CERN (Geneva) Travel Information

(Updated Jul 2014: New destination for citybound tram: 'Carouge'. No warranty for any info here, obviously)


- During the winter season Easyjet do a daily direct flight from our very own Birmingham International Airport (BHX) to Geneva (GVA). Geneva is the one and only airport for travelling to CERN (some 4 miles from the lab itself). There will be no direct flight from mid-April until December also in 2016 and 2017, the last date of the direct Easyjet flight is 17 April 2017 (flights currently scheduled then are again once every weekday around noon, plus three flights on Saturday, and a mid-day and evening flight on Sunday). The last flight is currently scheduled for 17 April 2017, so there will again be no direct flights also in the rest of 2017.

- Flights which include intermediate stops (connections) from Birmingham International Airport (BHX) can be checked via flight comparison sites such as Opodo, Expedia, Skyscanner etc, e.g. connecting in Amsterdam or Paris ( Air France/KLM) and Frankfurt or Munich (Lufthansa) and Brussels (Brussels Airlines). Probably be aware not to put very important dates (e.g. big meetings or teaching) shortly after you're planned to arrive, as connections can go wrong. A popular option recently has been Swiss via Zurich. There are also many direct flights from London City Airport (LCY) and of course London-Heathrow (LHR) and London-Gatwick (LGW) to Geneva. All those are visible on the usual travel websites like Opodo, Expedia, Skyscanner etc. London City Airport can be reached from Euston station in about 40min on London Underground and Docklands Light Rail (Journey planner: ) (change at Canning Town onto Jubilee Line). Don't plan too close though, as LCY can have security delays during busy times. LCY has free wi-fi access in the lounge. While Gatwick airport (LGW) is the furthest away from us on the map, it's quite useful as it has a (traditional) evening flight on Easyjet, and also quite cheap pre-booked train tickets available (via Euston). Gatwick airport terminal has its own main-line train station (on the London-Brighton line). There is a brand-new Premier-Inn Hotel just outside the North Terminal, useful for very late arrival/early departures. Note that Easyjet fly from both the North and the South Terminal at LGW, the Geneva flight is normally from the North Terminal. You can avoid the London Tube by using the Thameslink service from Gatwick all the way to St.Pancras, and do the short walk from St.Pancras to Euston, along the Euston Road past the British Library.

- A quite frequent connection to Geneva is Easyjet from Luton (LTN) which operates up to three twice a day all year round. Quite frequent National Express coach service number 777 goes from Birmingham Coach Station in about 2h20 (leave about 2h between coach arrival and departure time, in case of traffic jams). The train option includes changing at Leicester (buy ticket for 'Luton Airport Parkway' with option 'Not London'), note that from the station 'Luton Airport Parkway', you need another shuttle bus to the airport terminal itself, which is not (!) included in the train ticket normally (keep some change ready, pay with the driver, currently 1.60 GBP per trip). An alternative train option is to catch the hourly Stagecoach/Virgin shuttle-bus 'VT99' at Milton Keynes station, after taking the Euston train from Birmingham New Street. This is slightly faster than the coach, but somewhat expensive, and probably the least practical of the three options. As Luton has a year-round early morning flight, it's worth mentioning the three convenient hotels, Holiday-Inn Express Luton Airport, Ibis Luton Airport and the (regular) Holiday-Inn (formerly: Encore) Hotel Luton Airport, which all are a 5-10min walk from the terminal, next to the main approach road. They are normally about 60-70 GBP/room. The EasyHotel? in Luton centre is however a rather long walk away, with limited bus services.

- There an all-year-round daily Easyjet flight from Manchester Airport (MAN), quite frequent National Express coach services go from Birmingham Coach Station in about 2h10 direct to the airport, the airport also has its own train station (a little walk from there to check-in, but quite ok). If going by train, check pre-booked train tickets as they are seriously cheaper than buying on the day (obviously). This normally involves changing at Manchester Piccadilly station. While this is not necessarily faster or easier than going to Luton or Liverpool, the flight departure time may be more suitable.

