Check out this account for tips and tricks and cool destinations in Switzerland!
Health Insurance is compulsory for all residents. We would suggest getting familiarized with how it works and the benefits of it. Click here to access a useful link with detailed information for you. This tool will help you compare premiums from different insurers and find one that suits you best.
Feel free to reach out to the Student Services office to discuss insurance options and packages for international students.
Getting a Sim Card and Useful Phone Numbers
Having a Swiss sim card will facilitate communication and reduce your expenses. If you are planning on travelling and hiking in Switzerland, consider looking into Swisscom, as it has the most widespread 4G network of all providers in Switzerland. For more budget options, we suggest looking into Salt, Sunrise, or Lebara.
118: Fire Brigade
145: Poison Control
112: European Emergency Number
111: Night Pharmacy
140: Road Help
Opening a Bank Account
It is worth considering opening a Swiss bank account, which will facilitate day-to-day transactions, and help you manage your finance, while avoiding fees for exchanging currency. You might find this article helpful when thinking of opening a Swiss bank account, it describes the process and benefits of opening an account. Please note, you can start this process only after you have received your residency permit in Switzerland.
Here are some national banks you could look at:
Getting Around Geneva
Geneva has a robust public transport system consisting of buses, trams, trains and even boats. They are all run by the same company, Transports Publics Genèvois (TPG). If you would like to purchase an all access pass to any transport system of Geneva, you can go to any of the TPG offices in town, or the online TPG shop. A monthly pass costs CHF45, and a yearly pass costs CHF500. Buying a pass will let you take as many trips as you want within the canton, for the duration of the pass’s validity. Student discounts are also available.
Feeling more ambition in your travels?
For those who would like to discover other parts of Switzerland, you can consider paying for a 1/2 tariff subscription, which lets you buy any ticket in Switzerland at half price. The subscription costs 180 CHF a year and can be accessed though the SwissPass website.
What if I don’t want to take public transport?
Geneveroule is an established bike rental service, that lets you rent out bicycles. For short trips, several 24/7 rental stations are peppered around the city. All you need to do is download the Donkey Republic partner app and pay a small deposit of 4 Francs.
The first hour is free, and then you pay by hour. If you would like to rent a bike for several days or months, you can go visit the Geneveroule office situated right behind the central train station of Geneva. For more information, visit their website.
Groceries and Eating Out
Shops generally close at 6pm, with exceptions of the ones in the Cornavin train station and Geneva Airport, which stay open until 10 or 11 pm, depending on the day. On Thursdays, most shops and shopping centers will close at 8 or 9 pm.
There are options for any budget when eating out in Geneva. Small Kebab shops and pizza restaurants normally start around 10CHF, but more established restaurants generally start at CHF25-30 and go above.
Shopping and Places to Visit
Rue de Marché & Balexert
You will find all of your favorite brands and stores on this shopping street located right next to the old town. But if you would like an indoor shopping experience, the Balexert commercial center is the largest Mall in French Switzerland, which also has a bowling alley, arcade, and cinema.
Plainpalais Outdoor Market
Every Wednesday and Saturday local vendors can be found in the entire Plainpalais area selling everything from semi-precious stones and jewelry, to vintage cameras, to coats and jackets, to food and drinks, and everything in between. A wonderful 2 kilometer circuit where you can see a real piece of local Geneva culture.
Clubbing and Night Life
- The most popular nightclubs in Geneva are JAVA, Bypass, and Usine.
- An entire street in the Plainpalais area is dedicated to student bars, and is right next to the main UNIGE (University of Geneva) building. (Rue de l’Ecole-de-Médecine 1205 Genève, Switzerland)
- Other venues we suggest are the Brasseur des Grottes for Salsa dancing on Thursday nights, and the Mr. Pickwick Pub for great food in an English speaking environment (and karaoke nights!)
- Note: it is prohibited for corner shops to sell alcohol after 9 pm
If you are searching for specific events such as theatre, live music, or open mics, the official website of the city of Geneva has all the information you will need.
Useful Apps to Download
TPG: Find transport routes, check timings, buy tickets
SBB: Find trains, buy tickets
TooGoodToGo: Pick up restaurant food at the end of the day for a reduced price
Eat.ch/ Uber Eats/ Smood: order food or grocery deliveries from restaurants and shops
DonkeyRepublic: App for bicycle rentals on the go
SwissCovid: Register and help break transmission chains more quickly