Hike, eat and tour your way through this refreshing and beautiful season in Switzerland’s lakesidesouth-western region
Sitting in Switzerland’s south-west, the picturesque region of Vaud is tucked in between the Alps and the glittering Lake Geneva to the south. This region is rich in natural beauty, history and gastronomy, making Lausanne and Montreux Riviera the perfect destinations for travelers of all types. Autumn offers up one of the best times of year to explore it all with mild temperatures, bright sunshine and a landscape of foliage turning a brilliant golden hue – a destination as eye-catching as it is fascinating. With so much to see and do, we’re here to help highlight five of the very best activities that make the most of the autumn season.
Set aside an afternoon to embark on a vineyard walk through the Terraces of Lavaux UNESCO, located between Lausanne and Montreux Riviera. On a path stretching over 10.4 kilometres – which can be shortened by hopping on the railway line along Lake Geneva – explore this world heritage site of beguiling vineyard terraces, stopping for a sip in a vineyard cellar or a meal in a traditional pinte vaudoise restaurant. Downloading the free “Vaud: Guide” app, which can function without an internet connection, allows you to learn about the region as you walk through 30 questions and answers, while directing wanderers on the original circular route that links Chexbres, Saint-Saphorin, Rivas and Epesses.
For those with an appetite for a gourmet getaway, Vaud reaps the bounty of its terroir in restaurants that span fine gastronomy and authentic local cuisine. Following a guide on a gourmet walk is one way to discover the local flavour, sampling cheeses, deli meats, truffles and pastries along the way. Across the region, from the cities to the countryside, restaurants following time-honoured family recipes and traditions, sharing insights into the best seasonal ingredients through dishes such as cabbage sausage, fondue moitié-moitié and Vully cake, a popular sugar and cream tart.
3. Lake Cruises
A leisurely boat cruise on crescent-shaped Lake Geneva shows off spectacular views of the surrounding Alps and the cities of Lausanne & Montreux. From focusing on Lausanne to touring the riviera, or even heading out on an “Escape” cruise that sails past the Lavaux vineyards and medieval attractions such as the Chillon Castle, boarding a boat may be the best way to maximize your exploration of this stunning region. A variety of options offer different ways to experience your sailing, such as audio guides that shine a spotlight on the history of the lake and surrounding area, and gourmet cruises serving decadent brunches, lunches, dinners and drinks.
4. The National Arboretum
There are few things more striking than seeing trees donning their bright yellow and orange autumnal hues and walking from the Aubonne Valley to the vineyards in the National Arboretum is a must-do for all leaf-peepers. Unique to Switzerland, this vast park is home to 4,000 tree and bush species from all continents. An easy circuit that takes only 2 hours and 40 minutes to hike, this postcard-perfect natural setting is an unforgettable day out that the whole family can enjoy.
5. Treasures of the City Guided Tour
Head to lakeside Lausanne to join the Treasures of the City Guided Tour, taking place every Saturday at 2pm. This insightful two-hour tour will set off on a path that winds through the “Olympic” city’s parks and gardens. Along the way you’ll weave through pretty medieval streets and see its grand gothic cathedral. From the cathedral, the wood and cobbled Escaliers du Marché staircase leads you to the Place de Palud and the belfry-topped Town Hall, which is still in use today. The buzzy Quartier du Flon rounds out the tour with its art and trendy boutiques that show off the historic city’s modern side.