The Swiss City of Geneva is home to several international organizations like the Red Cross, WHO, United Nations, etc. Apart from these international organizations, Geneva has numerous interesting landmarks and attractions which is the reason why the Swiss City should be on your list of cities to visit in Switzerland. Geneva also makes a great base to visit the other wonderful locations in Switzerland and France. Here are the top day trips from Geneva that you must not miss if you have more time in the city.
We believe Geneva is also one of the best city to visit with kids. It is one of the costliest city but there plenty of free things to do in Geneva if you are on a budget. Geneva is known as the ‘City of Parks’ has several parks and gardens including the interesting Botanical garden which also has an animal park, in fact, 25% of the city is covered in the green scape. And Geneva City has over 30 museums with a wonderful collection of history, art, and antique.
The Old Town of Geneva is a time warp. Wander the cobbled stone alleys lined with the historical buildings, fountains and small cafes and explore the city’s 2,000-year-old history.
The Lavaux is the famous Swiss wine region that stretches from Lausanne to Montreux spanning 830 hectares. One of the must-visit places in Switzerland, the region can be explored on a scenic hike with over 30 km of trails along the Lake Geneva which offers incredible views of the Lake, the Alps, and the vineyard terraces. The vineyard terraces have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2007 and welcome tourists and travelers to explore the region, visit the cellars and indulge in the tasting of the famous wines of the region.
If you are not a hiking person, the alternative options to explore the UNESCO Heritage region of Lavaux is to hop onto one of the tourist trains, rent a bike or join one of the guided tours organized by the UNESCO. Take a train from Geneva to Vevey and change train to Chexbres Village which should take you little more than an hour, from here is just 5-10 minutes walk. We visited during the fall season and the vineyard terraces with their crisp golden leaves and the shimmering Lake Geneve made hiking one of the most romantic places in Switzerland.
Gruyeres is a charming medieval town couple of hours train ride from Geneve. One of the top things to do in Gruyeres is a visit to the La Maison Cailler chocolate factory. Chocolate lovers cannot miss a visit to this chocolate factory where you can take a tour on origin, evolution of the chocolate and the chocolate making process which also includes an unlimited chocolate tasting at end of the tour. The other major points of interest is a visit to the Gruyeres Cheese factory. On a tour of the cheese factory, one can learn about the manufacturing and processing of one of the finest cheese in the world – the Gruyeres Cheese. A visit to Gruyeres is incomplete without a visit to the medieval village of Gruyeres.
A 10 minutes bus ride from the Gruyeres Cheese factory will get you to the village of Gruyeres. The Gruyeres village sits in a picturesque location and several historical buildings including the Gruyeres Castle. The medieval village of Gruyeres is one of the most beautiful villages in Switzerland. You can take a tour of the medieval castle of Gruyeres and explore the history of the region. The village square is surrounded by restaurants where you try some Gruyeres special cheese delicacies like Fondue and Raclette. HR Giger Museum and the Tibet Museum are two unique museums located in the Gruyeres Village which should definitely not miss.
Montreux is a beautiful resort town set in a picturesque along the shores of Lake Geneva. The Lake promenade decorated with flower beds, sculptures, and Belle Epoque buildings is great for a stroll taking in the views of the Lake and the Alps. Chillon castle, one of the top landmarks in Switzerland is some 10 minutes bus ride from the Montreux train station. The tour of the castle walks through 1000 years of history through recreated halls and prison rooms. The castle is located in a picturesque setting on the shores of Lake Geneva with a stunning backdrop of the snow-capped Alps and is popularly known as the ‘fairytale Castle of Switzerland’.
Montreux is also home to some of the popular festivals – The world-famous Montreux Jazz Festival held in the month of June-July draws hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. Also, the International Balloon Festival held in the Alpine village of Chateau d’Oex is a popular festival that attracts participants from all over the world. The village of Chateau d’Oex is an hours bus ride from Montreux City.
The Golden Pass trains which run between Montreux and Lucerne and chugs past the breathtaking landscapes and small villages of Switzerland start from Montreux City.
