BEST WINTER ACTIVITIES IN GENEVA
Switzerland in winter is a fantastic idea – honestly, winter in Geneva might not be as spectacular as winter in Interlaken or St.Moritz but even though the city may be in its off-season, there are still many winter activities in Geneva.
No matter what time of year you visit, Geneva is famous worldwide for its chocolates and has a lot to offer tourists. It also serves as a gateway to the Alps. After thrilling days on the slopes or gallery-hopping across the cobblestones, winter in Geneva is all about drinking hot chocolate in cozy cafés while looking at the best views. Whatever you decide to do, you can be sure that the second-largest city in Switzerland will dazzle you with its wintery charm.
It’s time to pull out your warmest scarves from your wardrobe and head off to Geneva for a lovely winter holiday. In this post, we will focus on the best things to do in Geneva in winter.
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TRAVEL TIPS FOR YOUR GENEVA WINTER TRIP
But first, here are a few tips for your winter trip to Geneva.
Weather in Geneva During Winter
Pack plenty of layers for unwrapping in warm restaurants and heated shops and the appropriate cold-weather clothing for Switzerland in the winter. In Geneva, Switzerland, winter lasts from mid-December until mid-March.
The entire season is somewhat chilly from December through February with erratic temperatures. There are a lot of gloomy days and wind. With so many rainy days, the city may also be extremely wet. When it rains, the highest temperature can rise to or above 50 – 54°F (10 – 12°C).
In Geneva, it snows frequently; in fact, 20 to 25 percent of winter days have snow. This shouldn’t come as a massive surprise given the city’s location. Also, temperatures can drop below freezing.
What to Pack for Winter in Geneva, Switzerland
With temperatures this low, it’s important to pack to stay warm. Here are some essential items you should bring along with you:
- Snow or winter boots
- Thermal undergarments
- A thick winter coat
- Winter gloves
- A warm hat
- A scarf
- Warm, full-coverage garments
How to Get Around
Most sights within Geneva are close to each other, so you can just walk. However, you might need public transportation for many winter activities in Geneva. Public transportation in Geneva is good.
- If you stay in a hotel or hostel you will get a personal and non-transferable Geneva Transport Card. This allows you to use the whole public transportation system of Geneva for the length of your stay for free. This includes buses, trams, trains, and yellow taxi-boats –
- Or you can get around Geneva with a Geneva Pass. This will give you access to free transportation for 24 hours while allowing you to visit over 50 attractions (and you’ll save some money while doing so). Check out the prices for the Geneva Pass here.
Swiss Travel Pass
If you are a non-Swiss resident, you might want to look into a Swiss Travel Pass. I often, even if I road trip, buy them and use them for long distances, my boat cruises (I might have a slight obsession with boat rides), and even mountain rides.
THINGS TO DO IN GENEVA IN WINTER
Making plans for wintertime activities in Geneva is half the fun. Should you go skiing, shopping, sipping, or swooning over chocolate? Of all the fun winter activities in Switzerland, Geneva offers a ton of options.
Order your mulled wine and prepare for glittering magic at the Geneva Christmas markets. Many excellent Christmas markets open in Geneva around November and remain open to the end of December.
The major event occurs in the English Garden, also known as the Jardin Anglais, which offers breathtaking views of the Jet d’Eau fountain on Lake Geneva. You’ll pass by charming wooden chalets filled to the brim with goods pleading for your purchase. Think of handmade crafts, artisanal baked goods, and vintage wooden toys.
Expect stomach grumbling as you pass by the aromas of nuts roasting and batter frying. While you stock up on gifts, there are plenty of snacks at street food vendors.
Chocolate Walking Tour
Not only does Geneva have distinctive architecture, but it also produces some of the best chocolate in the world. What could be more enjoyable on a chilly day than indulging in chocolate?
Experience Geneva’s acclaimed 3-hour guided chocolate tour. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit some of Geneva’s top artisanal chocolate stores and sample their delectable creations. This three-hour tour will begin with the custom of breaking the “marmite” in the old town.
Try incredible artisanal chocolates, learn about chocolate’s history through entertaining anecdotes from your guide, and explore the city’s historic locations. Order the house hot chocolate from Chocolaterie Arn in Place du Bourg-de-Four and blow yourself away with champagne truffles.
