Ideas for a Fun but Safe Winter Break, near Geneva and Vaud
Aren’t we all looking for ideas to make this winter break somehow fun and special? We’ve seen most things cancelled or closed. No Christmas markets, no events, and not being able to travel to our family for Christmas for a lot of us. Most governments tell you to stay at home, but the Swiss government also says you can go into the forest or just outside. Here are some ideas for a fun but safe winter break near Geneva and Vaud!
Ouchui, a completely free tour of different areas in Geneva
We recently tried this guided tour of Carouge by simply going online on our mobile on the website: https://ouchui.ch. There are different scavenger hunts of different areas in Geneva, and two of them are also available in English so far: Carouge and Geneva (the one starting on the Quai du Mont-Blanc). The scavenger hunt will take you around the area and you will learn a lot of history on the way. We liked the Carouge one, and there were plenty of things we didn’t know, for instance, did you know that Carouge has the oldest tram line in Europe?
Magic winter lights in Carouge
Carouge also puts up very nice lights in winter, and they will be there until mid-January, so fill up your thermos mug with hot chocolate or mulled wine and go for an evening walk.
Note for Carouge: bring your mask, as in the pedestrian area of Carouge masks are mandatory.
In the vineyards, in the forest, or next to the rivers. There are plenty of hiking paths in or near Geneva! We personally always think it lifts up our spirits to go out for a walk, and when spending so much time at home, it really is necessary to go outside.
You can find some of our suggested hikes on: https://letsexplore.ch/family-hikes-around-geneva/ (note: Gorges de la Jogne hike is closed in winter and if you do not want to walk in snow, do not choose the higher hikes).
We recently tried another hike near the Allondon river, la Roulave. We still have to write about this one but will drop that itinerary here as soon as it’s written down.
Winter Activities for Non-Skiers
You want to go to the snow but you are not a skier? There are plenty of alternatives around Geneva and Vaud! Sledging, snow shoeing, or cross-country skiing (everyone can do that, but 1 lesson for the technique is always good).
We recently went sledging on the Col de la Givrine in Vaud and we did end up in a big traffic jam though. So, for Covid safe activities, try to adapt your timing by going early for instance. Once we managed to park, the area is still big enough for social distancing, so that was fine.
Our non-skiers suggestions to enjoy winter wonderland can be found here: https://letsexplore.ch/2020/01/16/winter-activities-near-geneva-for-non-skiers/
Skiing is possible, but not in all Cantons and things change rather quickly with all the measures, so always check the tourism website of the town you are heading to!
Close to Geneva and Vaud, you can ski on the Jura. We are lucky as there has been quite some snow falls recently! If you would like to head a bit further, or higher up, here is a selection of our favorite ski resorts, but of course, you can only go to the Swiss ones now as the resorts in France are still closed. Also think of bringing your own picnic as the restaurants are closed, or only open for take away at the moment.
Family friendly ski resorts: https://letsexplore.ch/2018/08/28/top-family-friendly-ski-resorts/
Is skiing Covid safe? Well, the resorts have to guarantee all the measures, so social distancing while waiting in line, take away for the restaurants, downsized lift capacity, and masks on on all the mountain transport. Apart from that it is to the Canton, and everyone’s own estimation of risk.
Neuchatel Belle Epoque Scavenger Hunt
Another outdoor activity for the whole family while discovering the beautiful Swiss city Neuchatel. The Neuchatel Bell Epoque Scavenger Hunt is really well done! You pick up your scavenger hunt kit from the tourism office and off you go finding your way through the old town, along its frescoes, and while solving puzzles. More information on this scavenger hunt here: https://www.j3l.ch/en/P34107/scavenger-hunt-les-chenapans
Cooking World Dishes at Home
If you stay at home a lot, cooking can be a fun activity, and why not with the whole family? In a year where we almost couldn’t travel it can be fun to pick a world dish, cook it together, put on some local world music on Spotify and check some facts about that specific country!
On our blog we have plenty of world recipes that we have cooked together with locals from these countries. You can check out inspiration for recipes on our World Food series here on our blog: https://letsexplore.ch/world-food/
Crans Montana Latern Walk
Legends and fairy tales on this Lantern winter path in Crans Montana! We haven’t been yet, but it looks super beautiful and since it’s outdoors, it could be a great covid safe activity for the winter break. More information on this magical winter walk: https://www.crans-montana.ch/en/magical_experiences/
Eat outdoors, grill sausages like the Swiss or eat a fondue
Well, why not?! In Switzerland people love to eat outdoors. Grilling sausages on an open fire is quite common practice and, in some areas, even day cares do that with the kids regularly.
We have also eaten our fondue outdoors, in both summer and winter, and if you make a fire, you could even be safe meeting up with one other family while social distancing.
Would you like to know more about Swiss food: https://letsexplore.ch/switzerland-swiss-food/
Ice skating on natural ice
*update January 2021: ice skating on Lac de Joux will not be allowed even if it freezes up *
We haven’t seen it yet this winter, but, some lakes are known to be great places for ice skating when they freeze up. Beautiful Oeschinensee in the Kander Valley is one of those dreamy places and quite a bucket list place for ice skating. Closer by, keep checking for the Lac de Joux, even though this lake doesn’t always freeze up as it is quite a big lake. Closer to Geneva, check what the current situation of Lac Lamoura in Les Rousses is. As this is one of the smaller lakes, it tends to freeze up quicker.
Website for the Jura lakes: Montagne du Jura lakes
Museums or castles
What to say when the situation differs per Canton? Of course, we’ll be a lot warmer in museums. The Federal Council closed museums during their press conference on December 18th but some Cantons with lower numbers of the virus could still keep their museums open. At the moment of publishing this article, this is the case for the majority of the French speaking cantons, but since it changes constantly, do check before you go, and for most museums, buy your tickets online as they too have put in a lot of protection and manage their crowd control.
Suggestions we like: Musée du Léman in Nyon, Chillon Castle, beautiful Laténium archeology museum in Neuchatel, and in Geneva Maison Tavel or the archeological site underneath the Cathedral!