10 Best Things to do & Places to see in Montreux
Why include a stay in Montreux in your Swiss Travel Plans?
Planning tips for your trip!
Welcome to THE SWISS RIVIERA!
Montreux is also known as the Swiss Riviera. It is a traditional, French-speaking resort town of about 25,000 people on the eastern shore of Lake Geneva. It is surrounded by the magnificent Swiss Alps and acres of vineyards. Don’t be confused by its location on Lake Geneva. Montreux is not actually in Geneva but about 100 km from Geneva. And it's one of our favorite places in Switzerland!
EVERYONE LOVEs THE LAKESIDE PROMENADE!
Try to find accommodation that gives you easy access to the lakeside promenade. This 13 km boardwalk starts in neighboring Vevey, goes right through Montreux to the Chillon Castle, and onto the neighboring town of Villeneuve. It is a magic place to stroll at any time of the day or night. You can wander along it for as far as you wish, and then, simply hop on the bus to take you back to where you started.
It is also known as the Chemin Fleuri (‘the flower path’) and the Mediterranean style gardens and trees, including palm trees (in Switzerland?), are beautiful even in winter when we visited. There is so much to see from magnificent classical Monte Carlo type hotels to statues of famous musicians, and of course the beautiful lake itself with the mountains close by and plenty of places to stop off for a coffee or bite to eat.
MONTREUX- Famous for its music!
Montreux is famous for the international ‘Montreux Jazz Festival,’ one of the biggest jazz festivals in the world, which takes place across multiple venues for a couple of weeks in July each year and has now been running for over fifty years.
Another important music festival is the ‘Septembre Musical’ which has been running for over seventy years and features a mixture of orchestras and soloists playing classical music in interesting venues such as the Chillon Castle!
Music is such an important part of this town and you will find sculptures of famous musicians all over town. In the garden of the Fairmont Le Montreux Palace Hotel there are several statues of legendary musicians who have played and spent time in Montreux over the years, such as Quincy Jones and Aretha Franklin. This is accessible free of charge except when the Jazz Festival is on.
FREDDIE MERCURY LOVED MONTREUX!
One of the most popular attractions in Switzerland is the imposing famous Freddie Mercury statue on the lakefront Place de Marche. Queen and Freddie Mercury fans still place flowers around the base of the statue.
Queen bought the Montreux Mountain Studios located inside Montreux Casino and wrote and recorded many of their songs here and Freddie lived out his final days in Montreux. There is free access and tours to the studios
THE MONTREUX TRAINS
You will possibly arrive In Montreux by train. If you’re coming from Lucerne or Interlaken you’ll probably travel on the 'Golden Pass Line', one of Switzerland’s premium panoramic train routes.
The ‘Golden Pass Line’ is actually made up of three segments, which cover six cantons, (states) eight lakes, and travels through three mountain passes on its way from Lucerne to Montreux.
The first section is from Lucerne to Interlaken and the second section from Interlaken to Zweisimmen.
The final section is from Zwesimmen to Montreux and was the world's first panoramic train route. Today you have the option of riding on the Golden Pass Belle Epoque train which is in the style of the Orient Express with the 1930s classic furnishings or riding on the very modern Panoramic train with the chance to upgrade and ride in the VIP seats at the very front of the train with the same view as the driver. Both are great options for an amazing experience.
Certainly, some of the most stunning and breathtaking views of the whole trip, are on the final section of the trip for the last 20 or 30 minutes, as the train descends from up high and then twists and turns and corkscrews its way down into Montreux overlooking Lake Geneva and the Alps.
ROCHERS DE NAYE- mountain railway
Rochers de Naye is part of a mountain range in the Swiss Alps above Montreux. It is about 2000meters above sea level. Take the cog railway which leaves the Montreux station and ambles alongside Lake Geneva. Then it winds slowly up steep gradients through fields, charming villages and forests.
The views on the way up and from the top are stunning. At the summit, top on a clear day you can see the Eiger, Mont Blanc and across Lake Geneva. There are a couple of restaurants at the top, and in December Santa has his busy grotto there. There is a large garden with over 100 alpine plants and Marmots Paradise, an animal park.
We disembarked at Haut de Caux because we had seen an interesting building we wanted to check out. We discovered that it was an historic hotel training school and, to our surprise, was still operating. From there we walked down to the next station enjoying the views and countryside.
