one is pretty off the beaten path for most visitors).
If you stay in a hotel, hostel, or on a camping site, you will get free public transport. Typically, you will receive a Unireso Geneva Transport Card at check-in. It will be authorised for use for the length of your stay and like a ticket one gets in the airport upon arrival it is valid for Geneva and suburbs including the Unireso network. You are supposed to carry your passport or identity card with you at the same time, to ensure validity. The ticket is valid on trains as far as the airport. One pass is valid for a maximum of 15 days, and it is valid also on the day you check out from your place of stay, which is handy if you have a late flight and want do some sightseeing or shopping.
Tickets, which cover trams and buses, must be bought from ticket machines (located at every stop) before boarding the transport. Some bus stops do not have a ticket machine, in that case you can indicate to the driver that you need to buy a ticket at the next stop.
You can get pretty much everywhere by bus. Some routes are rather confusing, so it’s good to get a map of the network which can be picked up at the official ticket vending points, or viewed/printed out from their web page. When you are on the bus, however, bus stops are both announced and visible on a screen (on most buses).
Observe that you will need to purchase a separate ticket if you are travelling outside the canton of Geneva, i.e. to or from France or the canton of Vaud. “Ordinary” tickets and day passes are only valid inside Geneva (known as Zone 10). Bus stops in France that are served by the Genevan transport authority do not have ticket vending machines, instead you have to buy the tickets from vending machines on board the bus when traveling from France.
Geneva has a network of four tram lines; 12, 14, 15 and 18. Three of them pass through the major transportation hub at the Cornavin train station, and all of them have a station close to Place Bel-Air on the old-town side of the river. If you did not receive a TPG/Unireso card from your hotel, you will need to buy a ticket from one of the ticket machines located at every stop before boarding the transport. Tickets cover both trams and buses.
The “mouette” service is included in the TPG/Unireso card that tourists receive free of charge from their hotels. This is a nice way to get from the Pâquis station near the Quai du Mont-Blanc in the northwest to the other side of the lake, e.g. to the Eaux-Vives stop near the Jardin Anglais. Boats run every 10 minutes.
If you want to explore the mountainous countryside or go skiing in one of the ski resorts in the Alps, getting a car is a better option. Numerous local and international car rental service providers operate from the airport. They provide customized traveling services to the needs of tourists visiting Geneva. The city centre of Geneva is famously congested and as such driving into the city is not a good idea.
Travel by train to Geneva
Suburban trains to outskirts run every half hour during the day and every hour after 20:00. The last train to the eastern terminus, (Coppet), leaves at 00:03. Though these “Regios” mostly serve commuters, at least two of their station stops, Versoix and Coppet, have several good restaurants and historic main streets. There is also another suburban rail line: the RER Genève, which goes from Cornavin to La Plaine, sometimes continuing to France (2 stops from La Plaine). As with buses and trams, tickets must be bought before boarding the train. If you are only travelling with the canton of Geneva, a bus/tram ticket is valid on the train and vice versa; travelling further afield will cost more unless you buy a regional ticket, which also includes parts of Vaud and France.
Major attractions and Sights
Geneva has much to see in the way of sights for those who love history. One such place is St. Peter’s Cathedral. Originally settled by Celtic tribes, the hill that houses the cathedral is the same place that influential reformist Calvin preached.
One thing that should not be missed is the huge water jet known locally as Jet d’Eau, rising to one hundred and fifty meters that sets off the lake beautifully. Be aware in winter though as it is sometimes not operating. This setting was once the opening shot of a famous series in the UK so plenty of people like to photograph it.
There are many parks and public spaces in Geneva with one of the most popular being the Jardin Anglais. Thousands of plants have been used to make up a floral clock and there is part of the park which has deer and flamingos for people to enjoy. The floral clock was made as a compliment to the watch and clock makers of the city and is a good five meters across. There are more than six thousand plants used in the clock and the mix is changed at the beginning of each of the four seasons.
For anyone who is interested in science, Geneva is home to the Large Hadron Collider. Here, they are trying to, in the most simplistic terms, test the Big Bang Theory – when the earth was created; some say that if anything goes wrong, this could be the end of the world instead!
For some leisurely walking, try the pedestrian trail that runs out of the city and along the north and south of the lake. This is a lovely and scenic walk and it allows people to slow down a little from frenetic city life, and is enjoyed by residents and visitors alike.
For those who love anything old, try out the Barbier-Muller Museum in the old town district. Here find lovely pieces of art from the Asia-Pacific area which includes carvings and jewelry.
Since Geneva is quite expensive, it is refreshing to know that there are some free tours on offer. Many people use the mobile ‘app’ which is available on the free Wi-Fi network that the city offers. This means that people can stroll at their leisure as long as they have a smart phone or iPad or iPod etc and it doesn’t need to be downloaded either. The technology is so good that the embedded GPS system shows the user exactly where they are and also points out all the key attractions and transport facilities among other things.
Sometimes it is great to get out of the city to see the mountains. A trip up the mountain to Chamonix on the Swiss border where there are cable car rides and photo opportunities galore is the chance to breathe fresh clean air. If it is winter, then there are plenty of places to ski or snowboard too.
Or try a trip on the Gruyeres and the Golden Express to see some spectacular scenery. There is a coach ride first and then a train ride from the city to end up in the wonderful meadows and hills of the Swiss Alps. The Alps are sensational as the train descends into the valley down to Montreux.
Another great trip to the mountains which should not be missed is the Gstaad trip. The Cable Car Glacier 3000 takes visitors up and above the peaks of the Alps so that they can hike over the glacier there. Gstaad itself is where winter sports take place but summer vistas are also unforgettable.
If there are kids along on the holiday, Geneva is full of fun parks and zoos etc. The Zoo de Servion houses primates and big cats as well as local animal life. Or, try a visit to the Aquaparc that has both indoor and outdoor pools for water adventures so this is great all year round. At Aquasplash, on top of the usual pools and slides, find trampolines and beach volley ball facilities among other activities.
The Swiss Vapeur Parc is also a great place for the children. It is a host of many different miniature railway tracks and, although the place is quite small, kids can take rides on the trains. This is a really fun place for smaller children and those who love trains. Older kids may well get a little bored but the small ones will love it.
Lastly, for this section, there is a lovely place to visit on Lake Geneva itself. The Ile Rousseau is a beautiful green island at the heart of the water. Some four hundred years ago, this was used as a fortress to stop invading troops. This is why it has the arrow shape. The island is full of swaying trees and willows with great views of the city. The island is a cool place away from the city centre where people go to just chill out, take a stroll or enjoy a picnic. Find a pavilion style restaurant here to have a lunch or snack. The island was named after the local boy made good, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, an eighteenth-century philosopher whose statue can also be found on the island; it has been here since 1835. This place can be reached either by foot from either side of the lake, or on the Pont du Mont-Blanc.
- Cathédrale St-Pierre and Calvin’s auditorium, Place St. Pierre (At the highest point in the Old Town). Jun-Sep: Monday – Saturday 09:00-21:00, Su 11:00-19:00; Oct-May: Monday – Saturday 10:00-12:00 and 14:00-17:00, Su 11:00-12:30 and 13:30-17:00. The new Espace Saint Pierre pass includes entrance to all three sites of Cour Saint-Pierre, a worthy space of unique spiritual and cultural importance. The Cathedral and its towers, originally Catholic, both embody the high point of the Reformed tradition and explore the origins of Christianity with an extensive archaeological site and they are now complemented by the International Museum of the Reformation on the ground floor of the Maison Mallet. An underground passage, reopened when the Museum was created, connects the two buildings. The archeological tour beneath the cathedral is excellent for archeology fans it explains the origins not only of the cathedral but the reason for Geneva’s location back to pre-Roman times. Those willing to climb the steps of the Cathedral’s towers will be rewarded with magnificent views of Geneva and the lake. Nearby, the Auditoire, where Calvin taught, completes a complex that is both representative of the past and open to current questions. The new Espace Saint-Pierre thus aims to contribute to our understanding of today’s world – between tradition and modernity, cultural experimentation and spiritual practice. These three buildings invite the visitor to explore the city’s history. Religious denominations aside, Espace Saint Pierre represents a spirit that continues to guide the city and citizens of Geneva today. For schedules and information about free live organ performances in the cathedral, go to the website Concerts cathédrale. Adults Fr. 16 (Seniors, Disabled, Students aged 16-25, and groups of more than 15 qualify for a Fr. 10 pass, children aged 7-16 qualify for an Fr. 8 pass. Entry to the church itself is free, of course, but donations are welcome.).
- Old Town (Vieille Ville). Aside of the cathedral the Old town in general is worth walking around in for an hour or two. Among the highlights are the city hall with the cannons in the little square opposite to it, Rousseau’s birth house and various antique shops with all sorts of interesting stuff in the windows. A word of warning to people with physical disabilities: the Old Town, is situated on a hill with quite steep streets leading up to it.
- Palais des Nations, 14, Avenue de la Paix (Number 8 bus, stop at Appia) , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. Open daily Apr-Oct: 10:00-12:00 and 14:00-16:00; Jul-Aug 10AM-5PM; the rest of the year Monday to Friday 10:00-12:00 and 14:00-16:00 (except over the Christmas period). Built to house the League of Nations, the Palais is worth visiting just to take in the magnificent Assembly Hall, in addition to the large collection of public art, the library, and the landscaped grounds. Visits are by guided tours only. For most of the year there are two or four of them per day, in the summer months they are arranged depending on the number of visitors. Enter the complex at the Appia gate, and go through passport and security check. From there you will go to one desk to get a “visitor” badge, then downstairs to purchase the actual ticket. After this you should exit the building, go to the left and slightly downhill to Building E, enter through door E39 and wait in the lobby until the tour starts. There is a quite good souvenir shop from where you can also send post cards with UN stamps, as well as a small “cinema” showing video clips of UN’s work to keep you entertained while waiting. On the tour itself you must follow the guide at all times. Fr. 12 each for adults (groups of 20 adults or more qualify for a 20% discount; private tour of 1-14 adults Fr. 127.50; Fr. 10 each for students, senior citizens, and disabled persons; Fr. 4 for schoolchildren; free for children under six years old).
- Quartier des Grottes, Place des Grottes (north of Gare Cornavin). An area with interesting shops and most importantly, a series of residential buildings called “les Schtroumpfs” (1982-1984), where the architects tried to avoid all straight lines, leading to an unconventional Gaudi-like appearance. Free.
- Monument Brunswick, Quai du Mont-Blanc. An impressive monument, constructed in 1873 as a Mausoleum for the Duke of Brunswick, as a replica of the tomb of the Scaligeri family in Verona (14th century). Also worth visiting for the 5-star hotels and the cars in front of them. Free.
- Île Rousseau, Pont des Bergues. Small island where the lake ends and river Rhône begins named after the famous philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau – of course there’s a statue of him there too. Free.
- L’Ile. Worth visiting for the old Tour de L’Ile, the remains of a fortified castle erected in the 13th century. Free.
- Place Neuve. See the impressive Grand Theatre (1879, renovated after a fire in 1951), the Conservatoire de musique, and the Musée Rath. Also visit the Parc des Bastions, which includes a large wall (“Mur des Réformateurs”) showing some of the famous people of the Reformation movement.
- Eaux-Vives. While many of Geneva’s buildings are similar in style to what you would find in French cities, the Mairie of Eaux-Vives is a great example of the typical Swiss architecture you would find in cities like Zürich. If you’re interested in modern architecture, also visit Rue Saint-Laurent for “La Clarté”, an avant-garde building designed by Le Corbusier in 1931/32 — one of 17 Le Corbusier buildings to be listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Another interesting attraction here is the Russian Orthodox Church built 1859-1866 with its golden cupolas.
- Carouge. A district of Geneva that once belonged to the Kingdom of Sardinia and hence retains a distinct Italian flavour.
- Jardin botanique (Main entrance: corner of Rue de Lausanne and Avenue de la Paix, take bus 8, 11, or 25). At the botanical garden you can see flowers, plants and trees both from the Alps and from other parts of the world. The palm house also hosts tropical vegetation. In the northern part of the park there is a zoo spread over a quite large area with birds and some Alpine mammals such as goats and deer. free.
Museums and galleries in Geneva
- International Museum of the Reformation, 4, rue du Cloître (Bus n° 36 to Cathédrale/ Bus n° 2, 7, 20, stop Molard/ Tram 12, 16, stop Molard) , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Tu-Su 10:00-17:00. Closed on 24, 25 and 31 December and on 1 January. Open Easter, Pentecost, and Jeune Federal Mondays. Access for disabled visitors.. Installed on the ground floor of the magnificent Maison Mallet (next to Saint-Pierre Cathedral), this new Museum presents the main spiritual and cultural elements of the Reformation. Unique objects, manuscripts, rare books, engravings, and paintings illustrate the close ties between Geneva and the Reformation. State-of-the-art technology welcomes a modern audience: films, a music room, and demonstrations, including many for children, invite visitors to both rediscover the past and imagine the future. Fr. 10 for Adults; Seniors, Disabled, Students from 16-25 years old qualify for a Fr. 7 admission fee; Children age 7-16 years old and groups of 15 or more qualify for a Fr. 5 admission fee; Children under 7 are free. For another Fr. 3, you can explore the archaeological site beneath the cathedral and climb the tower inside the cathedral, which has some amazing views of the city.
- Museum of the International Committee of the Red Cross, 17, Avenue de la Paix (8, F, V, or Z bus to Appia from the central station) , fax: . Tu-Su 10:00-17:00. Closed on 24, 25 and 31 December and on 1 January. Access for disabled visitors.. The Museum of the I.C.R.C. is located in the basement of the headquarters and shows photos and objects related to the organization’s service to humanity during countless wars and natural disasters, and presents stories of victims. However much of the permanent exhibition is not an ordinary museum, but probably supposed to be more of an “experience”, one might even call it a theme park – not really appropriate for such a serious topic. You will be given an audio guide that is activated when going through different rooms and touching screens – these are malfunctioning quite frequently. There are also educative tasks/games for the visitors to play as well as postmodern works of art. Overall, the museum is largely a rather confusing experience and given the offhand expectations you probably have, this museum will probably not be the high point of your visit to Geneva. Fr. 15 for Adults. Children, I.C.R.C. members, the elderly, and others qualify for a Fr. 7 admission fee.
- Musée Ariana, Avenue de la Paix 10 (About midway between Place des Nations and the entrances to the Palais and the I.C.R.C). Tu-Su 10:00-18:00. Occupying a big chunk of what would otherwise be the UN campus, the Ariana Museum offers a huge collection (16,000 pieces) of ceramics from around Europe and the Far East. Fr. 8.
- Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain, Rue des Vieux-Grenadiers 10 (Number 1 bus to Ecole des Medécins). Tu-F 12:00-18:00, Saturday to Sunday 11:00-18:00. Late modern, post-modern, and contemporary works by internationally known artists, as well as a special collection of Swiss conceptual work. Fr. 8.
- Musée d’Histoire Naturelle, Route de Malagnou 1 (Bus 1-8 (arrêts Tranchées & Muséum) 20-27 (arrêt Muséum), trams 12-16 (arrêt Villereuse)). Tu-Su 09:30-17:00. Geneva has a nice museum which is worth a visit, especially if you have youth and children. Free.
- Musée d’Art et d’Histoire, Rue Charles-Galland 2. Tu-Su 10:00-17:00. Extensive art and archaeological-historical collections. Painting gallery extends back to the early Renaissance, but is most extensive in Swiss-French and Impressionist works. Free, except special exhibits.
- Fondation Baur, Musée des Arts d’Extrême-Orient, 8 rue Munier-Romilly. Tu-Su 14:00-18:00. The largest collections of Far Eastern art open to the public in Switzerland. Temporary exhibitions are regularly organized several times a year. Fr. 10.
- Patek Philippe Museum, 7 Rue des Vieux-Grenadiers. Tu-F 14:00-18:00, Sa 10:00-18:00. Four floors of stunningly beautiful watches and clocks from the last centuries, both Patek Philippe and other brands. There is also a section presenting watchmaking in practice. Bags (even shopping bags) are banned in the museum so leave them in your hotel room or somewhere else! Adults Fr. 10, Seniors/people with disabilities/unemployed/students Fr. 7, under 18 years old free.
- CERN’s exhibitions, 385 Route de Meyrin. The nuclear research center CERN has two free exhibitions, both presenting the history of the complex, its equipment, scientific breakthroughs and the scientists behind them. The one behind the reception is called Microcosm and the one opposite the road in the big “Globe of Science and Innovation” bears the name Universe of Particles. There are also guided tours at the premises but they need to be booked in advance. The reception has a small souvenir shop; this is your opportunity to get yourself a CERN helmet! Free.
- Musée d’histoire des sciences, Villa Bartholoni, 128 rue de Lausanne (buses 8 and 25, located in the Perle du Lac park.). Museum dedicated to scientists who’ve lived and worked in Geneva. You can see old equipment from telescopes to galvanometers and glass eyes. free.
- Maison Tavel, 6 Rue du Puits-Saint-Pierre (in the old town, near the city hall and the cathedral). Tu-Su 11:00-18:00. Three floors presenting the history of Geneva from the Middle Ages until the 19th century. There’s an entrance fee to the temporary exhibitions in the basement. free.
What to do in Geneva
The cable car to Salève
- Salève cable car (Téléphérique du Salève), Veyrier, France (Number 8 Bus to either Veyrier Douane or Veyrier Tournettes. Or line 41 to Veyrier-École). Just over the French border, this high alpine ridge has a stunning view of Mt. Blanc and the Lake Geneva area and miles of walking trails. A cute little corner shop in Pas de l’Échelle Village (France) sells about 100 varieties of French cheeses and is open on Sundays. Don’t forget your passport. The Association Genevoise des Amis du Salève (AGAS, +41 22 796 41 33 or ) organizes free hikes around Geneva every Sunday. Start at 10:00 (sharp) at terminus (End station) of bus number 8 at Veyrier-Douane.
- Genève Plage (buses 2 and 6). There are many smaller places where to swim in either the rivers or the lake, but the largest one is Genève Plage (literally “Geneva Beach”) at the eastern bank of the lake. It’s a nice place to swim, enjoy the sun, play, barbecue, or just hang out.
Shopping in Geneva
Geneva has a wealthy population so visitors should expect to find high end shops and designer wear outlets at every corner. There are also many little tourist style shops for souvenirs dotted here and there. Some would say that these are a little on the tacky side but the tourists seem to like them. Look in the Old Town and the Bourg-de-Four district for watches, T shirts, army knives et al. For the personal touch, get a name engraved on the handle of this most iconic of Swiss products.
For traffic free shopping, try the Rue de la Confederation. Prices are obviously a little on the high side but the quality is excellent. Comparison shopping is recommended to save some money as prices do tend to fluctuate.
To shop where the locals do, try the outdoor market at Plaine de Plainpalais which is open on several days during the week. On Sundays, very few shops are open. One part of Geneva that is great for shopping is Quai du Mont Blanc since it is right on the waterfront. Here too find plenty of cafes for a quick lunch or break.
Switzerland is famed as a land of banks and financial institutions, so getting local cash from ATMs at banks, train station and within shopping malls should pose no problem. Also, Euros are accepted at many larger stores and places that cater to international visitors.
- Chocolate can be bought at any number of specialty stores, but the stuff at the grocery is just as good for a fraction of the price (Fr. 1-3 a bar). Meanwhile, if you have a place to prepare meals the grocery stores in Switzerland offer the best possible dining deal for your money. For many fresh foods you’ll pay a lot more than you are accustomed to paying in the U.S. or Britain.
- Wine and spirits cost much less than in Anglophone countries, and the local stuff is particularly cheap, and not just drinkable but quite good. Some say that the only reason Swiss wines are not well known internationally is that the Swiss drink all of it.
- Shopping for clothing and accessories can be disappointing in Geneva. Most offerings are usually expensive and uninteresting, unless you’re really after that floor-length purple fur coat with the rhinestone trim. Geneva is home to several watch manufacturers, and there are many jewelers and horologers with a great selection.
- If you are interested in taking back some Swiss souvenirs for your relatives you can find them on the main street, Rue de la Croix d’Or, and also along the main streets leading down to the lake from Gare Cornavin. You should be able to easily find at reasonable prices:
- Watches & Pocket watches. Most people will only know the most advertised brands but in switzerland there are probably more than a hundred brands. Don’t worry, if it is written Swiss Made on it, it’s a top quality watch.
- Cuckoo clocks. Either mechanical the most traditionnal one and now also battery operated. Made in Germany.
- Swiss Army Knives. Swiza and Victorinox being the two most well-known brands (Prices are same throughout switzerland).
- Music Boxes. Related to watchmaking, music boxes are a very traditional swiss made product. The brand Reuge is the most famous one but there are some cheaper ones.
- Almost any sort of object with a cow or a Swiss flag printed on it.
- Want more? La Rue du Marché. , a 10-minute walk southwards from the train station, has just about everything. From the traditional to the modern, from souvenirs to household appliances to libraries to prescription glasses. This is one of Geneva’s busiest streets (And don’t get confused because this main street has 4 different names. From East to West: Rue de Rive – Rue de la Croix d’Or – Rue du Marché and Rue de la Confédération), and is kept clean and appealing. Prices are fair for the most part, but checking several stores before buying, or asking a friendly-looking passer-by for shopping tips can’t hurt.
- If you are looking for Louis Vuitton-fashion and golden wristwatches, Rue du Rhône. on the south side of the river (running parallel to Marché) is a good place. Of course you can easily find them elsewhere in the city – this is Switzerland!
- Manor, 6 rue de Cornavin (a few minute’s walk from the central railway station). M-W 09:00-21:00, Th 09:00-21:00, F 09:00-19:30, Sa 08:30-18:00. A department store in the city center where you can buy clothes, food, electronics, souvenirs, clocks etc. There is a self service restaurant on the top floor.
- Centre Commercial Cygnes, 16-20 rue de Lausanne (near the central railway station). A variety of smaller shops and eateries under one roof a short walk along Rue de Lausanne from the railway station.
- Flea market at Plainpalais. each Saturday. If you like flea markets and shuffling through old stuff like vinyl records, books, chinaware etc., especially stuff with a Swiss and French background and happen to be in Geneva on a Saturday (or some Wednesdays), Plainpalais square is definitely where you should head.
Eating Out in Geneva
When in Rome, as they say, eat somewhere where the locals eat. In Geneva that would be at the Buvette des Bains des Paquis. This is a simple wooden building on the right bank of the city and this is where locals come to bathe in summer, take a sauna in the winter and enjoy a fine lunch too. Favorite local dishes include pig’s trotters, pork sausage with caraway seeds and lamb, fish or meat dishes.
Or try a place called U Bobba which is known to serve the elite and the smart set. Particularly tasty are the veal medallions served up with pistachio nuts or gorgonzola gnocchi.
Geneva has a huge number of restaurants for a city its size, and the international community means there’s more variety than you’ll find in most Swiss cities. On the downside, Geneva is possibly the most expensive city in an expensive country. Additionally, it can be quite difficult to find food on Sunday night, so it might be worth planning ahead or just visiting the more touristy region near the train station. If you have the possibility to cook your own food, self catering is a good idea to save money. If you are staying for a longer period, it’s a good idea to make shopping trips to supermarkets in France where many foods cost less than half of what they do in Geneva.
There are many budget spots located around the train station and in the nearby Paquis district, or near rue de l’Ecole de Médecine off Plaine de Plainpalais.
- Buvette des Bains (Bains des Paquis), 30, quai du Mont-Blanc (jetée des Bains des Pâquis) , ✉ email@example.com. Wonderful place in the middle of the lake. Beach in Summer, fondue restaurant in Winter. Good “plat du jour” all day for Fr. 12 Fr. 12-20.
- Espresso Club, rue des Pâquis 25 (just off of Place de Navigation). Monday to Friday until 02:00. A tiny bar and three tables means this little local spot is usually packed with a very international crowd of people who know where to get the best pizza, salads, and pasta dishes in town, with many vegetarian selections. Espresso club keeps the ovens going late for late working customers and it’s a nice spot for a café and newspaper afternoon as well. Unfortunately the quality of its customer service does not mirror that of its pizzas. Fr. 1-20.
- Café Art’s, rue des Pâquis 17. Monday to Friday 17:00-02:00, Sa Su 11:00-02:00. Café Art’s (sic) has a limited menu of salads and pasta dishes, but all around or under Fr. 15 and service is non-stop all day. Fr. 8-20.
- Sing Fa la maison du Ravioli (Sing Fa dumpling house), Rue de la Calle 42. morning-midnight (closed on Monday lunch), opened 7 days a week. Serves fairly authentic Chinese dumplings and noodles. Fr. 14-20.
- Boky, Rue des Alpes 21 (also Rue Neuve du Molard 19). 18:00-23:59. Large selection of Chinese and Japanese dishes. Fast, but impolite service. Quality Chinese food (it’s always full of Chinese customers) but no fancy atmosphere. Fr. 14-20.
- Piment Vert, 4 place Grenus (the small plaza behind the Manor department store). Indian and Sri Lankan fast food in a charmingly appointed space. There’s also a terrace during warm climate. Fr. 14-20.
- Chez Ma Cousine. A chain with a simple menu: chicken, chicken, or chicken. The roasted chicken is what they’re famous for, and two chicken salads make the rest of the regular menu, each under Fr. 14.90.
- pl. du Bourg-de-Four 6.
- ch. du Petit-Saconnex 2.
- rue Lissignol 5.
- Mike Wong. Inauthentic Thai, but not terrible.
- bd James-Fazy 11.
- rue du Conseil-Général 20.
- Ali Haydar, 26 Rue de Lausanne (On the same road as Gare Cornavin towards Mr. Pickwick pub.). Serves kebabs of lamb, chicken, or both, dolma. Baklava too.
- Cafe Istanbul, Rue du Mont Blanc (Directly across from Gare Cornavin (the train station) on the pedestrian street Rue du Mont Blanc). Turkish kebab house.
- Manora, Rue de Cornavin 6 (Just west of the Gare Cornavin. It’s the top floor of the mega-store Manor). Cafeteria like serving area with everything and anything including (but not inclusive): chicken, pasta, pizza, desserts, entree of the day, salads, and coffee. Great view of the Geneva skyline from the balcony eating area.
- Wasabi Sushi, 21 rue du Mont Blanc, 32 Boulevard Helvetique. Monday – Saturday 10:00-22:00. As the name suggests, Japanese food to eat in the restaurant or to take away.
- Boulangerie Tea-Room Deux-Ponts, 27 rue des Deux-Ponts (near the major bus and tram stop Jonction in the southwestern part of Geneva). Portuguese “tea room” serving sandwiches, bifanas (hot sandwiches) and pastries that are fresh, delicious, large and don’t cost very much. The catch: they don’t have very much on display so you can’t just point at stuff but need to explain what you would like to order and how you’d like it – in French or Portuguese!
- La feuille de banane, rue de Carouge 29 (Plainpalais). One of the best ratios of food quality to price in Geneva for Asiatic food. For around Fr. 10, you can have a tasty meal with chicken, beef or fish, and a various choices of sauces. The service is ultra fast since everything is already cooked, but yet fresh and tasty. Fr. 10-20.
- Restaurant La Romana, Rue de Vermont 37 ☎ +41 22 734 82 86, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, Beautiful place in the heart of the International Organizations with a terrace. Restaurant, pizzeria, bar, karaoké, cocktail and private party.
- Café de Paris, 26 Rue du Mont-Blanc. Vegetarians beware, this Genevois favorite serves one dish only: steak with the butter sauce that bears the name of the restaurant, French fries, and salad. But apparently they do it very well. You can buy the butter in 250 g (0.5 lb) for Fr. 18. The menu costs Fr. 42 per person..
- Café du Soleil, Place du Petit-Saconnex (in Petit-Saconnex, take bus 3). This ancient Petit Saconnex roadhouse claims to be possibly the oldest restaurant in Geneva and to have probably the best fondue in Switzerland. They have a nice large patio in front that is overlooked by a 2nd floor balcony with a few small tables and also inside seating. Surprisingly popular even if it’s in a mostly residential part of Geneva, even among international guests. mains Fr. 10-35.
- Café Gourmand, 35 Rue des Bains. Great friendly atmosphere specializing in East-West fusion dishes. Open weekdays.
- Le Comptoir, Rue de Richemont 9. Easy-Listener-chic Asian/fusion restaurant and bar sporting white leather sofas and the occasional local DJ. Not a cheap choice, but the food is unusually interesting and the crowd friendly.
- L’Europa, Rue du Valais 16. A little hard to find, but worth it for the fresh, hand made pasta dishes and generous portions. A favorite for lunch among the UN crowd.
- Hashimoto, 6 Rue de Villereuse , fax: . Hashimoto Sushi is a favorite spot for Japanese diplomats and international civil servants in Geneva, which should tell you enough.