- Another option is Easyjet from Liverpool Airport (LPL), an all-year-round daily flight, reachable from Birmingham New Street station by the direct trains to Liverpool South Parkway (journey time about 1h40m) - which is one stop before the final destination Liverpool Lime Street - followed by bus (Arriva 80A, 86A, 86N, travel time about 15min, current one-way fare 2.10GBP, they give change). When pre-booking a train ticket from Liverpool South Parkway, note that you should leave about 1:20h inbetween landing and departure of the train, to be safe. Also there are no ticket machines at all at this station, so also no option to do 'FastTicket' pick-up of cheap pre-booked train tickets. So you need to get such train tickets while still at Birmingham, eg from our University Birmingham station, or by mail. Note there is a 'Super Off-Peak' fare option from Liverpool, worth asking about. In case you ever get stuck at LPL or need an early departure there's a Premier-Inn hotel within a 10min walk from the terminal.

Schengen Zone

- Note that Switzerland is part of the Schengen Zone (the treaty abolishing border controls within some EU and other European countries, named after a small town at the tri-state border in Luxembourg) from 28th March 2009, this makes no difference for a direct flight apart from possibly slightly longer immigration queues, but if you change planes at a Schengen country airport (all of continental Europe incl. Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Paris etc. now also Zurich) you need to immigrate into the Schengen zone from the non-Schengen UK, which means a somewhat strict passport check. Being non-Schengen, UK passenger can be amongst many long-haul passengers in the airport queues. The second flight will then be 'domestic', no passport check anymore upon arrival in Geneva.


- The rail connection takes about 10 hours if well planned, all trains are comfortable and connections reasonable easy, but pre-booking tickets is essential for this, as all trains apart from the one to London have compulsory reservation. The route is: Virgin train from Birmingham New Street to London Euston, walk to London St Pancras (max. 15min, turn left at station exit, follow the main road past the British Library, no need to take the tube), take Eurostar to Paris Gare de Nord, take taxi to go to Paris Gare de Lyon, or the RER trains, then catch the TGV train to Geneva. All train tickets have to be pre-booked quite well in advance to limit expenses, e.g. for Eurostar from and for both Eurostar and TGV-tickets at . The departure lounge at St Pancras has free wireless internet.

Public Transport

- When arriving into Geneva airport, there is a ticket machine at the baggage reclaim area (customs exit) which dispenses free (!) public transport tickets valid for 80 minutes. Keep your boarding card so you can prove in case of a check that you were actually on a plane that day (this is a rule of that free ticket).

- Tickets are sold at machines at each bus stop, no sale on the bus itself. Normal tickets are called 'Tout Geneve' and cost 3.50 CHF or 3.00 Euros, valid for 60 minutes from purchase. The older ticket machines (without touch screen) probably still don't accept overpayment. There is however a new generation of ticket machines which accept credit cards (Visa and Mastercard, requiring the PIN code, but not debit cards). The day ticket 'De 9h Tout Geneve' is valid from 9am for the whole day, at 8 CHF. All Geneva ticket machines accept Euro coins with no need for pressing extra buttons. The schedule including journey planner is , e.g. enter 'CERN' to 'GVA' for the journey to the airport.

From the Airport to CERN and back

NOTE: The tram changes back to No.18 on 9th Dec 2012. The tram stop at CERN is close to the Microcosm entry (which has the automated entry/exit gate in B.55). Tram No. 18 (destination 'Carouge') goes all the way to Geneva's main train station Cornavin, where e.g. the TGV train to Paris and the IC train to Basel and Zurich leave, and also to the edge of the city centre ('Bel Air' stop). Bus Y will still go directly to the airport (still not too often and on a fairly meandering route though). The relevant fare 'Tout Geneve' is currently 3.50 CHF).