If you have a Swiss Rail Pass you can get halfway up (30 minutes ride) to the summit to the station of Haut de Caux. You will get a 50% discount to complete the trip the other 30 minutes to the top.
Chillon Castle is a medieval island fortress on the lakeside and the most visited historic site in Switzerland. It can be seen from all over Montreux.
Its history goes back to the 12th century and Lord Byron's epic poem “The Prisoner of Chillon” (1816) helped increase its fame. The castle from Disney’s film “the Little Mermaid” was also inspired by the Chillon Castle.
Two large circular walls surround over 25 buildings, subterranean vaults and prison cells, three courtyards, and towers. The wooden sentries walkways and the views are key attractions. (CHF 13.50 It is easy to get to Chillon Castle from Montreux.
It is about a 45-minute walk along the lakeside promenade from the Tourist Office, or you can catch the 201 bus. The boat cruises also stop here.
who doesn't love A LAKE CRUISE?
In the winter the lake cruises operate only on Sundays and if you’re in Montreux on a Sunday this is a must-do. We wandered down to the tourist bureau who directed us to the jetty and we hopped on the first boat that came along. It was about a two-hour tour and stopped at nine interesting villages. You could hop on and off if you wished, but you would need to keep your eyes on the timetables as there were only about three sailings in total.
We stopped first at the Chillon castle then sailed over to the other side of the lake to the very quaint French/ Swiss villages of Le Bouveret and St Gingolph. We wished that we had had more time to explore these interesting villages. In the inside cabin on our boat, a large group of locals were enjoying a three-course lunch with lots of wine and thoroughly enjoying themselves. It looked like a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
VEVEY- Home of Nestle
We hopped off the lake cruise at Vevey. This is Montreux's neighboring town on the lakeside, about 15 minutes bus or train ride away. Nestle has a site in Vevey where Henri Nestlé invented ‘farine lactée’ (infant cereal) in 1867 and it still has a huge presence in the town.
We strolled from the wharf along the lakeside boulevard back towards Montreux and came across the bizarre 8-meter tall stainless steel ‘fork in the lake’ sculpture. There is also a statue of Charlie Chaplin who lived in Vevey for several years and there isa museum named Chaplins World about a fifteen-minute bus ride away on bus 212 to Corsier-sur-Vevey, Chaplin' stop.
Neighboring Vevey are the 830 acres of UNESCO-listed Lavaux terraced vineyards that stretch for 30 kilometers between Montreux and Lausanne. There are 400 km of stone walls and over 10,000 terraces that were first constructed nearly 900 years ago and date back to the 11th or 12th century. We were there in winter, so the terraces were bare, but in summer they are very popular for hiking, picnicking and wine tasting.
OUR OTHER FAVORITE & SPECIAL PLACES IN SWITZERLAND
If you're looking for an adrenaline fix and great views to go with it!
Chur to Arosa- Best mini train trip and our favorite mountain train
Gorgeous Gruyere. Much more than great cheese
SWITZERLAND TRIP: PLANNING TIPS:
1. If you are flying into Zurich to start your Switzerland trip, then Montreux is the ideal place to finish your trip before you fly out of Switzerland from Geneva or vice versa.
2. We recommend that you use Montreux as a base and stay from two to four or five days to have time to enjoy everything the Montreux and the surrounding area has to offer, and it has lots to offer!
3. We traveled on a Swiss Rail Pass. The passes are just so easy and convenient to use. There's no having to queue up to buy tickets and having to shuffle through the foreign currency in your wallet trying to find the correct amount. All local travel on buses and boats and most mountain trains in the places we visited were covered and where they weren't covered there was usually a 50% discount.
4. On this trip, we stayed at Hotel Bon Port, a 3-star hotel. The location was good. It was a couple of blocks above the lakeside promenade and close to the main street with cafes and restaurants quite close. We had booked a triple room as our adult daughter was traveling with us and the third bed was an old uncomfortable rollaway and the room was not really big enough for three adults. It was just a double room with a third bed added. We were disappointed!
Unfortunately, we hadn't been able to get a booking in the hotel that we had stayed at on our last trip- "Hotel Parc et Lac." This 3-star centrally located hotel we really loved.
5. Please email us or comment below if you require any further information.
Thanks to Swiss Travel System for their assistance
and Hannah Goodburn for some great photography!