For me, a dream weekend involves a bit of fitness incorporated sightseeing, good food, good local wine and good company. My gal pal and I had the best weekend in Geneva a few weeks ago, with a taste test of all the best a summer weekend in Europe should offer.
If you’re a travel obsessed nomad like me, saving a bit of money here and there is ideal – all the better to fit in as many European jaunts as you can. With that in mind, we stayed at the Holiday Inn Express, right near the airport. The beauty of Geneva is, you’re only a 10 minute train ride away from the city when you touch down and prices are literally half the price if you stay out there. We knew we’d be out sightseeing – so a pretty location to rest our heads didn’t really matter to us.
Public transport in Geneva city is free…I repeat FREE if you stay in a hotel, youth hostel or campsite. It allows you to jump on any bus, tram, train or taxi boat for the duration of your stay. Better still, to get from the airport to your place of stay – you can use the free 80-minute ticket given freely to any passenger at the airport.
Mont Saleve – Bright and early on Saturday morning we caught the number 8 bus from the main Geneva bus station over to Mont Saleve. It’s just outside the Geneva border, so you hop off the bus and literally walk into France. When you reach the cable car sign posting, turn left – that’s of course, if you want to follow our lead and hike your way to the top instead of catching the lift. The trail is a bit tricky to find…and involves following a little flag and arrow that is often-hidden on signposts. You have to cross a bridge over the highway to get to the entrance. Now let me tell you, this walk isn’t for the un-fit. It’s bloody tough. It’s a two hour trek to the top…and it’s all incline. I’m talking vertical. There were points along the way where we considered two year old tantrum-ing it right then and there…but the pros definitely outweighed the cons. About halfway up you hit the town of Monnetier, a cute little village to wander through and more importantly catch your breath in. The view from the top is absolutely breath-taking. You have a birds eye view over Lake Geneva, and while there is a café to sit and have a meal in – prices are on the expensive side and the food didn’t look all that flash. We opted for a packed picnic, which worked a treat as there was plenty of green space right up the front with an un-interrupted view over the city below. If you continue up from the first viewing point – you get to see the view from the other side, which is JUST as incredible, the snow-capped outline of the French Alps and another wide open space perfect to picnic in. After taking in the views on both sides, we took the cable car back down to the bottom.
Bains des Pâquis – After the sweat hike, we were in desperate need of a cool off, and what better way than in Lake Geneva itself! The open lake baths are divine, and the perfect place to grab a drink, get your sunbake on and relax in the stunningly clear waters of Lake Geneva. I couldn’t recommend this highly enough. I was so surprised by how gorgeous the water was, especially as it is a working ‘harbour’ so to speak, with boats, and all sorts of things using the Lake as well.
Cheese Fondue – is a Swiss delicacy you can’t pass up, and the bacon and mushroom laced one at Les Armures comes highly recommended by two hiked ravenous 20 something women… With mini potatoes and a selection of breads to dip, we were quite possibly in cheese heaven here, and with a lovely historical view – we couldn’t have been happier.
Yvoire – is another must visit while staying in Geneva. It’s just an hour away, and 100% worth dedicating a day too. We jumped on a 20 minute train to Nyon and then hopped on the ferry across Lake Geneva. Yvoire, was quite possibly, one of the cutest and most breath-taking little European towns I’ve visited. Surrounded by medieval walls, the cobbled walkways are full of cute restaurants. The views from the town and of the town are to die for – and there are lots of places to pick up little trinkets and take plenty of Instagram photos your friends will drool over. Be sure to get the seafood for lunch, in particular perches! They’re a fab local cuisine you just have to try.
All in all – this is a lovely weekender. While Geneva doesn’t have an awful lot in it – there is plenty around it, and plenty to do. For the outdoorsy type, summer in this spot is divine. Better known for its winter and skiing, you’ll find Switzerland is actually cheaper in the summer-time, making it a great budget friendly escape.