Living along the Lac Léman certainly attracts out-of-town friends and family. And as much as Lausanne has to offer, the surrounding areas also provide great attractions for all ages. Here is a list of some go-to activities and nearby day trips to wow your visitors, all an hour or less away. Many can be done by public transport and are kid-friendly. Without further ado, here are the best summer day trips for visitors to Lausanne:
The Cailler chocolate factory & Gruyère village and Château
A visit to the Maison Cailler near Gruyère makes for a great day trip. A 45-minute car ride from Lausanne, the kid-friendly tours of the chocolate factory are held in several languages and last approximately 1 hour. Visitors learn about the history of chocolate as well as the origins of Switzerland’s famous milk chocolate. The real attraction is the stop in the tasting room at the end of the tour.
After your visit to Cailler, take the short drive up the road to the charming village of Gruyère, where there is something for everyone. A visit of the beautiful castle lasts approximately 1 hour. The village is also lined with traditional restaurants if you’re in the mood for some fondue. If your guests are real cheese lovers, head over to the Maison Gruyère on your way home to visit an exhibit on the cheese to learn about how it’s made.
If you’re without kids and up for something a bit eccentric, check out the HR Giger Museum in the center of the village. The Swiss artist won an Oscar for Best Visual Effects for his work on the film Alien, and this museum houses the biggest collection of his art. And be sure to grab a drink in the Alien-themed bar located across the street, great for a few unique selfies.
Chateau de Chillon and Montreux/Vevey
A day trip that can easily be done via car, train or boat, the Chillon Castle is not to be missed on a trip to the region. On a beautiful day consider hopping on the CGN boat in Ouchy and taking it to the Chillon boat stop, located 100 meters from the castle. Visitors get great views along the way of the Lavaux wine region as well as the looming Alps on the French side of the lake. The medieval island castle has been beautifully restored and provides a great way to learn about the history of the region. The views from the top are fantastic, so be sure to climb all the way up. If it’s hot outside, cool off by jumping in the lake at the small beach a short walk from the main entrance.
After visiting the castle, you can make stops in the towns of Montreux or Vevey. Stroll along the lakefront in Montreux and have your photo taken with the Freddie Mercury statue, or with Charlie Chaplin in Vevey. Paddle boats can be rented in the place de marché in Vevey.
The Lavaux Express tourist train is a great way to explore the Lavaux wine region, especially for those with limited mobility. The train leaves from either Lutry or Cully and takes you on a panoramic trip through the vineyards. It is one of the best ways to explore the Lavaux other than on foot and provides breathtaking views over the lake. If you’re with adults (or even if you have kids), the train de caveau, which runs from Friday to Sunday, includes a stop and wine tasting in one of the many charming Lavaux villages. They also offer other routes, such as a village market loop on the weekends, and an apéro train on Thursdays.
Towering above Montreux, the Rochers-de-Naye day trip can be adapted for anyone and is easily accessible by public transport or car. Take the one-hour cogwheel railway train up from Montreux to 2,000 meters for a spectacular view of the lake and the Alps. Or for the more sporty types, leave the car in Caux, and hike the rest of the way up. It’s only about 8 kilometers, but with over 900 meters of change in elevation, it’s not to be underestimated. Don’t forget to check out the groundhogs coming up for air that live at the top of the mountain. You can either walk down or take the same cog-wheel train back to Montreux.
Want to hike inside the mountain too? Check out this insider’s guide to a special hike at Rochers-de-Naye by Nicola Reinle.
Fondue in the mountains
Swiss fondue is best savored in the mountains, preferably where you can see the cows that produced the cheese. One of our favorites is the Buvette le Vuipay located above Les Paccots in Fribourg. It’s somewhat of a winding mountain drive, but the beautiful views of the Dent de Lys and surrounding mountains are worth it. The fondue is delicious and if you’d prefer something ‘lighter,’ their Swiss version of macaroni and cheese is great. The Vuipay produces its own cheese, and if you ask nicely, you may even get a visit of the cellar where they make it. You can also directly buy gruyère and vacherin cheese to take home and make your own fondue.