Last updated on August 15th, 2023 at 10:07 am
Located on the shore of the beautiful Lake Leman, the Swiss city of Geneva is not only a tourist destination in itself but also a gate to many other spectacular places both in Switzerland and beyond its borders. If you have more time on your hands while visiting Geneva, you might want to consider taking a day trip to one of the numerous places nearby.
This post provides a list of 8 wonderful day trips from Geneva, all recommended by travel bloggers. Enjoy!
Day trips from Geneva within Switzerland
1. Montreux, Switzerland
Nestled in the foots of the Alps, right on the opposite side of Lac Léman (Lake Geneva) you’ll find the beautiful town of Montreux. This is one of the most popular day trip destinations from Geneva as it’s very close, while also so worth visiting.
You can easily reach Montreux from Geneva by train (takes around 1h 10m) or by car (94km), and the journey goes along the coast of the beautiful lake Geneva. The trains between the two cities depart every 20-30 minutes and a ride would cost you anywhere between €20 – €60.
Once you arrive, there’s plenty of things you can do in Montreux to take up a whole day, or even a couple, if you’re able to stay for longer. The most visited attraction here (and one of the most visited ones in all of Switzerland) is the beautiful Chillon Castle. The fortress was built in the 13th century on a small rocky island in the lake, which offered both natural protection and a strategic position.
Montreux is also very famous for its visitors throughout the years. Queen, and more specifically Freddy Mercury, found the town to be very peaceful and inspiring. Montreux was the place where Queen created some of their best-selling albums, and today you can visit their studio free of charge. Right on the promenade there’s also a statue of Freddy Mercury in his iconic pose.
Learn more about the best things to do in Montreux in this blog post.
2. Lucerne, Switzerland
Recommended by Pamela from The Directionally Challenged Traveler
An incredible day trip from Geneva is the beautiful city of Lucerne. The city rests comfortably on the shores of Lake Lucerne, the fourth largest lake in Switzerland. The peaceful lake contrasts with the sharp mountains of Mount Rigi and Mount Pilatus.
Most people drive from Geneva to Lucerne. The drive is about 260km or 3 hours long. However, you can also take a train between cities for about $200. Since it’s a bit of a drive, you can spend the night in Lucerne, Bern, or Zurich and see more of Switzerland!
There are plenty of things to do in Lucerne, from enjoying the water on a boat ride or hiking up the Swiss Alps. A boat can take you around the several islands throughout Lake Lucerne. The famous Chapel Bridge is located on Reichenau Island and the Museum of Art & History is on Rütli Island. Both islands contain a lot of history of Lucerne.
For a great place to eat, check out Schiffrestaurant Wilhelm Tell. It’s in a boat on the lake with incredible views. The food is locally sourced and the fondue is exquisite.
Lucerne is a stunning, yet compact city – making it a wonderful day trip from Geneva!
3. Zurich, Switzerland
Recommended by Mark from Wyld Family Travel
You can get to Zurich from Geneva on the highway in around 2 hours and 30 minutes, alternatively you can take the back roads and fall in love with the charm of some amazing postcard villages on the way.
The highways in Switzerland are heavily tolled so the back roads can save you some money on the 279-kilometer journey between the cities. Trains from Geneva to Zurich take about 2 hours and 45 minutes and run hourly. The train between Geneva and Zurich is a scenic ride that has views of the Swiss countryside.
Zurich is the largest metropolis in Switzerland and is located on the bank of Lake Zurich. A boat tour on Lake Zurich is popular for those that like to soak up the sun or when there’s good weather.
Zurich is a renowned vacation spot that is home to many artistic and cultural attractions, such as the Lindt chocolate factory, the FIFA headquarters, the Kunsthaus in Zurich Art Museum, and many shops and restaurants.
Those who enjoy a spot of shopping Bahnhofstrasse is known as one of the world’s best and most expensive shopping avenues in the world. The old town of Zurich is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the city also has a number of parks and nature reserves. You will find plenty of things to do in Zurich that will keep singles couples and families happy on this day trip from Geneva.
4. Lavaux, Switzerland
Recommended by Daria from The Discovery Nut
Although Switzerland is not famous for its wine like some of its neighboring countries, it boasts beautiful wine terraces in Lavaux in the southwestern part bordering France. Lavaux is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that remains one of Switzerland’s hidden gems that is just starting to get discovered by international tourists.
It takes about 1 hour and 10 minutes to reach Lavaux from Geneva, and is a perfect spot on your Switzerland itinerary. To reach Lavaux from Geneva, you will need to take a train to Vevey and connect to Chexbres Village. Check the train schedule ahead of your visit here: www.sbb.ch/en
Visitors can explore the 800 hectares of vineyard terraces on foot or by bicycle. Facing the northern shores of Lake Geneva, these spectacular terraces date back to the 11th century. The mild climate in the region is perfect for the lush vineyards where a variety of white wines are produced from a grape that’s called Chaseelas. Since the grapes are harvested by hand and produced without heavy machinery, the wine-making process is labor-intense and the wine made here is not often exported outside the region.
