Lake Geneva Winter and Christmas Season Boat Cruises

During the winter season, CGN pleasure boat cruises on Lac Léman are limited to ferry boats, fondue dinner cruises, and sailings on Sundays and national holidays including Christmas and New Year’s Day — departures are most common from Geneva, Lausanne, Vevey, and Nyon.

In winter, including Christmas, Lake Geneva boat cruises are on Sundays, fondue dinner cruises on Fridays, and ferries from Lausanne or Nyon.
MS Vevey in Geneva during Winter

Cruising on Lake Geneva has been popular with tourists in the Lac Léman region for well over a century. Many boats sail on Switzerland’s largest lake during summer but in winter cruises are limited to a few departures from Lausanne, Vevey, Montreux, and Genève on Sunday and national holidays, fondue dinner cruises on Friday, and short ferry boat rides between Lausanne and Evian or Thonon, as well as Nyon to Yvoire. The winter season for boat cruises on Lake Geneva in Switzerland is from late October to mid-April, the high season is from late June to early September, and the shoulder season in between.

In 2023 (2024), the only New Year’s Eve dinner cruise departs from Lausanne but lunchtime cruises are possible from Geneva, Lausanne, Vevey, Montreux, and others, every Sunday (including 24 and 31 December 2023), Christmas Day (25 December 2023), as well as 1 and 2 January 2024.

Winter Pleasure Cruises on Lake Geneva in Switzerland

CGN Boat at Genève Mont Blanc in Geneva, Switzerland
CGN Boat at Genève Mont Blanc

Pleasure cruises on lake boats on Lac Léman during the winter season are fairly limited. Standard sightseeing boats cruise only on Sundays and national holidays during the CGN winter timetable period – end October to mid-April. (Note that there may be some gaps in the program, especially during the first months of the year.)

It is usually possible to embark or disembark at any port and the purchase of food and drinks is usually optional. On special cruises, lunch, dinner, or fondue are often included in the fare — reservations are usually essential.

Ferries operate on Lake Geneva year-round but in winter some routes are on weekdays only. Although the crossing from Lausanne to Evian takes just around half an hour (50 minutes to Thonon), it is often the only way to enjoy a boat cruise on winter days.

In winter, most boats cruising on Lac Léman are diesel-powered. However, the Belle Epoque Rhône steamboat is often used for departures from Geneva and the diesel-electric Italie paddlewheel boat often cruises on the upper lake area (Montreux, Vevey).

Lake Geneva Winter Pleasure Cruises from Genève

Boats on Lake Geneva in Winter

In winter, CGN offers the following cruises from Geneva:

  • On Sundays, Fridays, and national holidays: two one-hour cruises in the afternoon from Geneva to Bellevue and back. Only drinks are served on these cruises. The boat only stops in Bellevue on demand.
  • On Sundays and national holidays: A lunch-hour cruise from Genève to Nyon lasting around 80 minutes each way with stops possible in Versoix and Coppet. (Lunch is usually optional and restaurant seats are best reserved in advance.)
  • On many Friday evenings: fondue dinner cruises departing around 19:30 — cheese or winegrower fondue is included in the price but drinks and dessert are extra.

In winter 2023, lunchtime cruises are also likely to be possible from Geneva additionally on Christmas Day (December 25) and on New Year’s Day (1 and 2 January 2024).

In winter, Lake Geneva boat cruises usually depart from Genève-Mont Blanc but sometimes Jardin d’Anglais is used.

Winter Cruises on Lake Geneva from Lausanne, Vevey, Montreux, St Gingolph

CGN Boat Cruising on Lake Geneva near Montreux, Switzerland
CGN Boat Cruising on Lake Geneva near Montreux, Switzerland

On winter Sundays and national holidays, CGN boats depart on several cruises in the Upper Lake (Haut Lac) region of Lake Geneva. This part of Lac Léman is generally the most beautiful and is also easily accessible from many winter sports and ski resorts in the French and Swiss Alps. If arriving by train, Vevey and Montreux offer simpler connections with the boat than Lausanne.