Vevey is a small town in the canton of Vaud located on the north shore of Lake Geneva. The town has a beautiful flower-bedecked lakeside promenade which offers breathtaking views of the Lake Geneva with a backdrop of the snow-capped Alps. There are numerous historic churches and buildings to explore in the town of Vevey.
Vevey is home to the famous comedian Charlie Chaplin who lived in the town from 1952 until his death in 1977. A monument dedicated to Charlie Chaplin in the form of a life-size statue stands on the lake promenade. Another interesting monument you will find come across on a walk along the lake promenade is an inverted fork by Alimentarium. There are several museums in Vevey – The Swiss museum of the camera dedicated to the art of photography, Jenisch Arts and Cantonal Stamp Museum is a fine art museum, the food museum – Alimentarium and Chaplin’s World housed in the former house of Charlie Chaplin exhibits his possessions and memorabilia.
A couple of hours train ride from Geneva is the Switzerland capital city Bern with a well preserved old town. Wander around the Old Town and explore the historical buildings, fountains and the wonderful architecture. The clock tower Zytglogge, the 15th-century Gothic cathedral, and the Swiss Parliament are three major points of interest in the Old Town of Bern. A climb up the 344 steps of Cathedral offers remarkable views of the city.
Visit the Einstein House and learn about the life and work of the great scientist. The city of Bern like Geneve has several gardens and parks with a play area for kids but one attraction you must not visit when traveling with kids is the Bear’s park where you can watch the bears frolicking around.
For shopaholics, the city of Bern has flea markets to a wide range of branded shops where you can indulge in some shopping splurge. Bern has it all for a shopping spree. The Swiss capital is an ideal base to explore the breathtaking locations of Bernese Oberland or plan amazing day trips from Interlaken though exploring them on a day trip from Geneva would not be practical owing to the long hours of the train journey.
Read More: Top Things to do in the Swiss Capital Bern
Lausanne City is some 40 minutes train ride away from Geneva City. The city situated on the shores of Lake Geneva is popularly known as the ‘Olympic Capital’ and is home to the International Olympic Committee. The major points of interest in the city are the Olympic Museum and lakeshore Olympic Park located at Ouchy. While the Olympic Museum displays over 10,000 artifacts relating to Olympics Games, the Olympic Park is dotted with sculptures and artworks representing the Olympic Spirit. The town of Lausanne sits on a hill surrounded by the vineyards terraces of Lavaux. The -covered slopes medieval city center sits on a hilly region and overlooks the lakefront. The car-free Old Town of Lausanne has several historic buildings with the magnificent 12th-century Gothic Cathedral of Notre Dame being the major landmark.
The Ouchy lake promenade opposite the Olympic Museum offers some wonderful views of the surrounding Alps and is a perfect location for a leisurely stroll. You can club the visit to Lausanne with a visit to the medieval French village of Evian-Les-Bains which is only a 30 minutes boat ride from the port of Ouchy.
Annecy is a small alpine town in southern France popularly known as the ‘Venice of the Alps’. The medieval Old Town is a picturesque little neighborhood with flower-bedecked canals, pastel-colored buildings, historic churches, small cafes and souvenir shops all overlooked by the Annecy Castle perched on the hill. Annecy is just an hours’ bus ride from Geneva with several buses running every day which makes it a popular day trip from Geneva.
The Annecy Castle or the Château d’Annecy dates back to as old as 13th-century. The castle that served as the residence of the Counts of Geneva and the Dukes of Genevois-Nemours today is open to the public as a museum. The museum collection consists of regional sculptures and paintings. There are also several temporary exhibitions. One can enjoy the wonderful views of the town rooftops and Annecy lake from the terrace of the castle.
It is no secret that France has some of the most beautiful small towns and villages. One amongst them is Yvoire, a small medieval town located in the department of Haute-Savoie in southern France on the shores of Lake Geneva. Yvoire is an easy day trip from Geneva, a 15 minutes train ride to Nyon and then another 15 minutes ferry ride will take you to the pretty town of Yvoire. One can also drive all the way to Yvoire. There is plenty of parking space in the town.