The recommended option is to use the trolleybus no. 10 towards the city centre (destination 'Onex-Cite'), then change at stop 'Bouchet' onto the tram 18 straight to 'CERN'. This is the most reliable and frequent, esp. on weekends and late evenings, when the direct bus line 'Y' to Thoiry via CERN doesn't run too often.

- From the Airport: Remember to collect your free public transport ticket from the machine inside Geneva airport's baggage reclaim hall, valid for 80 minutes. Also keep your boarding pass with you as proof of travel date. To catch any bus or trolleybus, turn right when leaving the baggage reclaim area, walk past the 'Montreux Jazz Cafe' and across the small parking lot, up a few steps, the bus-stop towards Meyrin/CERN (and also the city centre) is on your side of the road, it's called ' WTC '. The safest option, due to the limited schedule of busses (e.g. not operating on weekends) is to board trolleybus no. 10 destination 'Onex-Cite', then change at stop 'Bouchet' onto the tram 18 straight to 'CERN', which is conveniently the terminus, so the tram actually has 'CERN' on its signs. Alternatively bus Y direction 'Val Thoiry', which also depart from the airport terminal. Bus Y will take you directly to CERN, no change needed, but it doesn't run very often. Check also the CERN Shuttle Bus service No.4 to Airport" to Airport about once every hour during working days, which is meant to be complementary to Bus Y. CERN's shuttle-bus is free for all CERN users when showing their CERN Access Card, it leaves just outside of Geneva airport Departures (take elevator up from Arrivals). A further alternative is to walk (or take bus 23 or 28 or 57) from the airport to the stop 'Blandonnet' (5min on bus, about 15min walk) and catch the tram 18 to CERN. Blandonnet is the big junction with Co-Op, HolidayInn? -Express, the private plane terminal and HSBC around it (and also IKEA on the corner), the trams are on the upstairs platform (lifts are available). The tram stop at CERN is now closer to the main reception and Microcosm entry, so it's a good idea to use the AccessCard? -controlled door in B.55, instead of walking all the way to the main gate. It's a little hard to spot, next to the '20' painted on the parking lot. When inside, walk one floor downstairs, there is an exit towards the main building.

- From CERN: Leave CERN at least two hours before your scheduled flight time at Geneva airport. Anything shorter can be troublesome. Don't forget you need 3.50 CHF or 2.50 Euros in coins to buy the ticket (there is now a terminal for credit-cards, but it's out-of-service a lot). Do online-check-in with your airline the day before if you can. Take the tram 18 (the only tram line at CERN, destination 'Carouge', leaving at the tram stop directly at the CERN main entrancy by the Microcosm) and switch to the number 23, 28, 57 or Y towards 'Aeroport' at the stop 'Blandonnet'. The busses leave at the lower streetlevel, lifts are available. Alternatively, look-up the schedule for bus Y (which now stops by the tram-stop, coming from the border) and catch bus Y which is a direct connection to the airport, but it's not frequent (once or rarely twice per hour). Check the time table of the here for CERN Shuttle Bus service No.4 to Airport every hour during working days, from outside the main CERN building (the 'VIP entrance' with the roof). On late evenings and weekends, again use tram 18 towards the city centre and change at stop 'Bouchet' to the trolleybus number 10 to the airport. This is a bit slower, but will operate reliably. At the airport, note the new food hall (coffee, sandwiches, burgers) including seating on a balcony, climb the stairs behind Easyjet's baggage drop-off area. If you have more time, check the Migros supermarket at the airport's train station (see section 'Shops' below) at the far end by the entry to Palexpo, where everything is seriously cheaper than anywhere else the airport.


