Lake Geneva Boats: Spring Pleasure Cruises on Lac Léman

CGN pleasure boat cruises depart daily on Lake Geneva during spring — mid-April to mid-June — from Genève, Lausanne, Nyon, Vevey, Montreux, Chillon, Evian and smaller ports.

Savoie off Nyon with Snow Peaks

During the spring season from mid-April to early June, CGN pleasure boat cruises depart daily from most ports on Lake Geneva in Switzerland and France. Popular cruise routings are return trips from Geneva but arguably the best cruises are in the upper lake region where boats cruise past the vineyards of the Lavaux with the Alps in the background. Passenger ferries are options for sightseeing excursions, especially from Lausanne to Evian and from Nyon to Yvoire. Lunchtime and dinner cruises are popular too with reservations highly advisable if planning to eat on board.

Pleasure Cruises on Lake Geneva in Spring and Easter

In 2024, the spring season timetable starts on 20 April but several cruises are already possible on Sundays and over the Easter weekend, which in 2024 falls on the last weekend of March and the first few days of April. Gourmet lunch cruises will be available every day from 29 March to 1 April with boats departing from Geneva, Lausanne, Vevey, Montreux, and most ports on the upper lake.

Boats Geneva-Mt-Blanc

During the spring season, boat cruises are possible daily on Lac Léman, although the options remain higher over weekends. The spring timetables of CGN are in operation from mid-April to the end of May.

In spring, Lake Geneva boat cruises are on four basic routings:

  • Geneva circular roundtrip cruises — usually around an hour. (Book 50-minute cruises from Genève online.)
  • Geneva to Lausanne — almost four hours — often with stops possible at Morges, Nyon, and Yvoire (in France).
  • Upper Lake area from Lausanne to St Gingolph with stops amongst others at Montreux, Vevey, and Chateau de Chillon.
  • Ferry services — short crossings between Switzerland and France — from Lausanne to Evian and Nyon to Yvoire. (Passenger ferries operate year-round.)

The historic paddle steamers are the best choice and fares are the same as for more modern boats — paddle steamboat cruises are usually clearly marked as such in the published timetables.


Spring Pleasure Boat Cruises from Genève

Savoie and Mouette in Geneva

Circular cruises from Geneva are possible three to six times per day during the spring season. The basic cruise is just less than an hour and departs from Geneva and stops on demand in Bellevue. Modern boats are mostly used on this routing.

Lunchtime cruises are often available and are usually on a historic paddle steamboat — the cruise is longer (and more expensive) with lunch optional and best reserved in advance. Dinner cruises are mostly on Friday evenings with reservations essential. Fondue is served on Friday dinner cruises until late May.

Geneva has several departure points with not all boats stopping at all landings. The most important departure points are Genève Mont-Blanc (on the station side of the lake near the bridge across the Rhone) and Genève Jardin Anglais (old town side of the lake).

A further cruise option in Geneva is the Mouette boats which are part of the public transportation system and therefore use the same tickets as the tram or bus (but far more fun).

Cruises between Geneva and Lausanne via Nyon and Yvoire

Savoie Off Nyon and Mt Blanc

Cruises to Nyon, Yvoire, and Lausanne are further options when cruising from Geneva. (However, if time and budget allow, it is better to take the train and cruise on the more spectacular upper part of Lac Léman.)

Basic options when cruising from Geneva are to beautiful medieval Yvoire in France or to Nyon in Switzerland. depending on the cruise, boats may also call en route at Versoix and Coppet.

In spring, the full Geneva to Lausanne cruise — nearly four hours — is only possible on weekends. In addition to the above, these cruises may also call at Rolle, St-Prex, Morges, and St-Sulpice.

These line cruises are commonly taken only one way with sightseeing at the destination and then return to Geneva by train (or vv). During spring, the cruises are often not frequent enough to plan on continuing the journey on a later boat. The railway links and bus services on the Swiss side of the lake are very good. Frequent ferries are available between Yvoire and Nyon but don’t miss the last boat — Yvoire offers limited alternative public transportation options back to Geneva.

