How to Plan Beautiful Day Trips from Geneva

Thanks to its location, a stone-throw from Switzerland’s border with France, there are many beautiful day trips from Geneva. Whether it’s an excursion on the majestic Mont Blanc, a visit to picture-perfect Annecy, or a jaunt to the charming town of Gruyères, your Geneva day trip will be an unforgettable experience.

Geneva is known for its charming old town, the lovely lakeshore, and for being home to the main international organizations, not least the Red Cross and the United Nations. While the city is worth spending one or two days, there’s also a lot to explore nearby, and you can have fabulous day trips from Geneva. Thanks to its geographic location, you can easily discover a bit of Switzerland and France. There’s also an exciting bonus. You’ll experience one of Switzerland’s famous scenic train rides to reach many destinations.

Best day trips from Geneva

Chamonix and the majestic Mont Blanc: an unforgettable Geneva day trip

Strategically located at the border between Switzerland and France, Geneva is very close to the Alps and Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in Europe. Chamonix, the world-famous mountain resort, is only about one hour away, and from there, you have several options to explore the valley. Chamonix and the Mont Blanc are arguably one of the preferred day trips from Geneva. And for a good reason. The alpine landscape is just breathtaking!

Chamonix Aiguille du Midi
The breathtaking Mont Blanc

I am passionate about mountains and glaciers; therefore, I recommend that you ride the Aiguille du Midi cable car. Once you reach the top, at 3,842m (12,605ft), you’ll get to see one of the most jaw-dropping alpine scenery. Imagine being surrounded by snow-capped peaks and glaciers, feeling like you were on top of the world.

High altitude can be an issue for some people, though. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t admire stunning glaciers. Go onboard the famous Chamonix red cog train to Montenvers (1,913m / 6,276ft), where you’ll get beautiful views of the Mer de Grace glacier and the Grandes Jorasses mountain range.

How to get from Geneva to Chamonix

You can catch a bus between Geneva and Chamonix, although there are not many throughout the day. Check out the timetable and prices -> Here

Day tours from Geneva to Chamonix

Montreux and the picturesque Chillon Castle

Montreux is home to one of Switzerland’s most iconic images: the one of the Chillon castle reflecting in the water. There are many things to do in Montreux, and the visit to the Chillon castle is only one of them.

Lake Geneva Chillon Castle
Lake Geneva, Chillon Castle. Photo courtesy ELG21 from Pixabay

Montreux lakefront is easily the prettiest of Lake Geneva, always perfectly kept and decorated with beautiful flowers at almost any season. I suggest you walk to the castle. It only takes about 30-40 minutes, and you’ll have a stroll in a charming setting. Chillon is built on limestone rock and in a strategic position on what was once the path leading to Italy to the south and Germany to the north. Starting in the 12th century, the castle became the House of Savoy’s summer residency and thus was expanded. At the end of the 16th century, the Savoy lost control of the castle, which later became a prison.

The medieval Chateau de Chillon is one of the top attractions in Montreux, so you may want to buy your ticket in advance to avoid possible queues and waste of time.

Montreux is a must-see for all Freddy Mercury and Queen fans. The band visited the Swiss city for the first time in 1978. They would regularly come and go since they bought a registration studio, where they recorded six albums. From 1987 until he died in 1991, Freddy Mercury spent more and more time in Montreux, where he could find the tranquillity he needed to face his illness. The city paid its tribute to the unforgotten singer by erecting a giant statue sculpted by Irena Sedlecká towering on the shore of lake Geneva. You can even book a Freddy Mercury tour to learn about his time in Montreux, his house and favorite places.

How to get from Geneva to Montreux

It’s very easy to reach Montreux from Geneva by train, and it takes about one hour. You can check the timetable and buy your ticket here

If you prefer organised tours, have a look at the day trip from Geneva to Montreux and the Chillon castle, with free time to explore on your own.

Best tours in Montreux

  • Take a 2-hour lake cruise and enjoy the beautiful lake Geneva and the surrounding mountains.
  • Almost halfway between Montreux and Lausanne, Chaplin’s Word is a must-see for all cinema fans. At the Manoir, where Chaplin lived for 25 years, you’ll have an amazing experience. Book your ticket in advance here!

Lausanne, its colorful old town and great museums

While Geneva is known for housing many of the most important international NGOs, Lausanne is recognised as the “Olympic city”. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) sits there, as well as the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Furthermore, the Olympic Museum opened in 1993 and has become one of the top attractions in Lausanne.

The old town with its colorful houses is charming. Don’t miss visiting the gothic Cathedral, dating back to the year 1170. Built as a catholic church, the Cathedral was turned into a Protestant religious building with the Protestant Reformation in the mid-16th century.

The promenade bordering the lake is enchanting and relaxing. From Quai d’Ouchy to the Ouchy waterfront, where the boats depart, you’ll enjoy magnificent views of the mountains and France on the opposite side of the lake. This is also where you’ll find the Olympic Museum and the Hotel Beau-Rivage, one of the most exclusive in Switzerland and hosting so many VIPs.

How to get from Geneva to Lausanne

It’s quick and easy to reach Montreux from Geneva by train, and it takes about 45 to 50 minutes. You can check the timetable and buy your ticket here

If you prefer organised tours, have a look at the day trip from Geneva to Lausanne, Vevey, Montreux and Chillon castle.

