Geneva walks and hikes - Go big in the country Explore the surroundings of Geneva with a hike

Issue: 3 / 2014
If you've come from a larger country to Switzerland one of the surprises of this diminutive nation is that you can swap the city for the countryside in a matter of minutes – and Geneva is no exception. As the school holidays linger, Anita Lehman suggests five quick family walks to escape the city for a day.

All these walks are part of the Swiss hiking and walking trail network and can be shortened and extended as you like. Get to any of them by jumping on a tram or bus right from the centre of Geneva.

Suggested map: "Carte d'excursions Genève – Canton de Genève 270T « Suisse Rando » 1:50 000.





Start: Bernex Eglise (bus 42, 47)
End: Onex (tram 14; bus L and K)
(Parking in Bernex and Onex)
Time: 1.5 hours
Pushchair friendly? Yes with some steep slopes – not recommended in wet conditions

From the centre of the vineyard village Bernex head up to the "Signal de Bernex", the Canton of Geneva's second-highest viewpoint with all-round views over vineyards, valleys and the Jura. Follow the signposts steeply downhill to Lully (enjoy some wine/grape juice tasting!) and amble along the peaceful river Aire towards Onex, meeting frogs and herons on the way. Your kids will love visiting "La Gavotte" – an open farm with free-running animals such as goats and pigs. (The farm is on the opposite bank of the Aire, five minutes towards Plan-les-Ouates.) From there it's a 15-minute walk up through fields and forest to Onex.



Start: Anières (bus E)
End: Hermance (bus E)
(Parking in Anières and Hermance)
Time: 1 hour
Pushchair friendly? Yes

This easy one-hour stroll only ever leaves paved roads once. Starting off among fields just above Anières, the valley stretches out flat towards the French Alps. From the hamlet of Chevrens, you descend among autumn vineyards offering open views across Lake Geneva and the Jura beyond. Hermance boasts a medieval tower, ancient houses, fun little shops, and a wonderful beach/picnic and playground area to chill out on after the exercise…and to buy your little ones an ice cream as a reward!



Start: Satigny (bus S)
End: Satigny
(Parking in Satigny or at Moulin Fabry)
Time: 2.5 hours (can be extended to La Plaine)
Pushchair friendly? Sadly not. Some narrow bits of path along steep declines

A varied walk for families with older children in one of the wildest areas of the canton of Geneva – boars roam the forests here, and city life suddenly seems very far away! From the vineyard village of Satigny amble down the country road towards the French border at "Moulin Fabry", a crumbling mill whose history dates back to the 14th century. From there, follow a sometimes tranquil, sometimes rushing Allondon winding its way down the woodland valley. You'll find a great natural swimming, sun-bathing and rock-pool-exploring area by the riverbed along the way. Past the campsite, head back up to Satigny via Peissy.



Start: Aire-la-Ville (bus S)
End: Aire-la-Ville
(Parking next to the hydroelectric dam by the Rhone)
Time: 45 minutes
Pushchair friendly? Yes. Watch out for vipers, frogs, and planes!

This walk takes you from the hydroelectric dam through woodland along a tranquil and deep-blue Rhone into the small Chanières Nature Reserve. Information panels will guide your discovery of the local fauna and flora, such as Ophrys Sphegodes, a rare type of orchid. In autumn, you might spot storks stopping over here on their way to the south. To children's delight, low-flying planes are the order of the day, as the airport is very close. Picnic tables and fireplaces are available near the dam.



Start: Jonction (tram 14; bus 2, 4, 19, D)
End: Jonction
Time: 30 minutes
Pushchair friendly? Yes up to and around the Bois de la Bâtie/across the railway bridge (but not along the Rhone path)

Less than ten minutes uphill from the busy Jonction, the Bois de la Bâtie offers a variety of strolls across a quiet woodland park. At the small free zoo you can discover alpine creatures such as goats and alpine ibex. From the top of the railway bridge (accessible to pedestrians) you can marvel at the river Rhone and Arve melting into each other. Back at the Bois de la Bâtie, make use of the large playground and picnic area, or take the woodland path along the Rhone out of town. From here, you can ramble on to your heart's content, for example to Onex (ca. 3km/1 hour from Jonction).


