Are you looking for the best towns to visit on Lake Geneva but unsure which towns are worth visiting and which should be skipped? Want to learn more about what to see, do, eat, and where to stay in the Lake Geneva area of Switzerland and France?
This article will outline the seven best Lake Geneva towns, and for each town, you will find recommendations for activities, restaurants, and hotels.
There are numerous towns around Lake Geneva, called Lac Léman in French, so it can be difficult to decide which ones to visit. Therefore, I have selected my seven favourite towns around Lake Geneva in Switzerland and France to help you plan your trip.
I will also let you know my opinion on the prettiest town on Lake Geneva and which part of Lake Geneva is best to stay in. If you are short on time, there are ways to see many of the Lake Geneva towns in as short a period as possible – hint: it is on a boat tour.
I have been travelling to towns around Lake Geneva for over 17 years. My family own a chalet in a nearby ski resort town called Bernex, a short drive from Lac Léman. Therefore, I have visited numerous Lake Geneva towns throughout my travels during these 17 years.
As an ex-luxury travel agent and an expert traveller who has been to France and Switzerland more times than I can count, I am a reliable source for information on the best towns on Lake Geneva. I know how to choose the best hotels and restaurants; plus, I am always looking for tips and suggestions to share.
Introduction to Lake Geneva: France and Switzerland
Have you started planning your trip to Lake Geneva and are struggling to understand the region? The main confusion comes from the fact that Lake Geneva is technically in France and Switzerland, which means there are French towns and Swiss towns that front the lake.
The stretch along Lake Geneva between Lausanne and Montreux is called the Swiss Riviera. The Swiss towns on Lake Geneva have the best view of Mont Blanc.
The French side of Lake Geneva is known as the northern part of Haute-Savoie or Lower Chablais (bas-Chablais).
Otherwise, you can drive your car from your home country to Geneva. If you drive from the UK, check the prices of ferries and the Eurotunnel with Direct Ferries.
If you have limited time and are looking for the best way to see as many towns as possible, you should book a boat tour around Lake Geneva. You can choose from a selection of start points around the east side of Lake Geneva, such as Saint-Gingolph or Montreux.
What Cities are on Lake Geneva in France?
The three towns that are in my round-up of the best towns on Lake Geneva are:
There are several other French Lake Geneva towns, but the above three are the ones that are most worth visiting in my opinion.
What Cities are on Lake Geneva in Switzerland?
These four recommended towns are in Switzerland.
Read on to discover why these towns are the best places to visit on Lake Geneva in Switzerland and France.
Having visited Evian more than ten times, I can say that Evian-Les-Bains should be on a list of the best towns on Lake Geneva. It is a charming town nestled on the southern shore of Lake Geneva.
While Evian is mainly famous for being a well-known mineral water source, there is much more to discover about Evian.
Evian is also known as a spa town because it offers the opportunity to bathe in Evian water; plus, many spa facilities offer unique experiences.
The beautiful lakefront promenade stretches across Evian, offering stunning views overlooking Lake Geneva and surrounding mountains.
Activities and Attractions
Evian-Les-Bains is renowned for its wellness offerings, making it a perfect destination for relaxation and rejuvenation. Additionally, Evian is close to numerous ski resorts and hiking destinations. The combination of active adventures and spa treatments can make a unique trip.
To get a taste of what Evian is truly famous for, you can fill your water bottle from Source Cachat, Evian’s natural spring.
Tap water tastes excellent in the Evian area – I always look forward to filling up my water bottle when staying at my chalet in Bernex.
Make sure you wander through the quaint shops in the old town, where you can find charming souvenirs and local products. Evian also has a casino for those looking for additional rainy-day activities or something to do post-hiking or skiing.
During the summer, you can enjoy swimming in the lake or the pool at the Centre Nautique (Aquatic Centre) – there is also a slide for the kids. Jumping in the lake is one of my favourite things to do in Lake Geneva during the summer when the weather is pleasant because it is so refreshing.
You can also enjoy a range of adrenaline-filled sports, such as water skiing, wakeboarding, paddling boarding, and canoe or kayaking. There are several golf courses nearby, such as the highly-rated Evian Resort Golf Club.
Evian offers a free funicular that takes you to higher vantage points, providing panoramic views of the lake and the town. Plus, you can take the ferry from Evian to Lausanne, Switzerland, allowing you to explore another Lake Geneva town. I have taken the ferry numerous times and it is straightforward.
