Motoring Podcast Guide to The Geneva Motor Show

Check out my seven top tips for visiting the Geneva Motor Show...

I could only fit so much into the video, so below is a bit more detail and background information that may/should be useful to you before heading across to Switzerland.

Number 1: Don’t drive

Driving to Geneva is a major, and rather boring, undertaking. Sure, the idea sounds glamorous and everyone should drive over the Alps or Jura at least once, but not as part of a short trip to the Motor Show. The drive is long and very boring - particularly over the agro-plains of Champagne where there’s little to look at other than the wind turbines, potato stalks and the occasional McCain chip factory. You then have to do the same back again after you’ve spent the preceding day tramping around the show floor.

Instead, flying or even getting the train are much better options in this instance, and I don’t say that lightly! There are direct flights to Geneva from Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Newcastle, Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds Bradford, Birmingham, Luton, Stansted, Gatwick, Bristol and Bournemouth by EasyJet (although not all routes fly every day), Heathrow, Gatwick, London City by British Airways and from Manchester, Birmingham, Heathrow, City and Gatwick by Swiss. You can hardly say it’s a tricky place to get to by air although it’s worth repeating that not every route runs every day.

Geneva Airport butts straight on to Palexpo, where the motor show is held - you can get from plane to show hall in under 20 minutes but if you’re arriving the day or afternoon before you’ll probably want to dump your stuff in your hotel room and go have an explore. If you’re staying within Geneva then you can get a fee public transport ticket (valid on trains, buses, boats and trams for 90 minutes) from one of the machines as you exit the baggage claim hall.

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If you’re not a fan of flying, or would like to see some scenery en route then my favourite way of getting there is by train. The Eurostar to Paris Gare du Nord, a quick hop across the city and then the TGV Lyria either direct to Geneva or via Lausanne, from the Gare de Lyon. The trains are fast and clean and the scenery, where it’s not so fast it’s a blur, is stunning. The only worry in all of this are hold-ups with the Eurostar, meaning that a buffer of time between your trans at Paris is invaluable - and hardly a horrible thing to fill if everything’s running to time!

Number 2: Buy Your tickets in advance

This is pretty self-explanatory. Buy your tickets in advance straight from the Geneva Motor Show website. Actually,maybe hold off a some hotels offer them as part of a special “Motor Show Package”...

Number 3: Stay in Geneva

There are many benefits to staying in Geneva itself. Firstly, it’s a small city with an unparalleled public transport system, so you don’t even need to be close to Palexpo to get there quickly and without fuss. You also get to explore the sights of the city - the old town, the Palace of Nations, the Jet d’Eau and the promenade - in the evening after a whole day stuck in a stuffy exhibition hall. The fact that your hotel will issue a ticket that covers all of your public transport across the city and that your show ticket also acts as a public transport ticket to get there means that crossing the border from France becomes unnecessarily complex.

Number 4: Get there early…

The show gets very busy from mid-to-late morning and into the early afternoon. Getting there just before the doors open lets you check any heavy coats into the cloakrooms and then head straight in whilst it’s quieter.

Be aware that there are multiple entrances to Palexpo and that the one leading directly into halls 1,2 and 3 is normally the busiest.

There is an exception to this though - tickets for entry that day sold after 4pm are half price so if you’re arriving and staying the night you may want to tick off some of the show the afternoon before when the crowds have thinned a bit.

Number 5: Be methodical

Start at an end and work your way through. I go with my father and we’re huge tool freaks so we normally start at the Arena end with Hall 7 and work backwards to Hall 1. There is only one flaw with his plan and that’s the bottleneck that occurs between halls 5 and 6 where Ferrari, Maserati, Aston Martin, Volvo and Jaguar all have their stands in close proximity and the combination of people standing to look and crowds trying to transition both directions between halls. If there’s one part of the experience that will dim your opinion go Geneva, it’s fighting your way through the scrum that forms.

One last part to the method: If you like sitting down to eat, take your lunch just before 12 - any later and you’ll be munching your salami and cornichon baguette and drinking your beer sitting on the floor...

Number 6: See some of the rest of the city

Seriously. It’s lovely and everyone speaks English. A coffee or cocktail in the Hotel d’Angleterre overlooking the white-capped Mont Blanc is something that should be experienced at least once, although it’s better experienced with a romantic interest than a discussion about how crass this year’s Mansory stand was...

Number 7: Eat fondue

It’s Switzerland! If you can stay over then make a point of getting out and trying some of the local fare. My personal recommendation is Restaurant des Antiquaries in the old town, but there are plenty of others. It’s best to climb up above Rue du Marché for a bustling bar or old-school bistro. 

Lastly...

...enjoy yourself. This is a great opportunity to see many cars rarely sighted outside of Knightsbridge and the United Arab Emirates as well as to touch and explore many more prosaic models in a way that's just not possible in your local dealership.