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Why rent a car in Geneva?

Situated in the bay on the southern tip of Lake Geneva, surrounded by the Alps and the Jura mountains, French-speaking Geneva is the second most populous city in Switzerland after Zürich. Known as the ‘capital of peace’, it’s the European seat of the United Nations and the Red Cross. It’s also a global hub for banking, hosting around 100 foreign banks.

The city’s symbol is the Jet d’Eau, a large fountain in the periphery of Lake Geneva that pumps 140-metre-high jets of water. On the left-hand shore of the lake is the old town, with its shopping and business quarters, dominated by St Paul’s Cathedral (Cathedrale Saint-Pierre) and the Place du Bourg-de-Four, Geneva’s oldest square. International artists perform in the Grand Théâtre and the Geneva Opera House, and there’s a diverse range of museums, such as the Musée International d’Horlogerie, dedicated to the study of time and timekeeping, and the Museum of the Red Cross and Red Crescent.

Geneva is ideally positioned to explore the surrounding lakes, mountainside areas and villages within Switzerland and in neighbouring France, with a hire car in Geneva. Lausanne is under an hour’s drive, Bern under two, Annecy is 45 minutes away and Lyon an hour and 45 minutes.

How to get to and around Geneva?

International flights land at Geneva International Airport two miles and a half from Geneva city centre. A six-minute train journey takes you to the central railway station, Gare Cornavin, from where you can travel onward by tram or train. Alternatively, consider the convenience of a 20-minute journey in a hire car at Geneva International Airport, which can be used for day trips during your stay.

Hiring a car in Geneva city centre

Several car rental companies operate at the Geneva International Airport and in the city centre. Use the Expedia car hire tool to choose one that best suits your needs.

Free parking is available in white parking zones without a ticket machine. Blue zones offer one hour’s free parking. Both zones are free from 7pm till 7am, on Sundays and bank holidays. Underground garages are everywhere but expensive. You can always leave your car at a P&R (Park & Ride) Parking, in Geneva’s periphery, and take public transport for a CHF12 ticket, which also includes a one-day travel card. A map of all the garages is available at the airport’s information desk.

What brands are available?

Several car hire companies are available in the city centre and directly at the airport. At Geneva International Airport you can choose from the following:

  • Alamo
  • Avis
  • Budget
  • Dollar Europe
  • Enterprise
  • Europcar
  • Flizzr
  • Hertz
  • Sixt
  • Thrifty EU
  • Must-sees within an easy drive of Geneva

    Meyrin, 20 minutes from the centre, is the site of the CERN particle physics laboratory. For a glimpse into its work and the Large Hadron Collider, don’t miss the interactive ‘Microcosm’ exhibition. Lausanne, 39 miles (under an hour) away, on Lake Geneva, famous for its beautiful lakeside promenades, the port and its 14th century town, is home to the International Olympic Committee as well as the Olympic Museum and Olympic Park.

    At the foot of Mont Saleve, just over the border in France and a 20-minute drive, is Annemasse, a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Popular sports here include skydiving, parasailing and paragliding. Nearby villages, such as Ville-La-Grand, Gaillard and Ambilly, are equally beautiful and worth a visit. Only 26 miles south (45 minutes), lies one of France’s most beautiful cities, Annecy, which is a must-see, especially in summer, for its incredible lake front beaches along Lake Annecy and the maze of ancient canals running through the old town, which gave it the nickname ‘Venice of the Savoie’.

    Tips and tricks for driving in Switzerland

    Switzerland is a small country with high demographic density, so traffic jams are frequent. City streets can be narrow and parking limited. Road conditions are excellent and accidents infrequent, but drivers are required to pay to use the motorway and display a sticker, or vignette, on the vehicle’s windscreen. The stickers can be bought from the Swiss Centre in the UK or locally at border points and petrol stations for €38.50 (in 2017).

    You must be 18 or over and drive on the right-hand side. Use of seatbelts and dipped headlights is compulsory. Carry your valid UK driving licence along with your passport and car insurance papers at all times.

    When driving in Geneva, pay attention to speed limits, as they can change frequently within a short stretch. There are speed cameras everywhere.

    Ready to plan your Geneva city break?

    Feeling inspired to start planning your trip to Geneva and other parts of the Switzerland? Use this city guide and the Expedia search tool to find the best car hire, flight and hotel deals and research your preferred attractions and activities.

    Road Trips in Geneva

    Geneva has some of the most dramatic mountain scenery in Europe, and a drive around its lakes is equally stunning. For a fun-packed day out, take a drive along Lake Geneva’s northern shore, stopping to explore the waterfront towns of Lausanne and Vevey.

    Lausanne is famous for its hilly streets, Olympic Museum and 12th-century Gothic cathedral, while Vevey is home to a palm-tree-lined promenade, a special vine-train excursion into the wine-growing region of the Lavaux, and the Nestlé Foundation’s Vevey Alimentarium, a museum devoted entirely to nutrition.

    Finish up your rental-car road trip in the town of Montreaux at the western end of Lake Geneva. Known for its annual jazz festival, this chic community has been home to global celebrities like Charlie Chaplin and Freddie Mercury over the years, and remains one of Switzerland’s most exclusive places to live.

    Another option is to drive your hire car to Gruyères, an idyllic Medieval Swiss village on a hilltop, with a castle, a dedicated Tibet museum with more than 300 Buddhist sculptures, and an extraordinary culinary scene, much of which features the famous local cheese.

    Driving in Switzerland

    Driving a rental car in Switzerland is generally safe and straightforward. Remember to use dipped headlights when driving through tunnels, and during the day you should sound your horn before approaching sharp bends on winding mountain roads.




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