Nature Hide-Outs Around Geneva

By Sonja Pluss

When my mind buzzes and overheats from readings, screens and essay brainstorming (and pondering about the inevitable collapse we’re facing- and also utopian ideas for a wholesome humankind), then I go to the shore of the Rhône. I sit on a log. Let myself be mesmerized by the patterns drawn by the water, a dance of flow, glitter and shadow. Or for a longer break, I grab a friend and cycle across the canton of Geneva to the wild valley of the Allondon. And lie on the sun-warmed stones looking into branches and take a deep breath.

For those who have a similar coping mechanism as I do, I have collected the favourite outdoor places in and around Geneva with inputs from EC colleagues.

I encourage you to get out there, get carried away a bit by the wind, and return to daily life with freshness!

(What is your favourite place? If it is not on the list yet, reach out to us and we will be happy to add it)

Jardin Botanique

This is the easy one, but really really essential and handy as it is just a few steps away from the Maison de la Paix. The more you walk to the back of the park, the wilder and quieter it gets…

Also: There is free Wifi (though less reliable for online classes or meetings). And the tables in the heated greenhouse are a great study (and of course relaxation) spot for when it’s already too cold outside but you are still craving for greenery.

Rhône Riverbank

Opposite to Jonction, Saint Jean, all along the river sandy spots with lots of old tree logs hanging into the water. Towards summer, people start bringing picnics, books and hammocks and create their little nooks for the day.

Allondons Valley

The valley of the crystal clear river Allondon is at the far end of the canton, and maybe the wildest surrounding I have seen in Geneva. I have cycled there and walked there, but it is very accessible by train also – with the upside that you will have more energy to walk up along the river as it gets wilder and wilder…In July-August there are also tons of blackberries to forage there.

However, if you are up for a day trip, I really encourage you to walk or cycle to the Allondon and discover Geneva’s agricultural countryside. Even just the realization that the canton is not just the city is worth it, in my opinion! Plus you get to see so many other things… when I cycled there in summer, we passed by gorgeous sunflower fields.

The walking route takes you from Geneva all along the Rhône. During the roughly four hours walk you get to pass by numerous waterbird observatories (and, of course, the waterbirds themselves). You can also stop by the magical hippie Jardins de Mamajah and see the world through a giant dream catcher. If you are lucky, you get to spot Lamas.

Versoix Riverbank

Only a short train ride or a bit longer cycle trip away from Geneva there is another magical river, the Versoix (in Versoix, surprise!). All along the river it is a protected nature area. The path starts not far from the train station of Versoix. You walk through forests, fields, swampy areas, beaches… along the bends of the river. A gem!

Arve Riverbank

The Arve has many spots to offer, but this one is particularly cool for those peeps at Cité. Many bonfires have happened there already… followed by some freezing, rejuvenating late night dips!


Oooh Salève, le rêve de Genève! It’ just such a classic. The most accessible mountain hike of Geneva. For a better description, check out Anna’s Swiss Hiking Guide.

Bois des Frères

This one is in Vernier – which most of you might know as the place of IKEA. But Vernier also has some ‘alive’ wood to offer. There are three different signed routes for running, one of them having other set ups for exercising.

Parc du Château de Penthes

Totally hidden but also really close to the Maison de la Paix is another park with a fancy villa inside. The park is kept with lots of wild flowers and on a clear day you see Mont Blanc from there! Only a bit further ahead is another forestry path to discover…

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