Situated on the eastern shore of Lake Geneva and backed by a staggering panorama of Alpine peaks, French-speaking Montreux is one of the finest resort towns in the area known as the Swiss Riviera.
Easily reached by road, rail, and air, the mild Montreux weather and welcoming ambience has attracted everyone from Tchaikovsky to Freddie Mercury.
In many ways a quintessential Swiss town of well-to-do residents and endless magical views, Montreux is a place to wind your way from the hilltop Old Town to the lakeshore, by way of its thriving market stalls, before heading further afield to check out all the region has to offer.
Although it may not be as famous as some of the other cities in Switzerland, Montreux is definitely worthy of a visit.
If you plan to visit Montreux as part of your Switzerland travels, this article will give you the lowdown on what to do in Montreux.
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Things to do in Montreux, Switzerland
Montreux’s Lakeside promenade
Montreux’s lakeside promenade is a special place for a stroll at any time of day, with a popular path that runs for thirteen kilometres right through Montreux. Starting in the neighbouring lakeside town of Vevey, the footpath stretches to the Château de Chillon (Chillon Castle) and small town of Villeneuve.
Sometimes called the Chemin Fleuri (Flower Path), the Montreux promenade is awash with bright blooms, intriguing public artworks, and spiky palms (yes, palms!), which together with the sparkling waters of the lake, and surrounding snow-capped mountains, create a real spectacle.
I just loved strolling along the promenade, admiring the flowers and interesting sculptures. It’s a great spot for people-watching, too!
Switzerland’s most visited historical monument, the fairy-tale edifice of Chillon Castle (Château de Chillon Montreux) is a must-see when in Montreux. A picturesque way to reach the fortified castle, complete with turreted towers, is via the Chemi Fleuri (mentioned above).
Should the four kilometre walk be a little too much, you can reach take the #201 bus from the centre of Montreux to Chillon Castle, too.
The castle’s maze of medieval halls, towers, prison cells, and connecting courtyards originally date from the 12th century.
Its ancient stone walls seem to rise right out of the lake itself, and offer completely uninterrupted views of the lake, across to France; views that have been captured in oils by Turner and in the written word by Lord Byron, who also etched his name into the walls of the dungeon.
It’s worth taking the time to explore the interior of the castle which was once home to the Dukes of Savoy and was later used as a prison. Many of the castle’s rooms can be visited and there are informative audiovisual display boards and temporary exhibitions to help visitors learn more about the castle’s history.
- April to September – 9am to 6pm
- October and March – 9.30am to 5pm
- November to February – 10am to 4pm
- Closed 1 January and 25 December
- Adults CHF 12.50 / Children (6 to 15 years) CHF 6 / Families CHF 29
- Free entry for holders of the Swiss Travel Pass
Click here to pre-purchase your admission tickets to Chillon Castle.
TIP: Allow around 45 minutes to walk from the Tourist Office in Montreux to Chillon Castle and at least one hour to visit the Castle.
Statue of Freddie Mercury
Honouring the life of a modern-day icon, the lakefront at the Place de Marche hosts a statue of Freddie Mercury, lead singer of the legendary rock group Queen. Located in front of the old covered market, where you’ll still find market stalls each Friday, it has become a place of pilgrimage and homage to fans.
The statue itself became famous the world over after it featured on the cover art of the group’s last studio album, 1995’s Made in Heaven, with vocals recorded in the band’s Mountain Studios in the town before Mercury’s death from AIDS at the age of 45.
Be patient if you want to take a photo of the statue without people in it. It can be difficult!
A tribute to the on and off-screen antics of silent movie star Charlie Chaplin, Chaplin’s World is a museum situated on the 14-hectare estate, Manoir de Ban, in Corsier-sur-Vevey, just a short journey away from central Montreux.
It’s where the short-statured mime spent 25 years of his life, and has almost 2,000 square metres of exhibition space dedicated to the star of The Tramp and The Great Dictator.
- Daily except 1 January and 25 December.
- Adults CHF 27 / Children (6 – 15 years) CHF 20 / Families CHF 80
Click here to pre-purchase your admission tickets to Chaplin’s World.
Cruises on Lake Geneva
Connecting 40 ports on both the Swiss and French stretches of Lake Geneva, stepping aboard one of the historic paddle steamers – including the Simplon and La Suisse – that glide across the lake’s surface is an unforgettable and unmissable experience.
With the Alps as your almost constant backdrop, a lake cruise is lovely, even if you don’t have a specific destination in mind.
As well as ferrying passengers around the lake, these beautiful vessels from the Belle Époque era of the 19th century also offer gourmet cruises that are the perfect accompaniment to a few days in Montreux.