If you visit Evian during the festive period, you will see the magical “Le Fabuleux Village des Flottins.” This Christmas display features artistic creatures made from wood, adding a unique touch to the town. The event usually runs from mid-December to early January.
The display is quirky, but my family and I always enjoy a visit to see Le Fabuleux Village des Flottins and take many photos.
If you are looking for luxurious accommodation in Evian, the Hôtel Royal is an excellent choice. It offers high-end amenities and an incredible view of Lake Geneva.
Otherwise, you could try out the more modest and traditional Hotel Le Littoral with Savoyard-style decoration. Le Littoral also has a seafront view, but it is priced more competitively.
Staying in Evian is a good option for those who have booked accommodation from Saturday to Saturday (most ski lodgings require this) and want to extend the stay a day longer.
From my experience, arriving at Geneva airport on a Saturday during the ski season can be a struggle, given how busy it is. Therefore, I usually recommend arriving at Geneva airport on a Friday or a Sunday instead.
For exceptional French cuisine, I recommend trying one of Evian’s three Michelin-ranked restaurants.
The only restaurant with a Michelin star is Les Fresques in the Hotel Royal, which is an exquisite fine-dining restaurant in a stunningly decorated banquet hall. The meals do not come cheap, but the quality is unmatched. Choose between the a la carte menu or the set meals (with a range of price options).
If you are looking for something less upscale, you could try Le Muratore, which has a Bib Gourmand, meaning it has good food at a good price. You will taste all kinds of local delicacies, such as fish from the lake, local cheese and even snails if you dare. However, the service at this establishment will not be on the same level as Les Fresques restaurant.
The final choice for a restaurant in Evian is Au Jardin d’Eden with a renowned chef. Expect to receive tasty food and the service to match, all for a low cost.
You can also go for a crepe or ice cream along the coastal path in Evian. There are several stands offering snacks and drinks.
Regarding the best towns on Lake Geneva, Yvoire undoubtedly ranks among the top choices.
This charming medieval town, located on the French shore of Lake Geneva, offers a glimpse into the past with its well-preserved historical attractions and flower-filled streets.
Yvoire’s medieval character is immediately apparent as you stroll through its picturesque streets. The town’s stone houses and cobblestone pathways create an atmosphere that transports you back in time.
Yvoire is one of my favourite towns on Lake Geneva because it is arguably the most beautiful. I always make sure to visit with guests whom I bring to the area.
Yvoire is pedestrian-only, and cars are not allowed in the town. However, there is a convenient paid car park just a short walk from the town’s city walls, making it easy for you to explore Yvoire on foot.
Yvoire’s popularity can peak during weekends or the first sunny day after a period of rain (as I experienced), so consider this when planning your visit. It is still a lovely place to visit when it is busier, but you will have more people in your photos.
The town is also dog-friendly, so you will see many locals and tourists walking around Yvoire with their dogs. We were allowed to bring our 3 dogs into a restaurant as well.
Attractions and Activities
Yvoire is famous for its flower-filled streets and well-manicured gardens, adding vibrant colours to the town’s medieval architecture.
Château d’Yvoire gives a charming backdrop to your photos of Yvoire. However, it is not possible to visit the Castle of Yvoire because it is private property. Therefore, the inside of the Yvoire Castle remains a mystery to visitors.
Do not miss the town’s botanical garden, called Le Jardin des Cinq Sens, or Garden of Five Senses in English. Yvoire’s botanical garden is known for its diverse collection of plants and its scenic views.
You can book 1-hour time slot tickets for the gardens when it is open from mid-April to early October.
Yvoire is also a great starting point for exploring the western towns of Lake Geneva. You can find ferries from Yvoire to Geneva and other destinations like Nyon and Nernier. These boat tours offer a unique perspective of the lake and its surrounding towns.
Boat tickets can be purchased online or at the ticket office in the port of Yvoire.
Staying in Yvoire can be delightful, with options for various cosy boutique hotels. If you want to make the most of your visit, consider booking a room with a lake view to soak in the beauty of Lake Geneva from your window.
Although, some accommodation is not available during winter.
For an exquisite dining experience, head to the lakeside Hotel Restaurant du Port. Enjoy a meal with a breathtaking view across Lac Leman while you eat.
Remember to try the region’s speciality, perch fish with a lemon sauce, as perch are abundant in Lake Geneva.
