Top Family Day Trips in Geneva, Switzerland
Geneva is the perfect jumping off point for family day trips to both Switzerland and France—think chocolate, castles and the Alps.
Sightseeing in Switzerland one day and France the next is one of the many joys of staying at Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues Geneva. The city of Geneva sits right on the border—you can literally have a wonderful plat du jour for lunch in France followed by chocolate in Switzerland for dessert. The list of possible activities with kids is endless; take it from us—my husband, 10-year-old son Devon and I lived in the picturesque village of Villette, outside of Lausanne, for two years. Here are my top picks for kids of any age:
Cruise on Lake Geneva
Four Seasons is just steps from Lake Geneva, also known as Lac Léman. CGN runs boat tours using a wonderful fleet of ships, including historic paddle steamers such as La Suisse.
On a clear day, there’s nothing better than taking in the breathtaking mountain scenery from the deck of one of these boats. They travel to all corners of the lake and run year-round (though the winter timetable is more limited).
A favourite trip of ours is to head to the impossibly quaint village of Yvoire in France, complete with lovely streets for strolling, picturesque restaurants and shops, and the sweet Garden of the Five Senses.
Yodel from the top of the Alps
Chamonix is home to Mont Blanc, the highest peak in the Alps—and boasts some of the best skiing and mountain climbing in the world. The drama of the glaciers and ragged peaks in and around Mont Blanc is nothing short of spectacular, and it’s only an hour’s drive from Geneva.
Families can head to the precipitous top of Aiguille du Midi on Mont Blanc via a multi-station cable car ride. The ride alone will leave you giggling, screaming, or a bit of both. It’s a total rush, and the views from the top over the French, Swiss and Italian Alps are magnificent.
Tour a Medieval fortress
Chillon Castle is the most visited attraction in Switzerland for good reason. Located at the opposite end of the lake from Geneva near Montreux, the castle dates back a thousand years. Even if you don’t have time for a full guided tour (minimum tour time is an hour), the outside of the fortress is stunning.
You can take a CGN boat from Geneva to Chillon and a then take a train back, or take the train both ways. In nice weather, we love the leisurely stroll from the castle to Montreux along the lakefront promenade lined with gorgeous, unique plant life that thrives due to the mild climate on this part of the lake.
A setting so pretty, it looks fake
Only half-an-hour away via car, Lake Annecy is just too close to Geneva to skip. The Vieille Ville of Annecy is so pretty it looks almost fake, and Lake Annecy is spectacular with its turquoise water and a shoreline covered with idyllic villages and Michelin-starred restaurants. Add in majestic Alpine peaks as the backdrop and you have one incredible spot.
We made our visit kid-friendly by taking a short boat ride and running around the park before settling into lunch on the Venice-like Thiou Canal.
Olympic Museum and UNESCO-protected vineyards
Lausanne is a quick train ride from Geneva and worth a day trip. This bustling city is also home to The Olympic Museum, which covers the history of this iconic global event. The museum has been closed for the past two years for renovation, but is due to re-open over the next few months. Based on the time and money invested on the updates, I have no doubt it will be worth the wait.
If you have a full day, take the train a bit further into UNESCO-protected Lavaux for a picturesque walk among 500-year old vineyards. Or, during the summer months, have lunch on the beach in Lutry, where kids can jump off a high-diving board into the lake with the locals.
For more Geneva travel tips, check out Amie’s post on Ciao Bambino!.