Cyclist rides past Mandarin Oriental, Geneva
Geneva

Geneva’s best outdoor adventures

At the pointy end of the croissant-shaped Lac Léman – or Lake Geneva as it’s known in English – within easy reach of both the Alps and the Jura and at the very heart of western Europe, Geneva’s location is hard to beat. There’s no better base from which to explore everything the great outdoors has to offer

Vista from the mountains overlooking Geneva

Hike high above the city

The easiest and quickest way to get into the mountains from Geneva is to head for Mont Salève. A short bus or car ride outside the city over the border in France, it’s a tranquil spot for hiking and picnicking – or even flying, if you fancy paragliding from the top. A cable car will take you up most of the way, then it’s a short walk to the summit, from where you’ll see Geneva spread out below and the Alps – including Mont Blanc on a clear day – in the distance. Head to the Halle de Rive in central Geneva beforehand to pick up some treats for a gourmet picnic. For the most spectacular picnic spot of all, ask the Concierge to arrange a helicopter flight over Mont Blanc, including a landing on the Trient Glacier and enjoy a gourmet lunch at high altitude.

Paddle steamer on Lake Geneva

Make the most of the lake

Lac Léman serves as both transport network and playground for the city’s inhabitants year-round. The Compagnie Générale de Navigation runs a fleet of elegant vintage ferries used by commuters and tourists alike. Ride one to the mediaeval French village of Yvoire or the spa town of Évian-les-Bains, enjoy a lunch cruise or evening party boat, or buy a day pass and spend the day hopping on and off around the lake. If you’d prefer to be in the water instead of on it, the beach and pool complex Genève-Plage is the place to relax. Suitably bronzed and exercised, spend the evening sipping pisco sours and feasting on zingy ceviche at Yakumanka.

Man rides bike near a lake in the sunshine

Spend the day in France

If you fancy lunch in France, the beautiful town of Annecy is only a short drive or train ride away. Potter about the canal-side streets, browse the market (on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays), take a pedalo out on the lake or hire bikes and ride the 42km (mostly) flat loop around it. Experienced cyclists might prefer to tackle one of the area’s challenging climbs, several of which have featured in the Tour de France. Alternatively, the area’s mountain villages, including Le Grand Bornand and La Clusaz, sport wonderful scenery, hearty Savoyard food and picture-book chalets.

People skate on a frozen lake at the Jura Mountains

Explore the Jura

It’s easy to have your head turned by the attention-grabbing Alps, but don’t forget the less flashy but always elegant Jura mountains. Lac de Joux, the Jura’s biggest lake, offers sailing and windsurfing in summer and ice-skating on its frozen surface in winter. The area’s various cols are popular with cyclists, while the hike to the summit of Mont Tendre is a manageable but satisfying day out for most, with the reward of wine and rösti awaiting at the Buvette du Mont-Tendre near the top

Vineyards and lake near Geneva

Cycle through the vineyards

Switzerland isn’t well known outside the country for its wine, but the Swiss don’t mind – they’re happy to drink it all themselves. Vineyards coat the slopes above Lac Léman from Geneva along much of the Swiss side of the lake and into the Rhône Valley, showing visitors just how important wine is to the locals here. Hire a bike from Cornavin station in central Geneva and cycle 10km to the wine-making village of Satigny to explore the vineyards and their many caves. Or take a train further afield to walk through the ancient terraced vineyards of Lavaux, arguably the country’s prettiest.

For more ideas on what to see and do in and around the city, read Mandarin Oriental’s ‘Insider’s Guide to Geneva’, compiled by hotel colleagues, with tips on where to go and what to do.

Mandarin Oriental Geneva
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Mandarin Oriental Geneva

Quai Turrettini 1 , Geneva 1201, Switzerland

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Sailing boat on Lake Geneva

One city, five ways: Geneva

It’s a cosmopolitan city with a heavyweight cultural scene, clever fine dining, opulent shopping and lakeside romance. Whatever your travel tribe there’s sure to be something to enchant you in Geneva