The sophisticated city of Geneva is a gateway to the rest of Switzerland. It has a unique setting on the border with France and the shores of Western Europe's largest lake and has a view of Europe's highest peak, Mont Blanc. It's a year-round destination for skiers, walkers and those interested in culture.
Geneva has many upscale hotels and shops as well as fine restaurants, as you would expect from a global financial centre and home of the headquarters of a number of international organisations. The United Nations at the Palais des Nations, the Red Cross, the World Health Organisation and the World Trade Organisation sit side by side with avant-garde modern art galleries and lakeshore parks.
A city of peace and worldwide diplomacy, it is the home of the Geneva Conventions, which dealt with the treatment of civilians and prisoners of war during times of war. The city is a successful mixture of the traditional and modern. There is a charming old town and the Rue du Rhone is known for its fine watch making. There is also the ultra-modern headquarters of CERN, the world's largest particle physics laboratory. CERN has exhibits which are open to the public.
Public transport is free for visitors but it is worth picking up a hire car at Geneva International Airport (GVA) to get out of the city and enjoy Alpine skiing resorts or walking tours. You can discover Lake Geneva's famous water-jet fountain or go walking, sailing or windsurfing. The lake is in the unusual position of offering a city-centre beach and boat cruises.
Outside Geneva car hire is useful for the nearby destinations of Annecy for lakeside beaches and pretty canals, Pays de Gex for spas and thermal baths or the artistic bohemian Swiss heritage site of Carouge. Head further east for the financial centre of Zurich or the unusual international city of Basel, which has suburbs in France and Germany.
Geneva is popular as a skiing destination but snowfall is mainly restricted to the surrounding mountains, leaving temperatures in the city mild enough for visitors to enjoy swimming in Lake Geneva during summer. Just an hour's drive will take you to the famous skiing resorts of Verbier, Mont Blanc or Mont Saleve in France for a host of outdoor activities.
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