Where to stay in Geneva for first time: 4 Safe areas

Finding where to stay in Geneva as a first-time visitor can be a daunting task. That’s why, in today’s article, I will help you to find safe places to stay in Geneva for first-timers and tourists.

I’ll provide you with my recommendation for the best and safest areas to stay in Geneva, along with a helpful map and areas to avoid. I’ll also share where I stayed in Geneva and suggest some of the best hotels in Geneva for all budgets.

Geneva is the capital of the Canton of Geneva and is situated at the western tip of Lake Geneva (Lac Léman), Switzerland. Geneva is often referred to as the Capital of Peace and is known as a key player in international politics and humanitarian efforts.

The city is a global hub for diplomacy, home to  various international organizations including the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG), the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Trade Organization (WTO), and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

The city is served by Geneva International Airport, a major transportation hub, facilitating access to the city for international travelers.

Is Geneva safe to visit?

Yes, Geneva is generally a safe city with a low rate of serious crime. But, like any urban area, there is mugging, bag snatching and pickpocketing, so it is essential to take care of your belongings and be aware of your surroundings, especially at the railway stations and crowded areas.

Additionally, there is also the risk of terrorist attacks and demonstrations, so it is recommended to stay alert in crowds, monitor local media and follow the instructions of local authorities. In general, with sensible precautions, Geneva is a safe and attractive destination for tourists.

Where to stay in Geneva for the first time?

The best and safest areas to stay in Geneva for first-timers and tourists are Old Town, Eaux Vives, Quai du Mont-Blanc, and Carouge. While Geneva is generally safe, it’s wise to follow general safety tips, like keeping an eye on your belongings and being cautious at night, as you would in any city.

Old Town is the most popular area to stay in Geneva for first-time visitors as it is the historic heart of Geneva. Staying here will put you in close proximity to landmarks like St. Pierre Cathedral, the Reformation Wall, and the Museum of Art and History.

The Old Town has the highest range of accommodation options for all budgets in all of these areas. I’m sure you will find something that suits your needs and preferences.

Eaux Vives is a trendy and lively neighbourhood situated along the lakefront next to the Old Town. It is a peaceful area where you can find Parc de la Grange and the famous Jet d’Eau Fountain. There aren’t many choices of accommodations in this area though.

Quai du Mont-Blanc is the area that runs along the shore of Lake Geneva and offers beautiful views of the lake and the surrounding mountains. It’s also home to many upscale hotels and restaurants, making it a desirable location for visitors. 

Carouge is a great base for the local atmosphere while still having access to the city centre and its attraction. This area has a Mediterranean feel with its colourful buildings, lively squares, and a variety of boutiques and cafes.

While Geneva is generally a safe city, there are some areas to avoid and exercise high caution when visiting, especially at night such as Paquis, Plainpalais, and Cornavin. They are not dangerous but it is best to stay vigilant.

Paquis is a popular area with lots of hotels due to its proximity to the central train station and its lively nightlife but it has a reputation is prostitution and drug-related activities.

During my trip to Geneva, I stayed in the Old Town at the mid-range citizenM Geneva. This is a great base to do sightseeing and shopping. Also close to public transport (tram/bus and ferry station) and Lake Geneva. Number 10 bus to the airport is just across the road.

Below is a map of the popular areas in Geneva for first-time travelers. You can scroll down to view the live map.

Map of the safe areas to stay in Geneva first time
Map of the safe areas to stay in Geneva first time

Let’s get into the details of the recommended areas to stay in Geneva, especially for first-time visitors. I’ll provide you with some suggestions for the best places to stay in each area, catering to every budget. 

All hotels in Geneva have been carefully selected by me, with guest review scores of at least 8.0 or higher at the time I chose them. If you don’t like my suggestions (perhaps they don’t suit your budget or preferences), you can click the “MORE HOTEL DEALS” button where you can choose your own hotel.

4 Safest areas to stay in Geneva for first-timers and tourists

1. Old Town

Old Town (Vieille Ville) is an excellent base in Geneva for first-time visitors who want to be in the heart of the city and to immerse themselves in the city’s rich history and culture.

