Set on the banks of Switzerland’s largest lake, with the French border just minutes away, Geneva offers an abundance of choice for day-trippers. Whether it’s cruising the Swiss Riviera, scaling the French Alps’ snowy peaks, or sipping fine vintages in lakeside vineyards, here are some options for Geneva day tours.
The Swiss Riviera — 58 miles (93 km) to Montreux
The Swiss shores of Lake Geneva have long been a favored destination among Europe’s elite, and the Swiss Riviera has had a number of famous residents over the years—Audrey Hepburn, Charlie Chaplin, and Sophia Loren, to name a few. Exploring the lakeside towns and villages is made easy by excellent train and road links from Geneva, but to make the most of your time, opt for a full-day tour of Montreux or Lausanne. Highlights include the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, the market town of Vevey, Chaplin’s World, and Chillon Castle in Montreux.
Chamonix and Mont Blanc — 51 miles (82 km) to Chamonix
The European Union’s open borders policy means that you don’t need a visa to enter France (you’ll need your passport though), so hop over the border for a trip to Chamonix, one of the most popular resorts in the French Alps. Chamonix isn’t just a hot spot for skiers and summer hikers—it’s also the gateway to Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in Western Europe, reaching a height of 15,780 feet (4,810 meters). Take the cable car to the summit of Aiguille du Midi from where the views span the Swiss, French, and Italian Alps, or ride the scenic rack railway to nearby Montenvers for a view over the 4.35-mile-long (7-kilometer-long) Mer de Glace glacier.
Gruyères — 75 miles (120 km) away
Cheese and chocolate are somewhat synonymous with Switzerland, and the alpine village of Gruyères is home to both. Start your trip with a visit to the Broc chocolate factory, where Nestlé and Cailler chocolates are made. Then tour one of the region’s famous cheese factories, where you’ll learn about the ancient cheese-making process and get the chance to sample a selection of regional cheeses and wines. Finally, take in the views from the 13th-century Gruyères castle, then enjoy a ride on the famous Panoramic Golden Express, one of Switzerland’s most scenic train rides.
Lavaux Vineyards — 49 miles (78 km) away
Lake Geneva is also home to the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Lavaux Vineyards, famous for their unique setting and Chasselas grapes—and you can’t miss the dramatic terraced vines that climb the steep hillsides between Lausanne and Montreux. There are a number of options for wine tasting in the region, but if you’re visiting during the summer months, hop aboard the Lavaux Express or the Lavaux Panoramic, two special wine trains that chug around the vineyards and drop passengers at the hillside wineries and villages.