We flew to Geneva, Switzerland as part of a business trip. I was lucky enough to work from the city for two weeks, which gave us time to explore and try out restaurants in the evenings. Then we had a long weekend to explore the beautiful surrounding areas. On our free weekend, we rented a car and drove from Geneva to Zermatt to see the Matterhorn and do some hiking. We stopped through Gruyère on the way to tour the cheese factory, eat some fondue, and hike up the mountains in the area. That night we stayed in Taesch, the closest town to Zermatt that you're allowed to drive to (it is a car-free town). From there we took the train in the morning to Zermatt and hiked the beautiful 5 Lakes Trail with spectacular views of the Matterhorn. We drove back to Geneva that night and finished out the trip back in the city.
Geneva is one of my favorite cities - it is in a gorgeous setting on a huge lake and surrounded by mountains, and it is a perfect combination of historical buildings and new modern architecture. The only downside, in my opinion, is that everything is so expensive. We rented a tiny little studio Airbnb in the old part of town - a wonderful location to stay surrounded by restaurants, bars, and historical sites - but even this little studio was very expensive to stay for two weeks! We ended up cooking many of our meals to save on some money, but we also splurged a few times and had some delicious French food in the city.
When we weren't working, we visited famous tourist sites like St. Pierre Cathedral, Parc des Bastions, and the Reformation Wall. We also took a self-guided chocolate tour, visiting some of the best chocolatiers in the city. There were so many to choose from, but my favorite is Laderach by far!
We went to Gruyere to take a cheese factory tour and eat classic Swiss fondue. When we got to the factory, we got a cheese sample with our ticket to the cheese factory that we got to eat throughout the self-guided headset tour. We got there just in time to watch part of the cheese production, where workers in white suits were boiling cheese, scraping off foam, and eventually placing them in cheese tins to solidify. The headset tour was very well done and we learned a lot! After we had a fondue lunch, we drove up to Moleson Village and decided to hike up to one of the look-outs. It was a poor choice to hike up a mountain right after eating so much fondue - next time we will take the cable car up! But no matter how you make it up to the top, it is absolutely worth it for the views. 360-degree mountain views with a gorgeous cloud cover at sunset will be a very hard view to ever beat.
We loved our day in Zermatt, but beyond the beauty, the two biggest themes were how cold it was and how expensive it was. There are many trails and cable cars you can take, but all of them are about 3 times the price we would expect! We went at the very beginning of the “on” season, so if you have a chance to go during the “off” season it will be just as beautiful but a little cheaper. We ended up taking the tram up to the 5-Lakes Trail, which is exactly like it sounds, a trail that takes you around 5 different lakes. It was absolutely worth it with the Matterhorn as a backdrop for the entire hike, plus some of the famous white sheep with black faces which are adorable. Be sure to dress in layers, as it varies between cold and hot depending on how strenuous each part of the hike is.
Q & A
The fondue restaurant at the cheese factory in Gruyeres!
Tips you would give a friend?
Unless you plan on staying in the area several days, stay in Taesch and take the train to Zermatt for the day. It's so much less expensive to stay there, the train ride is beautiful, and it runs constantly!
Lots of layers! Rain gear, cold weather gear, hiking boots.
Renting a car was the cheapest option for us. There are trains, but they are very expensive if you don't have a membership.
How expensive it was! Prepare your wallet.