Balloon Festival Day
Visit Château-d’Oex for the Festival International de Ballons on a day excursion from Geneva (the International Hot Air Balloon Festival). Each January, they launch dozens of hot air balloons daily during the Festival International de Ballons.
The festival also features tiny balloon demos, flying contests, air shows, and a sizable night illumination event. The festival features family-friendly workshops, rides in a chopper, balloon flights, exhibits, and other entertainment in addition to balloon events.
This hot air ballooning festival has two distinctive aspects. First, it is one of the rare wintertime celebrations for hot air balloons. Second, it is among the few festivals when you may witness hot air balloons soar over mountains covered in snow.
Geneva Lux Festival of Lights
It is always an excellent idea to travel to Geneva in the winter, particularly during the Geneva Lux Festival of Lights, when they decorate the city with thousands of lights. From the end of January through the first few days of February, light installations created by artists around the world adorn the streets in honor of Geneva Lux.
Visit around ten illuminated modern art pieces placed throughout the city’s streets with a knowledgeable guide. Allow yourself to get carried away into the world of the Geneva Lux Festival.
Going to the spa is very rejuvenating after a long day of skiing. A unique location, Bain-Bleu Hammam & Spa Genève-Plage, offers two distinct experiences: the Bath area and the Hammam.
The Bath area has two pools with beautiful amenities, including a steam room, whirlpools, hot tubs, massage beds, and jets. More important, though, is the lovely Bistro Lounge, which has a picturesque patio.
Switzerland is also home to many thermal baths, among the most enjoyable ways to spend a winter day outside. Hot springs naturally warm the water in Switzerland’s thermal spas. Due to the abundance of natural minerals in the water, it has many therapeutic and health benefits.
Ice Skating at Parc des Bastions
Nothing is more ideal than ice skating on a winter day while enjoying a glimpse of lovely Geneva. It’s an excellent activity for people of all ages to enjoy during the chilly winter months. In practically every neighborhood, Geneva provides a wide variety of ice skating rinks.
The charming ice rink in Parc Les Bastions is ideal for those staying in the middle of the city. The Reformation monument lies inside the park, immediately adjacent to the skating rink. The cost of renting ice skates is CHF 2, and entry to the rink is free.
Lake Geneva Boat Cruise
The largest and one of the best lakes in Switzerland is Lake Geneva. It should come as no surprise that pleasure cruises are particularly well-liked in one of the biggest freshwater bodies of water in Europe.
A sightseeing cruise will enhance your experience of the major attractions you have already walked around. This includes the Palais des Nations, the Flower Clock, the Jet d’Eau on Lake Geneva, and more in a three-hour guided tour that begins in the center of Old Town.
After that, you’ll board a boat for the remainder of the hour-long tour which will take you to the Mermaid, Villa Diodati, Black Harbor, the Castle of Bellerive, and other sights.
Rochers de Naye
At slightly over 6,500 feet, the Rochers de Naye mountain is the highest point overlooking beautiful Montreux. The 55-minute journey from Montreux train station to the summit on the classic mountain train has breathtaking views.
To get the best view of Montreux, take a cogwheel train to the highest point, where you can look over the cliffs, explore an alpine flower garden, and make friends with the local marmots.
You may find panoramic viewing sites, two restaurants, and an alpine flower garden at the top. Serious hikers can launch epic excursions from here, while casual hikers wander the summit to look over the cliffs.
Winter Sports in France
You’ve hit the jackpot with a trip to Switzerland in the winter if you can’t wait to hit the slopes. Numerous destinations, including the well-known Chamonix and Mont Blanc in France, are accessible by day travel. In reality, several of the nearest ski areas require you to cross the border.
Family-friendly activities, including sleigh rides, snowmobile tours, and ice skating, are abundant in Avoriaz. Beginners and experts alike can find the thrilling skiing action they desire thanks to various terrain parks.
Go to Megeve to mix some genuine ski village romance with your thrills. Before starting down the slopes surrounded by trees, explore the quaint village.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON WINTER IN GENEVA
Geneva in the winter offers some unique and fun activities – so, when you visit, make sure to not only spend time in the warmth of your hotel room and to get out to experience some of the winter activities in Geneva.