Conveniently located on the French-Swiss border and nestled into the Alps, Geneva is the perfect starting point for a plethora of incredible outdoor activities.
Whether you are visiting the city for business or pleasure, as long as you can build in at least an extra day, there is no limit to the outdoor adventures that await.
Right around the city itself, there is every type of activity imaginable from leisurely walking tours to rock climbing adventures and even paragliding tours! The famous outdoor hubs of Chamonix and Courmayeur are also both only a couple of hours away by public transport or rented car.
So what do you say? Check out some of the excellent outdoor options below and plan something special to spice up your next visit to Geneva!
1. Sail through the skies of Geneva
Affectionately known as “the balcony of Geneva”, the nearby French mountain of Salève is a popular destination for the Swiss city dwellers and serves as the perfect starting point for a paragliding adventure.
Located just 45 minutes to the south of Geneva, this paragliding adventure begins with a bit of hiking and rock climbing in order to summit the mountain. However, none of this is too challenging and should be doable for any able-bodied participant.
After reaching the summit, you have a bit of time to enjoy the views before gearing up for the tandem paragliding jump and heading out for the trip’s highlight.
For the next 20 minutes enjoy sailing through the air, gliding over various thermals and making a leisurely descent back to terra firma.
Along the way take in some simply stunning views over the surrounding mountains and back toward the lovely Lake Geneva. There is simply no better way to see this place than from the sky.
How to get there: Getting here is pretty simple as well. By car, you will take the A1 south from Geneva to the French border. After crossing the border, you will take the A41 to the A40 and then get off on the D1201, merging onto the D410 and D41A before reaching Salève. You can also get there by taking a bus from Gare Routiere or a train from Gare Cornavin.
2. Get out and climb!
Since Geneva is surrounded by mountains on all sides, there are plentiful opportunities to get out of the city for a day or two and head on a rock climbing adventure.
Whether it will be your first time getting out of the city and trying out rock climbing or your hundredth, there are plenty of great spots to explore all around, in both Switzerland and France.
One constant that you will experience regardless of where you go is incredible scenery. Views of mountains, Lake Geneva and the city’s downtown abound. Heading farther afield into France and climbing yields more great mountain views as well.
The variety of climbing is also pretty great. Try out various trad routes from simple single-pitches to more challenging multi-pitch ones, or try out the sport and top rope climbing at other locations. Just talk to your guide and figure out the perfect itinerary for you.
Many rock climbing guides are based right in Geneva since there is no shortage of opportunities all around. Coordinate with them about where to climb and some may even provide transport to the start of the climb for you.
3. Take in some culture as you go
There are plenty of ways to get out and have a great time around Geneva without going so far as jumping off the top of a mountain or scaling a stark rock wall.
Sitting just an hour up the A1, the lovely mountainside Lavaux Vineyard Terraces offer the perfect mix of outdoor splendor and world-class refreshment.
Stretching for more than 30 kilometers along the northern shore of Lake Geneva, there are plenty of excellent trails on which to hike. These trails offer great views out over this UNESCO World Heritage site as well as the snow-capped mountains and turquoise blue waters of the lake.
Spend as much or as little time as you like hiking along the various trails, but be sure to finish off the day with a refreshing glass of wine and light snack at one of the various bodegas.
How to get there: By car, you can drive along the lakeshore up to the A1. Buses and trains from the aforementioned stations are also easy enough to take as well.
Get ready for an afternoon well spent as you get in some hiking and enjoy a glass of wine with a view too!
4. Swap the city streets for mountain peaks
Just an hour and a half to the east of Geneva sits the picturesque mountain village of Chamonix. While it is most famous for its skiing, mountaineering is another excellent activity available for outdoor adventurers here.
Keep reading: What to Do in Chamonix besides Climbing Mont Blanc
If you only have a couple of days to spare on a holiday or business trip then climbing Aiguille du Tour (3.540 meters) is an excellent option.
The climb lasts two days, yields amazing views out over the surrounding Alps, including Mont Blanc, and is one of the easiest peaks to climb in the Alps. No previous experience is required and you can learn all the necessary skills to summit the mountain along the way.
Plus you usually do not need to bring any of your own gear as there are numerous places all over Chamonix to rent everything from mountaineering boots to trekking poles and crampons.
How to get there: Aiguille du Tour is also pretty easy to reach from Geneva. Most guides will provide transport to the start of the climb from Chamonix, so all you need to do is to get here. This can be done by simply following the A40. Buses and trains are also available from the two aforementioned stations.
5. Take advantage of world-class skiing
Just a couple of hours southeast of Geneva is the world-class Italian resort town of Courmayeur.
Considered to be one of the best freeride skiing spots in all of the Alps, you would certainly regret being so close and not taking a chance to check out the slopes.
La Vallée Blanche, to the east of the Mont Blanc Massif, and Pointe Helbronner, on its southern slopes, are just two spots that offer thrilling freeride skiing. Both are easily accessible and provide an exceptional day worth of action and views.
If you opt to spend more than a day here, you will the chance to check out various spots. The slopes are all quite well-connected. Get up early in the morning and skin up the Toula Glacier before racing back down.
Or, head west of the resort town and explore the Dolonne and Vesse couloirs, both of which also offer great skiing opportunities, combining the perfect powder with stunning scenery.
The options are nearly endless!
How to get there: Courmayeur is simple to get to from Geneva. By car, it is just an hour and a half away via the A40 and N205. It can be reached by either bus or a combination of train and bus as well, both of which start from the aforementioned stations.
6. Have the run of your life!
Are you one of those people who needs to get daily run in no matter where you are? Well next time you are in Geneva, consider taking the time to head out to Chamonix before getting your running fix in.
Located just an hour away, the small resort town is chock-full of great trail running opportunities. Head out on the ‘Ultra-trail du Mont Blanc’ for some incredible views of Western Europe’s highest peak and follow some of the paths used in the Mont Blanc Marathon.
The entire valley in which Chamonix sits is also full of excellent trail running opportunities. Running with a guide can take you to some unexpected places and avoid the crowds of the more popular trails.
Keep reading: trail running in Chamonix, the best trails.
Coming to Chamonix is the best way to get a work out with a view. Run at your own pace and cover as much ground as you like. What could be better?
How to get there: By car, you just follow the A40 straight to Chamonix. The outdoor hub is also easily accessed by bus or train from Geneva’s main stations.