Family Hikes around Geneva
Nine of our favorite family hikes around Geneva!
It’s hiking season, time to go outside and explore!
The Alps and the Jura are known to be beautiful places to hike. But how about beautiful walks or hikes around Geneva, or not too far away? Here is a list of great destinations within a day trip distance from Geneva where you can soak up beautiful views as a family, have a picnic, or enjoy other fun activities in the outdoors!
1 – Mont Mourex, Ain
Mont Mourex is a beautiful place to enjoy views over Geneva and the lake and to have a picnic! Mont Mourex is located roughly between Gex and Divonne in the Ain region of neighboring France. To access there, we usually pass through Cessy to go to the small town of Mourex. A road will leave to the right to take you to a small parking lot. The last part of the road is a bit bumpy. From there you can walk over the meadows, see the cows and enjoy the views. We had our picnic on the highest part. Lovely place! You can also go to this viewpoint from the other side, going up through the woods, which is a good alternative on hot days. The starting point for that alternative, would be to park your car at the La Ferme du Mont-Mussy restaurant on your left side when you leave Divonne-les-bains in the direction of Gex.
2 – Lac de Roy, Praz de Lys Sommand
In the Haute-Savoie in France. I found this hike when I was looking for an accessible, not too long hike which would lead us to a mountain lake, but with kids walking themselves. I wanted to go with young kids without carrying them, and without them being demotivated of a hike that would be too long for them. This was perfect! The starting point for this easy family hike is at the Parking du Col de la Ramaz between Sommand and Praz de Lys.
3 – La Dôle, on both sides of the French and Swiss border
We have done this one several times and love hiking here and if you are lucky, you may be able to observe chamois. You drive up from Nyon in the direction of Saint-Cergue and then follow the signs in the direction of Gingins, and then La Dôle. You park either at the restaurant La Barillette and walk towards the weather station (the round ball shaped building on top of the mountain), or you try to park closer to the start of the hike. When you have finished your hike, the restaurant La Barillette is highly recommended for drinks or some of their Swiss specialties! Going all the way up may be too much for small kids. We have done it with our eldest son when he was little, but with a picnic in our bag and a lot of short breaks. When they get bigger, they can of course go all the way up.
4 – Russin and the Rhone river
Very close to Geneva! This nature reserve, Réserve naturelle des Teppes de Verbois, along the Rhone river is not so much known, and not on a mountain, but a beautiful walk. It has little wooden observation houses to see birds and I always find it amazing to see what’s on the other side. Calm waters, vineyards and the view on the Jura mountains. It seems like a paradise for birds to come to this peaceful place! This walk is mainly in the shade, so very good on hot days! If you continue you will come to the part where you can cross the Allondon river by walking over a bridge under the train tracks. This is a good place to refresh your feet in the (usually cold) water, or to have a picnic. On real hot days families install themselves here for a BBQ, and kids wade in the water and adventure around.
To get there: in the village of Russin, follow the sign to the railway station, take the road steeply down and cross the train tracks. Forget about the two first tiny parking lots, but continue until you see a bigger parking lot on your right hand side. Your walk begins here, even though in the beginning it doesn’t look like a nature walk with the electricity poles, but just keep walking and you will get there. Including bird watching, and throwing stones in the Allondon river, my little one and me have spent two hours at this walk.
5 – Moulin-de-vert nature reserve, Cartigny
More beautiful walks to enjoy nature in Geneva!
Located on the other side of the Rhone river, exactly opposite the Teppes de Verbois reserve, you will find the nature reserve called Réserve naturelle du Moulin-de-vert. Moulin-de-vert is also a nice place for a family hike in nature in the Geneva countryside.
The starting point of this round loop hike is in the small town of Cartigny. You park at the main parking lot and follow the signs to Moulin-de-Vert.
The first part of the hike will be a steep descent, so not really suitable for strollers, then through fields and along the water, partly the Rhone river, and partly small waters and small lakes. Some parts of the walk have bridges crossing the wet land parts. There is no restaurant in the nature reserve, but there are some picnic tables.
History of the Moulin-de-vert
The name of the nature reserve refers to the water mills that were placed in Cartigny already in the 15th century. Along your hike you will find rests of one of the old mills and a sign explaining the history of the site.