Old Town is known for its picturesque cobblestone streets, well-preserved mediaeval architecture, and charming town squares. It’s a place where you can truly feel the history of Geneva.

You’ll be within walking distance of several of Geneva’s top attractions, including St. Pierre Cathedral, the Reformation Wall in Bastions Park, the Museum of Art and History, and Maison Tavel, which is believed to be the oldest house in Geneva.

St. Pierre Cathedral (Cathédrale St-Pierre) is a focal point of Old Town Geneva. Its construction dates back to the 12th century, and visitors can climb the tower for panoramic views of the city and Lake Geneva.

Place du Bourg-de-Four is the central square that has been a gathering place for centuries. It is surrounded by cafes, restaurants, and shops, making it a great spot for people-watching.

Another popular square in the Old Town is the Place Neuve, which is home to the Grand Théâtre de Genève, the Conservatory of Music, and the Rath Museum, making it a cultural hub of the city.

Old Town is also a cultural hub with numerous museums, art galleries, and theatres. You can explore the city’s cultural heritage and artistic side easily from this area.

The Old Town area offers a variety of boutique shops, restaurants, and cafes where you can enjoy Swiss cuisine and international dishes. It’s a great place to savour local flavours and shop for souvenirs.

While Old Town is more pedestrian-friendly than some other areas of the city, it’s still well-connected to public transportation, making it easy to explore other parts of Geneva.

Best places to stay in Geneva  Old Town for first-time tourists:

  • Luxury ($$$): Hôtel de la Cigogne, great 5-star hotel located in the heart of Geneva’s Old Town, right on the Longemalle square, easy access to the English Garden and Lake Geneva. You’ll be located within walking distance from all major sights.
  • Mid-range ($$): citizenM Geneva, popular 4-star hotel located on Rue de la Rotisserie in the city centre of Geneva, a short walk from Lake Geneva and  St. Pierre Cathedral. It has Good breakfast and 24-hour front desk.
  • Budget ($): Ruby Claire Hotel Geneva, popular accommodation centrally located on Rue du Rhône, 5-minute walk from St. Pierre Cathedral, water jet and Jardin Anglais. Easy access to Bel Air station to get trams and buses around the city or to the main train station. 
  • Budget ($): Hotel Adriatica, 3-star hotel located in the Malagnou/Champel district, close to the Old Town, Grand Theatre, Hospital University Center and Medical University Center. It has free bicycles to use and private parking. It is a little out from the centre but still well connected by bus and tram.

2. Eaux Vives

Eaux-Vives is a peaceful area located next to the Old Town. It is a great base for families where you can find the iconic Jet d’Eau and Parc des Eaux-Vives with its wonderful lake view and the adjoining Parc La Grange, where you can find a beautiful rose garden. 

Best places to stay in Geneva in Eaux Vives for first-timers:

  • Luxury ($$$): Hôtel Métropole Genève, 5-star hotel, centrally located easy access to the Lake and the Old Town. It has a spacious room with a balcony with amazing views. It is walking distance to the best shops and restaurants.
  • Mid-range ($$): Hôtel Résidence Parc des Eaux Vives, 4-star accommodation offering beautiful views of the Parc des Eaux-Vives and Lake Geneva. Short distance from Parc de La Grange, Palazzo, Flower Clock and Geneva Town hall. 30-35 mins walk/ short Uber ride from the central Bus/Train Station, 20-25 mins walk to the shopping area of Rue du Rhône.
  • Mid-range ($$): Marmont Hotel, 4-star hotel set in Rue du Prince, in central geneva, short walk from St. Pierre Cathedral, offering comfortable family rooms and Good breakfast.

3. Quai du Mont-Blanc

The Quai du Mont-Blanc is a great area for first-time visitors who appreciate upscale surroundings and stunning lake views. It offers some of the best views of Lake Geneva and the Mont Blanc mountain range. You can enjoy breathtaking vistas right from your hotel or apartment.

You can try a sauna at the Bains des Pâquis, watch the sunset at the Phare des Pâquis lighthouse, explore the Brunswick Monument, take a boat ride around the waterfront, or simply relax on the lakeside promenade.

