The vineyard-filled canton of Vaud in Switzerland offers stunning walks, food and drink all rolled into one.
Summer is looming and holiday planning begins. If you’re looking for inspiration then the vineyard-filled canton of Vaud offers stunning walks, food and drink all rolled into one. Bordered by Lake Geneva to the south and France to the west, this is Switzerland’s capital of gastronomy. Breathtaking landscapes offer striking panoramas of glittering lakes, Alps, impressive Jura Mountains and manicured vineyards between Lausanne and Montreux Riviera.
A real high point in Vaud Alps is the suspension bridge at Glacier 3000 in Les Diablerets where you can walk among the clouds. Back on terra firma there’s plenty on offer for walkers of every level of mobility and fitness and many routes feature a nice glass of wine (or two) along the way. Because it’s thirsty work, walking!
Guided walk app
One of the most beautiful vineyards in Switzerland features a circuit that starts from Chexbres, Saint-Saphorin, Rivaz or Epesses. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Lavaux’s neatly terraced vineyards dive into the sparkling waters of Lake Geneva.
Download the free app Vaud:Guide (no internet connection necessary, as it cleverly works via GPS) to learn lots of interesting titbits as you go. Find out more about the terroir, the vintages to try and the celebrities, like Charlie Chaplin, who frequented the area’s famous restaurant, Auberge de l’Onde. En route enjoy a ‘sip stop’ in one of the many vineyard cellars or a meal in a traditional café or pinte Vaudoise.
As the railway line runs along Lake Geneva, you can shorten this loop – a total of 10.4km – by taking the train part of the way. This walk is relatively easy going though there are some steep stretches.
One gentle walk in the Chablais vineyards takes you through traditional villages, with plentiful cafés and cosy restaurants. Guided by your smartphone, set off for an amble on the pathways. Taking the train to Ollon from Aigle and walking back is a good 10km option that takes around three-and-a-half-hours and is suitable for average fitness levels.
In the Morges region, a two-part walk from the castle at Vufflens-le-Château to the one at Morges takes you through wine-producing villages and the medieval towns of the La Côte AOC region. Here, you can taste local specialities and wines at the biggest vineyard of the canton of Vaud. Enjoy picture-postcard views of Lake Geneva here and, on clear days, of Mont Blanc. The Vaud:Guide app suggests a route of over 6km (about 5km among the vines and 1.5km in Morges itself).
Or set off along the rural trails of the ‘Pays-d’Enhaut Walk’ for an off-the-beaten-track route that also highlights local traditions and produce, as well as wine tasting. Discover the picturesque villages of Château-d’Oex, Rougemont and Rossinière, and taste superb cheese and artisan dairy products flavoured with mountain herbs. Locals traditionally pair their special dishes with a glass of Chasselas – a grape variety emblematic of the region. The GoldenPass line links the walk’s three possible starting points at Rougemont, Château-d’Oex and Rossinière stations.
If you would prefer more of a challenge, Swiss Backstage offers several hikes, taking in vineyards, historic mountain villages, secluded lakes, vast vistas and deep gorges.
An eight-day tour of the Vaud Alps starts in Aigle, in the Rhone Valley, and connects the main sites of Leysin, Les Mosses, Château-d’Oex, L’Etivaz, Les Diablerets, Villars and Gryon, forming a circular route back to Aigle. Marvel at Aigle’s 12th-century castle and the geological formations of Pierre du Moëllé. Sample the delicious L’Etivaz AOP cheese, and wander through the lime-green pastures of Taveyanne, where wooden chalets pepper the route to the beautiful La Pierreuse nature reserve in the Gruyère Pays-d’Enhaut nature park.
To get there go to Geneva International Airport and take a train to Lausanne which only takes 40 minutes. Switzerland’s other regions are easily accessible from there (within an hour) by train, boat, bus or funicular. Find out more at Nature Guides and Swiss Back Stage.