Set idyllically on the shores of Lac Leman backdropped by the sky-scraping Alpine peaks and lush hills, Geneva is the perfect home base for nature adventures and day trips to neighbouring towns and villages. If you feel like taking a little break from city life, reaching the great Swiss outdoors from Geneva is a breeze. Skiing in the Alpine slopes is the obvious choice but there is so much more to explore.
Enjoy a panoramic train or boat ride to the Geneva countryside and take a stroll among the vines. Marvel at medieval castles and picturesque villages. Sample the local wines, cheeses and chocolates. Then take a bus over to France and hop on a cable car to the mountaintop for magnificent views of the Alps. You’ll be back in the city just in time for dinner. Here are some of our favourite easy day trips from Geneva.
Lavaux & Montreaux
There’s no better way to start your Swiss countryside day trip than with a scenic hike in the wine region of Lavaux. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2007, the Lavaux terraced vineyard landscape stretches for about 30 kilometres along the sun-kissed side of Lac Léman (also referred to as Lake Geneva). Pair the fairy-tale setting with a refreshing bottle of Chasselas from one of the local wineries along this stunning Swiss wine route.
In the afternoon, make your way Montreux. Home to the famed Montreux Jazz Festival and inspiration to numerous celebrities and legends (Charlie Chaplin, Freddie Mercury, Ernest Hemingway and David Bowie spent time there), this charming lakeside town has maintained its elegant grandeur from the Belle Époque.
Beyond the glitz and glamour, the Montreux Riviera hides many stories within the medieval walls of the romantic Château de Chillon. Explore the incredibly well-preserved castle on the lake and take in the gorgeous views from the inside and out.
Treat yourself to a gastronomic day trip of Switzerland’s best chocolate and cheese. Eat your way through the quaint medieval village of Gruyères (120 kilometres from Geneva). Discover the history and secrets of making Switzerland’s eponymous cheese at its birthplace: La Maison du Gruyère. You’ll also get to taste Gruyère at three different maturation stages.
The mountain village itself is incredibly charismatic. Wander the cobblestone streets and visit the iconic 13th Century Château de Gruyères. A few metres away, a surreal, slightly disturbing experience awaits at the H.R. Giger Museum. Designed by the late Swiss-born artist Hans Ruedi Giger, the mad genius behind the monsters from the “Alien” movie franchise, stepping into this museum is like being inside an alien’s den. Sip a cocktail at the bar and allow yourself to be unnerved for a moment. Then let it all go over a delicious fondue lunch overlooking snow-capped mountains.
In the afternoon, catch a train from Gruyères to Broc and head over to Maison Cailler, the oldest chocolate manufacturer in Switzerland. Learn the story behind one of the world’s finest chocolates through sensual experiences and sample as much chocolate as you like–a sweet ending to a perfect day.