Geneva is a city with a rich culture and an interesting history. At the same time, the Swiss city is a modern metropolis with a great public transportation system. For tourists, that makes it very easy to get from one place to another. Knowledge about the public transportation system is really important for tourists as everyone who is staying at a hotel, youth hostel or campsite is getting a complimentary “Geneva Transport Card” that allows you to use the transportation for free.
While the public transportation system in many cities in the world is hard to use, especially for tourists, in Geneva everything is easy. Information are available in French, German and English at most stations. Also, most people in Geneva are able to speak multiple languages, so asking for the right bus or train is not a problem.
The main means of transport in Geneva is the bus, but the tram network of the city at the Geneva Lake is a real joy for tourists, too. There are four lines with a total of 97 stops. The main hubs are the railway station, Bel-Air, Stand and Plainpalais. At these stations, you are able to interchange to get from one tram line to another.
Most tram lines are connecting suburbs of Geneva with the center of the town. That makes it possible to get into the city center in minutes even when your hotel or hostel is located some kilometers away from the center. We learned that taking the tram is a really efficient way to get to the city very fast as we stayed at the Mövenpick Hotel Geneva Airport. For regional or long distance travel, there are several train connections available at the central railway station.
Tram lines in Geneva:
As a tourist in Geneva, your first impression is that there are several tram lines in the city. Especially when you’re not from Europe, you’ll be surprised to see so-called “Trolleybuses”. These are a hybrid of train and bus, using overhead lines to get power, but not depending on railways.
In Geneva, there are six lines that are a perfect supplement for the tram system. In addition, there are several “normal” bus lines that make connecting to the city center even easier. In total, the public transportation system consists of more than 50 different lines with several hundred stops throughout the city and suburbia. You won’t have any problems to get from A to B in Geneva with public means of transport.
Trolleybus lines in Geneva:
While public transportation in Geneva is free of charge for tourists staying in hotels, hostels or camping areas, the taxis are not. These are pretty expensive compared to pretty much every town in the world. The initial fare for taking a taxi is 6.30 CHF (~ 6 Euro, 7 US-Dollar). Each kilometer than the few included in the base fare is charged 3.20 CHF (~ 3 Euro, 3.50 US-Dollar). Even though taking a taxi in Geneva is really expensive, it’s very safe and convenient. Taking a taxi is usually the fastest way to get from A to B and most taxi drivers are able to speak at least two (French and English) or even three (French, English and German) languages.
On ground, there are rarely any special means of transportation. There are no rickshaws, no motorcycle drivers taking passengers and only very few horse carriages (in summer). Yet, there is one special mode of transport that is used more often: Boats. Especially in summer, several companies scheduled boat lines connecting different parts of Geneva with other towns on the Geneva Lake.
Especially for visitors who have a little more time, this is an amazing opportunity to explore more of Switzerland. Moreover, there are tourist boat tours that allow passengers to enjoy beautiful views on Geneva from a different perspective. Last but not least, there is a little tourist rail in the city center that is doing tours through the city all year long.