At a glance
- Largest city: Lausanne (136'000 inhabitants)
- Specialities: cheese fondue, saucisson, Papet Vaudois
- UNESCO World Heritage: Lavaux vineyard terraces,Architectural work by Le Corbusier
- Hotel industry: 273 hotels (9,896 rooms)
- Overnight stays/year: 2.91 million
"Smoke on the water, fire in the sky" is the refrain of the century rock song "Smole on the Water" by Deep Purple. The band from England was inspired by the fire of the casino in Montreux, which burned down completely in 1971. The members of Deep Purple were nearby and could see the smoke from their hotel.
But the reasons why the Lake Geneva region has become world-famous are much more diverse. First and foremost are the large cities of Lausanne and Geneva. Switzerland's second largest city is home to more than 60 international organizations. The best known of these are the UN, EFTA, WHO and WTO (World Trade Organization).
The international appeal of the city of Geneva is one of the reasons why Geneva is known and respected throughout the world. But the Lake Geneva region is also known far beyond its national borders thanks to its tourist potential.
UNESCO World Heritage Lavaux
One of the highlights are certainly the vineyard terraces of Lavaux, which stretch across the slopes on the north-eastern shore of Lake Geneva, creating postcard subjects by the metre: the vines with their green, yellow or red leaves, behind them the deep blue water of the lake and in the background the snow-covered peaks of the Alps. The Lavaux vineyard terraces are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Second largest wine region in Switzerland
In no other region is winegrowing more traditional than in Lavaux. Already the Romans cultivated vines in this area. Later, it was the Burgundians and finally, in the High Middle Ages, it was the monks who began to cultivate the vineyards more professionally. Today Lavaux is the second largest wine-growing region in Switzerland after Valais. Well-known grape varieties of the region are the Chasselas (white) and the Pinot noir (red). Other classics from the region are Chardonnay, Müller-Thurgau, Pinot gris, Silvaner and Vigonier for white wines and Cabernet sauvignon, Diolinoir, Gamaret, Garanoir, Merlot, Mondeus and Plant-Robert for red wines.
Beautiful old towns on the banks of Lake Geneva
Architectural and cultural masterpieces also make the Lake Geneva region a paradise for excursions. The Chateau Chillon between Montreux and Villeneuve or the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Lausanne are two of the most famous. In addition to Geneva, Lausanne and Montreux, many other towns and villages on the shores of Lake Geneva are worth seeing - if only because of the breathtaking region in which they are embedded. The old towns of Nyon, Rolle VD, Morges and Vevey or the small and pretty town of Bourg-en-Lavaux are particularly recommended.
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Lake Geneva region in summer
Suspension bridge between two mountain tops
In the skiing and hiking area Glacier 3000 there is something unique: the only suspension bridge in the world that connects two mountain peaks. The so-called Peak Walk is 107 metres long and only 80 cm wide - not for the faint hearted. It leads from the pre-peak to the Scex Rouge, 5 metres higher - at almost 3,000 metres above sea level. The view is phenomenal. Among others, one sees the Mont Blanc, the Matterhorn as well as the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau.
Place: Glacier 3000
With the Lavaux Express through the vineyards
Between April and October, you can discover the vineyard terraces of Lavaux in a special way: A small train runs through the vineyards overlooking Lake Geneva. The Lavaux Express runs a total of five different routes. You can board the train in Lutry and in Cully, where the tours start and take the guests right through the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Jura Vaudois Nature Park
At the north-western end of Lake Geneva, the Jura Vaudois Nature Park extends far into the Jura region. Created in 2010, the park is popular with mountain bikers, but also offers many beautiful hiking routes. The Jura Vaudois is particularly popular with the so-called pleasure hikers: 18 alpine cheese dairies produce outstanding cheese in the region. A visit to one of these cheese dairies adds that certain something to any hike.
Lake Geneva region in winter
Switzerland's hottest thermal spring in Lavey-les-Bains
What could be better than relaxing in the warm water at freezing temperatures and doing something for your health and mind? One of the most beautiful places in French-speaking Switzerland is the thermal centre in Lavey-les-Bains, the thermal spa with the warmest spring in Switzerland (62 °C). Don't worry, you won't burn yourself: the water you bathe in is a pleasant 32 to 36 °C warm. The Lavey-les-Bains thermal centre has a 1,000 square metre outdoor pool, Besides you can relax in the sauna, in the snow grotto or in a hamam.
Skiing in Les Diablerets
In Les Diablerets there are actually two ski areas: The better known of the two is called Glacier 3000. 10 lifts carry skiers up to 3,000 metres above sea level. 28 kilometres of pistes are prepared. Winter sports can also be practised in the smaller ski areas of Le Meilleret, Gryon and Villars. Le Meilleret is an area with red and blue pistes and therefore suitable for good skiers. There is a wide choice of pistes, as it is also possible to switch to the Villars ski area. Tip: Treat yourself to the Olden piste (Glacier 3000). With over 7 kilometres of piste, this is one of the longest runs in Switzerland, considerably longer than, for example, the legendary Lauberhorn run in the Bernese Oberland.
Place: Les Diablerets
Winter hike on snowshoes
For those who want to hike in winter, we recommend the snowshoe hike "Parcours du Ramaclé" in the Vaud Alps. This 6 km long trail begins in Château-d'Oex, follows the course of the Saane and through snowy, fairytale winter landscapes. Highlights of the hike are the oldest suspension bridge in western Switzerland (1883) and the Ramaclé waterfall.
Places in the Lake Geneva Region
Montreux is particularly famous for the castle of Chillon, located 3 km outside the town. The moated castle, which stands on a rock in Lake Geneva, is one of the most visited buildings in Switzerland. Another castle stands above Clarens: Châtelard Castle, built in the 15th century. The many historic hotels in Montreux are also worth seeing. One of the oldest is the Grand Hôtel in Territet, built in 1887. The Montreux Palace (built in 1904) and the Palace Hotel in Caux (1902) are also truly magnificent buildings.
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Lausanne is not only home to the only metro in Switzerland. It is also the metro or suburban railway line that covers the greatest difference in altitude worldwide. The fact that Lausanne lies between hilly terrain and directly on Lake Geneva makes the city particularly attractive. Besides Geneva, Lausanne is the economic and cultural centre of western Switzerland and is known for its numerous sights and an interesting nightlife.
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Chatel-Saint-Denis in Fribourg is located north of Vevey and Montreux on the Haute-Veveyse plateau. Worth seeing, besides the nature that invites you to hikes, is the 13th century castle that gives the town its name. The small but nicely decorated centre is also worth seeing. In Chatel-Saint-Denis there are several old farmhouses, which are still well preserved and can be visited.
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