Although it is one of the smallest metropolises in the world, Geneva is a wonderful city to visit. Located on the beautiful Lake Geneva, this city has quite a lot to offer aside from natural beauty. The Old Town is a successful shopping and business district with many places to go sightseeing as well, like the best museums in Geneva and old churches such as St Peter's Cathedral. Geneva has plenty of lakeside promenades and greenspaces where you can go walking, plus many shops and boutiques that are perfect for some retail therapy.
If you ever get the opportunity to vacation in Switzerland, Geneva is a great spot to start. It offers its own attractions and is also a gateway to many more interesting towns and landmarks that can easily be visited on a road trip. Leave your bags at a suitcase locker in Geneva if you feel like exploring the surrounding area. You will have endless opportunities for day trips and we will introduce you to some of the most popular.
How to get out of Geneva
Since Switzerland is known for having a fantastic public transportation system, you shouldn't have very much trouble getting around the city at all. Geneva doesn't have a subway but you will find boats, buses, and trams available for your convenience and they do a fine job of getting you from one place to the other. Put all together, the trams and buses should be able to bring you basically anywhere within the city limits. Bikes are also an affordable and efficient means of travel.
If you want to get across Lake Geneva, the mouettes (small yellow water shuttles) can get you there in no time. Even though parking can be expensive lots of people like to drive around the city, and having your own car can be useful when you are planning day trips from Geneva. The city is also connected to a train line leaving Geneva Train Station that might be able to take you to where you need to go.
From Geneva to Chamonix
Chamonix is a small mountain village located just across France's border. It is a lovely place surrounded by the Arve Valley and French Alps, and this town in particular is found right at the base of one of the beautiful mountains. Mont Blanc reaches an altitude of 4,800 meters at the summit, making it the tallest peak in Western Europe and the 11th tallest in the world! Visitors are welcome to climb to the summit of the mountain or you can take a cable car ride up the Aiguille du Midi peak which offers a fantastic panoramic view of the surrounding mountain region. Make sure that you bring a camera on the cable cars since the views are spectacular!
There are plenty of other stunning places to go exploring near Chamonix as well, like the Mer de Glace which is found in Montevers and can be reached by riding a cog railway. While you are there you will also get to visit the ice caves and learn all about the Montevers railway, how it was built, and the glacier that it rests on. Grab a bite to eat at the Panoramic Restaurant, too! Your time spent in the city of Chamonix itself will also be full of entertainment, with cafes, shops, and chalets galore for you to explore. Skiing, whitewater rafting and even paragliding activities are available for the most daring adventurers.
How to get to Chamonix
The trip over the French border to Chamonix is easy from Geneva; all that you have to do is hop on the Flixbus. The journey takes a bit over an hour and then you will be all ready to explore Chamonix! There are also guided tours that travel between the two cities if you would prefer to explore them with a group.
From Geneva to Annecy
Annecy is another French city that can be easily visited from Geneva. Sometimes nicknamed the "Venice of the Alps", this town and its peaceful canals feel like something straight out of a fairytale. It also has a fascinating history that began in the 1200s when the Counts of Geneva decided to make it their headquarters. One of the highlights of the city is the Chateau d'Annecy, a restored fortress in the Old Town that now houses a museum dedicated to the city. The Old Town, also called the Vieille Ville, is just a short walk away from the City Hall.
The local history has a lot to offer, as well as the spectacular scenery of the canals and houses that are reminiscent of a medieval village. One landmark that you will definitely want to visit is the Palais de l'Isle. This 12th century structure was once used as a prison but today many people visit it to take their photos at the Lovers Bridge. Before ending your day trip take the time to stroll around the gorgeous Jardins de l'Europe.
How to get to Annecy
It used to be challenging to reach Annecy but, thanks to the new developments in the public transportation sector, getting there today will be a breeze. Using the Flexibus it will be about an hour's drive.
From Geneva to Montreux
Take a trip just across Lake Geneva and you will find yourself in the lovely alpine town of Montreux. It is very close to Geneva making it a quick and easy day trip while still offering plenty of new things to see and do. Throughout time, this city has seen important visitors, including Freddy Mercury, the lead singer of the band Queen. The band created some of their most famous albums while in the town and their studio can be visited for free. Charlie Chaplin was another popular resident of Montreux, and you can learn all about him by visiting Chaplin's World Museum.
