Nyon is about 20 minutes by car and 15 minutes by train from Geneva. Driving, you take the A1 out of Geneva toward Lausanne and then take the Nyon exit. By train, there are lots of options, but the most direct is to take either the IR or the RE from Geneve to Nyon. It has much more of a small town feel compared to Geneva, but is still a big city compared to Versoix, Coppet, and many other towns near Geneva. If you choose to drive, there are several paid parking options available. The three that I find easiest are Place Perdtemps near the train station and the tourist info office, Parking de la Duche near the lake road, and the lot next to the ferry (Nyon CGN) station.
On my first visit to Nyon in March of 2013, my first stop was the tourist info office. Back in grad school when I did a study abroad, I discovered that most European cities have a tourist office where you can get free maps of the city and find out places to visit. The folks running these offices almost always speak English, so it is easy to communicate with them. This particular tourist office was great. I got a map of Nyon with the tour printed on it of all the places of interest to stop as well as a map highlighting the areas surrounding Nyon for a later visit.
I learned that there are three museums in Nyon and if you purchase admission to one, it also gives you admission to the other two. I decided to start out with the Nyon castle. It had a great view of Lac Leman, the city, and the French Alps. In the castle was the first of the three museums- a porcelain museum. From April to October, the museum is open from 10 am to 5 pm and during the winter, they are open from 2 pm to 5 pm. However, they are closed every Monday!
I arrived at the castle right when they opened so I was basically the only one in the museum besides the staff. It was nice to be able to look around on my own. They had actually left the original castle layout alone and just used the various rooms to display porcelain and paintings/photographs. The museum also included the tower and prison area, which was neat to see, but also really creepy when you’re the only one there. (Especially when they put an old mannequin in the attic area and it’s just kind of staring at you.)
I also visited the Roman museum, which has the same hours as the Nyon castle. The Roman museum had a lot of really neat artifacts from when Nyon was part of the Roman Empire. The artifacts included things like pieces of old Roman buildings with inscriptions, pottery and tools, pieces of frescos, statues, and models of what some of the buildings used to look like. Outside the museum was a statue of Julius Caesar and a painting of how the main temple building in the city used to look.
Unfortunately, the Lake Geneva Museum was closed for renovations so I didn’t get to visit it this time around (but my ticket is good for a year and they just opened up again after Easter so I’ll go back), but I did follow most of the tourist map’s tour of the city. It took me past some of the oldest and most historic buildings. One such stop was the Notre Dame church in the city and an old Arch that used to connect two guard towers. There was also a beautiful garden area planted on the hillside overlooking the lake and the Alps. I stopped for a bit at the Marina at the bottom of the garden and watched the birds for a bit and then walked along the lakefront toward the CGN departure point.
There’s still plenty more for me to see and do in Nyon and the surrounding areas (like the Lavaux vineyards), but I’ll have plenty of time to return later. To see more photos from my trip, see the full post on my personal blog.
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Abittan Lindy said:
Hi Caroline! Great post about a great little town! To anyone planning a Nyon stop, be sure to fit in an ice-cream between your museum visits. The ice-cream shop near the lake is amazing (I highly recommend the chilli-chocolate!)
Thanks Abittan! The ice cream shop sounds delicious.
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