- L’Adresse, 32 Rue du 31 décembre (close to Eaux-Vives). Tu-Sa 11:00-19:00. Self-consciously hip but decent food. Occasionally snooty service.
- L’Entrecôte Couronnée, 5 Rue des Pâquis (close to rue de Alpes). Monday – Saturday 10:00-14:15 & 19:00-22:45. Excellent steak restaurant with fast and efficient staff. The wine card is limited but has good Swiss wines. Just 40 seats so better reserve a table
- La Table du 9, 9 Rue Verdaine (close to rue de Rhône). 12:00-14:00 & 19:00-22:00, closed on Saturdays and Sundays, and for dinner on Monday and Tuesday. Relaxed, modern and justifiably busy.
- Edward’s The fine art of sandwiches, 1 rue de la Cité (in the northwestern edge of the old town). Packed with locals at lunchtime and for a reason – delicious warm sandwiches and cakes. On the downside it is a bit hectic and it might be difficult to find a seat. sandwich and coffee around Fr. 10.
- Brasserie Bagatelle, Place des 22 cantons (near Gare Cornavin). A centrally located restaurant with a varied menu and moderate prices for being in the middle of Geneva. Really good tartar with French fries. main course and glass of wine Fr. 30.
- Le Montparnasse, 58 Avenue Wendt (close to the Servette tram stop, 1km northwest of Gare Cornavin). French and Swiss cuisine and a healthy “antidote” to the extremely touristy restaurants serving Swiss food. Most of the visitors are older locals who drop in for a few glasses of wine and a chat with the owner. Try the menu of the day and a good local wine! mains Fr. 20-40, but has lunch specials and the three-course “Menu of the day” for Fr. 30.
- La Cuccagna, 33 Rue St-Joseph (in Carouge district). open also on Sundays. Cosy Italian restaurant in Carouge with a wide variety of well known and lesser known Italian dishes and even occasionally live music. The service is a bit slow but the ambience so you won’t probably mind sitting there for a little bit longer. mains Fr. 15-30.
- Brasserie Lipp, 8 Rue de la Confederation. Good brasserie, lots of seafood.
- Café des Négociants, 29 rue de la Filature (Carouge). Wonderful hip restaurant with wonderful hip food and a wonderful hip wine cellar where you can wander around and choose from all the wonderful hip wine on the racks. You can guess what the desserts are like. Everyone wants a piece of this place, so plan to reserve up to a week or so in advance.
- Da Renato, Rue Jacques-Dalphin 14 , ✉ email@example.com. Italian-style restaurant.
- Edelweiss Manotel, Place de la Navigation 2. This is a must if you want to taste the Swiss culture. You will get the cheese fondue, of course, but also some other local delicacies. But you get there for the show: you can hear and see folklore music and yodelling singers, as well as many other instruments. It is however a very touristic restaurant and you are not likely to see many Swiss people eating there.
- Perle du Lac, 126 rue de Lausanne , fax: . The only restaurant located adjacent to the Lake Geneva footpath. Food and service are excellent. The view of the Lake is excellent and the ambiance is outstanding. Fr. 65 (lunch), from Fr. 88 for set menu.
- Le Triporteur, 33 rue de Carouge. This little place fills a nice niche at the low end of the high end, where it is likely to impress the heck out of a date without overly denting the bank account. The room is cosy and romantic. The service is attentive, but not at all pushy or snobbish. The Triporteur has the feel of a lot of the better restaurants in say, San Francisco. Expect to spend around Fr. 50 per person if you’re drinking the house wine.
- La Veranda, 20 rue des Alpes. A pleasant restaurant with Italian flair in the Hotel International-Terminus.
Nightlife in Geneva
For the younger element, the Bar du Nord is the place to be on Fridays and Saturdays. It used to have its own beach feature, but now it has been revamped for the young and trendy set. Full of Bauhaus style furniture and with the best selection of whiskies in town, this is the place to see and be seen.
For the over thirties, Le Palais Mascotte is a great place. It is a restaurant cabaret bar which is rather select. It plays seventies and eighties music, but also has a basement bar that plays more modern music.
For something a little more up-market, try the Bâtiment des Forces Motrices which is a converted pumping station. Now, cultural events take place here which includes ballet and classical music.
- Les Brasseurs, 20 Place de Cornavin (directly across from the train station). Tuesday to Saturday until 02:00, Sunday and Monday until 00:00. One of the few brew pubs in Geneva, Les Brass serves three flavours of home brew in the usual half pints, pints, and litre glasses or you can go for one of the giant plastic tubes filled with three to five litres. A small menu of pub food and a full restaurant in the back makes it a good spot to waste an evening. Beer: Fr. 3.40-7.40.
- Café de la Gare, 2 Rue de Montbrillant (directly outside of the TGV arrival area of the Gare Cornavin). Open until 23:00 daily. Of the two restaurants attached to the Hotel Montbrillant this is the pick. The beautifully decorated but unpretentious Café de la Gare captures the laid-back feel of some of the best sidewalk cafés in Paris. It’s a great place for dinner as well, with excellent Swiss, French, and Italian offerings. Beer and wine: Fr. 3-4.
- Pickwicks, 80 Rue de Lausanne (Take the number 13 Tram from Cornavin toward Nations) , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. W-Sa until 02:00, Su-Tu until 00:00. One of the half-dozen or so British pubs, Pickwicks claims to be the largest pub in Switzerland. Usually full of football watching expats eating fish and chips while sipping Guinness. Friday and Saturday night usually features live music. A laid-back, friendly spot. One of the best in Geneva for burgers and a dozen draft beers!
- Alhambar, 10, rue de la Rôtisserie (Enter in back off of Parc Pélisserie) , ✉ email@example.com. M 12:00-14:00, Tu-F 12:00-14:00 and 18:00-02:00, Sa 17:00-02:00, Su 11:00-00:00. A swanky cocktail bar above the Alhambra Theater. Pretty people in a pretty room, usually with a DJ. A small tapas menu early in the evening and a nice brunch on weekends until 14:00.
- La Clémence, Place Bourg-de-Four. 11:00-00:00, every day. This cozy little bar on the central square of Geneva’s old town more than quintuples in size from April until October when it is able to use a huge swath of the place as its terrace. During warm weather it’s packed, but is such a lovely and central stopping point that it’s worth the wait for a table – check out the gallery on their website. In the winter they have the best vin chaud in town.
- Café Demi-Lune, 3, rue Etienne-Dumont. M-W 08:45-16:00, Th F 08:45AM-02:00, Sa Su 16:00-02:00. Located in a small street connecting to Place du Bourg-de-Four (Old town), this little café has a very charming attitude and atmosphere. A good place for after dinner drinks with good friends.
- Saveurs & Couleurs Café, 24 rue des Grottes , fax: . The Grottes neighborhood of Geneva has long been a center for creative types, many of whom can be found of an evening enjoying a glass of wine at this comfy little bistro.
- Boréal Coffee Shop, 60 rue du Stand. This cozy coffee shop is in the bank district. Espressos, Cappuccinos, Lattes, Renversés, Macchiatos, Mochacinos, ice coffees and teas can be consumed there or take-away. The coffee is great, there is a free WIFI connection. This is the kind of places where you feel like staying hours, lovely!
- Les Enfants Terribles, rue Prévost-Martin 24. A café bar bicycle-workshop hair salon and wine shop, with a nice lunch tapas buffet and Thursday night jazz in a beautiful post-industrial space with atrium roofs and an olive tree. What is there not to like?
- Grand Duke Pub, Rue de Monthoux,8 (near the lake, behind Hotel Kempinski). 11:00-02:00. One of the oldest English pubs in Geneva. Live sports, wide selection of draught and bottled beers, ciders. More than 5 big television screens are there to watch different sports as well as a good area to play darts. You can enjoy watching sports such as NFL, NBA, Masters Tennis, Football League, Boxing, MLB, NHL, Premier League, and International Rugby union. Also serves lunch specials, burgers, steaks, salads and chips.
- Mulligans Irish Pub, Rue de-Grenus. 17:00-02:00. You will be guaranteed a great time at this centrally located pub. Good music most nights. Bands often play on Thurs-Fri evenings. A good lively crowd who know how to party. Guinness, Bulmers, Staropramen, Boddingtons, spirits, shots.
Plain de Plainpalais
Around a dozen of the best bars in town are located around this diamond shaped parade and circus ground in the area southwest of the old town. This shouldn’t be surprising since the many buildings of the Université de Genève are ranged around it as well.
- Remor, Place de Cirque 1. Really the best Parisien style grande café in Geneva. Artwork by University Students and sometimes the Proprietor hang on the wall. They also offer two salads of the day, and a range of ice-cream treats. They screen the best of Swiss film, for free. Fr. 3.50/5.00 draft/bottle beers. Free Wi-fi available.
- Le Ferblanterie, 8, rue de l’Ecole-de-Médecine. The Ferblanterie, or Tinsmith would be one of the coolest bars in just about any town, and it happens to be on a street loaded with cool bars. This is very much a student haunt, and a grungy one in all the right ways. Some of the cds in the rack above the cd player are by Paulo Conté, Tom Waits, Fugazi, the Art Ensemble of Chicago, and Charles Mingus, if that tells you anything. Fr. 3/6 draft/bottle beers. A glass of wine is about the same..
- L’Etabli, 5, rue de l’Ecole-de-Médecine. L’Etabli is a great place to go when the Ferblanterie is packed, or perhaps it’s the other way around. This super-friendly little café/bar/wine bar is a great place to meet grad students to help with your French, or to help with their English, or just to argue politics or whatever. Fr. 3/6 draft/bottle beers. A glass of wine is about the same..
- Bypass, Carrefour de l’Etoile 1, Carouge. One of the most modern clubs in Geneva, the Bypass is, for lack of a better word, bling-bling. The dance floor swarms with young professionals and, on occasion, corporate parties and the rooms pound with clean house music, hip-hop and R’n’B. This club is not near the city center, but still just a short taxi ride from it.
- Java Club, 19, Quai du Mont – Blanc. Inside the Grand Hotel Kempinski
- Shakers, rue Winkelried 4. This club is known for the wild nights within, thanks to its very strong cocktails served in shaker glasses. The dance floor is imposing, but once on it, well known for romantic encounters. Very popular with English speakers.
- Weetamix, 37 Chemin Jacques Philbert. Although it’s not the easiest place to get to, Weetamix is able to attract good, mostly local crowds by consistently booking some of the best cutting-edge talent in electronic music from France, Britain, and the U.S..
- The Zoo at l’Usine. See Moloko Bar under Drink or their homepage.
Work in Geneva
Many foreign professionals working in Geneva are employed by one of the United Nations agencies or international banks. Non-Swiss UN employees get a special visa to live and work in Switzerland, but the jobs can be hard to find unless you are already in Geneva. If you are a EU citizen, you can accept a job offer by any other employer since the bilateral agreements between Switzerland and the EU allow you to work here as anywhere else on the continent – whether you are a blue or white collar worker. Unemployment is on a rather stable level but the uncertainties during the financial crisis led to higher competition for jobs.
For temporary or student jobs such as work as an au pair, a housekeeper, or at one of the many bars, you do not necessarily need to be very proficient in French. You ideally should be in town to set this sort of thing up. If you want to do household work, you will probably want to advertise on the bulletin boards which can be found at the entrances of most grocery stores, at the English and American churches, and at the American Women’s Club, and join the respective groups online, such as on Facebook. For a bar tending job, talk to the manager (you should know enough French to serve drinks).
Geneva is by and large a very safe place. Violent crime was almost unheard of, although it’s important to keep an eye on your belongings in public, as petty theft is a fairly common occurrence. Do report any such activity to the police, you will probably find them much more interested and helpful than police in many other western cities, especially if you speak a little French.
Since 2013 an increase in violent crime was reported, especially during the nighttime and near party areas. Alcohol & aggressive behaviour led to fights between the multicultural mix in the city. Also burglary is increasing due to organised crime groups, keep your hotel/apartment doors always well locked and close windows etc. when you leave your place.
There is a huge amount of vandalism in the city. On every street you can see bicycles with stolen seats, wheels, everything not locked. Many bicycles are vandalised and destroyed.
A rigged street game “hiding the ball” used to be commonplace near the bridges south of the railway station. As of 2015, police have (according to local reports) systematically rounded up the con-men behind these shell games; hopefully you won’t run into them any longer.
Telecommunications in Geneva
Local cellphone service is mainly provided by Swisscom, Salt, and Sunrise. Yallo, Migros and Coop have their own mobile offers. Don’t be surprised if you find your phone using a cell in neighbouring France however. If you buy one in Switzerland you will have to either just accept the occasional roaming fee, or be prepared to set the phone manually.
If you are staying for a while you should consider getting a SIM card/and or a phone since it’s much cheaper and easier than dealing with payphones. These days you do have to register your name and an address to get a SIM card to avoid fraud.
Payphones are still fairly common here, but very few of them accept coins, so be prepared to buy a prepaid card or to use a credit card (no extra charge).
Internet cafés have just begun to really take off in Geneva, and there are now several that stay open fairly late.
- (inside the Cornavin train station near the west entrance). Until 22:00 every day. This convenient and friendly place offers printing, and laptop stations. If you do plan to use your laptop you need to be able to demonstrate that you have anti-virus software Fr. 6 per hour. (specials for regulars and students)..
- Point6, 12 rue Jean Violette. Primarily a gamer internet cafe, but becoming quite popular with casual internet users. Scanning/photocopying/printing, diskettes/CD burning, faxing services available. Staffed by young people who are very friendly. Free for first five minutes, then Fr. 5 per hour..
The city of Geneva provides a very good coverage of Free WiFi network in almost all public parks. Just look for the “ville-de-geneve” network. Other locations include:
- Cafe de la Gare. Café de la Gare (see Drink) is a Swisscom hotspot. To use the service you need to either be a Swisscom Mobile customer (see Phone) or buy access cards sold at any Swisscom office, and at the Montbrillant reception desk. The cards have timed values ranging from a half-hour to 1 month of continuous use.
- Parc des Bastions and its library (To get there by bus take Bus 3, 5, 36, Tram 12, 17 (stop at Place Neuve); Bus 1, 32, Tram 12, 13, 15, 17 (stop at Plainpalais).). Monday to Friday 09:00-22:00; Sa 09:00-17:00. In the Parc des Bastions, there is free Wi-Fi internet access available. Just log on to the ville-de-geneve or Bastions network. The public library of the city is located inside the same park, and the same network listed above is available inside. Search for the reading room (Salle de lecture), on the 1st floor. There is even electricity to plug your notebook.
