Stumped for what to do when you come visit? We’ve been here and explored a bit. Here are some ideas for daytrips:
- Lausanne – It is famous for its beautiful promenades on Lac Leman (Lake Geneva). It has a beautiful port (Ouchy), an Old Town dating back to the 14th century and is home to the Olympic Museum. As with all the lakefront towns, there are nice parks along the water and landings for boats that will take you aound the lake.
- Montreux – It is home to the world famous Montreux Jazz Festival. It offers incredible views of the Swiss Alps, has a beautiful lakefront promenade and is close to the Château de Chillon (see below).
- Vevey – Although it isn’t the wildest town, it’s an adorable town and a wonderful place to spend the afternoon. It’s home to Nestle so it has a food museum. McCarthyism forced Charlie Chaplin to resettle and he chose this peaceful town.
- La Côte, which is between Lausanne and Geneva, centered around Rolle, and Lavaux, which is between Lausanne and Vevey. The CGN boats also stop at many of the wine towns, so you could include a trip on one of those in your adventure. There is lots of information about Lavaux. Visitors who want to stay closer to Geneva could go to the cute town of Morges (link to post). Although we haven’t been, we hear that Coppet is nice.
- Château de Chillon – This is Switzerland’s most famous castle. Rick Steves ranks it as one of the top ten castles in Europe. It is situated on the opposite side of Lac Leman (Lake Geneva). It is fully restored and furnished with a collection of excavated antique weapons, chests and other items.
- Geneva is buffered by two sets of mountains, the Alps and the Jura. The Jura has many nice small towns and wonderful views of the lake with the Alps behind it. Pays de Gex is an area that is a short 15 km drive from Geneva it’s at the foothills of the Jura Mountains. They have public thermal baths so you can take in the invigorating waters. Popular towns include: Divonne-les-Bains and Ferney-Voltaire.
- The chocolate train to Gruyeres – On the chocolate train (an old restored train) you travel along the lake where the scenery is astonishingly beautiful into farm country on the edge of the alps. Gryueres is a beautiful, well-preserved medieval town and has breathtaking mountain views. The train includes trips to: the Gruyeres Castle, Cheese Tour (Cheese, Milk’s Leap Toward Immortality), and the Cailler Chocolate Factory (here are the links to: MySwitzerland’s summary, Cailler’s official site, my Chocoholics Anonymous blog post on the tour).
- Bern – Bern is the capital of Switzerland. You could do a nice self guided walking tour of the city. There are many museums ( Paul Klee Museum, Kunstmuseum, Bern Historical Museum, Swiss Alpine Museum, Kunsthalle) and Einstein’s house. You could stop for a drink/lunch at the microbrewery overlooking the city and the bear habitat. In the summer, the river float is a must.
- Murten – A medieval walled town where one of the most important battles in Swiss history was fought. You could do a nice walking tour of the ramparts, walk through its covered arcades and stroll down to the lake (link to post, friend’s post, friend’s post). If you go by car, the Roman town of Avenches is nearby.
- Chamonix/Mount Blanc – Approximately 90 minutes from Geneva, it has ski resorts and a myriad of outdoor activities. Many people take the cable car to the top of the Aiguille du Midi for an unparalleled view of the Alps (on a clear days). Save this for a clear day to enjoy the views (link to friend’s post).
- Annecy, France – is only a forty minutes south of Geneva and is one of the most beautiful cities in France. It is situated next to mountains, has incredible lake front beaches along Lake Annecy and a maze of ancient canals that weave through the old town.
- Yvoire – if you want to head by boat to lunch in a beautiful setting, stroll around a charming (but tiny) town and pay in Euros, this is your town. While there are a lot of places on the lake that are larger and more exciting, it’s not a bad way to spend an afternoon (link to friend’s post).
- CERN – If you like science, this is a must. It is also, incidentally, the setting for the first scene of the book Angels and Demons. IMPORTANT NOTE: These tours must be booked far in advance. If you are interested in doing this, pick the day(s), fill out the form (on the link) and send it in as soon as you book your flight.