Best tours in Lausanne

  • One of the best day tours from Lausanne is a walk in the beautiful Lavaux terraces, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Discover vine stories and taste the delicious local wine on this day trip.
  • Although you’d have to get to Lausanne from Geneva on your own, there’s a very interesting day trip to discover the best of the “Swiss Riviera”. It includes visits to Chaplin’s World, the Lavaux terraces, Vevey, Montreux and Chillon castle.
  • If you’re keen to visit the French shore of Lake Geneva, there’s an independent excursion by boat to Evian, a charming town well known also for its mineral water.

Visit the picture-perfect village of Gruyères

There are countless lovely towns throughout the country, but Gruyères is easily one of the most beautiful villages in Switzerland you can visit.

Switzerland, Gruyères Medieval Castle
Gruyères, one of the most beautiful towns in Switzerland

You may have heard of Gruyère cheese, which is produced in this area (but beware of the ones just “stealing the name”). Actually, many people call Gruyère a cheese that is not: it’s Emmenthal, easy to recognize for its large holes. Saying that Emmenthal is almost the same as Gruyères – produced in the region – is like affirming that a Fiat car is the same as a BMW. if you haven’t tasted it yet (I mean, the real thing), this is the right time to catch up.

Gruyères was built following the typical medieval structure: a castle perched atop a hill to dominate the valley and counter possible attacks. The town was circled by walls, and you can still see some ruins. The village is tiny but so cute that you’ll fall in love.

While you’re in Gruyères village, you can also visit the cheese factory and the nearby Cailler chocolate factory.

How to get from Geneva to Gruyères

If you want to go independently, you must know that by train it takes 2 hours to get from Geneva to Gruyères. No worries, you won’t get bored since it’s one of Switzerland’s most scenic train journeys. Check out the timetables and fares -> Here.

If you prefer organised tours, have a look at these day trips from Geneva.

Best day trips to Gruyères from Geneva

  • A full-day excursion from Geneva to discover Gruyères. You’ll ride the scenic Panoramic Golden Express, visit the chocolate factory, and see the cheese factory. There will be time to explore the village at your pace, and you’ll also get to taste the delicious cheese fondue.
  • A cheaper option is the Gruyères day trip from Geneva without the panoramic train ride and the cheese fondue. You’ll still enjoy the scenery, but from a luxury coach, and the trip includes the Cailler chocolate factory and a visit to the cheese museum.
  • There’s also a private day tour to Gruyères from Geneva, which is a good option if you’re a family or a group of up to four people.

You can read my dedicated post if you wish to know more about Gruyères and why it’s one of the most beautiful villages in Switzerland.

Discover charming Annecy

The small city of Annecy is only 40 km away and thus makes a perfect day trip from Geneva. A medieval town whose origins date back to the 14th century, Annecy is charming.

Picturesque Annecy

Located on the banks of the Annecy lake and the Thiou river and surrounded by mountains, Annecy is actually one of the most picturesque cities of France Haute Savoie 2. Stroll along the canals lined by colorful houses, get lost in the cobblestone alleys, climb to the castle, walk along the lakeshore, and chill out at one of the many cute cafes.

How to get from Geneva to Annecy, France

The easiest way to travel from Geneva to Annecy is by bus. The journey takes about 1 hour. Check here the timetables and prices.

Day trips to Annecy from Geneva

Explore Bern, the Swiss capital and a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Tourists often overlook the capital of Switzerland, although the city is beautiful. The old town is compact and not too big. Therefore, you can discover Bern’s main attractions on a day trip from Geneva.

Bern, Switzerland capital city and UNESCO WHS

The old city, built on a hill and surrounded by the emerald-green Aare river, is a little jewel. From the middle age onward, the historical center developed a consistent architectural style, earning Bern the status of UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. I spent some time in Bern over the last few years and never got tired of the charming alleys, the beautiful allegoric fountains, the colorful flags, and the view of the Alps.

There’s no better way to explore the city than getting lost in the alleys. After all, the old town is not that big, and you’ll find your way back, eventually. A must-see is the Zytglogge, the tower with the famous astronomical clock dating back to the early 15th century. If you love modern art and architecture, don’t miss visiting the Paul Klee Zentrum. The building designed by famous Italian architect Renzo Piano is beautiful, and the collection of Paul Klee artworks is incredible.

How to get from Geneva to Bern

The easiest way to travel from Geneva to Annecy is by bus. The journey takes about 1 hour. Check here the timetables and prices.

Bern tours

No matter which tour you end up picking, these Geneva day trips won’t disappoint you.

Where to stay in Geneva

The Ruby Claire Hotel Geneva is strategically located close to many of Geneva main attractions. It features modern and stylish decor at affordable prices (considering that Switzerland is expensive).

The cozy and stylish Eastwest Hôtel is located close to the lake and the train station, withing walking distance to several Geneva landmarks and many nearby public transportation options.

For the ultimate luxury experience, there’s no better place in Geneva than the Hotel Beau-Rivage. Located in Ouchy, the Beau-Rivage boasts magnificent views of the lake and the alps. Since its opening in 1861, this beautiful Belle Epoque building has hosted many celebrities, including Nelson Mandela, Coco Chanel, King Hussein and Queen Noor of Jordan, to mention only a few.

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About Me

Travel addict and passionate about photography, Simon Falvo started Wild About Travel back in 2009. Leveraging her strong PR background, she developed an extensive knowledge of Digital Communications and Content Creation. Besides travel writing Simon holds workshops and trainings, she collaborated with tourism boards for digital marketing campaigns and participated as a speaker at several events.

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