The Best Things to See and Do Around Lake Geneva, Switzerland

A thunderstorm over Lake Geneva
A thunderstorm over Lake Geneva | © PiConsti / Flickr
Sean Mowbray

Lake Geneva, or Lac Léman, is Switzerland’s largest lake, and it curves along the border of France. A trip there is guaranteed to come with dramatic scenery. On the Swiss side, you have the Jura Mountains, and across the border in France, the glistening, snow-capped peak of Mont Blanc is visible on clear days. Here are the best things to see and do around Lake Geneva.

Caves ouvertes

Wine lover or not, you’ll fall for the caves ouvertes, a wonderful tradition that welcomes the coming of spring around Lake Geneva. Every year, all of the wine producers, most of them small, family-run businesses, open their doors to sell their wares at discount prices. Buy a glass, and you can ‘sample’ as many different Swiss wines as you like. Most of the small villages around Lake Geneva host their own events, including traditional Swiss food stalls offering up dishes such as raclette.

Jet d’Eau

While exploring Geneva, you’ll inevitably glimpse the towering cascade of water which is the Jet d’Eau (literally, the water jet). The fountain started its life as a safety valve for a hydroelectric plant; now it’s a steadfast landmark of the city. Take a tour around the city’s lakefront from the Jardin Anglais to the Jardin Botanique on the opposite bank, crossing the Pont du Mont-Blanc, to take in the best sights that Geneva has to offer you.

Jet d’Eau, Geneva, Switzerland

Chillon Castle

Chillon Castle is one of the jewels of Lake Geneva – and the entire country. It’s renowned as the most beautiful castle, not least because of its perfect setting on the shores of Lake Geneva, with enviable overlooks of the distant mountains. The castle dates back to the 13th century and has been a fortress, summer home and a prison during its long life. Learn more about its fascinating history here.

Chillon Castle, Avenue de Chillon 21, Veytaux / Montreux, Switzerland, +41 21 966 89 10

Chillon Castle

Visit local markets

Some of Switzerland’s best local markets take place in the towns around Lake Geneva. At the Puces de Nyon, all manner of second-hand and vintage items are for sale along the waterfront. During summertime, the town of Vevey plays host to a Swiss folklore market, complete with traditional dress, tankards of beer and plenty of trinkets and local crafts. Weekly markets also occur in Geneva, Lausanne, Montreux and most other towns.

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