- La Sphere, 80-82 rue de Lausanne. This cosy pool/billiard place has free Wi-Fi, as well as pool tables, darts and delicious pizza.
The Swiss are beyond punctual when it comes to closing hours. So if a museum is supposed to close at 17:00, expect that at 16:47 you will be asked to leave and if you point out that closing hours are still 13 minutes away you might get expelled. If you arrive after 16:31, you’ll more than likely be denied entrance. The same applies to shops and pretty much every public activity with a schedule. Lunch hour at most restaurants ends at 14:00 (and last orders at 13:45 for the more strict ones) with dinner service starting again at 18:00.
Anything of local interest
Christmas is a lovely time to be in Geneva as it has the Tree and Lights Festival between November and January. Some people will balk at prices in general in the city but since the festival is free, it is good to come in and experience something just a little bit different. Expect to find sumptuous food on offer, like the famous Swiss Fondue, or join in the many street parties.
Another local event is the Fete de L’Escalade which literally means ‘scaling the city walls’. This traditional celebration marks the attack by the Duke of Savoy and in commemoration the city’s people carry torches through the streets. It is said that a mother emptied a hot cauldron of boiling soup on the intruders and this is the reason why there will al so be soup served up during the celebrations.
Confectionary has its place in the celebrations so look for the famous Swiss chocolate on sale. As a centerpiece for the festivities, townsfolk fill a chocolate cauldron with marzipan vegetables, again depicting the soup story, and the carnival atmosphere is rounded off with people dressed in period costume and beating drums. This festival occurs between the 10th and 12th December every year.
- International Geneva Motor Show, in the Palexpo center next to the airport.
- Caves Ouvertes. Free annual event. Sample wine at Geneva’s wineries while exploring the canton’s rural side.
- Bol d’Or. Yacht Race (biggest in Europe).
- Fête de la Musique. For three days in June, the whole City of Geneva is a stage. Actually, there are on the order of 40 of them. The musical offerings include children’s choirs, punk rock, chamber orchestras, jam bands, avant-guard jazz, klezmer, and drum and bass DJs. The venues are as diverse as the music, with stages inside and out of l’Usine, Parc des Bastions, and even Cathédral St. Pierre. There is also a wide assortment of international food and drink for sale, which can be a bit pricey, but highly worth it. The easiest way to get information is to just head to one of the parks listed above and find one of the free newspaper-style festival guides. It includes time-tables and maps. Additionally, be sure to wander around, as the festival is full of many excellent unofficial performances, including drums, juggling, and dance. Free.
- Fêtes de Genève. Week-long party, including best fireworks display in Europe.
- Fêtes de la Batie. A 16-day arts festival (usually starts the last weekend of July and through most of August) with installations and live shows in over 20 venues across the city. Very similar in feel to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
- L’Escalade. Running and walking competitions open to everybody.
Geneva is almost completely surrounded by France; the nearest major town is Annemasse (southeast of Geneva) and presents little interest. East of Geneva, Switzerland extends into the neighbouring canton of Vaud, which offers many attractions; the world heritage Lavaux region is forty minutes away by train, and has spectacular views of the vineyards, Western Switzerland and the French Alps. On the same riviera, both cities of Montreux (with its 12th century Chillon Caste) and Lausanne (with its Olympic Museum) have beautiful lake-side promenades and are very lively in the summer.
In winter, many mountain resorts in the Swiss, French and Italian Alps are readily accessible from Geneva by car or public transport.
Small towns in neighbouring France that can also be visited as a half-day trip are Saint-Julien en Genevois south of Geneva and Ferney-Voltaire (with the small castle once owned by the philosopher Voltaire) just north of the airport.
You can also take city bus E along the eastern shore of Lake Geneva to the village of Hermance, which has a beach, a tower that can be visited and old houses typical for the region.
Swiss destinations are almost all served by the CFF from the central train station (Gare Cornavin) while ski resorts in the French alps and the Jura can be reached by bus from the central bus station off of Rue de Mont Blanc or from SNCF’s Gare des Eaux Vives. The price of the bus ticket often covers ski lift tickets as well, be sure to ask.
Here are just a few places which make a good day trip from Geneva:
Hitchhiking is relatively safe and more common in Switzerland than France, for example, but almost as difficult if you’re not a woman. The A1 motorway surrounds the city, with connections to the rest of Switzerland and neighbouring France.
To hitchhike to the direction of Lausanne (North) take bus number 29 towards Gare Zimeysa and step out at stop Blandonnet. Walk back 200m Route de Meyrin towards the center, across the bridge over the highway and you´ll find an on-ramp to highway towards Lausanne. (Another, even better possibility is to take tram 14 or 16 in direction of Meyrin and step out at the Avanchet. Then walk forward 200 m.) Walk down 100 m along the on-ramp and hitchhike before the speed gets high. The position is very good, speed of the cars low, visibility good and there’s plenty of space for cars to stop. You should accept a ride at least to Nyon, where you can continue hitchhiking on the on-ramp. (Hitchhiking on the on-ramp is illegal. Your best bet is usually to try and get a ride at one of the gas station/restaurants on the autoroute itself.)
To hitchhike to the direction of Chamonix and Turin (South-East) take bus 27 towards Thônex-Vallard-Douane and go to the end of the line. Walk through customs to France and stand at the end of the customs just before the cars speed up for the highway. Be sure to have your passport with you when crossing the border. The position is very good, the customs officers are nice, speed is low, there’s space for cars to stop, all the traffic is passing through.
To hitchhike to the direction of Lyon and Paris (South-West, West, North-West) take the bus 29 to stop Blandonnet. Walk about 600m to the next on-ramp in direction of South, the one leading to the highway in the direction of South from Route de Vernier. The position is not very good because the cars speed up and visibility is not really good but there’s place for cars to stop. Take a ride at least 10km South to the Swiss-French border, where there’s a decent spot to continue. Walk through the customs and hitchhike – preferably with a sign – before the cars speed up. There’s not much space for cars to stop but they can, speed is low and all the traffic is passing through the customs.
Bern Coronavirus Cases Covid-19 Update
Although Berne (German: Bern) is the seat of most of the institutions of the Swiss confederation, this is only a small to medium sized city with a population of about 130,000 in the city proper and roughly 350,000 in the urban agglomeration. It sits on a peninsula formed by the meandering turns of the river Aare. The remarkable design coherence of Berne’s old town has earned it a place on the UNESCO World Heritage List. It has 6.4 km (4 miles) of arcaded walkways along streets decked out with fountains and clock-towers.
- I Best time to go
- II Getting Around in Bern
- III Get in
- IV Major Attractions and Sights
- V Learn
- VI Shopping in Bern
- VII Eating Out in Bern
- VIII Nightlife in Bern
- IX Of Local Interest
- X Stay safe in Bern
- XI Cope
- XII Go next
There are Tourist Information Centres outside the main railway station, and in the Old Tram Depot next to the Bear Pit.
Bern is the capital of Switzerland. It was founded by Duke Berthold V von Zähringen in 1191, and formed part of the Holy Roman Empire. It later became the largest independent city state north of the Alps. It joined the Swiss Confederation in 1353, and in 1848, it became the capital of Switzerland.
It has managed to successfully retain a lot of its historic features, and its Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Swiss government sits here, and the Houses of Parliament are open to visitors the majority of the time.
The town grew up around the Aare River on hilly ground, and so the city areas are on low ground along the river, and it spreads out onto higher ground. Bridges have been built across the river over the years to allow for expansion of the city.
The city center has a unique mediaeval atmosphere and contains old fountains, narrow streets, and sandstone facades. The ancient bastions and entrenchments drop steeply down to the river.
The central location of Bern offers easy access to trips throughout Switzerland; but Bern itself offers more than enough to keep a holidaymaker busy.
Bern was founded in 1191 by Duke Berthold V von Zähringen and was part of the Holy Roman Empire. It was made a free imperial city by the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II in 1218 after Berthold died without an heir.
In 1353 Berne joined the Swiss confederation. After conquering several rivals, Berne became the largest independent city state north of the Alps. It was occupied by French troops in 1798 during the French Revolutionary Wars, and was stripped of a large part of its territory. The city became the Swiss capital in 1848.
Bern was one of the eight host cities in the 2008 European Football Championships.
Best time to go
The best weather in Bern is between April and September. Late spring brings long days and good weather. The summer temperatures in August are pleasing. The summer weather is unpredictable though, so take your warm clothes. As the temperature peaks, so does the rainfall, so be prepared. But the rain is short-lived, and you can go about your visit after a short period. From July to mid-August are their holiday periods, so some of the smaller restaurants may be closed.
Getting Around in Bern
Situated in the middle of Switzerland, Berne is easy to reach from all parts of the country.
Fly to Berne
- Bern-Belp Airport (10 km south of the city, off Hwy 8 west of river Aare). This airport is a small affair. Skywork used to be the main operator, with twin-prop flights to London City, Amsterdam, Hamburg, Berlin-Tegel, Munich and Vienna, plus summer holiday destinations around the Med; however, it declared bankruptcy in August 2018.
To reach the city take Bus 334 or 160 to Belp railway station (10 mins). Frequent S-bahn local trains connect Belp to Bern’s main station, 40 min altogether. The bus runs every 30 minutes between 05:10 and 23:10, with the first and last buses of the day running directly to Bern railway station. The transfer is free if you have booked accommodation in Bern, just show your confirmation letter; otherwise Fr. 7 each way.
A taxi to the city is about 40 Fr and takes 20 mins.
For better choice of flights, fly into Geneva , Zurich or Basel then take the train to Bern.
Travel by train to Bern
Berne is at the hub of the Swiss Federal Railway network. Express (InterCity) trains connect twice per hour to Geneva, Basel and Zurich as well as Zürich and Geneva airports. Hourly express trains connect to most other cities, including Interlaken, Brig, and Lucerne.
Bern Railway Station. In a mall surrounded by cafes and other shops. The info kiosk and main bank of ticket machines are at the back, beneath the big departures board.
For timetables and connections see Swiss Federal Railway. For best travel deals see the Swiss Travel Planner – walk-up full fare tickets are expensive.
Travel to Bern by car
Bern is easily reachable with the national motorway network from all directions and has several exits from motorways A1, A12 and A6.
Eurolines and Flixbus connect Bern to several European cities by bus.
Bern has a world-class public transportation system, with a choice of buses, trolleybuses, trams, and trains.
In the city center, on foot is the best way to see the sights close up, and for shopping and eating at the restaurants. Outside of the city center the tram is the best.
You can hire a bike for 4 hours for free, and thereafter pay a small fee per hour, from the main train station, or Zeughausgasse or Hirschengraben. You’ll need your passport or ID.
By train you can travel to the suburbs, and to other cities such as Fribourg or Biel, should you want to explore a little further.
If you have a car, be aware that free parking in the city centre is rare to find, and that the paid parking is quite expensive. If you’re visiting the city centre, it’s best to park at a ‘park and ride’ and take public transport into the centre, and walk to wherever you like from there.
If you prefer to take taxis, there are stands at the main train station, and some stands in the city centre.
Berne has an excellent public transportation system, with frequent local city services provided by trams, trolleybuses and buses, together with an S-Bahn rail system for longer journeys into the surrounding suburbs. Tickets are valid for all modes of transport within a given zone and time. The suburbs of Berne, Biel and Solothurn form a common public transport network named “Libero-Tarifverbund”. Tickets can be purchased as single ticket, saver ticket with six rides, day pass as well as weekly, monthly or yearly passes.
Tickets can be bought at vending machines at most stops, or with a smartphone using the SBB mobile app. They are valid for all modes of public transport within the zones they encompass. A ticket valid in the central urban zones (101, 102) for 60 minutes costs Fr. 4.60 (May 2016).
Since June 2014, all hotel accommodations in Bern include the “Bern-Ticket”, which allows the free use of public transport within the city (zones 100 and 101) for the duration of the stay, including the Gurten funicular and transfer from and to the airport.
The city centre of Berne is easily accessible by foot. The relatively small old town and the area around the main train station is best explored by walking.
By tram and bus
The bus and tram lines operated by Bernmobil are complemented with yellow Postauto bus lines connecting to the suburbs. Almost all lines are linked together at the main train station, and operate at intervals between 5 to 30 minutes.
- Bernmobil. Operator of the local tram and bus services, and provides timetables and other information on its web site or by telephone.
Berne’s S-Bahn rail system will take you to many places in the suburbs and to nearby cities like Biel, Thun, Fribourg or Solothurn.
- S-Bahn Bern. Web site in German only.
By car or motorbike
Like in most Swiss cities, parking space is rare and expensive. There are several paid parking stations, including at the main train station. As the city centre is quite small and all of the major attractions are within walking distance, it’s a good choice to park in a “park and ride” and take public transport to the centre of town. Using the car in the old town is very difficult and not recommended.
Motorbikers will find free dedicated parking spaces in several places around the perimeter of the old town, including near Waisenhausplatz and at the main train station.
Berne is a bike-friendly city, and most thoroughfares include dedicated bike lanes. There are a few challenging spots where bike traffic interweaves with motor traffic, but motorists are used to sharing the road with bikers and will normally pay attention. Because of the city’s topography, some stamina may be required, or an electric bike.
The local branch of the Swiss-wide bike sharing Publibike charges CHF 3 for the first 30 minutes. The formerly free local bike-share “Bern Rollt” has been terminated.
Several taxi companies operate in Berne, including Nova Taxi (+41 31 331 33 13), Bären Taxi (+41 31 371 11 11) and Taxi Bern (+41 31 333 88 88). Taxis can be booked by phone, or at the main train station.
Major Attractions and Sights
There are 114 Swiss heritage sites of national significance in Bern, so it’s hard to miss a couple of them. The Old Town in its entirety is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A few outside Old Town include: the Eidgenössisches Archiv für Denkmalpflege, the Kirchenfeld mansion district, the Swiss National Library, and the Historical Museum.
While strolling around, you’ll find eleven 16th century fountains. They are charming, and their colorful sculpted figures that adorn them are proof of the prosperity of the town in the Middle Ages. As recently as a hundred years ago, people gathered at them to gossip; today their crystal-clear water offers welcome refreshment to locals and visitors alike.