- Always check the CERN Hostel first, which is now offering online-booking up to 6 months in advance ! Go to . A guarantee via credit card is compulsory. Room prices are 59 CHF for a single room with shower, or 64 CHF for a double room for one person. Which is by far the cheapest you can ever get in the Geneva region. If you have the choice, Rooms in B.39 and B.38 are preferable to B.41, e.g. they have better bathrooms. Rooms are bookable now six months before the date of arrival. The CERN hostel has no TV or radio in the rooms, but free wireless broadband internet. It however also does not entitle you to the free public transport card all hotels in Geneva offer. Hostels are in building 38, 39 and 41 which is really good for long working-days and especially evening shifts. The email contact of the hostel is , this is for modification of bookings only, as all bookings are now presumably to be made online. For very late arrivals, the hostel reception in B.39 is now open very late into the evenings, e.g. on Sundays only after 1am you need to go to the security gate for the keys (like in the old days).

- The second choice is IBIS-BUDGET Geneve Aeroport (formerly known as ETAP), info at , located at Avenue Louis Casai, bookable at . Room price is normally 104 CHF, don't book the breakfast which is extra as it's not good, there are food options in the morning at the big shopping-centre Balexert just across the road. The IBIS-BUDGET has a bus stop of number 10 (airport-city centre-trolleybus) directly outside, called 'Pailly/Balexert'. English language TV channels are CNN, CNBC and BBC-entertainment (channels 26-28). (Maybe useful to know that the McDonalds? inside Balexert has free Wireless). Guests of IBIS-BUDGET (and actually any other hotel in Geneva, except the CERN hostel) are entitled to free public transport during their stay. Ask at the reception as they don't always give this travelcard out automatically. The commute between CERN and IBIS-BUDGET takes about 30min, as one has to walk through/past the Balexert shopping-centre, board the tram 18 towards 'CERN' there, no more changes needed anymore. The new Migros Restaurant 'on top of' the Balexert tram stop is a good breakfast option, open from 8:30. McDonalds? is open from 8:00. UPDATE: Wireless internet at IBIS-BUDGET hotel is now available for free: You should receive a little paper during check-in, connect to 'Basic Ibis Budget' and use 'Voucher Login' with the details provided. However, this has a download limit (probably 500MB?) so probably avoid big podcast downloads and radio streaming. Then you need to buy a new voucher from the reception. NOTE: The Geneva area has three different IBIS-BUDGET/ETAP hotels, but only this 'IBIS-BUDGET Geneve Aeroport' at the Avenue Louis Casai street is really useful for us. Also note that the 'real' Ibis Geneve-Aeroport hotel is much pricier, and the shuttle bus with the red Ibis logo is actually for that hotel, not the IBIS-BUDGET.

- The third choice, before booking some hotel yourself, should be to ask the STFC UK Liasson Office, who can organise small hotels in nearby France and special fares with Geneva hotels:

- For a general idea of available hotel room and prices, you can check Geneva on some reservation service, like Expedia or HRS

- An interesting recent new hotel option is the 'Ibis Geneve Centre Nations' at 'Rue du Grand Pre', which is a 3min walk from the tram stop ' Poterie ', that's few stops this side of Cornavin station, ie 'the right side of town'. Esp with special prices for early pre-payed bookings (~110 CHF per night). This hotel has lots of British TV (BBC1&2/BBCNews/ITV etc) Total commute to CERN probably 35min. As a back-up-back-up plan, with the recent tram 18 changes, it might be useful to know that there are both IBIS-BUDGET and Ibis hotels at Petit-Lancy (west of the city centre), which are next to the stop 'Les Esserts ' which tram 14 serves, which runs largely in parallel to tram 18, change e.g. at Blandonnet or Cornavin. However the commute to CERN is then quite long (probably 50 min each way).

From CERN to Geneva City Centre

- Very conveniently, the tram 18 goes directly from CERN all the way to Geneva's central train station 'Cornavin' and further through the city, the tram destination is now 'Carouge'. Leave the tram at stop 'Bel-Air' which is a good stop for city-centre shopping and the lakefront. For the old town, stay on the tram for the next stop 'Plainpalais' and walk up the steep street called 'Rampe de la Traille'. Journey time to the city centre is about 30 minutes. Note that the 'Tout Geneve' ticket is valid only for 60 minutes just after buying it from the machine. So buy one before each time you board, or buy the day-ticket 'De 9h Tout Geneve' which is valid from 9am for the whole day, at 8 CHF.