Wander around the town of Yvoire and explore the well-preserved stone houses decorated with colorful flowers and the historic church of St Pancras which dates back to the 11th-century. If you are visiting with kids a visit to the ‘Garden of the Five Senses’ would be a fun-filled and educational tour. The town also has a historic castle which is unfortunately not open to the public. There are numerous restaurants in Yvoire where you can buy something to eat or drink and do not miss to devour on some delicious flavors of gelatos.
Chamonix-Mont-Blanc or just Chamonix is a commune in the Haute-Savoie department in south-eastern France. Chamonix Village at the foot of Mont Blanc is a charming village with historic churches, restaurants, boutiques and souvenir shops. Chamonix is a popular destination for skiing in winter and for trekking or hiking in summer.
Montenvers Mer de Glace is a classic red cogwheel train that starts in Chamonix and takes to the top of the mountain from here you can take a gondola to the glacier. There is an ice cave in the glacier that has several ice sculptures representing mountain life. The cave can be reached after some walking from the gondola station. There is also an exhibition center with information on the origin and evolution of the glaciers. More details here. Another major point of interest in Chamonix is Aiguille du Midi at an elevation of 3842m. The summit can be reached by a 20-minute gondola ride. The summit offers panoramic views over the French, Swiss & Italian Alps including the famous Mont Blanc.
Mont Saleve is located in the department of Haute-Savoie in France. It is nicknamed as the “Balcony of Geneva” for it offers stunning panoramic vistas over the city of Geneva and the Geneva Lake. On a clear day, one can also see Mont Blanc and the Jura mountains. To reach Mont Saleve one has to take a car or the Bus no. 8 to Veyrier-Douane or Veyrier-Tournettes. From the base of the mountain, a cable car takes visitors to the summit at height of 1,100 m.
‘Maison du Salève’ housed in an 18th-century ancient farmhouse exhibits artifacts on Mont Saleve. Also must visit on Mont Saleve is the Shedrub Choekhor Ling which is a Tibetan Monastery where you can watch monks performing daily rituals and prayers. The terrace of the monastery offers wonderful views of the city of Geneva with the Jura mountains in the backdrop. There are numerous adventure activities which you can take part in like paragliding, mountain biking, and skiing. One can also hike all the way to the summit which takes around a couple of hours. Chamonix is an hours’ drive from Geneva and there are regular buses that run between Geneva and Chamonix with a journey time of 1 hour 15 minutes.
The village of Hermance dates back to the 13th-century and has some well-preserved exemplary architecture. You will get to see some ancient houses all covered in colorful flowers and ivy plants. The two major points of interest in Hermance are the magnificent church featuring some remarkable stained-glass windows and a cemetery. The cemetery was adorned with gorgeous flower beds and beautiful sculptures.
A medieval watchtower overlooked the village of Hermance, not sure if it was open to the public. There are a lot of small vineyards close to the Hermance Village and we found some in the backyard of the houses in the village too, overflowing with huge bunches of black grapes. After wandering through the alleys of the village exploring the tranquil surrounding we walked down a street from the village which leads to the shores of the Lake Geneva. The lakeside promenade is a perfect picnic spot if you are visiting with kids. To reach this village, take the bus number ‘E’ from Rive in Geneva which about half an hour.
Bonus: Do not Miss the Tulip Festival Morges
Morges is a small town just 30 minutes train ride from Geneva. The town of Morges hosts one of the most beautiful Tulip Festival. Might not be as large as the famous Amsterdam Tulip Festival but equally enchanting. The festival is held during the season of spring in the months of March to May at the Parc de l’Indépendance garden located on the shore of Lake Geneva. Over 120,000 tulips of 300 varieties are displayed at the festival in numerous bright colors. The entrance to the park is free.
Several cultural shows and musical performances are also held as a part of the festival.
Have you been to Geneve or any of these amazing places around Geneva? Do share with us in comments.
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