Be sure to visit the Zytglogge, or Clock Tower. Built around the turn of the 13th century, the animatronic technology is astounding for those times. Every hour on the hour, is displayed what the locals proudly tell you is the longest running act in show business. A few minutes before the hour, a song plays, accompanied by a jester drumming. On top of the hour, an old bearded king and some bears join in. The clock is so detailed that it also tells the day, the month, the phase of the moon, and the sign of the zodiac! You can take a free guided tour inside the tower to look at the mechanisms working from the inside. Book the tour at the tourist office.
In 2008, Old Town was given a new entrance, called the Baldachin. Reminiscent of the glass pyramid at the Louvre, the Baldachin is a steel and glass construction, featuring an undulating glass roof, through which the Holy Ghost Church and the Citizens’ Hospital can be viewed whilst keeping the aesthetics.
The Rosengarten (rose garden) is a park that offers a great view over Old Town, and is a popular place for locals to go at lunchtime.
The bear is Bern’s heraldic animal, and legend goes that von Zähringen named the town for the first bear caught there. They take pride in the bear pit (Bärengraben), which has been there since the 16th century. There are currently four bears in an open-air enclosure. The facilities have recently been upgraded, and the bears can even swim in a section of the river. In summer the opening hours are 8am to 5.30pm, and 9am to 4pm in winter.
The Gurten Hill is just outside the city. It has a park, from where you can view both the city, and the Bernese Alps. It’s popular with the locals who like to play football, do a spot of sun tanning, or barbeque. It has hiking paths, a playground, and a restaurant. Entrance is free.
Swimming in the River Aare on a hot summer day is great recreation. There are public pools along the river which are free, so you can ‘land’ at one of them to have a shower afterwards.
If you’re into gambling the Grand Casino Bern offers black jack, poker, roulette and over 300 slot machines.
- Berne Historical Museum, Helvetiaplatz 5. Tu-Su 10:00-17:00. Large historic museum, combining under one roof one of the country’s most important ethnographic collections together with the Bernese historical collections from prehistory to the present day. Adult Fr. 13; Fr. 18 including Einsteinhaus.
- Bundeshaus (Federal Palace of Switzerland; Curia Confoederationis Helveticae), Bundesplatz 3. Inaugurated in 1902, the Swiss Parliament building is a great dome separating the two chambers: the National Council and the Council of States. Free guided tour when Parliament is not in session (German Tu-Sa, English only Sa 14:00, book online). In session there are 25 spaces in the spectators’ gallery, no advance booking. For either, you need your passport. Free.
- Zytglogge. It has been a guard tower, and a prison for women convicted of having sex with priests, but since the 15th century, it’s been a clock tower with an elaborate astronomical clock. Hourly throughout the day, it puts on a great display of early animatronics. The show starts a few minutes before the hour with a little song and some drumming by a jester on top. On the hour, bears and an old bearded king get into the act. As well as the time, the clock shows the month, day, sign of the zodiac and phase of the moon. There are guided tours inside the tower that will let you have a look at the clockwork while the show is displayed outside. It can be booked at the tourist office and is definitely worth it if you love mechanics. Free.
- Einsteinhaus, Kramgasse 49 , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Feb-Dec 10:00–17:00, closed Jan. Suppose a Bern Tram passed you at the speed of light, with Einstein peering out the window. While your own watch ticked on, his would appear stationary, and the tram’s mass and dimensions would distort. Most of us would just shrug at this and await the next tram. But Einstein realised that the same occurred if you were aboard the tram looking back at the tourist standing at the tram-stop. There could be no absolute reference point: all was relative. He also inferred an equivalence of acceleration and gravity, and of mass and energy, that totally rewrote the laws of what till then was a Newtonian universe.
Einstein rented this flat 1903-05 with his first wife Mileva, during his years working at the Swiss patent office. (The day job helped, as many inventors were exploring telecomms, and the problem of synchronising processes many miles apart.) Their son Hans Albert was born here in 1904; their illegitimate daughter Lieserl (b. 1902) was given up for adoption and her fate is unknown. But above all Einstein’s special and general theories of relativity were born in this flat, which now displays photos and original documents from his life, work, and speeches. His writing desk overlooks the bustling street: trams rumble by, and the clock-tower tick-tocks, with a Swiss regularity that we now know to be deceptive. Adult Fr. 6, concessions Fr. 4.50.
- Invasion of Berne – successful!. As you explore, you may notice these small graffiti mosaics, in the style of Taito’s “Space Invaders”. There are some 29 in Bern, the work of an “Unidentified Free Artist”. They’ve appeared on the walls, bridges and roofs of many cities around the world, including Basel, Geneva and Lausanne. And still they come: “Game Not Over”. Consider buying a map and doing the space invader tour – though in midsummer 2018 the Invader’s online shop is closed.
- Kunstmuseum (Museum of Fine Arts), Hodlerstrasse 12. Tu 10:00-21:00, W-Su 10:00-17:00, closed M. Huge collection including Pablo Picasso, Ferdinand Hodler and Meret Oppenheim, and all the big names over eight centuries. Adult Fr. 10 permanent collection.
- Swiss Alpine Museum (Alpines Museum), Helvetiaplatz 4. Tu-Su 10:00-17:00. A museum describing all aspects of the Swiss mountains: geology & tectonics, glaciers, weather, wildlife, agriculture & settlement, and alpinism and winter sports. With a large collection of artwork, e.g. paintings by Ferdinand Hodler. Adult Fr. 16.
- Zentrum Paul Klee, Monument im Fruchtland 3 (Trolleybus 12 to the end of the line). Tu-Su 10:00–17:00. The Centre is a modern building formed of three waves. The ground floor is a rotating exhibition drawn from some of Klee’s 4000 works – to Oct 2018 this is “Cosmos Klee”. Downstairs are other artists – to Oct 2018 this is Etal Adnam. Klee was celebrated for his “child’s view” of the world and his work is so accessible and fun, eg his wacky glove-puppets. A short walk across the adjacent park brings you to his grave. The Centre is included on the “Berne card” so you’ll recoup the Fr. 20 straight away. Adult Fr. 20, students Fr. 10, children 6-16 Fr. 7, families (1 adult + children 6-16) Fr. 27, families (2 adults + children 6-16) Fr. 40.
The view from Gurten Hill
- Bear Pit (Bärengraben & BärenPark), Grosser Murisalder 6 (Foot of old town at Nydeggasse Bridge; trolleybus #12 towards Zentrum Paul Klee). Always open, but the bears hibernate Nov-Mar. Run as an outstation of the city’s Dählhölzli Zoo, the bear pit has a tunnel through to a bosky enclosure along the steep river bank, around which the bears can roam and swim. There are three: Finn (b 2020) is Daddy Bear, Björk (b 2020) is Mummy Bear, and Ursina (b 2020) is their daughter. Björk has been sterilised so there will be no more cubs: “More space for fewer animals” is the zoo’s motto. These are Eurasian brown bears, Ursus arctos arctos, with a round head and yellow-brown fur; they remain common in the wild in Central & East Europe.
A second smaller pit is bare of bears but describes the history of the pits. Next to this is the Old Tram Depot, see “Eat”. Free.
- Tierpark Dählhölzli (Zoo), Tierparkweg 1 (Bus 19 from main station to Tierpark). Mar-Oct 08:30–19:00, Nov-Feb 09:00–17:00. Berne’s zoo is along the Aare river, with many outdoor enclosures that incorporate the river. Adult Fr. 10, child 6-15 Fr. 6.
- Gurten. The Gurten is a lovely hill just outside the city. It features a park and great view over the city on one side and a nice panorama of the Bernese alps on the other. The park is visited heavily by locals to play ball, to barbecue or to just lie in the sun. Tourists are not an unusual sight, though this little attraction is missed by most of the many that visit the city. Hiking paths lead in all directions and you will almost certainly stumble across some cows when walking around. A wooden look-out tower allows an even better panorama than that you would already have. If you get hungry or thirsty, a good budget restaurant service and self-service provides you with all you need. Families with children should not miss the cool playground. The Gurten can be easily reached with tram number 9 from the railway station in Berne in direction Wabern. Exit the tram at station Gurtenbahn and walk a few steps up the hill. Then take the Gurtenbahn, a panorama train that will bring you on top in just 5 minutes, round-trip tickets are Fr. 9 for adults or Fr. 4.50 for children (BernCard is valid), departure usually every 20 minutes depending on daytime. A club called up-town features various cultural events on weekends and once a year in summer national, European and a few international music stars (among others Alanis Morissette, Skin, Moloko and Jimmy Cliff in 2020) visit it for the Gurtenfestival, an open-air music festival. Gurten is a must see for everybody visiting the city for longer than a day. Free.
- Rosengarten. Little park with a splendid view over the old town. Situated close to the bear pits (follow the path that goes up the hill opposite the bear-pit-roundabout. Quite popular (and populated) during lunchtime. The Rosengarten can be easily reached by bus number 12 from the railway station in Berne in direction Zentrum Paul Klee.
- Watch football soccer at BSC Young Boys, who play in the Swiss Super League, the top tier of Swiss football. They play at Stade de Suisse, capacity 32,000, 1 km north of city centre.
- SC Bern. The SCB is Berne’s ice-hockey team. The stadium is the second largest in Europe and is regularly sold out, producing an impressive atmosphere in the arena. It is also mentionable that the SC Bern boasts the highest average attendance outside the NHL. To get there, just take Tram Nr. 9 towards Guisanplatz and get off at the terminal stop.
- Swimming in the river Aare. On hot summer days, let yourself drift for a few kilometres in the river Aare. Good (and safe) stretches are between the Kornhausbridge and the public pool of the Lorraine (old fashioned swimming pool just next to the river) and between the Eichholz and the public pool of the Marzili. Other stretches such as swimming the bend around the old town (starting at the “Englische Anlagen” to the Lorraine) or the “Bremgartenschlaufe” are only to be done by good swimmers accompanied by experienced locals. Entrance to public pools is free of charge. This makes it a good idea to choose a swim that ends at a public pool so you can have a shower afterwards.
- Gurtenfestival. In July the Gurten hill is host for an open air festival with many national and international music acts. During these four days you will find a party crowd of up to 25,000 people on the hill day and night. 1-day pass: Fr. 75, 2 days: Fr. 115, 3 days: Fr. 155, 4 days: Fr. 195.
- International Jazzfestival Bern. A jazz festival with international reputation is held in Berne every year since 1976.
- Buskers Bern. Since a few years the annual street musician festival is taking place in the picturesque old town streets. You don’t need to buy a ticket but are encouraged to buy a festival pin or give donations to the musicians which come from all around the world.
Berne is home to the prestigious University of Berne which enrolls 17,431 students (2020). In addition, the city has the University of Applied Science also known as Berner Fachhochschule. There are also many vocational schools and offices of the Goethe Institute and the Alliance-Francaise (German and French cultural institutes).
Shopping in Bern
Bern boasts six kilometres of arcades, which represent the longest weather-sheltered shopping promenade in Europe. Westside shopping centre has 55 shops, restaurants, a cinema and a spa. There are other malls too, for all the regular merchandise.
At Beck Glatz Confiseur you can buy the Mandelbärli, or almond bear, which is a great Bern souvenir, and a speciality of the confectioner.
Bucherer is a world renowned jeweller founded in 1888. This traditional company specialises in the finest watches, clocks and jewellery.
On the Bundesplatz you’ll find the vegetable, fruit and flower markets, on Tuesdays and Saturdays, and daily in summer. On the first Saturday of the month there is a craft market in front of the cathedral.
As with most other cities in Switzerland, store opening and closing hours in Berne are strictly regulated. All stores, including grocers, close by 18:30 or 19:00 from Monday to Friday, except on Thursdays when they remain open until 21:00. Aldi supermarkets are an exception, closing at 20:00 during the week. On Saturdays everything must close by 17:00. On Sundays, all stores are closed, except for those in the main railway station, which are open 7 days a week until about 22:00, and which include Migros and Coop supermarkets.
Rathausgasse and the streets parallel to it have any number of cute shops with an amazing range of handicraft and luxury goods. This is not the normal range of Swiss souvenir stuff, but really interesting things. There are a couple of worthy examples below, but the real pleasure is in spending a few hours (or days) exploring the arcades and vitrines.
- Yamatuti, Aarbergergasse 16-18. M-W F 10:00–18:30, Th 10:00–21:00, Sa 10:00–17:00. Unique toys and kitsch collectibles pack the walls of this cramped space.
- Krompholz Music, Effingerstrasse 51, 3008 Bern (Visit website for which tram lines to take and the stops.) , ✉ email@example.com. Monday – Saturday 10:00–17:00. The thing that makes this shop special is its huge collection of sheet music and English language music instruction materials. Pretty good CD section with lots of Swiss artists, both pop and folk.
There are several used book stores that carry cheap books in German, English and French:
- Bücherbergwerk Monbijou, Monbijoustrasse 16 (on the street through which tram line 9 descends from Hirschengraben near the main station, in the basement of the building marked SWICA). Tu-F 10:00–17:00 and Sa 11:00–15:00. The used bookstore of the Swiss Workers’ Aid Society.
- Bücher-Brockenhaus Bern, Rathausgasse 34 (in the old city between the Zytglogge and the Rathaus). Tu-F 14:00–18:30, Sa 09:00–12:00, 14:00–16:00.
Eating Out in Bern
If you’re on a budget, the Beaulieu on Erlachstrasse is recommended; it’s a traditional restaurant that offers classic Bernese and Swiss cuisine at great prices. Its proximity to the university means it’s popular with the students, and is also popular with the local working population. If you prefer local to a tourist trap, this is the place to go and rub shoulders with the Bernese.
Equally good value is to be found at Suan Long, underneath the main train station. With fast service and a big variety of Chinese dishes, together with a wide vegetarian selection, this is the ideal eatery; especially if you’re waiting for a train.
For middle-of-the-road costs, try the Kornhaus, on the Kornhausplatz. This beautiful restaurant, as you can probably deduce, is in an old granary. It serves mostly Italian food, and your eyes will be wandering all around the restaurant, as it is covered with frescos of traditional Swiss scenes and historical events.
Also in the medium range is the Restaurant Muesmatt, on Freiestrasse. It was built in 1891 to service the steel workers at the Von Roll steelworks in Bern. The Von Roll buildings were converted into university lecture halls, and the brownstone houses around it now house students. This eatery offers fresh local organic produce, and has an outside terrace you can sit on, with great old oak trees offering shade. They serve the local Burgdorfer beer, and wifi is available.
If you prefer a scenic meal, try the Casino Restaurant on Herrengasse. It’s on the Aare River, and offers great views of the river and the mountains. The recommended dish is the pasta with mushrooms, and there’s a range of meat and fish dishes too.