What is more, you could try Le Pré de la Cure in Yvoire, which is featured in the Michelin guide’s recommendations for the area.
If you prefer something more casual, Yvoire has charming creperies, such as Les Galets, where you can savour delicious crepes and galettes.
Les Galets has a lovely hidden terrace that is dog-friendly. Order some cider and it will come in a small wooden bowl.
Plus, you can finish your meal off with a stop at one of the town’s many ice cream shops.
Montreux, situated on the picturesque shores of Lac Léman, is one of the best Lake Geneva towns, celebrated for its vibrant cultural scene and stunning natural beauty.
Montreux is perhaps best known for the world-renowned Montreux Jazz Festival, drawing music enthusiasts from around the globe. Its rich cultural heritage extends beyond the festival, with numerous concerts, events, and art exhibitions taking place throughout the year. If you are a fan of the arts, Montreux will not disappoint.
If you are travelling to Montreux by car, Montreux Train Station offers overnight paid parking.
Attractions and Activities
Montreux offers a wide array of activities and popular tourist attractions in the city.
Stroll along the picturesque lakeside promenades and soak in the breathtaking views. Look out for the Freddie Mercury statue along the promenade. Or leisurely walk around Montreux’s old town and explore its charming streets.
You could also discover the nearby Chateau de Chillon (Chillon Castle), a medieval fortress that offers a glimpse into the region’s history. It is possible to visit the castle directly on site or you get a view of it from the 2-hour Riviera Cruise.
This well-preserved castle, nestled on the shores of Lake Geneva, is an iconic landmark and a must-visit attraction in the area. The chateau is the inspiration for the castle in The Little Mermaid film.
Montreux transforms into a winter wonderland during the colder months. You can enjoy activities like ice skating, sledging, snowshoeing, and even skiing at nearby resorts. Remember to experience the enchanting Christmas markets that add a festive touch to the city – but it can get extremely busy. So aim to visit on a weekday where possible.
Embark on the funicular, a unique mode of transport that provides stunning panoramic views of the city. Or consider booking tickets for the Riviera boat tour around Lake Geneva. It is a leisurely way to explore the region from the water and gives a great perspective.
I did the 2-hour Riviera Cruise for the first time in 2023, and I cannot believe it took me so long to have experienced it. It was wonderful and also dog-friendly, so the whole family can enjoy it.
There are several boat tours on Lake Geneva, so ensure you check with the staff before embarking on the boat. My family and I nearly got on the lunch cruise instead of our sightseeing cruise.
Montreux offers a range of luxurious accommodation options, catering to those seeking a lavish stay.
Known as the most luxurious hotel in Montreux, Hotel Fairmont Le Montreux Palace is famous for its Sunday brunch from 12:00 PM to 3:00 PM, and with a spectacular view of Lake Geneva.
Another high-end choice, the Grand Hotel Suisse Majestic offers a comfortable and high-end retreat. It is a great option for those who want to be located along the waterfront at a lower price than the Fairmont without compromising service.
I stayed at Grand Hotel Suisse Majestic during my winter visit, and it had an incredible view from the lake view rooms and the restaurant. Additionally, it was great that the hotel provided you with a transportation card to use during your stay.
For a culinary experience to remember, consider dining at Bistro Decotterd, a Michelin Guide-featured restaurant. The view from the restaurant overlooks the whole town and has an exceptional view of mountains.
While here, do not miss the chance to sample Swiss wines from their impressive menu. Plus, their famous chocolate cake was incredible – I almost ordered a second.
Plus, there are plenty of opportunities throughout Montreux to delight in Swiss cuisine by trying local specialities like Gruyère Cheese from the Laiterie de Gruyère cheese shop, fondue, and alpine macaroni.
Vevey is a town nestled on the northern shore of Lake Geneva. It offers a blend of artistic charm and gastronomic delights. Vevey’s location makes it a convenient day trip destination for visitors by boat.
Vevey has a special connection to the iconic British actor and filmmaker, Charlie Chaplin. Chaplin is best known for his silent comedy films, and found a home in Vevey during his retirement.
Attractions and Activities
Vevey’s strategic location makes it an ideal starting point for boat trips around Lake Geneva because many tours include Vevey on their route.
Vevey is featured on the Riviera Cruise, so you can pass through it, or you can start the tour here.
