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Car Rental in Geneva: a City where Major International Organizations are based
Geneva is historically the site of major organizations, not least the Red Cross and the United Nations, and while this internationality infuses the city, it remains resolutely French-speaking. Try out your French to scratch below the surface of this busy, historic, and shopping-friendly metropolis, and then make the most of your visit by driving out into the countryside as well.
Summer—from June to August—is the most comfortable time to visit Geneva, ensuring sunny, comfortable days.
French, German, Italian, and Romansch are the four official languages in Switzerland. The official language of Geneva itself is French. About 10% of the population speaks English and another 10% speaks Portuguese.
The currency is the Swiss franc, though euros are also accepted at larger establishments. Many Swiss still pay cash, so take advantage of plentiful ATMs throughout the city to always have cash on hand. Some restaurants, grocery stores, etc., may not accept foreign credit or debit cards.
Geneva is located in the Central European Time Zone, UTC+1.
Cheap car hire in Geneva is available in 7 locations throughout Geneva. For the best deals and most availability, you’ll likely want to book your car from the Geneva International Airport, downtown Geneva, or the Genève-Cornavin railway station. Interested in car hire in Geneva, French side? It is also available!
Take a scenic drive to Château de Chillon on the opposite side of Lake Geneva for some spectacular views and a scenic ride. The Château is about 100 km from Geneva, whether you drive the direct route on the northern side of the lake (1 hour) or the winding roads on the southern side (2 hours).
As a member of the Schengen Agreement, Switzerland accepts visitors visa-free from countries such as the EU, Switzerland, New Zealand, and Australia. Citizens of other countries will be required to apply for a visa before they arrive and are permitted to stay for up to three months. You can expect to pass through customs for further inter-European travel.
Driving in Geneva
Driving in downtown Geneva requires a certain level of confidence and skill, as the streets are often quite narrow and congested. Particularly if you’re accustomed to wide streets and have rented a European sports car, consider parking your car outside of the old town and walking or taking public transportation into the historic center. Regardless, driving into the Alps is a highly recommended adventure!
- Traffic drives on the right-hand side of the road in Geneva.
- In the city: 50 km/h, with limits as low as 20 km/h in residential areas.
- On rural roads: 80 km/h
- On expressways: 100 km/h
- On motorways: 120 km/h
- Speed limits and other traffic regulations are strictly enforced in Switzerland. Don’t risk a night in jail for a quick thrill!
- Traffic is especially bad in the city during rush hours, so avoid driving before 9 am or from 4 to 7 pm to save yourself significant time on the road.
- If your domestic driver’s license has been issued in a language other than German, French, Italian, or Romansch, you will need an international driver’s permit or notarized translation of your license in order to rent a car and drive.
- You will need a vignette to drive on Swiss motorways and expressways; ask your rental company whether or not these are already provided for your chosen vehicle.
- Headlights are mandatory at all times.
- The minimum driving age is 18, though you will likely have to be 20 to rent a car and will face young-driver surcharges until the age of 25.
- On mountain roads, shift into a lower gear when you are descending in order to prevent undue wear and tear—and the potential failure—of your brakes.
Cheap Car Rental in Geneva
Car hire in Geneva typically starts at around $30 a day. Here are some of the best deals in Geneva:
- Skoda Citigo or similar (mini class) – $26/day
- Volkswagen Polo or similar (economy class) – $29/day
- Ford Focus or similar (compact class) – $33/day
- Renault Scenic or similar (intermediate class) – $37/day
- Audi A3 Sportback or similar (standard class) – $46/day
Note that prices vary depending on the availability of each specific car and the season in which you rent. For the most accurate offers, use the search bar above.
Tips for Renting a Car Inexpensively in Geneva
There is not significant seasonal variation in rental car price in Geneva, and it’s worth shopping around various locations in the city to find the best deal. At any given date, you may find that the best deals are located in downtown Geneva or at the central railway station, rather than at the airport. Some cheap rental companies across these locations included Flizzr Rent a Car, Hertz, and Thrifty.
For the best deals, book your car sometime within the 4 months before you arrive in Geneva. You may be surprised to find the best deals are available just days before you arrive, though you do run the risk of limited availability.
You can also often save around $15 a day by extending your rental period to over a week!