If you’re in the mood to splurge, the place to be seen at is the Bellevue Palace, on the Kochergasse. It’s pricey, but if you go whilst parliament is in session, you might just come across the Swiss president eating his lunch there.
Also in the high price range is the Restaurant Rosengarten, which offers great views of the city.
Eating in Berne (or almost anywhere in Switzerland for that matter) can be an expensive proposition for foreign tourists. Be sure to “shop around” before deciding on a restaurant as many of them cater to foreign tourists (especially those serving traditional Swiss food) and have inflated their prices accordingly. Most Bernese natives prefer Italian, Asian, or other non-local cuisine so finding a traditional Swiss restaurant with acceptable prices can often be a daunting experience. Be patient and you will persevere without breaking the bank.
- Suan Long, Rail City, underneath main station, Bern. Low-priced Chinese meals, wide variety of dishes, including good vegetarian selection. Quick service and ideal if you’re waiting for a train. Especially recommended if you enjoy spicy food! Fr. 17-25.
- Beaulieu, Erlachstrasse 3 , fax: . M-Th 08:00–11:30, F 08:00–00:30, Sa 10:00–22:00. Old-fashioned restaurant serving traditional Swiss and Bernese cuisine at very affordable prices. Popular among students due to its situation close to the university; equally popular among the local workers. Definitely not a tourist restaurant—go here if you want to meet the Bernese among themselves.
- Sous le Pont , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Tu-F 11:30–14:30 and 18:00–00:00, Sa 19:00–00:00, Su 10:00–16:00. A nice restaurant in the Reitschule complex which serves excellent dishes.
- Wäbere, Gerechtigkeitsgasse 68 , fax: . Monday – Saturday 11:00–23:00. Excellent soups, a good rendering of Swiss standards, such as cheese fondue, and an decent number of veggie choices. Many items available in half portions. Fr. 14-24.
- Old Tram Depot (Altes Tramdepot), Grosser Muristalden (across bridge at east side of city centre, next to bear pit). 11:00-23:00. The trams used to terminate here: nowadays it’s a trolleybus route. Good, hearty Swiss food. Range of dishes from budget price rösti to higher-priced meat specialities. On-site brewery with traditional beers available. Bench seating with great atmosphere. Fr. 20-40.
- Café Fédéral, Bärenplatz 31. Stylish, modern atmosphere and international cuisine. Situated in front of the Bundeshaus, its popularity among politicians during the “Session” is legendary. Specializes in entrecôtes (a kind of steak), but has other dishes, including vegetarian ones.
- Casino Restaurant, Herrengasse 25 , ✉ email@example.com. At the shore of Aare river, with a view over the river and mountains on the South. Dishes include excellent pasta with mushrooms, fish, and meats, served throughout the day. . Fr. 25-45 a main dish.
- Kornhaus, Kornhausplatz 18 , fax: . The room alone is worth a stop at this fabulously appointed mostly Italian restaurant. As one might guess from the name, the building was built for grain storage, but now features fresco paintings of traditional Swiss scenes, events from local history, and related characters. Fr. 26-45 for the main dish. Fr. 9-14 for appetizers..
- Schmiedstube, Schmiedenplatz 5. Monday – Saturday 08:30–23:30. German, French, Italian, English and Spanish spoken. This traditional Swiss restaurant is well known for its typical dishes, such as Röschti, Cordon Bleu, Älplermakkaronen. It’s 90 m (300 ft) from the clock tower “Zytglogge”.
- Schwellenmätteli, Dalmaziquai 11 , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Terrace open M-Su 08:00–00:00. A very nice restaurant at the side of the river Aare with a nice view on the Cathedral. Fr. 20-40 for a main dish.
- Bellevue Palace, Kochergasse 3-5 , fax: . Stylish hotel and restaurant; has its price. Go there when the Parliament is in session, and you may very well see the president of Switzerland having lunch.
- Restaurant Rosengarten, Alter Aargauerstalden 31b. Upscale Swiss restaurant with amazing view over the city
- Kursaal-Bern (Meridiano), Kornhausstrasse 3. Tu-F 11:30–14:00, 18:00–00:00. Sa 18:00–24:00. Sunday & Monday closed. The Meridiano is famous far beyond the borders of Bern for its welcoming hospitality. And for its innovative cuisine – prepared to perfection by Chef de Cuisine Markus Arnold and his team. The restaurant has been awarded 16 Gault-millau points and one Michelin star. Guests are offered fine views extending over Bern and the surrounding scenic countryside. Fr. 20-76.
Nightlife in Bern
You absolutely have to try the Bern Pub Crawl! It happens on the first Friday of the month, and it’s free. Well, except for your drinks. Bern has a vibrant bar scene, and there’s no better way to get around to seeing the local bars, and making friends in fun places. Every hour, the group moves on to a new bar. You’ll meet both locals, and international travelers like yourself, and have a ball. Google them for details.
The Liquid Club is a high-tech venue. From where you’re sitting in the lounge, you look down through the glass floor onto the dance floor, which has a revolving stage in the centre of it. The club is used alternately as a disco, a reading room, a concert hall, and a theatre. Its clientele is trendy and chic.
Le ciel opened its doors in 2010, with Bob Sinclair as the DJ. DJs from the VIP ROOM Paris and Mansion Miami have also played there. The 250 square meter dance floor hosts mainly house and RnB, with a mix of party hits thrown in. A great place for partying.
Next to the clock tower you’ll find Du Théâtre, nicknamed the DüDü by the locals, is a trendy club that has both a bar and a lounge. The lounge has comfortable leather chairs and sofas, a fireplace and a glass roof. Famous DJs offer the latest in music; whether you’re sipping cocktails in the lounge or partying to the music, a good time can be had by all.
The Bern Theatre, known as Stadttheater Bern, is an opera house and theatre that has seen many great performances. If you would enjoy an evening of high European culture, check their itinerary to see what is on while you’re in the city.
Many Bernese will tell you that nightlife in Berne is not exactly what you might call stunning, but they’re probably comparing it to Zurich or Paris. There are quite a few good spots to hang out.
For a drink or two, there’s a wide choice of bars all over town. However, you might be disappointed with most central options as they tend to be annoyingly conventional, though there are an ample number of exceptions:
- Du Nord, Lorrainestrasse 2 (across Lorraine Bridge from the city centre).
- Café Kairo, Dammweg 43, 3013 Bern. Another nice choice in the same area as Du Nord.
- Cuba, Kornhausplatz 14. With Latin-influenced Cuba Bar next door.
Most of the towns cooler bars are around the main clubbing venues though. In the ancient Matte neighborhood, which is well worth a daytime visit too, you’ll find nightlife options for almost every taste.
- Dampfzentrale, Marzilistrasse 47. In this former electricity facility you’ll find an excellent restaurant and bar, along with lots of cultural pearls. They specialize in urban, jazzy, electronic music and dance performances. Definitely a gem!
- PROGR_centre for cultural production, Waisenhausplatz 30/ Speichergasse 4. Close to the Reithalle and even closer to the city centre, you will find the PROGR. More than 100 artists, dancers, actors and musician have their studios here. It’s large courtyard with the CaféBar Turnhalle is a real oasis. From September to June, they offer a cultural program with exhibitions of experimental and contemporary art, theatre, performance, lectures and regular concerts on Sunday nights (jazz- connected, world women voices).
- Reitschule, Neubrückstrasse 8. Next to the central train station is Berne’s most important centre for alternative culture. The huge brick building is visible from far, easy to recognize by its abundant graffiti art on the façade and roof. Reitschule has the status of an autonomous cultural centre, which means in firm language that it’s a no-police zone. This of course gives it a bit of an anarchist touch, a touch of “anything goes”. And indeed, anything does go: Reitschule features a theatre, a cinema, a women’s room and two concert/dancing venues, all dedicated entirely to alternative culture. Concerts included rjd2, Metalheadz and DJ Babu. The centre as a whole is a unique experience and a must-see for anyone who has an interest in contemporary urban culture.
- Wasserwerk Club. This is one of Berne’s traditional clubbing and concert venues for urban music. It actually features two parts: Sportwerk The very welcoming, smaller “Sportwerk”, which is open all week and free of charge, offers drinks, music, pool, snooker, darts, table soccer and flipper games as well as sport events on TV in a laid back, greenish atmosphere. The bigger part of the club, the actual “Wasserwerk” is open on weekends and features excellent djs and live concerts.
Of Local Interest
March sees Museums Night, which heralds the coming of spring. Bern’s museum’s doors stay open until the early hours of the morning and thousands stream through the doors. It’s a novel experience.
From March to May is the Bern Jazz Festival – drawing visitors from all over Switzerland as well as abroad, to the capital. It’s one of the most important traditional jazz events, and has been running since 1976.
May sees the Grand Prix – Switzerland’s largest racing event, and a top-notch spectacle with this historic town as a picturesque backdrop.
In June, you can enjoy the Bern Dance Festival; devoted to all types of dance. There are workshops, discussions, performances and exhibitions.
July hosts the Gurtenfestival, which is held on top of Gurten Hill. It goes on for four days, and features artists from the international music scene; tens of thousands attend, so it’s quite a party, both day and night.
In August is the Buskers Bern Street Festival. It is held on the streets of the Old Town at around 20 stops. The street musicians play mostly cabaret. It’s free, but you are encouraged to give donations to the musicians from all over the world; or at least to buy a festival pin.
In the second week of November the Queersicht is held, which is a gay and lesbian film festival.
The 4th Monday in November brings the Onion Market to the squares of the city centre. People start pouring in in the early morning hours, and by the end of it the squares are strewn with confetti. The stall holders display their wares, which include onion tarts, and onions plaited together. It’s a colorful celebration, and worth going to see.
Stay safe in Bern
Bern is a very safe place with nearly no violent crime. However, as it is the capital of Switzerland, it sees political demonstrations every few weeks on a variety of subjects, occasionally leading to police intervention.
The central railway station often hosts drunks and vagrants at night, which is a nuisance but in general not dangerous.
There has been a slight increase in violence from young people. Try to avoid groups of drunk teenagers that look suspicious and you should be fine.
While police officers in Bern will happily help you out if you are in trouble or need information, they are also known for approaching “suspicious” persons in order to check their papers. This procedure is annoying, but legal as you will probably have a hard time proving you were not acting suspicious. Carry a photocopy of your passport and your onward ticket with you, stay calm and polite and you won’t have much trouble.
Embassies & Consulates in Bern
- Finland, Weltpoststrasse 4, 3015 Bern , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. Monday to Friday 09:00–12:00.
- The Netherlands, Seftigenstrasse 7 , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Mo-Fr 8.30AM-12.30AM/1.30PM-5PM.
Berne is an ideal gateway to the Bernese Highlands. You can make day trips to beautiful locations like Spiez, Thun, Interlaken, Grindelwald and all the way up the Jungfrau to Jungfraujoch. Other pleasant day trips are to Biel, Fribourg and Gstaad.
Geneva, Basel and Zurich can easily be done as day-trips but deserve a longer stay.
Lucerne Coronavirus Cases Covid-19 Update
Lucerne (Luzern in German, Lozärn in Swiss-German) is a beautiful small city in the heartland of Switzerland, across the lake from Altdorf, where legend has it William Tell shot an apple off of his son’s head. Lucerne is a fine city to visit, and is a great base from which to explore famous Swiss sites such as the mountains Rigi, Pilatus, Titlis and the Rütli meadow.
- I The Best Time to Go
- II Getting Around in Lucerne
- III See
- IV Major Attractions and Sights
- V Shopping in Lucerne
- VI Eating Out in Lucerne
- VII Night Life in Lucerne
- VIII Local Interest
- IX Stay safe
- X Hotels Reopening after the Lockdown in Lucerne
- XI Flights from Lucerne after the Reopening of Airports
With panoramic views of the glorious rugged peaks of the snow-capped Alps the breathtaking central Swiss city of Lucerne is the picturesque gateway to the popular tourist destinations Mount Rigi and the Rütli Meadow. Located in a German speaking area of Switzerland, the city hugs the shores of gorgeous Lake Lucerne which adds further to the charms and delights of what is truly a glorious destination. Basking in a glory of a booming tourism industry, the city has a magical charm, whisking visitors right back to a fairy tale era, some thousands of years ago – to the 13th Century.
Starting out life as a humble yet integral trading point for travelers and merchants making their way across the Swiss Alps, Lucerne’s vast wealth has antique roots. With a charismatic and glamorous history, the city of Lucerne is steeped in myths and legend including being the epic site where Swiss folk hero William Tell was to have shot an apple off of his son’s head.
Diverse and spectacular, Lucerne is a city that offers something special for every visitor. And whether you have come for the mountains, the city, the lake, the history, the festivals or the culture – you will not be disappointed. This incredible medieval city centre is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Switzerland and has grown in leaps and bounds from its origins as a small lakeside fishing village. Breathtaking sights, historical attractions and the staging point for outdoor pursuits in wonderful countryside, Lucerne is fabulous any time of year.
The first city to join the Swiss Confederation, today Lucerne is a lovely small city with a thriving tourism industry, owing mainly to its status as a gateway to Central Switzerland. The city is a centre of Swiss history and legend.
Tourism in Lucerne has a distinguished history dating from the mid-19th century, with Mark Twain among them. In A Tramp Abroad he recalls the nascent souvenir business, and other budding examples of the tourism trade.
“The commerce of Lucerne consists mainly in gimcrackery of the souvenir sort; the shops are packed with Alpine crystals, photographs of scenery, and wooden and ivory carvings. I will not conceal the fact that miniature figures of the Lion of Lucerne are to be had in them. Millions of them.” — Mark Twain
The Best Time to Go
The best time to go and visit Lucerne depends only on your budget, your seasonal and climate preference and whether or not you like crowds. Summer runs from June through to September and is the most popular season for visitors as the weather isn’t so cold and you can expect daytime averages reaching about 23°C (73°F). However, being the high peak tourist season, everything from flights to accommodation to meals will be expensive and accommodation is virtually impossible to get if not booked well ahead of time.
In addition there are queues to get into all of the attractions and sites and the entire city will be heaving with holiday makers. So the best time to go if you want to visit when there are no crowds will be April or May and around the end of September and October. Spring and Fall, the crowds have dispersed, the high season prices have dropped – although the day time temperatures are not as high.
But if you are visiting the city with your skis and or snowboard, then the best time for you to visit would be any time during winter. The snow fields around Lucerne offer sporting facililites and good snow from November right through to April. December is a much favored month in Lucerne and the city is busy not only with winter sports enthusiasts but also visitors flock into the city for the Christmas markets and a super special Swiss white Christmas.