You can explore Chaplin’s legacy through various attractions like the Chaplin’s World Museum, which offers a glimpse into his life and career, housed in the Manoir de Ban, his former residence, and a statue commemorating his association with Vevey.
Vevey has a quirky and intriguing landmark—the large fork sculpture, which is a testament to the town’s appreciation for culinary art. It was erected in Lake Geneva to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the Alimentarium, a food-themed museum in Vevey.
Vevey works well as a day trip from other charming towns like Montreux on a boat tour or by car. Alternatively, you can spend the night in one of Vevey’s luxurious hotels.
Here are some well-recommended restaurants that you could try in Vevey that come from the Michelin guide.
Nestled on the shores of Lake Geneva, the city of Geneva has a unique combination of international appeal, cultural diversity, and stunning natural beauty.
Geneva is not only known for its picturesque surroundings but also for its international prominence. The Geneva International Airport (GVA) is a gateway for travellers to the Alps, particularly those heading to the nearby ski resorts of the Swiss Alps and the iconic Mont Blanc.
Attractions and Activities
Geneva offers a range of iconic landmarks and cultural attractions to explore.
Among these, you can visit the United Nations Headquarters, which serves as a prominent symbol of international diplomacy within Europe.
Another must-see is the Jet d’Eau, an iconic water fountain that gracefully shoots water 140 meters into the sky.
Within the Jardin Anglais, you will encounter the enchanting Flower Clock (L’Horloge Fleurie).
Additionally, you can stroll along Geneva’s picturesque waterfront trail to soak in the breathtaking views of Geneva Lake. You will see many locals jogging and cycling along this path.
I enjoy stopping in Geneva for a walk along the waterfront path after a flight to break up the journey. You can park at the P+R Genève-Plage which is a deep underground paid parking lot.
For a more immersive experience in Geneva, consider embarking on a boat trip around Lac Léman, where you can discover the natural beauty of the surrounding region from the peaceful waters.
To learn more about the rich history of Swiss watchmaking, visit the Patek Philippe Watch Museum to learn fascinating stories about iconic timepieces. For another luxurious experience, explore Geneva’s boutiques. Geneva is a paradise for luxury shopping – with bountiful options for purchasing exquisite watches and high-end fashion, or simply window-shopping.
There are many 5-star hotels in Geneva, and I recommend these first if they are in your price range.
The service, views, facilities, and general quality of a stay at these 5-star hotels are unmatched.
- Michelin-Starred Restaurants: Geneva has a collection of Michelin Guide-featured restaurants, including IZUMI at the Four Seasons, Chez Philippe, Osteria della Bottega, and Café de La Plage.
- Bayview at Hotel President Wilson (rooftop bar)
Nestled amidst the French cities in Switzerland, Lausanne is a destination that beautifully combines its Olympic history with a stunning natural setting.
Lausanne proudly holds the title of the Olympic capital, being the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee.
Lausanne seems less of a tourist destination than some of the other towns on Lake Geneva since it has a more residential feel.
Lausanne is easily accessible by train from Geneva, making it a convenient day trip option.
You can also take the ferry from Lausanne to Evian les Bains (or vice-versa), as it is much quicker than driving around the lake.
Attractions and Activities
Gain insights into the history of the Olympic Games at the Olympic Museum and admire a diverse collection of memorabilia and interactive exhibitions.
Alternatively, visit Plateforme 10, where there is a collection of art galleries.
To make the most of the beautiful scenery in Lausanne, take a leisurely walk along the Ouchy Promenade, offering breathtaking views of Lake Geneva and the impressive mountain backdrop.
For a unique experience, you could rent a pedalo and venture out onto the waters of Lake Geneva.
Most of the activities in Lausanne can be done in a day. However, there are plenty of day trips that start from Lausanne.
While in Lausanne, make sure you explore the nearby Lavaux vineyards. Embark on the Lavaux Express tourist train and meander through picturesque vineyards. You can savour local wines during a tasting session. Choose from a selection of Lavaux wine tours here.
Enjoy a tour around the Swiss Riviera to see the main regional highlights, Castle of Chillon, visiting Lavaux vineyards, Montreux, and Vevey.
Visit a quaint Swiss village called Les Diablerets, travel up to Glacier 3000 and then see Montreux on this excellent tour from Lausanne.
Another day trip option from Lausanne is to visit Gruyeres by train and do a cheese and chocolate tasting.
