Greentraveller's Guide to taking the train from London St Pancras International Railway Station to Geneva, Switzerland. Internationally famed for diplomacy, banking, watches, and chocolate, Geneva is a tiny city that casts a massive shadow. With the fine restaurants, great shopping and international vibe that you would expect in a compact city centre, the heartland of Protestantism has hustle and bustle and yet a wonderfully relaxed, open feel. Lake Geneva meets the Rhone in the heart of the city, and the towering jet d’eau fountain forms a spectacular centrepiece, whilst the city is shouldered by mountains on both sides: the Jura to the north, and the dramatic Alps to the south. With fresh air, beaches, parks and a lovely historic centre – there’s far more to Geneva than just international business and politics.
Journey Time: from 6 hours 37 minutes
Sample timetable: Depart London 09.22am, arrive Geneva 5.29pm
Transfer: Paris Gare du Nord to Paris Gare de Lyon
Frequency of Departures: 19/day
Carbon emissions: 18.9kg (flight would be 200.7kg)*
Car hire at Geneva Cornavin Railway Station: Yes
What's the journey like?
You have to change stations in Paris from Gare du Nord to Gare de Lyon, which can take about half an hour on the Paris RER line (it's only two stops, though we recommend you leave at least 50 minutes for the entire transfer - you have about an hour and a quarter to get the connection). See our guide to How to transfer between train stations across Paris. At Gare de Lyon, you board a Lyria high speed train to 'Geneva Cornavin' station.
Stopover hotels to break the journey in Paris
If you want to break the journey and stay overnight to see a bit more of Paris while you're travelling through, there are lots of lovely places to stay near both Gare du Nord and Gare de Lyon. Here are some examples of hotels that are conveniently near these stations:
Miss your connection in Paris?
Don’t panic. Railteam’s ‘Hop on the Next Available Train’ service means that if you have missed your connection between high speed trains because of a delay on the preceding leg of your journey, you’ll automatically be put on the next available high-speed Lyria train. NB Remember to get your ticket stamped by your Train Manager. Whenever you’re connecting, always remember to validate your onward train ticket at the machine on the platform before departing (these are often coloured yellow).
On arrival at Geneva
Bienvenue à Genève! There are plenty of hotels close to the station, these ones get good reviews: Hotels near to Geneva's train station (we recommend hotel this reservation service for checking availability and booking a stopover hotel because you can read hundreds of reviews from people who have recently stayed in these hotels, slept in the rooms and eaten in the nearby restaurants. We've tried it out ourselves and found it makes choosing and booking a stopover hotel a doddle. We hope you do too.)
Getting around Geneva
To book tickets on Switzerland's impressively well organised network of over 20,000 km of rail, bus and boat routes go to: Travel by train in Switzerland.
Almost all mainline international train services to Geneva arrive at the city’s Gare de Cornavin, on the northern edge of the city centre, with great bus, tram and suburban rail connections across the city and surrounding area. Some international trains (from France) pull into Gare des Eaux-Vives, just to the south-west of the centre, which also has good bus connections.
A compact metropolis, central Geneva is extremely walkable, but for longer journeys you can make use of extensive bus, tram, and suburban rail networks. TPG, the city’s transport operator, offers various downloadable maps of the Geneva transport networks (page in French), as well as a handy English language journey planner. Wikipedia also has a map of the Geneva tram network. The city’s transport is integrated, offering a range of tickets usable on all public transport in Geneva (transport zone 10): a single ticket is valid for an hour, or get a day pass.
Another transport option to consider is a bike: with miles of segregated cycling lanes and great cycle provision, outside of the icier winter months cycling is a great option for getting around. The Geneva tourist website offers information on cycling for visitors, and between April and October, the Genève Roule bikesharing scheme offers free cycle loans (you have to leave a deposit of 20 swiss francs) from six different pick up points across Geneva, for up to four hours.