Each week, we spotlight a dream vacation recommended by some of the industry's top travel writers. This week's pick is Lake Geneva, Switzerland.
I will always remember the moment that my train from Zurich shot out of a tunnel under the Swiss Alps and Lake Geneva "emerged in all its glory," said Joanne DiBona at The San Diego Union-Tribune. Azure water sparkled under jagged peaks as the train skirted the crescent-shaped lake, rolling past farmhouses, medieval towers, grand chalets, and terraced vineyards that "cascaded down steep slopes" to the shoreline. I instantly understood why so many writers, artists, and actors — Graham Greene, Charlie Chaplin, Audrey Hepburn — have made this region their home. My destination was the lakeside town of Vevey, where I arrived just in time for dinner. At an open-air restaurant beside the main promenade, I ate delicate fresh lake perch paired with an "outstanding" local white wine.
The following afternoon, I boarded a passenger ferry for "a delightfully scenic cruise" past such famous towns as Montreux, home of the storied jazz festival. I disembarked at Chillon castle, an imposing 12th-century fortress built on a rocky island in the lake. Today, costumed knaves and wenches stroll through the fortress and pose for photos with visitors. Inspired by my youthful love of The Sound of Music, I decided to take an hour-long rail journey to the verdant, mountainous Pays-d'Enhaut region. The train stopped right outside my hotel in Rougemont, an unspoiled village dotted with centuries-old chalets. I visited a mountaintop farm run by a young couple who make the region's prized L'Etivaz cheese. "Their contented cows feast on fresh grass through the summer, giving their milk (and the resulting cheese) a distinctive and sublime flavor."
Leaving the lush countryside for the cosmopolitan city of Lausanne, I encountered "a delightful combination of the ancient and the trendy." I marveled at Lausanne's 12th-century Notre Dame Cathedral, one of Europe's finest Gothic buildings, and window-shopped the luxury stores lining the Rue de Bourg. When the sun started to set, I took the metro to the lake port of Ouchy. "As I strolled down the promenade, past children playing in the fountain pools and diners enjoying a late dinner, I said my goodbyes to Lake Geneva, with the promise I would return soon to this unforgettable Swiss paradise."
Read more at The San Diego Union-Tribune, or book a room at Vevey's Hôtel des Trois Couronnes. Doubles start at $332.