The following cruise routings are possible on Sundays and most national holidays in winter:

Haut Lac — Best Lake Geneva Cruise Area:

  • Usually, three cruises per Sunday complete the full circle of the upper lake area between Vevey and Montreux / Chillon / St. Gingolph / Le Bouveret (not calling in Lausanne). It is possible to board at any stop and do the full circle if desired — the cruise number may change en-route but it is usually not necessary to change boats. 
  • These classical circular cruises take in some of the best scenery in the Lac Léman region: the vineyards of the Lavaux, Chateau de Chillon, and the snow-covered Alpine peaks permanently in the background. Stops usually include Vevey-Marché, Vevey-La Tour, Clarens, Montreux, Territet, Chateau de Chillon, Villeneuve, Le Bouveret, and St Gingolph.
  • A full circle takes around two hours while the Vevey to Chillon part of the route is just less than an hour.
  • Lunch is usually optional.
  • The recently restored diesel-electric Italie paddleboat is often used on this route.

From Lausanne:

  • From Lausanne, a classical lunchtime cruise on Sundays is the only option, other than passenger ferries and special dinner cruises.
  • The boat departs from Lausanne around 12:30 and cruises past the beautiful vineyards of the Lavaux, Montreux, and Chateau de Chillon to Villeneuve. It leaves Villeneuve just after 14:00 to return to Lausanne by 16:00.
  • Lausanne to Villeneuve takes around 100 minutes in each direction.
  • This cruise boat departs from Lausanne-Ouchy and stops en route at Pully, Lutry, Cully, Vevey-Marché, and Montreux (at Chateau de Chillon only en route to Lausanne).
  • Lunch is offered on departures from Lausanne and Vevey but snacks are optional on cruises towards Lausanne.

In winter 2023, lunchtime cruises are also likely to be possible from Lausanne and the Upper Lake (e.g. Vevey or Montreux) additionally on Christmas Day (December 25) and on New Year’s Day (1 and 2 January 2024) — advance reservations are essential.

Lunch is served during lunchtime cruises and smaller snacks for afternoon departures. Lunch is usually optional and charged separately. Restaurant reservations are sensible for lunch but tables are usually free for enjoying coffee or snacks outside lunch hours.

Fondue Dinner Cruises from Lausanne

On most Friday evenings, fondue cruises are possible from Lausanne. The boat departs from Lausanne-Ouchy at 19:15 and returns at 21:45. It is also possible to disembark at Morges at 21:15 — a shorter walk to the train station than Lausanne. A cheese or a winegrower fondue is included in the price but drinks and dessert are extra.

Passenger Ferry Boats on Lake Geneva during Winter

Mouette Water Bus and CGN Lake Cruise Boat in Geneva
Mouette Water Bus and CGN Lake Cruise Boat in Geneva

Passenger ferry boats operate on Lac Léman as part of the public transportation network in the Lake Geneva region and thus continue to sail during the winter. Apart from the Mouette water buses in Genève, these ferries are often the only way to cruise on Lake Geneva during winter.

Three passenger ferry routes are available on Lake Geneva:

During winter, most of the routes have only ferry services on weekdays. The schedule is very limited – often only with services during peak commute times, which can be very inconvenient for tourists so double-check schedules before setting out.

The Lausanne-Evian-les-Bains route is the busiest, with boats departing every day, even during winter. These ferries are a good cruising option in winter when no other boats are on the lake. A special deal for breakfast is often available from Lausanne where passengers enjoy a light breakfast on a cruise to Evian and back without leaving the boat in France.

No car ferries operate on Lake Geneva — it is a long, slow drive to much of the French side of the lake.

More on Lake Geneva Pleasure Boats and Cruises:

SS Montreux on Lac Leman