Lucerne has cold, dry winters and warm/hot summers.
Getting Around in Lucerne
With a major slice of tourist action going on all year round, there is a good visitor infrastructure and Lucerne is easily accessible to all travelers. Navigating the city on foot is one of the most sensible ways to get around. The most popular historic sights and the Old Town are all about 20 minutes or so away from each other on foot. With plenty to see on the way, a journey on foot is favored, especially when the weather is nice.
There is also a fantastic city bus system that will assist less mobile and disabled visitors getting around to see the city. If you plan to go out of the city and explore the rest of Central Switzerland then the Swiss Federal Railway has lines that will take you where you want to go.
Cycling is another popular way to see the sights of the city and bike rentals, pick up and drop off is available at the central rail station and throughout the city. You can also rent electric bicycles and other bikes with baggage clamps that will take you zipping around the streets of Lucerne. The city is well planned, organized and easy to navigate and you can tour around at your own leisurely pace.
Thanks to its central location Lucerne railway station (Bahnhof Luzern) can be reached easily from nearly every other city in Switzerland using the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB CFF FFS)). There are hourly trains from Olten and Zürich Airport and half-hourly trains from Zurich, and a direct train every hour from Bern. There is an hourly service from Bellinzona in Ticino, and Pfäffikon and St. Gallen in the North East.
The “Zentralbahn” branch of the Swiss Federal Railways provides also hourly trains between Interlaken and Lucerne during daytime.
There are no intercity buses in Switzerland as the train system provides ample connections to many destinations in Switzerland. To make trips to the countryside in the mountains where there are no trains, refer to postauto.ch buses are available from some nearby places, such as Rotkreuz.
Lucerne sits at the northwest end of the Vierwaldstättersee, one of the most beautiful waterways in Switzerland, for travel information from Schwyz, Flüelen, Weggis, and outbound points see the schedule at the Schifffahrtsgesellschaft Vierwaldstättersee.
Able-bodied travellers will find Lucerne a complete joy to get around in on foot. The Old-Town is rather small, and most other interesting sites are within 20 minutes or so walk, there is also a city bus system, as well as assistance for disabled visitors on request from Mobility International Switzerland. The Lido beach and the Swiss Transport Museum are a bit further out and can be reached by bus or by one of several boats per hour from just in front of the central railway station.
Lucerne also makes a very good base for discovering the rest of Central Switzerland, using the Swiss Federal Railway, the Schifffahrtsgesellschaft Vierwaldstättersee, or any one of several private rail or boat companies.
Bicycles are available for rent at the central railway station, at ticket window 21 on the lower level. For Fr. 31 per day, you can rent a 24-speed, sturdily-built bike with a baggage clamp. Electric bikes are also available. Bike pick-up and drop-off are around the left side of the train station, at a kiosk across the street from the Swiss Post building. Bike lanes are present on most secondary streets, and Lucerne drivers are generally aware of and polite towards bicyclists.
Lucerne has an efficient bus network: Verkehrsbetriebe Luzern (VBL) (German only). It covers the city and its suburbs.
The Lion Monument of Lucerne is always busy with tourists – no matter the weather or time of year.
- The Chapel Bridge (Kapellbrücke). The Chapel Bridge, a landmark of Lucerne, is said to be the oldest wooden bridge of all Europe, built in 14th century as a protection for the city. It’s amusing walking over it as you can see about 100 pictures of 12th-century city life and Swiss history. Join one of the walking tours going around! Parts of the bridge burned down on 18 August 1993, but within a few months it was rebuilt. The tower used as oubliette is still in original condition.
- Lucerne Culture and Congress Centre (Kultur- und Kongresszentrum Luzern). The KKL is a spectacular building that contains several concert halls and the Lucerne Art Museum. It was designed by Jean Nouvel. Its major concert hall (“La salle blanche”) is famous for its acoustics, and world class orchestras can be heard regularly. It hosts the Lucerne Festival (classical music).
- The Lion Monument (Löwendenkmal), Denkmalstrasse 4. Also known as the Lion of Lucerne, it is a sculpture in Lucerne, Switzerland, designed by Bertel Thorvaldsen. It commemorates the Swiss Guards who were massacred in 1792 during the French Revolution, when revolutionaries stormed the Tuileries Palace in Paris, France. The American writer Mark Twain (1835–1910) praised the sculpture of a mortally-wounded lion as “the most mournful and moving piece of stone in the world.”
- Alpineum. A museum and diorama dedicated to the Alps.
- Bourbaki Panorama, Löwenplatz 11. Nov-Mar 10:00–17:00; Apr-Oct 09:00–18:00. A circular panoramic painting. Fr. 12.
- The Glacier Garden (Gletschergarten).
- Swiss Museum of Transport (Verkehrshaus der Schweiz), Lidostrasse 5 (Lido beach, the first stop for boats leaving from the central train station, preferably reached by bus). Summer 10:00–18:00; Winter 10:00–17:00. With its large collection of trains, planes, automobiles, and motorcycles, this museum of means of transport is a great place to spend an afternoon. If you get tired of the real train engines you can check out the model railroad or the miniature working steam train. The air section also features several space travel exhibits, including an unused project Mercury capsule. Fr. 32 for adults, Fr. 21 for children 6-16, and free for younger kids.
- The old city wall (Museggmauer). A part of the rampart walls built in 1386; the wall is still almost entirely intact. Four towers are open to the public: Schirmer, Zyt, Wacht and Männli.
- Lucerne Art Museum (Kunstmuseum Luzern).
- The Rosengart Collection (Sammlung Rosengart), Pilatusstrasse 10 , ✉ email@example.com. April–October: daily 10:00–18:00; November–March: daily 11:00–17:00. Well over 200 works by 23 artists of early modernism, including 125 works of Paul Klee and about 50 by Pablo Picasso. Also works by Cézanne, Chagall, Miró, Pissarro, among others. The collection also houses 200 photographs — previously housed in the Am-Rhyn-Haus — by David Duncan Douglas, Life Magazine’s World War II photo correspondent who arrived with his camera uninvited at Picasso’s villa “California”, was welcomed by Picasso and his family, and over the years produced an intimate portrait of the artist’s day-to-day life. Picasso’s living room was his studio, and domestic scenes — a ballet lesson, Picasso drawing with his children, or wrapping himself in the cape and hat of his native Spain — play out within the backdrop of some of his most famous works. Admission Fr. 15 (Fr. 8 for students, children 7-16 years).
- The Richard Wagner Museum.
- Weekly Market. Every Thursday and Saturday from 06:00 to 13:00 along the Reuss river. The market has many local products and specialities.
Major Attractions and Sights
The Chapel Bridge
The oldest wooden bridge in all of Europe as well as an iconic Lucerne landmark has been standing for nearly 700 years. Made entirely of timber and built in 1333, the Chapel Bridge unfortunately was badly burnt in a fire in 1993 but was rebuilt a few months later.
The Lion Monument
Also known as the Lion of Lucerne, the Lion Monument is a sculpture commemorating the Swiss Guards who were massacred in the French Revolution in the 18th Century.
The Rosengart Collection
With more than 200 displayed artworks from more than 23 modern artists as well has some 200 photos from David Duncan Douglas who was a WWII photographic correspondent, this is one exhibit that should not be missed. Look out for works of art by Miro, Picasso, Klee and Cezanne. The Douglas collection showcases an intimate portrait of Picasso and his family throughout the years.
The Swiss Transport Museum
This is a fantastic place to spend the afternoon if you are into trains, planes and automobiles as well as motorcycles. There are also some exhibitions of space, a model railroad and a miniature steam train.
The Picasso Museum
With its famous location being in the Am-Rhyn Haus, this inspiring museum showcases a vivid collection of paintings, drawings, ceramics and sculptures all done by Pablo Picasso. The museum is entirely dedicated to this art legend and most of the work is from the last 20 years of his life.
The Glacier Garden
This garden has got to be one of the most unique sites in the city. The Gletshergaten is a massive piece of land with unusual pits which are actually holes of erosion created during the Iron Age when Lake Lucerne was entirely covered by ice. There is a museum here, maps and a delightful showcase of animals and prehistoric plants.
The Old Town
This is one of the most popular sections of the city. Every antique city and town in Europe worth its salt has a medieval old town and Lucerne’s is a fine example. Beautifully preserved, it sweeps you back in time as you meander through the winding cobbled streets and narrow passages exploring tucked away buildings and squares.
Vast and breathtaking, Lake Lucerne is a sensational Swiss panorama. Glittery breeze-ruffled waters lap the shores of the rugged Alpine forests, giving way to meadows and valleys. Enjoy a resplendent tour on the lake aboard a vintage paddle steamer or join in with a variety of water sports during the summer months on the water’s edge.
The Richard Wagner Museum
Find here a stunning showcase of historic musical instruments including portable and regal organs; a wonderful tribute to the legendary composer who had his home here in Lucerne.
- Explore the Old Town. One of the main reasons that Lucerne attracts so many travelers is its small but remarkably preserved old town. You can get lost (for a few minutes anyhow) in its maze of streets, passages, and squares, admiring the many and varied murals painted on what seems like every other building. A nice short walk on the Museggmauer starts at the Schirmer-Turm, walk up the road near Jazzkantine, open only at daytime.
- Watch football ie soccer at FC Luzen, who play in the Super League, the top tier of Swiss football. Their home ground is Swissporarena, capacity 17,000, at 91 Horwerstrasse, 1 km south of city centre next to the Trade Centre.
- Ascend Mount Pilatus. A famous mountain overlooking the city of Lucerne. Its peak can be reached by the world’s steepest cogwheel railway from Alpnachstad (not operating in wintertime) and all-year-round by cable-car in three sections from Kriens (10 minutes by trolley bus no. 1 from Lucerne as far as ‘Linde’). This trip is definitely a must and gives you a good impression of a wild and rocky peak with a marvelous view to the “real” Alps. Of course you can walk to the top on foot, which takes at least 4 hours from Kriens. A pleasant alternative is to walk down to Kriens from the bottom of the middle cable-car section. In addition to hiking, there are several other activities, including a suspension rope park and a 1,350 m long toboggan (both at the second stop of the cable-car from Kriens). Even if you don’t plan to hike, allow for at least three hours to spend on Pilatus.
- Ascend Mount Rigi. A famous mountain overlooking the city of Lucerne. Its peak can be reached by a cogwheel railway from Vitznau and Arth-Goldau and by cable-car from Weggis. Vitznau and Weggis can easily be reached by boat. The peak can be reached by foot from everywhere in around 4-5 hours.
- Mount Titlis. The mountain Engelberg has a glacier on the top and a splendid view.
- Take a boat tour. Take a boat tour on the lake Lucerne with the traditional steamboats
- Take a guided tour.
- Paraglide from Pilatus and Rigi. Paragliding down from the majestic mountains surrounding Lake Lucerne is a unique experience. Tandem paragliding is possible all year round with pilots certified by the Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA) of Switzerland.
- Rent a bicycle. Lucerne has an excellent bicycle Network. Rent a bicycle at the train station in lucerne and explore the city and the suburbs or make a day trip on the national bicycle network.
- Go Trekking or Mountain Biking around Engelberg.
- Felsenweg Buergerstock. Get a beautiful view over the Mittelland and its lakes on this 2-hour walk. Go there by boat (Lucerne-Kehrsiten) and funiculaire or by train and bus (Lucerne-Stansstad-Bürgenstock). There are some luxury resorts at Buergerstock. It’s also possible to go by mountain bike to the top.
Shopping in Lucerne
The retail experience in Lucerne is typically Swiss – a good mixture of high street style brand names and exclusive boutiques and shops. Wander the small hops in the old town or head for the brighter lights of the main drag. Good buys are to be found in fashion and accessories and of course, prestigious watches and fine jewelry are a major player. Casagrande is a favorite among tourists as there are typical Swiss souvenirs and handicrafts to be found at reasonable prices. Markets are colorful and lively and are held in various locations in the city throughout the week.
The shopping in Lucerne has improved somewhat since Mark Twain’s visit. You’ll find several good department stores with acceptable prices for most items, as well as pricey speciality shops.
- Lucerne’s old town is full of shops – especially clothing
- Lucerne’s station hosts several stores which have longer opening hours than most other shops.
- Bucherer, Schwanenplatz 5, toll-free: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Monday – Saturday 09:00-18:30, Su 15:00-18:30. The flagship store of Switzerland’s best-known watch and high-end jewellery dealer.
Eating Out in Lucerne
Lucerne offers a true authentic Swiss cuisine experience and is renowned for having some of the best food in the country. Fish is a popular choice on any menu with the daily fresh catch straight from the lake made available all throughout the city. Two of the most delightful things that you must try while visiting the city are the Kaffee Fertig – coffee laced with schnapps; a true Swiss pick-meup in every sense of the word. And the Luzerner Kugelipastete, which is a delicious puff pastry dish filled with veal and mushrooms in a sauce. The markets, sidewalk cafes and finest restaurants offer up a feast of pastries, cheese, chocolates, fondue and rostii – practically one of the national dishes of Switzerland – a fried pancake of grated potato.
GartenHaus 1313 is a relaxed and friendly restaurant offering the best Swiss comfort food in a laid back atmosphere. Longing for a mouth-watering home cooked meal? Then this is the place to go, where there’s good value for money by Swiss standards and unpretentious, with a new menu prepared every day.
The Old Swiss House is an elegant and super popular traditional Swiss Restaurant. A bit on the pricey side but worth every cent for its excellent service and mouth-watering menu – come hungry book ahead and leave your diet at home.
- Treibhaus Luzern. They have fine food. 2 menus each day (menu Fr. 13, students Fr. 7), snacks, donuts and very fine coffee. There are concerts at night.
- Erdem Kebap. Said to serve the best kepabs in town. Cheap.
- Parterre. Good, friendly atmosphere. They have different menus every day.
- Migros or Coop. Huge supermarket chains with a lot of budget products. There is a small Migros and a bigger Coop at the train station, near the tourist office. There are other Migros around, ask the people. Farther there are Migros and Coop Restaurants self-service restaurants.
- Mövenpick Restaurant, Grendelstr. 19 , fax: . International dishes and English menu on request.
- Restaurant Schwan.
- Brasserie Bodu, Kornmarkt 5. Exquisite French cuisine.
- Restaurant Old Swiss House. Famous for their Schnitzel which they prepare directly next to the table.
