Driving In Geneva: Rules of the Road

Driving around Switzerland can seem intimidating to foreign visitors. A good place to start when it comes to driving in the Geneva region is with the basic rules of the road. Consider a car hire Geneva Airport deal for your next visit.

In Switzerland, vehicles drive on the right hand side of the road, something which visitors from the UK and other countries such as Australia should keep in mind. Third party insurance is obligatory, as is wearing seatbelts. No children under 12 are allowed in the front seats of cars without a suitable child restraint in place. Honking your horn after dark is also prohibited, while the legal age for driving is 18, not 17 as in the UK.

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With those basics out of the way, it is a good idea to look at some of the specifics of driving in the Geneva region. Roads in Geneva are often single lanes, with plenty of slow-changing traffic lights. Swiss driving regulations also forbid turning left at intersections, so it is necessary to carefully plan routes in order to avoid large detours.

It is also wise to plan where you are going to park, and ask locals such as hotel staff for advice on this. Parking at the Place des Nations is to be recommended, as this can provide convenient access to many of the city’s top tourist attractions. There are other car parks and garages which are available throughout the city, though it can get crowded, particularly at heavily visited times of year.

In a mountainous and wintry country like Switzerland, it also pays to take some precautions against bad weather and difficult driving conditions. All vehicles must carry a red warning triangle as standard, and snow chains are actually compulsory in some conditions. Speed limits on ‘green sign’ motorways are 120 kilometres per hour, with 100 kilometres an hour the limit on dual carriageways. Drivers travelling through residential areas though must be aware that the limit there is just 30 kilometres an hour, and 50 kilometres an hour in most towns and villages.

If you are crossing from France into Switzerland, then you will need to purchase a ‘Vignette’ from Customs. This sticker is compulsory for all motorway driving in Switzerland and you will need it to make getting about easier. There are also tolls to look out for, as well as the differences between French and Swiss roads if you are crossing the border to ski resorts such as Chamonix.

One thing which is well worth remembering about travelling around the city of Geneva itself is that it is often easier to take a tram or a bus when in the city itself. This can often make getting to the major landmarks easier, though you will, of course, need your car to get to the main ski locations.