CERN vans from UK Liaison Office

The online booking system for the vans that they have for short term use is here, if you need to register please contact the UK LO.

Power Sockets

- A Swiss mains power plug looks like this: swissplug.jpg . Note that the travel adaptors sold at the airports as 'UK to Continental Europe' are fine for Germany, France etc, but not for Switzerland. The easy solution is still buy one of these, and then plug a 'Europe to Swiss' travel adaptor into it which is available from e.g. at Migros or InterDiscount? at Forumeyrin, see 'Shops' further below. If you find though that with such a two-stage-adaptor, the UK plug doesn't fit without forcing, consider the options mentioned below. NEW: MediaMarkt? (see 'Shops' below) now stocks 'direct' UK-Swiss power adaptors at about 15CHF.

- If you travel via Amsterdam Schiphol airport (KLM), there are 'Any plug to Swiss' power adaptors on sale which accept also UK plugs. Ask airport staff for help. The model is called 'Wonpro WA-11A', it might also be available in online shops, it looks like this . May also be available through University stores, but has been bought from, search for "Wonpro WA-11A Adaptor" (model listing), very quick delivery but buy as a group to save on extra charges.

- Another option is to buy a power lead fitting your notebook's power supply e.g. from MediaMarkt? (see 'Shops' below), who have a large selection (something like this: Netzkabel ). Note e.g. Dell power supplies have a somewhat unusual 3-pin socket ('Mickey Mouse"). The 2-pin-cable is available in pretty much every big shop (even food chains), but the 3-pin only at MediaMarkt? (surprisingly not at InterDiscount? ).

Windows Terminal Server and Printing

- If you sit at a Linux computer, but would like to work on Windows, there is a terminal server available which you can start-up using the command:

rdesktop -d cern -k en-us -g 1260x940 -T "TS session" 

- Note you may have to register first, if so visit: and click on

Register here to use the service

Edit the options as required, a US keyboard is selected here as this is the CERN standard. This uses your NICE login. The terminal server can also be accessed from any WinXP? or Vista machine using the RemoteDesktopConnection? (somewhere under Accessoires->Communication) then chosing as the server. Note this has a different home directory, not the usual CERN-AFS, so you need to transfer files over using e.g. WinSCP2? .

- See the following instructions on printing from your laptop at CERN:

- Find a quick guide regarding the use of the PCs at the ATLAS offices at CERN (B.104 1st floor and ground floor) here: QuickGuideCERNATLASPCs.pdf

Radio and Television

The CERN Hostel B.39 has four (!) brand-new TV rooms, all on the first floor at the far end of the building, equipped with large flat-screen TVs. They have mostly French but also some German stations, however no English language station (Just to note some major sporting events, e.g. Formula-1 races, are available live, with foreign commentary). One of the TV rooms also has a few PCs set-up for general use. There are also TV rooms in B.38, eg on the fourth floor.

About FM radio: The only remaining english-language (analogue) radio in Geneva is a religious station (around 88.8). The station World Radio Switzerland (formerly World Radio Geneva), which had some BBC World Service programs, has moved to digital-only on 1st October 2013, ending its FM presence. Note that DAB+ in Switzerland is not compatible with UK DAB receivers. Everything else on FM is in French, apart from the German station SRF1 at 87.8 FM. The station LFM at 88.4 has a reasonable mix of pop music. So now probably the only way to listen to english language programs are smartphone apps like 'TuneIn Radio', or laptop webradio.

