The Wine Trail along the "Terrasses de Lavaux" (Terraces of Lavaux) is certainly one of the most fascinating hiking and wine trails on Lake Geneva. This wonderful wine region made up of rolling hills sloping down to the lake was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007 and is perfect for all seasons of the year. We visited it in Autumn, when the yellow of the vineyards makes the landscape even brighter and more charming. In this article, we tell you about our itinerary from Lutry to St. Saphorin and give you some useful tips for planning your visit.
We love... the Lavaux!
The Wine Trail along the Terrasses de Lavaux is a fascinating hiking trail that runs along the rolling terraced hills on the northeastern side of Lake Geneva. This wonderful wine region, about 800 hectares wide, is one of the largest in Switzerland and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2007. The walking trail, about 12 kilometers long, starts from St. Saphorin and reaches Lutry. We chose to walk it in the opposite direction, but whichever starting point you choose, both villages are easy to reach by car and of course by public transportation, as they are only a few kilometers from Lausanne, Montreux and Geneva.
Although summer – when the area is in full swing and accommodations, restaurants and wineries are ready to welcome visitors – is the best season to visit Lavaux, we suggest that you don’t miss a visit during the fall months, when the warm colors of the foliage make the landscape even brighter and more fascinating. We walked this trail in October and in this article we tell you about our itinerary and give you some useful tips for planning your visit.
Walk overview & map
The walking route we propose is a linear route that starts from the small town of Lutry – a few kilometers from Lausanne, Montreux and Geneva – and reaches the quaint village of St. Saphorin, where it ends. During the itinerary, you can enjoy beautiful views of Lake Geneva and explore wine cellars, restaurants and wine bars and small self-service shops where you can buy local products and, of course, excellent wine. Also not to be missed is a walk through the alleys of the quaint villages you will encounter along the way, such as Lutry itself, Villette, Epesses and St. Saphorin.
The total route is about 12 km, which can be covered in just under four hours at a relaxed pace. It is an easy route with minimal elevation gain and is almost entirely on paved roads. Along the route you will find some dining options. However, to avoid disappointment we suggest that you check in advance, outside the summer season, the opening hours of restaurants and wineries.
The village of Lutry
Our walk starts from Lutry. Indeed, we have decided to walk the trail in the opposite direction from the usual one. The reason for our choice is mostly practical: we will be staying in the Lausanne area for the entire weekend and thus have two days to explore the town and of course the Lavaux. However, our hotel is located right here in Lutry, and given the uncertain weather for Sunday, we decided at the last minute to take advantage of a particularly sunny Saturday to hike the Lavaux trail in the late morning of our first day here. The choice, in the end, turned out to be definitely the right one, not only because the particular light on this October afternoon gave us some terrific pictures, but also because – in our opinion – the view towards St. Saphorin and the lake closing in on itself in the direction of Montreux is definitely fascinating.
Our hotel in Lutry is the Rivage Lutry Hotel, a good choice because it is located outside the hustle and bustle of big cities and has a good restaurant for dinner. It is also easily reached from the train station and is right in the center of the village, along the lake promenade. We absolutely recommend it.
From here, our walk starts today.
From Lutry to the Terrasse des Echelettes
From Lutry, the hiking trail is clearly marked by the usual yellow signs and first follows the lakeside promenade and then more closely follows the shoreline along a narrow sidewalk.
After a kilometer or so, the trail leaves the shoreline and follows a steep flight of steps to the roadway Route de Lausanne. Don’t worry, this stretch of road is quite short, and after only 650 meters you can use the pedestrian underpass to cross the street and begin a short but steep climb to the hills. From here begins the true exploration of the vineyards, which will keep you company until the end of the route. A few more steps and you will pass through the first of the many villages with ancient charm that you will encounter along the way: Villette. Next, the trail follows a secondary road with little traffic and first reaches the Terrasse des Echelettes, a wonderful viewpoint over the vineyards, Lake Geneva and the Alps on the opposite side.
From the Terrasse des Echelettes to Riex
A few meters later, a large tree-covered esplanade allows you to rest on benches or some picnic tables. If you have brought your lunch with you, you can consume it here. If not, just 600 meters further along the route you will find the small self-service store of the Domaine de Crétaz, where you can buy local meats and cheeses and, of course, excellent wine. An alternative in the area to picnicking is the Fischer Vins Winery, which offers wine tastings and a small dining service on its panoramic terrace. The place also has a convenient little self-service store, where you can buy their wines and other products they produce to take away with you. You will find it about 1 km from Domaine de Crétaz.
Next, a slight descent takes us, in just over a kilometer, through another charming village: Riex. The center of the village is really picturesque and the main square features a large drinking water fountain. Take advantage of it to fill your water bottles! From Riex, a secondary road leads in just a kilometer’s walk to Epesses.
From Epesses to St. Saphorin
In Epesses, time seems to stand still. The quaint little village is adorable and offers several dining options. Those who have not yet had lunch can find here the Auberge du vigneron, a restaurant with a terrace overlooking the vineyards just at the entrance to the village. Next, take a stroll through the alleys of the center and reach the large panoramic terrace l’esplanade, located just at the end of the village. After Epesses, the path is almost entirely flat and runs on paved roads dedicated to pedestrians and occasional cyclists. Another 1.5 kilometers of walking and you will reach one of the icons of Lavaux: la Chapelle. It is a distinctive building in the shape of a chapel that acts as the wine store of Didier Imhof, a producer in Rivaz. If you have some free time for a wine tasting, you can visit the Lavaux Vinorama, a tasting room that is reached via a downhill path that begins just before the village of Rivaz.
From here St. Saphorin is just 1.5 km away. It is probably the most famous of the Lavaux villages as one of the most distinctive and best kept in the region. It is traditionally the end point of the vineyard trail. However, we are closing our route through the vineyards here. Upon reaching the village, we suggest a visit to the 16th-century Église de Saint-Saphorin followed by a stroll through the alleyways before reaching the small train station that will take you back home.
Arriving by public transport
The starting point of this excursion – Lutry – can be reached by public transportation. The small village has a train station just north of the town center. To reach it, you will have to get to the Lausanne train station and take a local train from there. An equally pleasant – though slightly more expensive – alternative is to take one of the ferries that cruise on Lake Geneva during the Summer. More information about the ferries can be found at this link.
Train and boat tickets can be purchased through the SBB website or through the SBB App and, as always, we suggest to check in advance the updated timetables and the different travel options.
Arriving by car
The starting point of this excursion – Lutry – can also be reached by car. From Zurich and Lucerne, the town is easily reachable in about two hours by taking the A1 and then the A12 highway. However, if your starting point is not Lucerne or Zurich, you can check the best route for you at this link. In Lutry, there are several parking options both within the town center and in the immediate vicinity. At this link (in French) you will find all the information about parking and its rates.
If you find yourself staying in Lutry, don’t miss the opportunity to take a walk through the town during the evening hours, when the small town empties out and its narrow streets and historic buildings are even more charming. We suggest two must-see stops: the village church and the large square in front of it, and the town hall building, which in the public areas is also accessible at night with fascinating evening lighting.
Those staying in one of the hotels in Lausanne or the towns in the region receive for free the Lausanne Transport Card, a card that allows you to travel freely on public transportation in the Lausanne region. However, be aware that for this excursion, the Lausanne Transport Card covers train travel only to Epesses and back!
If you do not feel like walking long distances or if you are simply short on time, the Lavaux Express is a good alternative. It is a little tourist train that offers several routes through the hills and vineyards for a small price.
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