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Geneva to Montreux by boat or train?

We will be in Geneva in September, then heading to Montreux to catch the Golden Pass (on the way to Interlaken/Wengen). As we have the whole day to travel, and by fall the Golden Pass will run multiple times and go direct to Interlaken, I was considering taking a boat across the lake rather than training it to Montreux. What do you think? Is it worth the time/money to take the lake versus train route? Or are they more or less the same in terms of scenery? If we do go by boat, is there a better company to choose than the regular ferry? Thanks!!

Posted by
20290 posts

ill you be getting a Swiss Travel Pass or a Half Fare Card?

Posted by
117 posts

i think it'll be Eurail as we are going to more than one country.

Posted by
6932 posts

Regarding Eurail: which countries do you have in mind? If France, Spain or Italy are on the list, reconsider - we can discuss the options if you'd like.

Regarding boats: there aren't any practical boat options that run the whole length of the lake, and it would not be worthwhile anyway. What I suggest you do is:
- take the train from Geneva to Lausanne
- take the metro down to Ouchy, or a cab (it's not far)
- take a boat from Ouchy to Montreux (about 1-1.5 hours). The view of the Lavaux vineyards is excellent!

Check the CGN boat timetable beforehand, as that's what will dictate the rest of your schedule.

Posted by
117 posts

Our plan is:

Fly into Paris from Boston
Paris immediately to Bayeux
Bayeux to Paris
Paris via Lyon to Geneva
Geneva via Golden Pass to Wengen
Wengen via Interlaken to Baden Baden

car for a few days in Baden Baden (we have a specific non-train destination in that area)
Car to Fussen (so we can drive along Lake Constance)
and dropping the car in Munich on the way to Salzburg (because there's no good way to drop it in Fussen)
returning to Munich for two nights before
heading home.

Posted by
6932 posts

Thank you for the details!

For the French portion, just buy point-to-point tickets in advance - up to 120 days ahead for best fares. It will be cheaper and less trouble than Eurail. Why trouble with Eurail? Because in France, even with a valid pass, you still need to buy reservations, and those cost extra and are not always straightforward to do online. By the way, when you say "Paris to Geneva via Lyon", do you plan to stay in Lyon? If not, just take a direct Paris-Geneva train. Lyon is not a "day trip" kind of place.
Since you go to Bayeux straight on arrival, I suggest you buy a super cheap advance ticket for a specific train out of Paris, ~4 hours after scheduled landing time. They can cost as little as 15€, so if you are at the station early, or late, it does not really matter if you end up wanting to/having to buy another ticket.

For Switzerland, Eurail passes have no coverage at all in the region south of Interlaken towards Mürren, Wengen, Grindelwald, so some sort of Switzerland-specific pass makes sense. The easiest is a Swiss Travel Pass and there is a sale on those starting 15 April if I remember correctly.

As for Germany, if you have a car you do not need a pass. By the way, see if you can drop the car in Freilassing rather than Munich. You would be super close to Salzburg and you would not have to deal with Munich traffic.

Posted by
117 posts

Thank you!! When I looked at the costs of our various train routes it looked like the Eurail would save us money and make us a bit more flexible (take any train from Bayeux to Paris and not worry about whether it's the "cheap" one, etc., as our times aren't really nailed down there.). And I know Eurail saves us 25% on Swiss trains... But I'll take a look. You're right about Germany, of course!

As regards Lyon, my husband has a special interest in textile history, and really wants to see the original Jaquard Loom, which is in a museum in Lyon just a few blocks from the train station. So we thought we'd stop, see the museum, have lunch, and continue on our way to Switzerland.

From what I could figure out, our least stressful option for getting to a Swiss location and staying overnight fairly near Montreux is Geneva... hotels in Montreux are crazy expensive, and we'll have had a long day already... If you have another suggestion, I'd love to hear it!

Posted by
6932 posts

Definitely make a push to Lausanne rather than Geneva. It's one hour further by train.

As for the loom: your husband could see plenty of old looms at the excellent Musée des Arts et Métiers in Paris. Maybe he can have a look and decide if it would be enough to satisfy his curiosity. But going through Lyon is OK, don't worry, you can store luggage at Lyon Part Dieu station anyway.

Posted by
117 posts

I also chose Lyon with the thought that the cost of reserving the train would be cheaper than the direct fast train to Lausanne... and when I looked at hotels in Lausanne I couldn't see a darned thing that looked like it was near the railroad station AND reasonably priced AND not awful. Same in Montreux. That's why I picked Geneva despite not really wanting to go there in particular lol!

But I will check with my husband and see what he thinks... I keep changing the itinerary, but made the rookie mistake of paying in advance for the last hotel in Munich. Hopefully that'll be a non-issue, as we HAVE to wind up there in the long run lol!

Can you recommend a hotel in Lausanne?

Posted by
6932 posts

Lausanne shouldn't be more expensive than Geneva - it's usually the opposite, and if you buy tickets in advance, Paris-Lausanne can cost less than 50€/person.

Regarding hotels in Lausanne: Hôtel du port in Ouchy by the lake should be reasonable (i.e. below $200 - it's Switzerland!), same for the Ibis Styles above the station.

Posted by
117 posts

Thank you so much! Just so I understand: why do you recommend Lausanne over Geneva for an overnight? Just closer to Montreux?

Posted by
20290 posts

Geneva via Golden Pass to Wengen
Wengen via Interlaken to Baden Baden

How many days in Wengen?
Wengen via Interlaken is a little redundant, ain't no other way.

Posted by
6932 posts

Lausanne is closer to Montreux, it will be more convient for the lake boats, and I find it more charming than Geneva overall! The lakeside setting is really beautiful.

Posted by
117 posts

thanks! I'd rather stay in Lausanne in general... just didn't see good prices for September and, if we do go to Lyon (hubby is eager to do so!) it'd make for an awfully long day.

We may just skip out on the boat -- it was a nice idea, but I'm probably packing too much into one day. Golden Pass to Interlaken to Lauterbrunnen to Wengen is an awful lot of changing for a single day, whether we're starting in Geneva or Lausanne. And Montreux was a no-go price-wise!

Posted by
6932 posts

If you start from Lausanne, boat vs train is the exact same # of changes. The boats go straight from Lausanne to Montreux, and the station in Montreux is close to the pier. It does take about 1 hour longer.

But it's fine if you do not take the boat: the train from Lausanne to Montreux has great views too, sit on the right-hand side!

Posted by
1824 posts

A few remarks:

  • Eurail is not valid on the lake steamers on Lake Geneva
  • Eurail does give 25% off on the train in the Bernese Oberland, but you need to activate a day on the pass for that. Also, the tickets with 25% reduction cannot be bought from a ticket vending machine, or on line, so you will always have to go to the ticket office. Not very practical.
  • The four trips you intend to do in France all cost less than a day on an Eurail Pass. Even if you buy tickets at the last moment. And between Paris and Lyon you can also travel on Trenitalia, which is often cheaper. Eurail is not valid on Trenitalia in France though.

I would suggest you do not get an Eurail Pass. Buy tickets in advance if you can fix a time, but for Paris - Bayeux, and Lyon - Geneva just buy the tickets at the station. Lyon - Geneva is a regional train with no advance discounts, and no reservations, but all the other trains do require reservations.

For Switzerland then get the Half Fare Card. This gives you 50% off on all trips, or get the Swiss Travel Pass. That covers all public transit and is really very convenient. That pass also covers lake steamers, city transport etc...

However if you stay in the Montreux area you will get a pass giving free travel on local transit, so the Half Fare Card, and getting tickets as you go, may be the best option.

Posted by
16471 posts

Balso and WengenK are giving you excellent advice. A Eurail Pass is not a good choice for your trip.

Did you look at hotels in Vevey? It isn’t a small town on the lake between Lausanne and Montreux. I checked at couple of likely suspects and the price for a double room in September is 175-225 CHF.

We have not stayed there, but a friend likes Vevey a lot.