There are some great hotels in Lausanne for an overnight stay.
Here are some restaurants that are recommended on the Michelin guide for Lausanne.
- Pinte Besson
- Au Chat Noir
- La Grappe d’Or
When deciding which Lake Geneva towns to visit, Thonon-Les-Bains is a hidden gem in Lac Léman France, and should be considered.
Thonon-Les-Bains is often confused with Thollon-les-Mémises, a nearby ski resort town. While both offer their allure, Thonon-Les-Bains is known as the lakeside town and looks dissimilar to Thollon and should not be compared.
There is an excellent wine store called Inter Caves in Thollon. The shop assistant was able to provide excellent suggestions for wines that were extremely tasty, and she spoke good English. We came away with a huge haul of wine to last us our week’s trip.
Attractions and Activities
Thonon-Les-Bains boasts a variety of activities that cater to different interests. Explore the Jardins de l’Eau (Water Gardens) – these beautifully landscaped gardens offer a tranquil setting for a stroll.
Enjoy the picturesque views of Lake Geneva from Port de Rives and the surrounding mountains in this charming lakeside area. Relax on the shores of Lake Geneva at Thonon and Publier Municipale Beaches. Please note that facilities with swimming pools may require an entrance fee.
Discover the historical significance of the Castle of Ripaille (Château de Ripaille), a medieval castle, which was once a monastery.
Wander through the charming streets of Thonon’s old town, where you can soak in the local atmosphere and explore quaint shops and cafes.
For a good dining experience, consider these options in the neighbouring towns of Anthy-sur-Léman and Margencel.
- L’ Auberge Anthy
- Le Clos du Lac
While Thonon-Les-Bains offers some modest hotel options, you should head to nearby Evian for more accommodation options.
FAQ – Lake Geneva Towns
Why is Lake Geneva So Popular?
Lake Geneva is a well-loved Western European destination due to its variety of winter and summer activities.
In the summer, many activities can be enjoyed directly around Lake Geneva. For example, you can experience a variety of water sports, walk along the lakeside promenades, and dine with spectacular views.
What is the Prettiest Town on Lake Geneva?
Yvoire is the prettiest town on Lake Geneva due to its quaint shop-lined streets, beautiful architecture, and impressive lakefront view. It is a historic, medieval, pedestrian village that is no doubt a highlight when visiting the French side of Lac Leman.
Which Part of Lake Geneva is the Best?
It is difficult to choose which part of Lake Geneva is the best because all towns have similarities given that they are lakefront towns, but they also have differences to distinguish themselves from others.
There are French and Swiss towns on Lake Geneva, and the Swiss towns on the Northern side of the lake have a better view of the mountains. However, the French towns on the southern side of the lake have an abundance of cultural activities and great food.
Which Town to Stay in on Lake Geneva?
Evian-Les-Bains is the best place to stay on Lake Geneva when you are visiting the French side. It has an excellent array of hotels and restaurants. It is also in a convenient location to explore many of the surrounding towns and the mountains. Plus, it will be cheaper to stay in Evian than in one of the Swiss towns.
Montreux is the best town to stay on the Swiss side. There are good train connections and boat tours that start and end in Montreux. Not to mention there is an excellent array of food and accommodations there.
What are the Most Beautiful Villages Around Lake Geneva?
The most beautiful villages in the Lake Geneva region are Yvoire, Montreux, and Vevey.
Do You Swim in Lake Geneva?
Yes, you can swim in Lake Geneva – it is a popular summer activity. There are many beaches along the lake where you can enter the water and enjoy the refreshing temperature.
One of my favourite places to swim in Lake Geneva is the Aquatic Centre in Evian (Centre Nautique) where there are diving boards and pontoons in the water. There is an entrance fee to use this facility because there are changing rooms and a swimming pool that you can use.
Can You See the Alps From Lake Geneva?
It is possible to see the Alps from towns on Lake Geneva on clear days. For example, you can see the mountains from Vevey, Montreux or Geneva, or while on a boat tour across Lake Geneva.
Is Lake Geneva in France or Switzerland?
Lake Geneva is in both France and Switzerland. A little over half of the shores are Swiss towns, and the remainder of the towns are French.
The towns on Lake Geneva are all French-speaking and refer to Lake Geneva as Lac Léman. Whereas, other Swiss German-speaking towns in Switzerland call it Genfersee.