Cruises on the Upper Lake in Spring

SS La Suisse approaching Lausanne-Ouchy

The Haut Lac (Upper Lake) is the most beautiful part of Lake Geneva. In any season, the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage-listed vineyards of the Lavaux region between Lausanne and Montreux are spectacular while snow-covered Alpine peaks are constantly in the background.

Even in spring, cruises on this part of Lake Geneva are frequent and as an added bonus, most cruises are on the historic paddle steamers Italie (1908) and La Suisse (1910). These boats have beautiful restaurants — especially in first class. Reservations are highly recommended — even if not eating here, consider having a coffee after the main service has finished and tables become available.

In spring, it is usually possible to start (or complete) two cruises per day from Lausanne to Vevey — an hour cruise. Around six cruises per day do the circular cruise from Vevey via amongst others Montreux, Chateau de Chillon, and St-Gingolph in around two hours. Chateau de Chillon claims to be the most popular monument in Switzerland — it is fun to visit — buy tickets online in advance.)

The basic routings are as follows but note not all boats call at all ports on all cruises:

cgn boat approaching chateau de chillon castle near montreux
CGN Boat Approaching Chateau de Chillon Castle near Montreux
  • Lausanne to Vevey(or reverse) in an hour with stops at Pully, Lutry, Cully, and Rivaz-St-Saphorin in the Lavaux region.
  • Circular cruises from Vevey Marché in two hours with stops usually en route at Vevey-La Tour, Clarens, Montreux, Château de Chillon, Villeneuve, Le Bouveret, and St-Gingolph. Boats from St Gingolph usually cross the lake directly back to Vevey but a few cruises are possible in the reverse direction starting from Chateau de Chillon and Montreux.

Travelers setting out early could use later boats if stopping en route for sightseeing. Railway connections are very easy from all ports except St Gingolph and Le Bouveret. The train-boat connections are easiest at Vevey-Marché (flat walk and very frequent trains) and Montreux — escalators. From the lakeside Lausanne-Ouchy (and Olympic Museum) to Lausanne train station (and Gothic cathedral), use the metro — otherwise, it is a long, very steep walk.


Ferry Boats on Lake Geneva

The regular ferry boats on Lake Geneva are further options for cruising on Lac Léman but the cruise may be as short as 20 minutes.

For tourists, the two popular passenger ferry boat routings on Lake Geneva are:

  • N3: Nyon in Switzerland to Yvoire in France — 20 minutes up to 15 times per day
  • N1: Lausanne to Evian — 35 minutes up to 12 times per day. The Leman Express made travel by rail between Geneva and Evian significantly simpler in recent years but the ferry to and train from Lausanne are still often the better choice.

As these ferries cross the border, Swiss customs checks are occasionally made. Furthermore, travel regulations in France may at times be different than in Switzerland.

It is essential to buy ferry boat tickets before boarding boats — fines are steep.

Tickets for Lake Geneva Boat Cruises

CGN's Simplon paddle steam boat in Geneva with a Mouette passenger ferry passing in the foreground.

CGN operates all Lake Geneva boat cruises — a few local sightseeing and circular cruises are also available in especially Geneva. Tickets may be bought in advance online, often as part of railway tickets, at boat landings, and from vending machines.

In smaller towns, tickets may also be bought immediately when boarding the boats. However, on the ferry boats and any boats with the Autocontrôle (an eye symbol), tickets MUST be bought before boarding, or expect a heavy fine if tickets are checked.

Many special tickets are available to make cruises cheaper. The half-fare card is valid while the best savings deal for families is the Carte Junior. CGN also has cheaper day tickets and special family tickets worth considering especially for longer cruises. If the budget allows, first-class tickets are worth the surcharge for better views and open decks.

More on Lake Geneva Pleasure Boats and Cruises:

SS Montreux on Lac Leman