You’ll also be close to the lively Paquis with plenty of clubs, bars, pubs, and the Red Light District. It is also within a short distance of the city centre and the Geneva Station (Gare de Genève), so you can easily explore Geneva’s landmarks and other neighbourhoods.

Best places to stay in Geneva in Quai du Mont-Blanc for visitors:

  • Luxury ($$$): Beau-Rivage Genève, 5-star hotel located in central Geneva close to the UN’s Palais des Nations, offering wonderful views of Lake Geneva and Mont Blanc.  It is just a few mins walk from the business/shopping area and Cornavin Train Station. It has Fabulous breakfast and spacious family rooms.
  • Luxury ($$$): Hotel d’Angleterre, great 5-star hotel located right on the shore of Lake Geneva, easy walk from The UN headquarters, the financial district and the Rue du Rhone. Also close to Cornavin Train Station. Easy access to a ferry station and the Bain de Paquis with sauna.
  • Mid-range ($$): Hotel Bristol, 4-star accommodation located in front of the quiet Mont Blanc Square short walk from the lake and the main train station. It has soundproof rooms and a very good breakfast. The hotel will give you  free Geneva transport cards to use the buses and trolleys including airport trains on arrival. 

4. Carouge

Carouge is often referred to as the Greenwich Village of Geneva due to its artistic and bohemian character. It is situated just south of the city of Geneva and is known for its distinct Mediterranean ambiance and vibrant atmosphere. 

Carouge was founded by the King of Sardinia in the 18th century and has a strong Italian influence in its architecture, layout, and culture. The town’s design is characterized by narrow streets, colorful facades, and lively squares, reminiscent of Italian cities.

The heart of Carouge is the Place du Marché, a bustling square surrounded by cafes, restaurants, and shops. This is a great place to enjoy a meal or a cup of coffee while people-watching.

Carouge is known for its artistic community, and you can find numerous art galleries, boutiques, and artisan workshops throughout the town. The area often hosts cultural events, exhibitions, and festivals.

You’ll find many bars, clubs, and live music venues, as well as a variety of international and Mediterranean cuisines at the local cafes and restaurants. The town is particularly renowned for its Italian food.

Carouge hosts a popular flea market, the Brocante de Carouge, where you can find all sorts of unique items, from vintage clothing to antiques.

Carouge is well-connected to the city of Geneva via trams and buses. It’s easy to reach from the centre of Geneva, and the efficient transport network makes it a convenient place to visit and stay.

Best places to stay in Geneva in Carouge for travellers:

  • Budget ($): ibis Styles Genève Carouge, popular 3-star good value for money hotel located 10 mins walk from Stade de Genève, convenient location to travel to the city and the train station by tram as there is a tram stop that is literally at the doorstep.
  • Budget ($): Ramada Encore by Wyndham Geneva, 3-star accommodation situated between Stade de Genève and La Praille shopping centre, 15 mins from Geneva Old Town and Airport. You can find Bus stops outside of the hotel. The hotel is little removed from the central area but the hotel provided free local travel passes to travel free on public transits.
  • Budget ($): Auberge Communale de Carouge, 2-star accommodation located in a historic building in the centre of Carouge, 15 mins by tram to central Geneva.

In conclusion, Old Town, Eaux Vives, Quai du Mont-Blanc, and Carouge are the best places to stay in Geneva for first-timers and tourists.  These are generally safe neighborhoods with plenty of accommodations for all budgets, easy access to major attractions and public transportations.

You can continue reading about Geneva and other destinations in Switzerland in these articles:

There you have it, my recommendations for the most popular and safest neighborhoods that you can stay during your first trip to Geneva. I hope you enjoyed my article and find it both informative and helpful.

If you have any questions or would like to share your thoughts, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. Your feedback is invaluable and helps me continue to create more quality content.

About Author: Ocean Cameron

I'm Ocean, founder and main editor of travelhotelexpert.com. I’m a passionate traveler who specializes in uncovering the best hotels and locations in every city, especially for first-timers, all without the need for a car.

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