You can’t miss the sound of a paddle steamer sounding its horn as you wander along the lakeside promenade.
- Cruises are available all year (Sundays only in winter).
- Fares vary depending on the distance travelled and Montreux Riviera Card holders (see details below) receive a 50% discount.
Montreux Casino and Queen: The Studio Experience
Seven of Queen’s 15 albums were recorded at Mountain Studios in Montreux, part of Casino Barrière de Montreux. At Queen: The Studio Experience, the studios have been left pretty much as they were in the mid-1990s and are a real shrine to all things Queen in Montreux.
Fans of the group will love the memorabilia, including hand-written song lyrics, as well as the chance to get hands-on at the mixing desks and stand on the exact spot where Freddie Mercury made his last recordings.
Of course, the Casino Montreux also provides a sophisticated space, whether you prefer the poker tables or the one-armed bandits.
Queen: The Studio Experience opening hours:
- Daily from 10.30am to 10pm.
Entry is free.
Things to do near Montreux
Vevey Old Town
Whether by strolling along the Chemin Fleuri or setting sail on the lake, you’re sure to reach nearby Vevey at some point during your stay in Montreux, Switzerland. Here’s what you can find in this charming town.
Just a few kilometres west along the lake, at the end of the Chemin Fleuri, is Vevey’s alluring Old Town.
Its lakeside central square, the Grande Place, just demands a stop for a cup of coffee and a pastry, while its narrow, pedestrianised, stone-clad streets are dotted with the workshops of artists and craftsmen, independent boutiques, and tiny bistros just waiting to be explored.
Why not enjoy a self-guided food tour around Vevey? Click here for details and prices.
Läderach ChocoAtelier Vevey
Läderach has been creating fine artisan Swiss chocolate since the family-firm was launched in the early 1960s.
Step across the threshold of their store in Vevey, and you can not only indulge in the huge range of chocolates for sale, but also trial the ‘Chocolate gourmet’ course – your chance to sample a variety of the chocolates on offer – or a themed workshop, where you can produce your very own creations.
- Monday to Friday from 9am to 6.30pm
- Saturday from 8am to 5pm
TIP: Chocolate gourmet courses and workshops are by reservation only.
Alimentarium Food Museum
With a lakeside location marked out by a giant fork stuck into the lake, the Alimentarium Food Museum is an initiative of the locally-based company, Nestle. The first museum in the world entirely dedicated to food, it uncovers the eating habits of the past, present, and future when it comes to both culture and nutrition.
Being a food museum, you won’t be surprised to learn that it also hosts daily cookery workshops, where you can make and taste Swiss and international favourites.
- October to March – 10am to 5pm
- April to September – 10am to 6pm
- Closed on Mondays (except public holidays)
- Adults CHF 13 / Children (6 – 16 years) CHF 4
Excursions from Montreux, Switzerland
Once you’ve admired all Montreux and Vevey have to offer, why not consider some of these excursions, easily achieved as a day trip from Montreux.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2007, the Lavaux Vineyards comprise almost 850 hectares of terraced vines, stretching for 30 kilometres along Lake Geneva west of Vevey. The largest contiguous vineyard in the country, the vines here trace their history back almost a thousand years.
Keen walkers can download a smartphone app to follow a 10.4 kilometre trail through the vineyards of Lavaux. Hiking trails wind up and down the neat rows, but for those who prefer to enjoy the panoramic views without the effort, trolley tours are the perfect solution – click here for prices.
If you’d like to try the local drop (and why not?!), the stylish Vinorama Wine Centre is the place to head to learn more about what makes excellent wine, as well as sampling some of the 300 vintages in its cellar.
You can also partake in a cellar door visit by luxury panoramic coach. There’s a 1.5 hour visit, with wine tasting, to Domaine du Daley – click here for further details and prices or why not enjoy a 3.5 hour panoramic dinner tour to Auberge du vigneron? Click here for further details.
Surrounded by vineyards, the beguiling medieval structure of Château d’Aigle was once home to various Knights and nobles and was then used as a prison until 1976, when it was converted into the Vine and Wine Museum you’ll find today.
However, even if you’re not a wine aficionado, the castle is well worth a visit, if only to take in its high walls, round corner towers, and shapely red-tiled roofs.
Trains depart Montreux for Aigle at least twice per hour. Journey time is 10 minutes. The Castle is a 15 minute walk from the train station.
- 1 April to 31 October – 10am to 6pm (closed Mondays in April, May, June, September and October)
- 1 November to 31 March – 10am to 5pm (daily except Mondays)
- Closed 1 January and 25 December.
