The most spectacular boat cruises on Lake Geneva are from Lausanne or Vevey with the Lavaux vineyards and Alps as background.
The pleasure boat cruises on Lac Léman with the best scenery and most spectacular backdrops are on the upper parts of the lake between Lausanne and the Montreux area. CGN lake boat cruises depart frequently from Lausanne-Ouchy, Vevey, and Montreux for excursions on the most beautiful part of Lake Geneva. One-hour cruises from Lausanne to Vevey pass by the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage-listed vineyards of the Lavaux. Two-hour circular cruises from Vevey take in views of the Alps while passing Montreux and Chateau de Chillon.
The Best Boat Cruise on Lake Geneva
Day-trip pleasure boat excursions on Lake Geneva are very popular. CGN has various cruises and ferryboat services that operate year-round on Lac Léman. However, the best boat cruise on Lake Geneva is from Lausanne past the vineyards of the Lavaux to Vevey, Montreux, and the Chateau de Chillon area.
CGN has several cruises in this area. Although passengers generally simply buy a ticket from say Lausanne to Montreux, the cruises are often advertised with more illustrious names, e.g. Fabulous Lavaux Vineyards (Lausanne to Vevey) or Splendor of the Alps for cruises between Vevey and Montreux.
From mid-April to late October, two round-trip cruises (five from late June to early September) are possible daily from Lausanne and a further three from Vevey. In winter, one or two cruises are possible on most Sundays and national vacation days only.
Cruising Times from Lausanne on Lake Geneva
Cruising times from Lausanne-Ouchy on regular boat excursions on Lake Geneva are around:
- 0:00 Lausanne-Ouchy
- 0:10 Pully
- 0:18 Lutry
- 0:33 Cully
- 0:47 Rivaz-St Saphorin
- 1:00 Vevey-Marché
- 1:10 Vevey-La Tour
- 1:25 Clarens
- 1:32 Montreux
- 1:47 Territet
- 1:55 Château de Chillon
- 2:00 Villeneuve
- 2:25 Le Bouveret
- 2:40 St Gingolph
Lausanne-St Gingolph direct is 50 minutes while Vevey-St Gingolph direct is just less than 40 minutes. This will make the full round-trip from Lausanne just shy of four hours or two hours when cruising round trip from Vevey.
If time is limited, use the trains to return from any stop other than Le Bouveret or St Gingolph – these two towns are on the opposite bank of the Rhone River requiring lengthy detours if traveling by road or rail. If time is pressing try to catch the more frequent trains at Lausanne, Vevey, or Montreux rather than at the smaller stations.
Not all boats call at all ports on every cruise and cruises also go in the opposite direction.
Cruising from Vevey or Lausanne?
Although Lausanne has the higher number of boat departures, starting or ending a cruise in Vevey is also a very attractive option. From Vevey boat landing, it is a simple stroll to the Swiss Railways train station — at no other major Lake Geneva town is the connection as simple.
From Lausanne, all ferries and CGN lake boats, depart from Lausanne-Ouchy, which is quite a distance from downtown Lausanne and the train station. It is not a simple walk, as the hills are very steep – use the metro (CHF3.70), which stops across the road from the boat landings in Ouchy.
At Montreux, use the free escalators to reach the level of the train station.
Buying Tickets for Lake Geneva Boat Cruises
Cruising on Lake Geneva is not cheap but bear in mind that all other Swiss transportation system and Swiss Railways discounts can be applied, e.g. half-fare cards and the superb Junior Card deal for children. Same-day return tickets are also slightly cheaper than two one-way tickets.
See Savings Deals on Lake Geneva Cruise Boats for a range of savings options to make cruising in Lac Léman boats cheaper.
Sample one-way fares are around (First Class):
Lausanne circular cruise CHF50 (CHF70) for the three-hours circuit, Lausanne-Vevey CHF20 (CHF28), Lausanne-Montreux/Chateau de Chillon CHF26 (CHF37) and Vevey two-hour circuit CHF38 (CHF53). Day returns are around 15% cheaper than two one-way tickets.
The ticket prices (and cruise speeds) are the same for all boats making it worth trying to cruise on one of the very pleasant Belle Époque paddle steamboats.
Restaurants and Dining on Lake Geneva Boats
The restaurants – especially the lovely first-class salon on the upper deck of the Belle Époque steamers – serve excellent food. Prices are similar to what regular restaurants in Switzerland will charge, i.e. not cheap but not particularly pricy for the region either.
Restaurant reservations are recommended but often not essential. Enquire immediately on the boat if boarding without reservations. If the restaurants are full at mealtimes, consider coffee and cake once seats become available.
Picnicking is allowed on the open decks.
During the shoulder and winter seasons, special dinner cruises usually sail on Friday evenings from Lausanne and Morges. Reservations are essential for these cruises.
More on Lake Geneva Pleasure Boats and Cruises:
- Pleasure Boats and Ferries on Lake Geneva
- Lake Geneva Boat Cruises in Spring
- Passenger Ferries on Lake Geneva
- Passenger Ferries and Cruises from Lausanne to Evian and Thonon
- Savings Tickets for CGN Lake Geneva Boat Cruises
- Summer Lake Geneva Boat Excursions and Day Cruises
- Spring & Autumn Cruises on Lake Geneva
- Winter Cruises on Lake Geneva
- Pleasure Boat Excursions to Yvoire
- See the Historic Paddle Steamers at the Parade Navale
- New Year’s Eve Dinner Cruises on Lake Geneva