6 – Geneva Vineyards
We love walking in Geneva’s vineyards! Satigny, Dardagny and Russin have a lot of walking paths or quiet roads, and your children can choose to walk, or bring their scooter. We have already described an area in Satigny in our Autumn hikes article, but the Geneva vineyards are good to go to any season really. We recently went for a walk in the small town Dardagny, and have discovered such a beautiful hidden gem! A little café / restaurant called La Cabuche, in the middle of the vineyards! At La Cabuche you can order a local ham and cheese platter, slices of bread with jam or locally known ‘Cenovis’, home made ice-tea and local wines. You can warm up inside on cold days, or enjoy the terrace on sunny days. La Cabuche is not accessible by car, you have to walk uphil to get there. This is cool because not only will you get to enjoy the beautiful vineyards, but also, your children can roam around without danger. When it is colder, they do have games on the first floor for kids, but the stairs are steep, so if your children are small, make sure to accompany them.
How to get to La Cabuche:
You park right in front of the Auberge in Dardagny, and then you take the small road which leads you towards the vineyards, you cannot miss it really. And if you look well, you will already see La Cabuche on top of the hill. So you could make this a ‘very short’ family hike. However, you can also walk around and enjoy the beautiful scenery as long as you like. To get to La Cabuche however, you will have to go up, but you will not regret this.
La Cabuche is only open on weekends and is a small place. If there is many of you going, best is to call in advance. Their website: La Cabuche.
7 – Moléson-sur-Gruyères
Driving distance from Geneva by car: approximately 1h45 mins
This is a fantastic place for the entire family!! Moléson combines nature and fun! You have two choices, either to take the small funicular up, or walk up. Same goes for downhill of course 😊. On top, several hikes can be done, or you can also just go down again for some more family fun! At Moléson there are bouncy castles for kids in summer, a bobsleigh, minigolf, and other activities. We love eating at the Fromagerie d’Alpage with local specialties and their shop with regional products. If you have not yet finished for the day, the modern thermal baths, Bains de Charmey or Bains de la Gruyère, are close by and you can go there with your kids. They can however not jump, and there are no slides, but there is a small wading pool, and after the hike, my children usually just enjoy being in the warm water and enjoying the views. Their website: Bains de la Gruyère.
This can be combined with a visit to the medieval town of Gruyères. If you would like to visit Gruyères, you can read all about that here:
8 – Gorges de la Jogne
Driving distance from Geneva by car: approximately 1h15 mins
Close to Gruyères as well is the beautiful and easy hike of Gorges de la Jogne. This hike is not too long, and accessible and fun with kids as well as they will love the fact that this hike takes you through adventurous tunnels and over bridges! One tunnel was a bit longer and they liked that we even had to put on the flashlight of our phones to get through.
It took us a total of 2 hours to do the hike, and it is not a round loop hike, so 1 hour one way, towards the Montsalvens Dam and lake, and 1 hour back. During the hike, through the forest, you will see beautiful waterfalls and views of the gorge. This hike closes in winter, and you should wear good shoes, especially if it has rained. And, like in many places in Switzerland, signs show you that you should stay on the path as water in the gorge could rise.
When you arrive at the Montsalvens Dam, a Buvette for refreshments is located after just 300m. Starting point of this hike: at the Parking des Gorges de la Jogne, when you exit the town of Broc. This hike can easily be combined with a visit to Gruyères, or the chocolate factory in Broc.
We had lunch at a good cheese fondue restaurant in Chatel-Saint-Denis, before our hike: Café Tivoli. Really good family owned fondue restaurant.
9 – Villars
Driving distance from Geneva by car: approximately 1h30 mins
Villars is a typical cute swiss mountain village and what I love about Villars is the accessibility to beautiful hikes and mountain lakes in relatively short distance. You can buy a Free Access card in the village (free of charge for children up to 9 years old and CHF 12 for adults or bigger kids) at the tourist office and take the scenic little train uphill to the Col de la Bretaye, starting point of many hikes. We usually go to the Lac de Chavonnes, which has a nice Swiss style restaurant with a terrace right in front of the lake. A beautiful place! You can also continue to the Lac Noir. On another hike, we went the other way after the train station, and we saw these sun burnt typical Swiss houses (raccards) on a beautiful meadow, perfect place for a picnic! The Free Access card also gives you access to other activities in Villars on the same day. For information: Free Access Card.
Enjoy the hiking season, and let us know if you went to try any of these spots, or if you know of other beautiful hikes that you think we should try out!
For more beautiful hikes around Geneva, check out the hikes we did in autumn as well: