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Lake Geneva Tips

Hello all!

Doing 3 nights in the Lake Geneva area post-tour this summer. Would love tips of hotels (preferably Lausanne but anywhere in the area) and tips on transportation and sightseeing. I assume most of the sights are accessible by boat or train from Lausanne (such as Chateau de Chillon). Any recommendations for scenic 1/2-1 day train rides? I've heard the Chocolate Train is good but touristy. Hitting villages would be ideal!

Merci!

Posted by
32265 posts

Justin,

I was in Lausanne in September and stayed at Hotel Elite and would certainly recommend it. It's in a great location just above that station and very easy to walk to (once you know the shortcuts). It's also close to the Metro (Funicular) station for trips down to Ouchy and the boats.

Chateau de Chillon is accessible either by boat or by train. The docks and ticket booth for the boats is right across the street (and a short walk) from the Funicular station in Ouchy. Unless you like long boat rides, I'd suggest travel one way by boat and return by train. When visiting Chateau de Chillon you might consider packing along a sandwich or something as there weren't any snack bars in the Chateau (only vending machines). The day of my visit to the Chateau, my lunch consisted of a bag of potato chips and a bottled ice tea.

Three nights in Lausanne will provide two days of touring. Visiting Chateau de Chillon will take one day so that won't leave much time for "hitting villages". You might have a look at the RS Switzerland guidebook to get some ideas on which sights you may like to visit in that area.

Posted by
209 posts

Thank you for the recommendations!

I'm looking into whether a Swiss Pass will be worth it. We'll definitely have trains (round trips to and from airports; likely a couple trains around to nearby towns; museums like Chateau are covered; boats are covered, but local public transportation is free with the Card the hotels give you).

Posted by
11294 posts

I had a nice stay in Lausanne at the Hotel Regina (found in Rick's book): http://www.hotel-regina.ch/.

For any Swiss hotel, e-mail them directly to determine availability and rates; I found that the online booking tools (even the ones on the hotel's own websites) did not show all the rooms and had higher prices than I got by booking directly via e-mail.

As for passes, unfortunately you have to do all the math. If you're only staying for a few days and only taking trains around the lake area (to Montreux and the Chateau du Chillon, say), a pass is unlikely to pay off. If you do not get a pass, you can get tickets good for travel from one zone to another that includes all transit within those zones. So, for instance, from Lausanne to Chateau du Chillon can involve a train, then a bus; you should be able to get a single ticket good for both of these. However, if you're going further afield than the Lake Geneva region, then a pass of some sort may be worthwhile.

Posted by
32265 posts

I concur with Harold on the question of a Swiss Pass. You'll have to do some number crunching based on the trips you plan to take. In my case, I didn't feel a pass would be worthwhile as I only had to deal with the train to Lausanne and then on to Italy, along with the boat trip to the Chateau. As I recall, the hotel provided a Pass for the local transit.

Posted by
209 posts

Did the pass the hotels give you cover boats and trains, or just local buses and Metro?

Posted by
4592 posts

The pass we got in Montreux covered buses, which was all we needed for Chillon. But no one ever asked to see it. Which doesn't mean you shouldn't have one.

Re: Chillon, as I noted before, it will be a long-ish tour because it's a big complicated complex, with lots and lots of walking on ramps and stairs and even virtual ladders. And as noted it's off by itself with only a few gift shops, so if you need something besides a Coke and a candy bar you should bring it. It seemed like it would be very cold during a winter tour, so it might be quite hot during the summer.

the chocolate train and cheese train are designed for tourists, yes, but so is most everything else in Europe so that's no reason not to do it if after researching it you think it sounds interesting.

Posted by
11294 posts

The pass from the hotel just covered travel in the city of Lausanne (Metro and buses). To go further afield, you have to buy separate tickets (easy to do).

For almost all travel in Switzerland, tickets are not checked before getting on a vehicle. But, there can be ticket checks at any time - and the fines are stiff for violators in this very strict country, and no excuses are accepted.

Posted by
8889 posts

To add to Harold's comments. In many Swiss cities, if you stay in a hotel within the city boundary you get a free transport pass (bus+tram+train+whatever) for the duration of your stay. But it is only valid in the city. If you want to take excursions out of the city you still need to buy a ticket or another pass.
You may never have to show your ticket or pass if you are only there for a few days, but sooner or later you will get caught. The fine is 100 Franks for a first offence, payable on the spot. In the city where I live this is more than the cost of a monthly pass, so they don't need to check very often to make it uneconomic not to have a ticket.

One of the places you can go from Lausanne is to take a boat across the lake to Evian-les-Bains (where the water comes from).
Gruyères (where the cheese comes from) is nice little town with a castle at the end of the main street, views of the Alps, and a cheese dairy to visit. Photo here: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/0f/Gruy%C3%A8res.RueDUBourg.JPG