Admission fees (includes Castle and Museum tour):
- Adults CHF 11 / Child (6 – 16 years) CHF 5 / Family discounts available
A natural platform 2,000 metres above Montreux, in the mountains of Parc Naturel regional Gruyere Pays-Enhaut, Rochers-de-Naye not only offers great views of Lake Geneva and surroundings vistas, but also the chance to meet the beaver-like marmots that inhabit the mountains (and Santa Claus at Christmas, too).
While here, make sure you check out La Rambertia gardens, home to around 1,000 species of native plants.
The best way to get to Rochers-de-Naye is undoubtedly the cogwheel train that runs from Montreux Gare station, which takes about an hour.
Just 50 minutes from Montreux you’ll find the spectacular Glacier 3000, a hub for mountain enthusiasts whatever the time of year. A cable car operates from Col du Pillon, whisking visitors to the mountain peak in just 15 minutes.
Glacier 3000 boasts the first suspension bridge between two mountains, known as Peak Walk, the world’s highest bobsleigh track, the Alpine Coaster, as well as the chance to hike across the glacier plateau, experience dog sledding, tobogganing, and cross-country skiing.
But it’s the natural sights that are the real draw. The views take in no less than twenty-four 4,000-metre peaks, including icons like the Eiger, Jungfrau, Matterhorn, and Mont Blanc.
- Summer season – 6 May to 20 October 2019/8 May to 18 October 2020 from 9am to 4.50pm (cableway operates every 20 minutes)
- Winter season – 9 November 2019 to 3 May 2020 from 9am to 4.30pm (cableway operates every 20 minutes)
- Closed for maintenance – 21 Oct to 8 November 2019/19 October to 6 November 2020
Cable car fares:
- Entry to Glacier 3000, including return cable car fare costs – Adults CHF 80 / Child (6 – 15 years) CHF 40.
Skip the line and buy your Glacier 3000 tickets in advance – click here for details
TIP: Swiss Pass, Swiss Half Fare Card and Regional Pass Berner Oberland holders receive a 50% discount when purchasing tickets from the Glacier 3000 ticket desk.
Additional charges apply for the Alpine Coaster, dog sledding, tobogganing, etc.
Getting to Glacier 3000 from Montreux:
If you don’t have your own vehicle, you can reach the Glacier 3000 cableway station at Col du Pillon aboard the GoldenPass train to Gstaad station and then taking a connecting bus to Col du Pillon Glacier 3000 stop.
You can also take a bus directly from Montreux to the Glacier 3000 cableway station at Col du Pillon. Click here for ticket prices.
Known for its cheese, Gruyères is a fantastic example of a medieval town, complete with cobbled streets and a 13th Century château nestled at the summit of a hill on the edge of town.
Le Moléson mountain is another excellent regional destination for hiking and sledding, among other activities, while the Maison Cailler Chocolate Factory is a hit with young and old alike.
A novel way to travel from Montreux to Gruyeres is by the Cheese Train (which operates from January to April), with passengers served regional cheese and wine en route, or by the Chocolate Train from May to October.
You can also take an organised day trip from Montreux to Gruyeres. One of the most popular tours includes a visit to both the chocolate and cheese factories with tastings, a visit to the Castle and free time to explore the town. Click here for further details and prices.
Further reading: Things to do in Gruyeres
At the opposite end of Lake Geneva to Montreux, you’ll find the city after which the body of water is named. Arrive by boat, and you won’t fail to see its magnificent 140-metre high Jet d’Eau fountain.
Step ashore into a vibrant city that offers everything from further spectacular views – including of Mont Blanc – unrivalled shopping opportunities, and plenty of historical places of interest. Be sure to visit the Reformation Wall.
Trains from Montreux to Geneva departure regularly – journey time is just over an hour.
Further reading: Geneva, the heart of Europe
Across the lake (and the border) in France, the beautiful village of Yvoire has a history that stretches back 700 years yet is still evident today, with ramparts, fortified gateways, and a 14th Century castle all in evidence.
Besides these, you’ll find an attractive yacht marina, the galleries of local artists, and, if you’re visiting during the summer, an abundance of colourful blooms spilling out of flower boxes.
Yvoire is nicknamed the ‘French Flower of Village’ and is an esteemed member of the Most Beautiful Villages of France organisation – and is absolutely gorgeous, especially in the summer.
The fastest way to reach Yvoire from Montreux is by car but for a more relaxing journey, why not catch the train to Geneva and join a self-guided tour to Yvoire including a lake cruise? Click here for details and prices.
Further reading: Why you should visit Yvoire, the French Flower Village
The Olympic Museum, Lausanne
Ever wondered how the Olympic Games came to be? Look no further than The Olympic Museum in Lausanne, just 30 kilometres from Montreux.
