Surrounded by mountains, charming towns and crystal clear lakes, there is no shortages of escapes to choose from near Geneva. The Swiss city has cultivated a buttoned-up image thanks to its place as one of the world’s top destinations for diplomatic affairs and banking. But situated on the banks of Lake Geneva, with Mont Blanc dominating the skyline, Geneva is also the perfect hub for exploring Switzerland – with the occasional foray into France. So if you’re headed to Geneva for a holiday, why not sneak in a day trip or two?
Whether in search of culture, adventure, food, or fresh air, there’s plenty to do only a short ways away from your Geneva hotel. Here are the best day trips from Geneva:
Lausanne: With lakeside walks and a scenic old town that dates back to the 1300s, it is immediately apparent what makes Lausanne a perfect stop for a day trip. However, the old-fashioned charm also comes with a bonus for sports lovers: the town is home to International Olympic Committee Headquarters and the Olympic Museum. Lausanne is also known for its Gothic cathedral and busy nightlife – proving it truly has something for everyone.
Gruyeres: Cheese lovers will recognize the name of this Swiss town, which gave birth to the creamy Gruyere cheese. In addition to a large cheese factory, Gruyeres has all the hallmarks of a classic Alpine village. The medieval town is perched upon a hilltop, offering sweeping views of the Saane Valley. Climbers can set off from the village to scale Mont Molèson, while the less athletically inclined can take a cable car to the summit and enjoy the mountain air. The town’s other major attraction is its castle – which serves as a cultural destination and often hosts concerts and theater performances.
Annecy: One of the most popular day trips from Geneva is to the beautiful town of Annecy, France. Known as the “Venice of the Alps,” the best way to see the town is to set off on foot to wander the lovely old lanes and crisscross the canals. If pastel colored houses and picturesque flower boxes seem too tame, it is also possible to hire bikes to cycle around the lake or even hop into a paddle boat for some time on the water.
Vallée de Joux: The towns along Vallée de Joux have been famous in Switzerland for hundreds of years thanks to their long tradition of watch-making. There is a history museum in the town of Le Sentier that is dedicated to time pieces, but most travelers make the trip to the gorgeous valley in order to put in some hours getting lots in the great outdoors. The area is a popular destination for day hikers in summer, but truly shines in winter when ice-skaters set out to enjoy themselves on frozen Lac de Joux.
Chamonix: On the border between France, Italy and Switzerland, Chamonix is reachable in under two hours from Geneva. Located at the base of Mont Blanc, the resort area attracts mountain climbers and backcountry skiers. The cable car, which is the highest in the world, can provide plenty of adventure for day trippers. For a meal and a bit more adrenaline, stop for lunch at restaurant Le 3842 in L’Aiguille du Midi and brave the glass cube known as Step into the Void. The eatery is named for its elevation (3,842 m above sea level), and its glass floored overhang allows visitors to hover over near nothingness off the side of Europe’s tallest mountain.
Click here for more holidays to Switzerland!