The main highlight of Montreux is Chillon Castle, also known as Chateau Chillon, which is placed upon a small island in the lake. The beautiful medieval castle dates back to the 13th century and was used to protect the city by monitoring the waters. The original structure was built in the 9th century and the old foundations can still be visited today. If you want to admire the castle from afar you should take a stroll down the lakeside promenade.
How to get to Montreux
The journey from Geneva to Montreux is simple (it is just across the lake, after all!). There are direct trains traveling regularly between the two towns and the ride will only take a bit over an hour.
From Geneva to Lucerne
Lake Lucerne is the biggest lake in all of Europe and located just on its shore is Lucerne, one of the most beautiful villages in the area. You will be amazed by the stunning natural beauty of Lucerne as the snow capped mountains are reflected in the water of the lake, including some of the most famous mountains like Mount Pilatus and Mount Rigi. There is ample opportunity for hiking in the nearby alpine peaks or you can take a scenic boat ride on the lake. There are a few islands on Lake Lucerne, and a boat cruise is the perfect way to take advantage of the attractions located on each one.
Reichenau Island is home to Chapel Bridge, and if you stop at Rutli Island you can check out the Museum of Art & History. After your boat ride, you will know a bit more about Lucerne and its history, but there is still plenty more to see in the city. Switzerland is famous for its delicious Swiss chocolate and some of the tasty treats are made right here in Lucerne. Consider going on a tour of a chocolate factory while you are here!
How to get to Lucerne
To get to Lucerne from Geneva you can either take the train or drive yourself. Either way, it is about a three hour's drive so expect to be on the road for a while. You can look forward to admiring the beautiful Swiss countryside as you travel.
From Geneva to Gruyeres
Gruyeres is a beautiful city that is known for its world famous cheese, making it one of the best day trip destinations for foodies. During your visit, you can see how the cheese is made and even sample some yourself! Some of the local specialties include cheese fondue and raclette. The latter involves a huge piece of cheese that is placed in front of an open fire until it melts, and then it is enjoyed with pickled onions, spiced potatoes, and meats. One thing is for sure, you won't go hungry when you are visiting Gruyeres!
This town dates back to the middle ages and also has plenty to offer with impressive architecture and history. The Chateau du Gruyeres is one of the city's landmarks that you will definitely want to visit; on the grounds outside of the palace is a lovely garden and inside you will find several exhibits and displays that cover about eight centuries of history. During your time in Gruyeres, you should also check out the HR Giger Museum, the Tibet Museum, and the stunning Eglise Saint-Theodule.
How to get to Gruyeres
Getting to Gruyeres using the train will take just under two and a half hours, and you will have to switch tracks during your journey. If you use a car it will be quite a lot faster and you will reach the town in just an hour and a half. There are also guided tours that can take you here straight from Geneva, and they will show you around the city and its top attractions as well.
From Geneva to Bern
Feel like taking a trip back to the middle ages? The medieval village of Bern is a fantastic day trip from Geneva and you will love exploring its cobblestone streets both during the winter and summer months. You should reserve enough time to take at least a half day tour of the Old Town, which is a listed UNESCO World Heritage Site. One of the city's main highlights is the Zytglogge, an amazing astrological clock located on a tower that has previously been used as a prison and a guard tower. The clock and tower were built in the 13th century and they are just one of the many cultural attractions that you will get the chance to see.
While you are in Bern it is a great idea to check out the local museums as well. The Kunstmuseum, which is a Museum of fine arts, and the Einstein Museum are some of the best. Located next to the Aare River, Bern is also a photographer's dream and is a great place to enjoy nature while taking in amazing views.
How to get to Bern
You can get to Bern, Switzerland from Geneva using either the high speed train or a car. Both travel methods will get you there in a bit under two hours.
Simple and Spectacular Trips from Geneva
While you are visiting Geneva you will have so many day trips to choose from along the Swiss Riviera. Thanks to the city's location you will get to enjoy spectacular mountain views and scenic train rides no matter where you choose to go. The Geneva area has something to offer everyone, whether you want to visit a ski resort to participate in some winter sports or go wine tasting in one of the towns along the northern shores of Lake Geneva.
Getting to most of the places that we've included on this list will be easy if you use a car or take the train, and there are full day tours offered as well. If you do sign up for a guided tour you will be taken straight from Geneva to your destination, meaning that you won't have to worry about transport or activities. No matter where you decide to go, we have no doubts that you will have an unforgettable time during your day trip from Geneva.