WHAT TO DO IN MONTREUX – PLACES TO VISIT AND THINGS TO DO
If you are planning your Montreux itinerary, you are probably wondering about the best things to do in Montreux. If so, then this post is for you. Here is where to go, what to see, and many more travel tips (incl. where to stay, how to get around, and more) for your Montreux trip.
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MONTREUX TRAVEL TIPS
Montreux is so extremely pretty that you should add it to your Switzerland itinerary. Montreux probably has the most beautiful promenade in all of Switzerland, and there are many great things to do in Montreux!
Located on the shores of beautiful Lake Geneva, with the stunning Alps in the background, Montreux is one of Switzerland’s most charming places I have visited so far. And I have been to Switzerland regularly in the last 12 years, that is why you can find many more posts on Switzerland here.
If you have been to Montreux, then you probably agree with me. I am sure that the charm of this cute town (it actually is quite small) will make you fall head over heels in love. At least, I was smitten within the first two minutes.
I was close to skipping Montreux because I thought the accommodation prices were out of line. Luckily, I did not, and I ended up staying not one but two nights in the gorgeous region of Montreux-Vevey. I revisited Montreux again for a day in August 2021. And it was as pretty as I remembered.
Montreux Riviera stretches over 25km along the shores of Lake Geneva from Lutry to Villeneuve. Montreux itself is a town on the northeastern shores of Lake Geneva – close to Villeneuve.
How to Get to Montreux
Arriving in Montreux by train: I arrived by train and took the famous panorama train, “Golden Pass Line,“ from Lucerne via Interlaken, Zweisimmen to Montreux. This is probably one of the nicest ways to arrive, as you pass rolling hills, pristine lakes, and cute little Swiss towns before you come upon the vineyards of the region.
Arrive in Montreux by boat: Another beautiful way to arrive in Montreux would be by boat, either via Lausanne or Vevey. It is no less spectacular, and you´ll see that boat cruising is on the itinerary as well.
Arrive at Montreux by car: Montreux is not a car-free town, so driving there in your own car, or with a rented one, is also a good way to arrive. However, parking is always the trickiest part of driving in Switzerland. If your hotel does not have parking spaces and is located in the “town center,“ you might have to pay a little fortune for parking.
How to Get Around Montreux
Montreux itself is pretty small, so it is easy to get around by walking. Also, Montreux – as it is in most parts of Switzerland – has superb public transportation, which makes it easy to get from one place to another.
This includes trains, buses, and boats. You can easily get to places like Geneva, Lausanne, or Vevey by boat.
It might take a while (Lake Geneva is one of the biggest lakes in Europe), but it is also a great way to see places from another angle.
Swiss Travel Pass
If you use public transportation, I recommend getting a Swiss Travel Pass. I visit Switzerland often, and most of the time I get one – even if it’s a road trip. It is only for non-Swiss residents though.
- It allows you to use trains and buses without any extra costs.
- You can also do boat cruises on Lake Geneva and many other lakes in Switzerland without additional costs.
- It also gives you a 50% discount on most mountain rides (you can get up via cable car/funicular for half of the price, and if you follow my tips, you will need it twice).
- Also, you can visit Chateau de Chillon without any extra costs.
The initial prices for a Swiss Travel Pass are quite high – but it pays for itself if you get around via public transportation and are active in Switzerland for more than three or four days. So, check out prices for boats and trains and then calculate if it is a good option for you.
For me, it usually makes sense as I am very active and use public transportation/mountain rides often (even if I road trip Switzerland).
I also love boat rides – which means many, many boat cruises for me whenever I have a Swiss Travel Pass. Check out prices for a Swiss Travel Pass here.
Where to Stay in Montreux
Unfortunately, as mentioned in the beginning, you cannot expect to get a bargain sleeping in Montreux. I paid about 200€ for 4-star accommodation even though the Montreux Jazz Festival was over.
For jazz fans, the first two weeks of July might be the best time to visit; for anybody else, I would advise skipping these weeks. In 2022, it takes place from 1. July to 16.July 2022.
Here are a few well-rated hotels in Montreux:
- Luxury Hotels in Montreux: For one of the most luxurious experiences in Montreux, check out Fairmont Le Montreux Palace. This 5-star hotel has a great location and is best known amongst those who like to indulge. From romantic hotels to design hotels, here are the most luxurious places.
- Mid-Range Hotels in Montreux: As mentioned above, I stayed at the lovely 4-star hotel Eurotel which you can check out here – I was more than happy with my choice.
- Budget Hotels in Montreux: Okay, there are not really budget-friendly hotels in Montreux. Accommodation around Lake Geneva is just pretty expensive. Find out about the best budget hotels in Montreux.
