Hiking among the UNESCO vineyards of Lavaux

By Serena Pedrioli

Welcome to the beautiful Lavaux wine-growing region in the heart of Canton Vaud, where wine-making traditions are mixed with breathtaking landscapes and charming villages. These terraced vineyards, covering 800 hectares between Lausanne and Montreux, were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007, thanks to their perfect fusion of human artistry and natural beauty.

The history of Lavaux has its roots in the 12th century, when Cistercian monks built more than 14 kilometers of stone walls and succeeded in planting the vineyards that still cover the land today. That of Lavaux is one of the few vineyards in the world recognized as a UNESCO heritage site thanks to the perfect integration of land morphology, ecosystems and human intervention.

Scattered among the hills and vineyards are many small villages such as Aran, Grandvaux, Epesses and Chembres. While on the shores of the lake are Pully, Lutry, Rivaz and Saint Saphorin.

Vigneti terrazzati del Lavaux, Canton Vaud

The views are certainly breathtaking: from the vineyards that climb the hills you can admire Lake Geneva below and the Valais Alps looming in the distance. A hike or bike ride among the many trails that wind through the vineyards will allow you to fully appreciate one of the most beautiful landscapes in Switzerland. There are truly many ways to reach and explore the vineyards, whether by foot, car or train.

In the following article, I propose a half-day itinerary that will take you from Lausanne to St Saphorin and then walk on foot through the terraced vineyards of Lavaux in the direction of Grandvaux.

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By train from Lausanne to St Saphorin

From Lausanne take the train to nearby Vevey, then board the Train des Vignes (the vineyard train), which runs hourly on the Vevey – Chexbres route; get off at the stop in the picturesque village of St Saphorin.

The train ride takes 20 to 30 minutes and is an integral part of your experience in the region.With spectacular views of Lake Geneva and the Alps framing the landscape, you will get a taste of the wonders of Lavaux.

The village of St Saphorin

One of the most charming places in Lavaux is the village of Saint Saphorin, located on the shores of Lake Geneva at the foot of Mont Pèlerin. This fortified village is a real gem, with its cobbled alleys and typical winegrowers’ houses. Walking through this charming historic core is like taking a trip back in time.

Walk through the terraced vineyards of Lavaux

At this point it will be time for you to make a small climb that, from the village of St Saphorin, will take you directly into the heart of the Lavaux vineyards.

You can then lose yourself in one of the many paths through the vineyards in the direction of the village of Grandvaux, where you will pick up the Train des Vignes to return to Lausanne at the end of your hike.

The walking route between the two Lavaux villages takes about 2 hours and will allow you to fully savor all the details of the stupendous panorama that surrounds you.


Wine is at the heart of Lavaux, and local winemakers passionately produce some of Switzerland’s finest wines. Chasselas, the region’s main grape variety, gives wines with unique character.

The wineries in the area are mainly family-owned. If you would like to have a wine tasting or buy a few bottles, just knock on the door and you will be greeted by the owner himself, who will welcome you in an informal atmosphere.

Practical tips

My advice is to visit Lavaux in spring or fall to escape the hot sun of the summer months and the cold of winter.

Remember to wear comfortable shoes, bring water, and equip yourself with a hat because, even on nice mid-season days, you will always be walking in the sun.

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