Photos: © Geneve Tourisme/Katharina Ochs, Alex De Lusignan, swiss-image/Ivan Purcell, Genève Tourisme/David Clifford, Lázaro Antônio dos Santos,

Author: Anita Lehmann

Has lived abroad for many years and is currently re-discovering the joys of her home country, mainly through rambling, skiing, and eating lots of chocolate, cheese and cervelat.

Tell us what you think
  • 5/8/15 11:58 AM

    Thanks Anita for these great suggestions! My family and I will enjoy discovering these walks.

  • 5/7/15 4:38 PM

    Genève (Suisse) : Randonnées pédestres gratuites au Salève. Tous les dimanches, les amoureux de randonnées pédestres se donnent rendez-vous à 10h au terminus du bus 8 à Veyrier-Douane (et non à Veyrier-Tournettes, à 100 mètres de la douane à l'intérieur de la Suisse, départ à 10h05 précise). Un responsable de l'Association Genevoise des Amis du Salève (AGAS) vous y attend par tous les temps. Il n y a pas d'inscription préalable. Selon le circuit choisi, comptez 5 à 8 heures de marche [dont 3 heures de montée (800 mètres de dénivellation)]. Départ à pied du point RDV. De bonnes chaussures de marche (crampons en hiver, chapeau et crème solaire en été), imper ou parapluie, passeport, argent, pique-nique et boisson ainsi qu'une bonne condition physique sont indispensables.

    Site internet : . Contact : Tel: ++41’22'796’41’33.

    Geneva, Switzerland : Free hikes on the Saleve. Every Sunday, let's go hiking (a gradient of 800 meters, 3 hours hike-up). Meeting at 10 am at the terminus of bus No 8 at Veyrier-Douane (not at Veyrier-Tournettes, 100 metres from the border direction Switzerland, departure at 10h05 sharp). A responsible (excursion leader) of the Association Genevoise des Amis du Saleve (AGAS) welcomes you in all weather. No prior registration necessary. Depending on the route chosen, you will expect a 5 to 8 hours hike. Departure of the hike from the meeting point. Hiking boots (crampons in winter, hat and solar protection lotion in summer), raincoat or umbrella, passport, money, picnic and something to drink as well as good health are indispensable.

    Excursiones gratuitas al Salève : La "Asociación Ginebrina de Amigos del Salève" (AGAS), organiza excursiones gratuitas al Salève, todos los domingos, en grupo, sin inscripción previa; cita a las 10.00 h – terminal del bus 8 – Veyrier-Douane (no Veyrier-Tournettes, salida 10.05 h en punto). Contar entre 5 y 8 horas de marcha (de las cuales 3 horas de subida - 800 m de desnivel). Se recomiendan buenas botas de marcha, impermeable o paraguas, pasaporte, euros, comida y bebida (pic-nic); es indispensable tener una buena condición física.

    Gratis Bergwanderungen auf dem Salève
    Jeden Sonntag treffen sich die Liebhaber des Wanderns um 10Uhr an der Endhaltestelle des Bus 8 in Veyrier-Douane (und nicht Veyrier-Tournette, 100 Meter vom Zoll auf schweizer Gebiet, Aufbruch um Punkt 10h05). Ein Verantwortlicher des Genfer Vereins der Freunde des Salèves (Association Genevoise des Amis du Salève, AGAS) erwartet Sie dort bei jedem Wetter. Es gibt keine vorherige Anmeldung. Je nach gewählter Route, dauert die Wanderung 5 bis 8 Stunden, davon 3 Stunden bergauf im stetigen Rhythmus (800 Meter Höhenunterschied). Gute Wanderschuhe, im Winter Steigeisen, im Sommer Kopfbedeckung und Sonnencreme, ein oder zwei Stöcke, um das Gewicht besser zu verteilen und die Gelenke zu schonen (sie werden Ihnen dies später danken), Regenkleidung oder Schirm, Pass, Geld, Picknick und Getränke sowie eine gute körperliche Verfassung sind Voraussetzung. 

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