With 1,500 objects occupying 3,000 square metres of exhibition space across three levels, visitors can discover the development of the games from their ancient Greek counterpart, and learn about some of the most important Olympians in the organisation’s 120-year modern history.
Lausanne is just a 30 minute train ride from Montreux.
- 1 May to October 15 – daily from 9am to 6pm
- 16 October to 30 April – Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 6pm
- Closed on 1 January and 25 December.
- Adults CHF 18 / Child (6 – 16 years) CHF 10 / Family discounts available
Tickets for the Olympic Museum Lausanne can be purchased in advance – click here for details.
Find more Montreux attractions and excursions on this link
Major festivals in Montreux, Switzerland
Montreux Jazz Festival
The famous Montreux Jazz Festival takes place in June and July each year. One of the largest festivals of its kind anywhere in the world, it has been an annual occurrence for more than 50 years and attracts in excess of 250,000 visitors.
Taking place in the Montreux Convention Centre, it has previously welcomed such esteemed artists as Ella Fitzgerald and Deep Purple (who wrote Smoke on the Water after witnessing a fire at the Casino).
Visit the official website for details on the next Montreux Jazz Festival
Come November each year, Montreux turns from jazz to thoughts of the festive season. The town’s Montreux Noël (also known as Marche Noel Montreux or Festival Montreux) celebrations create a whole new reason to visit Montreux.
In addition to the traditional Montreux Christmas market of wooden huts, twinkling lights, and people in costume on the lake, there’s another in Chillon Castle, a Christmas village in Caux, and the chance to visit the home of Santa Claus on Rochers-de-Naye.
The Christmas Market in Montreux runs from around 21 November to 24 December each year.
Where is Montreux?
Montreux is situated on the shores of Lake Geneva in the Canton of Vaud in the south east of Switzerland. It is 94 kilometres from Geneva, 89 kilometres from Bern, 148 kilometres from Interlaken and 219 kilometres from Zurich.
The nearest international airport to Montreux is at Geneva.
How to get to Montreux, Switzerland
If you don’t have your own vehicle, the best way to reach Montreux is by train.
The main SBB (Swiss National Railways) train station is Montreux Gare. It has regular services to towns and cities across Switzerland with connections to all major destinations in Europe. Click here to check timetables and prices.
Geneva to Montreux by train
There are several trains an hour in either direction on this route with some services running directly to and from Geneva Airport. Trains from Geneva to Montreux and vice versa take about one hour.
Lucerne or Interlaken to Montreux on the GoldenPass Line
One of the most popular – and scenic – ways to arrive in Montreux is onboard the GoldenPass Line train. The entire journey is made up of three sections on three different trains – Lucerne to Interlaken, Interlaken to Zweisimmen and Zweisimmen to Montreux – but travellers can choose to travel as much or as little of the route as they prefer.
The GoldenPass Line train is the preferred way for many travellers to get from Interlaken to Montreux.
Whichever part of the journey you experience, the panoramic windows onboard the train will provide you with stunning views of the Swiss countryside. The section from Gstaad to Montreux is regarded as the most picturesque, especially the descent through the Lavaux vineyards to Lake Geneva.
Individual tickets can be purchased for the GoldenPass Line, whilst Swiss Travel Pass holders can travel for free (more details here) and Regional Pass Berner Oberland pass holders travel free between Lucerne and Saanen and receive a 50% discount on the Saanen to Montreux leg (click here for further details).
Geneva Airport to Montreux by private transfer
If you are flying into Geneva, you can arrange a private transfer to take you to Montreux. Private transfers are very convenient as not only will the driver be waiting for you on arrival but your group will be transferred directly to your accommodation. Click here to check prices.
Where to stay in Montreux
Regardless of your preferred style of accommodation in Montreux, hotel, apartment, B&B or hostel, you’ll have plenty to choose from.
Below are some of the top-rated hotels on the Montreux Riviera.
5-star hotels in Montreux
4-star hotels in Montreux
- Grand Hotel Suisse – click here to check prices
- Hotel Eden Palace Au Lac – click here to check prices
- Hotel Eurotel – click here to check prices
3-star hotels in Montreux
Montreux Riviera Card
Guests staying at hotels and holiday apartments in Montreux will be provided with a free Montreux Riviera Card for the duration of their stay. The Card entitles the holder to travel for free on public transport (trains and buses) in the Montreux Riviera area and also provides discounts on admission to numerous museums and attractions including cruises on Lake Geneva.
Be sure to ask your accommodation provider for the Montreux Riviera Card when you check in.
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