Night Life in Lucerne
The night life in Lucerne is buzzing, and there is something to keep you up until the wee hours, every night of the week. There is a huge cultural sector in the city and the Congress Centre is the place to be if you are after opera, ballet, theatre, arts and music. The Kultur Kalender will provide a comprehensive listing of what is on while you are visiting Lucerne.
There are many music festivals held throughout every season, bringing in big name artists from around the world. Chances are that no matter what time of the year you are here, you are bound to be able to get tickets for some of the best live performances held in all of Switzerland.
As far as the ultimate party is concerned you have definitely come to the right place – everyone is satisfied with the range of dance clubs, bars, pubs, discos and nightclubs. Schuur is one of the biggest nightclubs in Lucerne, with a fantastic outdoor area, a party room with international live bands and music themed nights perfect for rocking the night away.
The Loft is one of the trendiest nightlife hangouts in the city, and attracts a younger, hip crowd who sip on expensive cocktails and boogie the night away. The atmosphere is classy, yet laid back and they have a great selection of music.
- Jazzkantine. Quite small but comfortable bar. They have a stage in the basement. Sometimes there are jazzists playing (4 to 8 times a month). In the same building is the local jazz school, so it’s a kind of student bar.
- Metzgerhalle, Baselstrasse 1. Old Swiss restaurant made into a cool bar, usually full on weekends.
- Mr. Pickwick’s Pub. Usual Irish pub.
- Shamrock Irish Pub (formerly Gracie Kelly’s) (in the old-town, 5 minutes walk from the train station). A great selection of Irish and Swiss drinks, home-made food, sports on display.
- Treibhaus Luzern. Small but cool alternative club, sometimes concerts, cheap food with 2 menus each day.
- Schüür. Popular concert place with an outdoor bar in summer.
- Sedel. The place where punk rock goes on. In the 1980s it was the place for the youth rebellion. Unfortunately it has lost a bit of its idealism, nevertheless it’s still the club mothers don’t want to let their kids go to. Today there are a lot of concerts from Ska to Britpop to Postrock to Gothic. The building was a jail for women and was converted to music practice rooms for bands in the 1980s. There are about 60 bands rocking and practising their sets. So, if you hear some noise somewhere in the building, just knock at the door and come for a jam session. There’s a shuttle running from central Lucerne up to the club. Look it up on their website.
- Rathaus. Beer brewed in this small restaurant/brewery. Get the speciality beer.
- Bar 58. Nice neighbourhood bar on Klosterstrasse.
- Bar 59. Opened by the former owners of Bar 58, larger and has live music venues as well but still has a neighborhood bar feel – on Industriestrasse, hidden in the basement of a warehouse looking building.
- Bar Berlin, Lädelistrasse 6 (on a small sidestreet from Baselstrasse), ✉ email@example.com. F Sa 18:00–03:30. Small bar with good sound and good drinks, nice and cozy.
Lucerne has lots of clubs for lots of different tastes. Baselstrasse is a nightlife strip emerging out of a redlight district. There are also raves in industrial buildings that require you to join their “club” as they’re not legally allowed to sell alcohol to the public.
- Casineum (Grand Casino Luzern), Haldenstrasse 6. Fancy club in a casino, mainstream music
- Roadhouse, Pilatusstrasse 1 , fax: . Bar and disco that is always packed, lots of people go there for their afterwork beers because it’s beside the train station next to McDonald’s.
- Das Schwarze Schaf, Frankenstrasse 2 (behind McDonalds at the train station). Mainstream bar/club.
- Das Weisse Schaf, Frankenstrasse 2 (behind McDonald’s at the train station).
- The Loft, Haldenstrasse 21 (at the Casino) , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. price=. From RnB to Reggaeton to Urban, gay-friendly, and hosts monthly Frigay nights.
- Penthouse, Pilatusstrasse 29 , ✉ email@example.com. 17:00 to late night. Fancy rooftop bar.
- ROK, Seidenhofstrasse 5 , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. House, electro, minimal, mash-up, tech-house, dub.
- Madeleine, Baselstrasse 15 (at the beginning of Baselstrasse). Concerts, open mics, chillout, soul, funk, disco, alternative crowd.
- Gewerbehalle, Baselstrasse 46. Cool bar to hang out with a nice downstairs club.
- Klub Kegelbahn, Baselstrasse 24, ✉ email@example.com. F Sa from 23:00. A small basement club with good electronic music, from techno to more experimental stuff, check their website.
The three bakery chains, Hug, Heini and Bachmann, have several good cafés spread all over the city.
Lucerne is famous for having an exciting line up of events all throughout the year, and there are many cultural, musical and traditional folklore festivals and events held in the medieval city. Christmas is a special time and people come from all over the world to brave the cold and snow and head out to the Christmas markets sampling local fare, delicious pastries and hot mulled wine. Being such a popular tourist town, you can be sure that if you are here to be entertained you won’t go home disappointed.
Internationale Musikfestwochen Luzern
Lucerne was the home of the famous composer Richard Wagner who wrote some of his finest pieces of music here. The International Music Festival of Lucerne is considered to be the finest in Europe and is a tribute to this music legend. It is held over a month from the middle of August ending in the middle of September every year.
Held every year at the end of winter on the Thursday before Ash Wednesday, Lucerne Carnival kicks off the spring season with a blast of parties and outdoor entertainment. Chaos, revelry and lively people, music and characters hit the streets and thousands of people head to Lucerne to join in on the fun. Lots of very strange looking people, all dressed up dancing the day and night away carry on wildly until the festival ends with Fat Tuesday complete with bands, candles, lanterns and a parade of lights.
There are so many music festivals held here throughout the year, but the biggest classical music festival takes place during summer. The Lucerne Festival Orchestra is made up from some of the most talented and distinguished musicians from around the world, and this is without a doubt one of the single biggest cultural events on the Lucerne calendar every year.
A Swiss Folklore Show
A very touristy thing to do, but it is absolutely magical to experience. Unique to this glorious Alpine region, you start off the evening by feasting on a traditional menu consisting of rostii and fondue, accompanied by the best Swiss wines before the show begins. The Stadtkeller, located in the Old Town is one of the best places to experience these shows. Sit back and relax and enjoy an evening of flag throwing, yodelling and alpine horn blowing.
Lucerne is a heavily touristed destination, and where there are tourists there are pickpockets, con artists, and other sorts of folks up to no good. As with everyplace else keep your passport and other valuables where people can’t get to them. However, Lucerne is a friendly and safe city. Women can move safely almost anywhere also at night. There are few areas that should be avoided, including the area around the Basel street, where you will find a colourful and exciting cultural mix is relatively harmless. According to the police it can be dangerous at night in the neighbourhood “Tribschen” (Inseli-Ufschötti-Weinbergli-Tribschenstrasse). Most violent crimes and robberies happen in this neighborhood. But compared with other cities in Europe it’s a safe area.
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St. Moritz Coronavirus Cases Covid-19 Update
St. Moritz is located in the Upper Engadin in the canton of Graubünden in Switzerland. It is one of the best-known vacation spots in Europe. It is chic and famous for its ambiance, and is situated next to Engadine’s lakescape at 1,856 metres above sea level. The bubbly “champagne atmosphere” is as legendary as the St. Moritz sun, which shines on an average 322 days a year!
You can get to St.Moritz by train, bus, car, or air.
If you arrive at the International Airport Zurich take the SBB train to Chur and from there the Rhb train over the famous Albulapass to St. Moritz train station. Trains from Chur to St. Moritz run hourly. The last train from St. Moritz to Chur departs at 21:00.
Furthermore, St. Moritz is the starting point for the famous Glacier Express and the Palm Express.
If you are coming by car from Switzerland the only pass which is open in winter is the Julierpass. If you come from Davos or Klosters you can take the cartrain from Klosters through the Fluelapass. From Italy you drive over the Bernina or the Maloja.
There is a small airport in Samedan (www.engadin-airport.ch), which is around 5 kilometres/20 minutes away from St. Moritz. It provides flights to the international airports of Zurich, Geneva, Basel, Milan, and Munich.
St. Moritz is served by the Post Bus, departing from right next to the train station. Buses depart towards Chur and Lugano (and back). Reservations may be necessary. The last Post Bus from St. Moritz to Chur leaves at 23:00. Later there are not any bus or train connections from St. Moritz to Chur. On the way, you can admire a lot of Swiss villages and spectacular mountain views.
St.Moritz has a good public transport network. Biking is also very good around St.Moritz, however it is sometimes a bit steep. There are very few parking places in wintertime.
- Berry Museum, Via Arona 32, 7500 St. Moritz , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 10:00–13:00/16:00–19:00. The Berry Museum, which is housed in the 100-year old Villa Arona in the heart of St. Moritz, is dedicated to the spa physician and painter, Peter Robert Berry (1864–1942). The majority of his oil paintings, pastels and drawings produced over a period of forty years are still in family ownership. Fr. 15/10.
- Chesa Futura. Designed by the English star architect, Lord Norman Foster, Chesa Futura houses ten private apartments with a beautiful view of the St. Moritz lake. Its façade is made of local larch clapboards.
- Chesa Veglia. Dating from 1658, it is one of the oldest farmhouses in St. Moritz. Now it houses three restaurants and two bars. The grill Chadafö provides the perfect setting for elegant dining with classic French cuisine. The two bars – the Polo Bar and Carigiet – are the perfect places to enjoy pre- and after-dinner drinks and are ideally suited for a get-together.
- Cresta Run. Cresta run is the only natural skeleton downhill course. The first race was held in 1884/85. Spectacular races or training runs take place every day from the end of December to the beginning of March.
- Heidi hut. The well-known story of the Swiss Heidi was filmed in the Engadin. The Heidi hut is located above St. Moritz and is among the most famous sightseeing attractions.
- Leaning tower. It is the symbol of St. Moritz. It dates back to the 12th century. It is opposite the Kulm Hotel.
- St. Moritz 5-star hotels. St. Moritz is very well-known also because of its “Big 5”. The “Big 5” are the 5-star hotels including Badrutt’s Palace, Kempinski Grand Hotel des Bains, Carlton, Kulm and Suvretta House.
- Segantini Museum. Built in 1908 by the architect Nicolaus Hartmann, the museum displays works by the painter Giovanni Segantini.
- The St. Moritz “Trambänkli”. The St. Moritz tram was one of the first electric trams in Switzerland. The “Trambänkli” is a waiting station for passengers. In the 19th century, it was a tram station. Now, it is a bus station.
There are a lot of events in St. Moritz such as operas in all seasons, the British Classic Car Meeting, the surf marathon, the city race, the gourmet festival, etc. For an overview of the upcoming events, take a look at the event calendar of the Engadin .
- Mountain biking. A true bikers’ paradise exists between the highest peaks of the eastern Alps. There are 400 km of pure riding pleasure with routes for all levels of difficulty.
- Skiing and snowboarding. There are four ski regions in and around St. Moritz. They offer 350 kilometres of prepared slopes and 34 cosy restaurants. Moreover, there are a number of snowsports schools in St. Moritz.
- Ice-skating in summer. There is an artificial ice-rink that is open from mid-July to mid-April. The following activities and services are available: ice skating for everyone, curling, ice rental, and special events on request.
- Walking and hiking. In St. Moritz walking/hiking is always a spectacular experience. There are over 580 km of hiking trails. Visitors in a wheelchair do not fall short since there are 9 wheelchair-accessible hikes. The best about hiking in St. Moritz is that the cable cars are included if staying at a hotel for two nights or longer. Good starting points is e.g. Corviglia or one of the following:
- Muottas Muragl.
- Schellen-Ursli weg. 1.5 km long trail named after a children’s character, suitable for pushchairs too.
- Windsurfing at Silvanplana. The lake is well known for its predictable winds and is therefore a popular venue for water-sailsports including particularly windsurfing, kitesurfing and dinghy-sailing. There is a major watersports centre on the SW shore.
- 1 Via Serlas. It is one of the most exclusive shopping streets in the world. Glamour, luxury, and large retail chains door to door.
- Restaurant Engiadina, Via Dimlej 1 (50 metres behind the railway station.) , ✉ email@example.com.
Where to stay in St. Moritz
People in St. Moritz are very hospitable and its hotels brought St. Moritz to the top of the world. Here, you can find all types of accommodation from luxurious hotels over holiday apartments, mountain lodges, a youth hostel, to a camping place. The best-known hotels are the Kempinski Grand Hotel des Bains, Badrutt’s Palace, and the Kulm Hotel.
- Youth Hostel St. Moritz, Via Surpunt 60.
- Casa Franco, Via Sela 11 , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Cheap hotel (for Saint Moritz standards). Simple and clean rooms with a good breakfast included. This hotel is quite far from the city centre, around 10 minutes by bus and 30 minutes by foot. Double room Fr. 120, triple room Fr. 165.
- Chesa Rosatsch, Celerina, fax: , ✉ email@example.com. Member of Swiss Quality Hotels International. Located 3.4km from the centre of Saint Moritz and 1km from the train station Celerina. Single room from Fr. 122, double room from Fr. 193 (low season 2020).
- Hauser, Via Traunter plazzas 7, fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Member of Swiss Quality Hotels International. Located 500m from the train station directly in the city centre. Single room from Fr. 143, double room from Fr. 285 (May 2020).
- Maloja Palace, Maloja , ✉ email@example.com. Located 15 km from the centre of Saint Moritz. Opened in 1884, it was the biggest and most modern hotel in the Alps and the first hotel to bear the name “Palace”. Every winter, on the second Sunday of March, the Engadin Skimarathon competition, the biggest skiing event in the Alps, attracts between 11,000 and 13,000 cross-country skier participants. The competition starts at the entrance of the hotel, which offers direct access to the cross-country skiing tracks starting from its doorstop. Ski slopes of Piz Aela are within walking distance. €110-150/night.
- La Margna, Via Serlas 5, fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Member of Swiss Quality Hotels International. Located 200 m from the train station and the city centre. Parking available. Single room from Fr. 230, double room from Fr. 420 (May 2020)
- Quadratscha, Samedan, fax: , ✉ email@example.com. Member of Swiss Quality Hotels International. Located 7km from the centre of Saint Moritz and 250 m from the train station Samedan. Single room from Fr. 175, double room from Fr. 218 (low season 2020).
- Badrutt’s Palace, Via Serlas 27.
- Kempinski Grand Hotel des Bains, Via Mezdi 27.
- Kulm Hotel, Via Veglia 18.
- Camping Silvaplana. A huge camping with all needed facilities, used as base for the watersport activities on the lake.
Livigno is just behind the borders, accessible via Bernina Pass.
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