In case you have a FreeView? receiver in your laptop: Swiss Television SRG transmits four TV channels (Two French, one Italian, one German) in the DVB-T standard in Geneva, more info on . Note the signal is rather weak, but it works if you have e.g. a hostel room roughly facing Geneva. It's broadcast in vertical polarisation (antenna upright). Since 2010, French TV also moved to the DVB-T/'Freeview' standard, some 12 channels available, but all in French, these are in horizontal polarisation (lay antenna flat).


The most easily accessible shops, as they are by the tram's route, is the small Co-Op at the old centre of Meyrin (next to the various pizzerias) and the large Co-Op at Blandonnet, also Aldi at Avanchets. Forumeyrin will be somewhat more complicated to get to as it requires to change tram (at Jardin-Alpin/Vivarium, trams towards Meyrin-Graviere).

- The CERN hostels 38 and 39 have kitchens (B.39: Two kitchens at the ground floor and the far end of the building, also accessible with B.41 room keycard, B.38: 2nd and 4th floor), so for mid-long stays, it can be useful to do some grocery shopping yourself and use the fridges and cooking facilities there. With the tram now going straight through Meyrin, the closest supermarket will now be the Co-op at the tram-stop Meyrin-Village. Opening hours are much more restricted than in UK, e.g. this small Co-op: Mon-Wed: 08:00-19:00, Thu: 08:00-19.30, Fri: 08:00-19:30, Sat: 08:00-18:00, Sun: closed. It should be possible to go there and back for a quick shopping with the 1-hour-ticket (round-trips are not disallowed), which will however not really be possible anymore for the Forumeyrin shops (Migros). Further along the line there is the big Co-op at Blandonnet, which has longer Thu opening hours (until 21:00). Consumer electronics, computer accessories, music and movies are available at MediaMarkt or Fust (formerly Darty) (tram stop 'Jardin Alpin/Vivarium' (cross the road, walk past the 'Pfister' furniture shop), and from FNAC at Balexert. The big Migros MMM is at tram stop 'Balexert'. The Migros supermarket inside Geneva airport (above its train station, follow signs to trains and Palexpo) is one of the few open on Sundays in Switzerland, actually Mon-Sun 08:00-21:00. The Carrefour (formerly Champion) supermarket in Saint-Genis on the French side is also open on Sundays 08:30-12:00. A new addition for the cost-conscious is Aldi in the Avanchets estate, see more details here Aldi Suisse (in French). From tram stop 'Avanchets' walk over the footbridge crossing the major road (don't (!) use the ground-level path as it's cars-only, actually dangerous for pedestrians to sneak through that way) then walk through/under the high-rises on the elevated concrete walkways following signs 'Centre Commercial' some 150m, to the block coloured blue-white, unlike all others which are brown-white, the Aldi sign is a bit small. A bit bigger than our Selly Oak Aldi, good choice esp of beer and wine, it's open unusually long on Thu, until 21:00, closed Sundays. Another new shopping destination is the IKEA Vernier close to the 'Blandonnet' tram stop, the road going away from the airport, behind the big Co-Op. Even if you don't need any furniture, it has useful homewares in the downstairs 'marketplace'. Note TPG doesn't allow bulky items on the tram or bus. Or just have the famous meatballs. The oddities of IKEA have been a topic in many comedy shows on TV, of course, it's not for the claustrophobic.

-- JuergenThomas - 18 Jul 2014 -- JuergenThomas - 10 Dec 2012 -- JuergenThomas - 09 Dec 2011 -- JuergenThomas - 11 Sep 2010 -- JuergenThomas - 13 Dec 2009 -- JuergenThomas - 06 Aug 2009 -- MarkStockton - 21 Apr 2009

-- JuergenThomas - 17 Apr 2009 -- JuergenThomas - 08 Oct 2008

-- ChunLikTan - 02 Oct 2008

Topic revision: r77 - 06 Jan 2017 - 13:00:58 - JuergenThomas
This site is powered by the TWiki collaboration platformCopyright © by the contributing authors. All material on this collaboration platform is the property of the contributing authors.
Ideas, requests, problems regarding TWiki? Send feedback