We flew back to Geneva to spend a week and do a bunch of day trips. On our first day in Geneva, a friend that I met through Girls Love Travel, a Facebook group for women travelers, picked up my daughter and me to spend the day in Gruyères. It was a beautiful 2-hour drive from Geneva. We started out by visiting Maison Cailler, a Swiss Chocolate factory. You walk through a multi-sensory experience, and in the last room you get to sample a variety of chocolates. They were delectable. After this we stopped at La Maison du Gruyere to get some cheese and see the massive amount of cheeses they produce and store. We then visited the Village of Gruyères and walked around the Castle of Gruyeres. It was so beautiful. We had lunch in the village and I had my first Rösti, a Swiss potato dish. It was very tasty. We then went to visit Le Moelson Summit. We took the funicular to Plan-Francey and then the cable car to the summit of Le Moelson at 2002 meters. We walked around and the scenery was stunning. We even saw a couple of people attempting to walk a tightrope across the mountains…they were hooked in but it was still pretty amazing to watch as they attempted and many times would fall but get right back up to try again. We had dinner at Le Sommet restaurant and enjoyed a wonderful cheese fondue.
The next morning we took the Flixbus to Annecy, France. The bus ride was only about an hour and cost around $20 round trip. This was such a beautiful city. We strolled along the canals and the lake. We shopped at their farmers market and took a relaxing hour boat ride on the lake. It was such a beautiful and easy way to spend the day.
The remainder of our trip we would be visiting a number of different cities, so we purchased the 15-day Swiss Travel Pass. It was expensive ($960 for 2 tickets) but this allowed us to ride on trains, buses, and boats as much as we wanted and not have to purchase timed tickets for each train. This allowed us much more flexibility and I felt it was worth the money. When we were first trying to decide to buy our train tickets or purchase a Swiss Travel Pass, we compared the numbers. Our planned trips would have cost us $200 more for each of us if we purchased the Swiss Travel Pass, but after thinking about it we decided to purchase it and here is why: flexibility! If we woke up late or the weather changed we could easily change our plans. If one train was too crowded (the app tells you how crowded it is) we could take the next train that was empty. The Swiss Pass includes trains, buses, and boats so whenever we visited a new city we didn’t have to deal with purchasing bus tickets; we just used our Swiss Travel Pass. There were times when we decided to hop off at another stop to visit another city and didn’t have to worry about how much it would cost for another ticket. The pass also gives free access to over 300 museums. I purchased 2nd class tickets, but you can upgrade to first class on different trips. Not sure how it works on trains but on ferries I was able to pay $10-$15 extra per person to upgrade to first class on the ferry so on a long ride it was worth it. It also gives you complimentary admission to a variety of museums and castles.
Our first morning using the pass we took a 40-minute train ride from Geneva to Lausanne. Once we arrived we took the metro to the old city and visited the Lausanne Cathedral, the largest cathedral in Switzerland, which was stunning. We then walked to Lake Geneva (although there was a metro to take us to the lake we wanted to explore). We walked along the lake to Olympic Museum. We walked around the outside of the museum, which had beautiful statues and landscaping. After hanging out admiring the lake and eating ice cream at Glaces Veneta, we hopped back on the train to Nyon where we walked by the Chateau de Nyon and then visited the Roman Columns over looking Lake Geneva. It was all so incredible.
The following morning we took the morning train to Montreux. It was a 1-hour train ride from Geneva. We walked to the Lakeside Promenade Fleuri. This was just pure beauty. There were beautiful flowers and landscaping all along the walkway/lake. There were even beautiful sculptures. There were also booths set up selling items and food and a stage set up with these incredible singers. After hanging out there a bit we walked to the Montreux Casino to see the free Queen exhibit. There was Queen memorabilia and even the sound studio that they recorded their last songs in. It was pretty amazing. We then continued our walk to the Chillon Castle. We discovered once we got there that entry was included with our Swiss Pass. We did purchase the audio guide for $6.00. This really made the experience that much more enjoyable. The audio guide leads you through all of the different rooms of the castle and explains what went on in each room. It was very interesting. This was such an amazing experience. We were both surprised by how much we enjoyed it. After the castle we took a train back to Montreux and then took a ferry to Vevey where they were celebrating the Fete des Vignerons, which takes place once every 20 years. We happened to get there just in time for the parade. It was a celebratory event. We then took the train back to Geneva.
Our next morning we had planned on taking the ferry to Yvoire, France but we got a late start and missed our ferry. Luckily there was a train that took us to Nyon and from there we took a 20-minute ferry to Yvoire. This is another reason why the Swiss Travel Pass works so great when you are on a flexible schedule. The town of Yvoire is very small and is a quaint medieval village. We walked around admiring the architecture and the flowers, had a bite to eat, and then headed back to Geneva. This time we took the ferry all the way back directly. It took around 1½ hours. We did not spend much time in Yvoire, but it was just enough.
Our last day trip from Geneva was to Lavaux. We had lunch at a wonderful restaurant called Café La Gare. It was a few steps from the train station. After lunch we planned to walk along the trails in the vineyards, but we had a massive rainstorm with lightning and thunder, so instead we got on the Lavaux Express, which is a little train ride that takes you through the vineyards. We did the Cully loop and it was beautiful, and we were protected from the rainstorm. We had dinner that night back in Geneva at Taqueria Los Cuandos. It was very good but be sure to make a reservation. They were packed by 7:30 on a Tuesday night.