Those with only 48 hours with which to get a handle on the staggering beauty of Lake Geneva (Lac Léman) would do well to focus the bulk of their attention on the Lavaux region between Lausanne and Montreux, but we still recommend Geneva as your starting point, as the westernmost tip of the croissant-shaped lake delivers plenty of visual delights.
In Geneva, get your bearings by climbing as far as you can up Cathédrale de St-Pierre in the city’s steep but stunning Old Town to soak up the historic atmosphere and also the panoramic views to the city’s symbolic salute, the Jet d’Eau.
We recommend following this itinerary in summer. Largely for the following reason: the colorful Bains des Pâquis, a soul-gladdening spot in the heart of one of the city’s earthiest quartiers (neighborhoods). The open-air lake pools here are a gathering spot for all of Geneva’s tribes. Young, old, rich, poor, gay, straight, Swiss, foreign, vain, carefree etc. You can swim, sunbathe, grab a massage, eat and drink and catch some of the best Lake Geneva views that the city affords, and all for a bargain price.
Stay overnight in Geneva, and if money’s no object, go for broke and enjoy the magnificence of one of the city’s famous five-star hotels. Our pick is the Le Richemond.
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From Geneva it’s a quick trip to western Switzerland’s second city.
Lausanne, has Roman roots, medieval charm and lakeside appeal to spare. Spend time wandering along the charming lakefront at Ouchy. Once a little fishing village separate from the city itself but now very much connected to the urban sprawl. Here you’ll find Lausanne’s main museum drawcard, the stunningly situated Olympic Museum. Like may denizens of this wealthy town, the Museum has had a facelift in recent times. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has called Lausanne home for over 100 years, and Olympic spirit imbues the city with a cosmopolitan air. In 2020 Lausanne will host the Winter Youth Olympic Games.
Just next door, you’ll find one of the city’s most intriguing but equally underrated museums. The Musée de l’Elysée is dedicated to the photographic arts and host to excellent temporary thematic exhibitions. Its attractive setting is only part of the appeal so don’t forget and catch some more lakeside views to France.
Within easy striking (and even walking) distance by boat or train is the astounding Lavaux region, a Unesco World Heritage site and full of some very worthy wine-sampling opportunities. Our top pick is the convenient and contemporary Lavaux Vinorama, but there are also plenty of small cellar door tastings throughout the region. We recommend staying overnight here. Our favorite place among the vines is the chic Hotel Lavaux, with lakeside views, a fine kitchen and local tipples.
From here you can easily get to one of Switzerland most photographed (and photogenic) sights. This is the brooding and beautiful Château de Chillon, just beyond the pretty (albeit somewhat sleepy) town of Montreux.
Montreux is home of the the Golden Rose Television Festival and the International Choral Festival. Also, for several years the iconic Freddie Mercury made his home here.
To book a suitable hotel or other accommodation in or around Geneva, you can use the map below, which shows current prices for hotels and apartments. If you wish to book further afield, then just enlarge the map (+/-) to see more properties or, if you have somewhere particular in mind, enter your preferred resort/town/village in the ‘Where are you going?’ box.