Since Switzerland is a well-connected country, you can easily get to Lavaux by train from Lausanne. But if you are flying, the closest airport to Lavaux is in Geneva. Best time to visit this sneak destination is late summer and fall when the temperature is crisp and the sun lights up the sprawling terraces along the lake.
5. Bern, Switzerland
Recommended by Alyse from The Invisible Tourist
Those who are drawn to medieval history, riverside towns and hillside views should definitely add Bern to their Switzerland itinerary. Located just 1 hour and 50 minutes’ (160km) from Geneva by high speed train or car, Switzerland’s capital makes the perfect day trip.
Lined with undercover arcades to shield visitors from wind and snow, Bern’s cobbled streets are a delight to explore even during the winter months. The entire Altstadt (Old Town) adorned with winding paths and terracotta rooftops is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Bern’s star attraction is the Zytglogge, an intricately decorated astronomical clock dating back to the 15th century. The tower itself has served many purposes over the centuries, including guard tower and prison.
Dine at a cafe in the building where Albert Einstein himself once lived, devour Swiss chocolates from Confisserie Eichenberger, or admire the architecture of Bellevue Palace Hotel and the Grand Casino Bern (even pop in for a game or two!).
For over 500 years, the city on the Aare river has been home to the emblem of the region, the brown bear. At BärenPark, visitors can see the bears up close along a stretch of the Aare River. Aside from the adorable bears, this hillside enclosure has some of the best views over Bern!
Day trips from Geneva to France
6. Chamonix, France
Recommended by Emily Cuneo from Emily Embarks
Just over an hour southeast of Geneva by car, the French town of Chamonix is the ultimate adventurer’s paradise! Overflowing with activities from winter sports like skiing to relaxing in thermal baths and more adventurous activities like paragliding and white-water rafting, there is no end to the fun that can be had here.
From Geneva Airport, you can hire a private shuttle that will pick you up when you land and drive you directly to your hotel in Chamonix (about €70), or you can jump on a bus for about€40, but it will take you up to an hour and 40 minutes. The total journey is just over 80 kilometers.
Once you arrive, you can take part in endless activities like the ones mentioned above, or you can opt to take a ride on the Montenvers Train to the Panoramic Restaurant, Step into the Void on top of Mont Blanc, or ride the world’s highest ascending cable car up the Aiguille du Midi!
Chamonix is beautiful year-round, but if it’s on your bucket list to go skiing in the Alps, then you should visit in winter. On the other hand, if you prefer to witness the Haute-Savoie region during the blooming season, then the summer months are equally as enchanting!
7. Annecy, France
Recommended by Leyla from Offbeat France
The impossibly lovely town of Annecy, gently set around the edge of its lake, has long attracted day trippers from Geneva. Until relatively recently, visiting Annecy was almost an expedition. The lack of public transportation forced visitors to battle small borders and twisting, narrow mountain roads. Today, fast buses link the two cities, as does a rapid motorway, cutting travel time down to 45 minutes.
Every single minute is worth the journey to this cobblestoned and arcaded city, which some call “France’s prettiest city”. A beautiful way to discover it is to take a trip around the lake on one of the several ships that ply the many villages along the shore. And once you’re back, it’s time to walk around town. Climb up to the castle or do what everyone does: take a selfie against an impossibly picturesque backdrop.
Because Annecy isn’t far from the Alps, this is a great city to eat cheese, and in winter, every eatery will advertise cheese fondue or tartiflette, a potato and cheese dish. If it’s summer, grab an ice cream from one of the many shops under the arcades. A fabulous day trip can be had by taking a morning hike around one of the neighboring mountains, having a wonderful lunch in town, and discovering the city on foot in the afternoon.
8. Lyon, France
Recommended by Lisa of Waves and Cobblestones
The French gastronomic capital of Lyon is an excellent day trip from Geneva. Lyon is located about 150km southwest from Geneva, about 1.5 hours by car or two hours by train. There are many wonderful and unique things to do in Lyon.
If you’re a fan of history, you’ll appreciate a day in this UNESCO World Heritage site. Marvel at Lyon’s well-preserved Roman ruins, the Amphitheater and Odeon. Explore Lyon’s famous traboules, secret passageways through buildings. Traboules were important to Lyon’s silk trade and were also used by the French Resistance in WWII.
If you are a fan of the arts, visit the Musée des Beaux-Arts, France’s second-largest Fine Arts museum. Be sure not to miss Lyon’s astoundingly detailed trompe-l’oeil murals. These iconic murals are found mostly in the Croix-Rousse area and cover entire sides of buildings with lifelike realism.
April through October are the best months in which to visit Lyon, but avoid July and August to avoid the crowds. Be sure to purchase the Lyon City Card during your stay. This gives you unlimited use of all public transportation, free or discounted access to top attractions, and even free city tours.
Has any of these day trips from Geneva caught your eye? Or you already have first-hand impressions from some of these places? Don’t hesitate to drop me a comment or message me on my social media @bulgarianonthego!
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