Whichever hotel you opt for, I would strongly suggest a hotel close to the promenade. Ideally, get a room with a lake view (admittedly, it is more expensive). You can find cheaper hotels close to Montreux.
FUN THINGS TO DO IN MONTREUX AND BEST PLACES TO VISIT
Okay, let’s get started with the best activities in Montreux.
I estimate that Montreux consists of 50% flowers and 40% promenade (I have neglected Lake Geneva in this calculation), and the rest of Montreux makes about 10%. Though this is probably exaggerated, it is not exaggerated to say that the Montreux promenade is full of flowers at a certain time of the year.
Flowers, flowers, and more flowers are lined up along the promenade in all different shapes and colors. The clear water of Lake Geneva and the picturesque mountains make Montreux pretty perfect to me!
Since the promenade is so gorgeous, I recommend starting the day with a stroll along the promenade (though it is even more charming in the evening).
- Free to visit
- Open 24/7, all year round
The region of Montreux makes it pretty easy for people to swim in Lake Geneva. There are so many spots that allow you to jump into the lake. Sometimes there are even some loungers provided to the people for free. Plan for some time to rest, swim, and enjoy this lovely atmosphere.
- Free to visit
- Open 24/7, all year round
Freddie Mercury Statue
Walking along the promenade will also lead you to some of Montreux´s points of interest. You´ll stumble upon the famous Freddie Mercury statue, which is located right next to the water.
Freddie Mercury was a British singer of the rock band Queen. He settled in Montreux because of its serenity and he acquired a recording studio, where he recorded six albums including his last album with Queen: “Made in Heaven”.
Once a year, there is even a free event that takes place in Montreux around September 5th (the birthday of Freddie Mercury) celebrating the singer during the Freddie Celebration Day.
After all these years, he still seems to have loyal fans, as I saw fresh flowers by the statue that is standing there since 1996 (he died in 1991).
There are even Freddie Mercury walking tours that allow you to follow in his footsteps. Prices start from around 29 CHF – you can find out more here.
Strolling along the promenade, you’ll find more interesting statues, so look at both sides of the promenade.
- Free to visit
- Open 24/7, all year round
Chateau de Chillon
Once you have strolled and rested at the promenade, you can visit the lovely Chateau de Chillon. It is one of the most popular sights in Montreux (or actually very close to Montreux).
Chateau de Chillon is visible from the Montreux promenade, and there are plenty of signs to direct you.
You can walk or take the boat from the boat station (right next to the tourism office of Montreux). I seriously recommend walking, though. There are enough seating options and reasons to take photos along the way, so even though it is only about 3km, it took me more than an hour to get there.
The chateau was quite busy when I visited, which did not come as a surprise given its fame and the very good weather. Dogs are not allowed inside, so my dog and I just stayed outside.
If you plan to visit the castle, you might plan for about an hour to see it.
Right next to the castle is a pier from where boats bring you back to Montreux. But there are also buses and trains going back, or you can just walk back.
- Opening Hours: Monday – Sunday, 10:00 am to 6:00 pm
- Prices: Ticket prices 13.50 CHF, free with a Swiss Travel Pass – Audio Guide 6 CHF
Lake Geneva Boat Tour
Switzerland has so many gorgeous lakes, and without a doubt, Lake Geneva is the queen (to me). Not only, mist mostly because of its size. After all, it is one of the largest lakes in Europe, and its color never ceases to amaze me.
So the fun part of getting to Vevey (which I will talk about in a minute) is to hop on a boat very “early” in the morning and, from there, see the vineyards and Vevey. Boats start operation around 9, or 10 am.
- With a Swiss Travel Pass, you can do the boat tours without any additional charges. You can even do a boat tour to Geneva or Lausanne.
- Check out prices for a Swiss Travel Pass here.
Vineyards – Lavaux UNESCO
Between Lausanne and Chateau de Chillon are several routes overlooking Lake Geneva and the vineyards at the same time. Lavaux – the land stretching from Lutry to Vevey – has been listed as a UNESCO cultural heritage site since 2007. This vineyard boasts 10,000 terraces, dotted with wine-producing villages and stunning views all along the way.
I had only a few hours for the vineyards, so here is what I did: I arrived in Vevey by boat (but it is also easy to get there by train or bus). From Vevey boat station, I walked a few hundred meters to the train station and took a train to Chexbres, where I got out.
It depends on how much time you have and how much effort you want to put into it, but I highly recommend a visit.
I did not have too much time, so I decided to walk to the first viewing point, Dezaley. There are some signs along the way, though they are a bit irregular, so I was not the only one feeling a bit lost.
From the Chexbres train station, it takes about 20-30 minutes, and the views are amazing.
There are enough seating options to enjoy the views (and free fountains with fresh drinking water). You could also go for a wine tasting. For that, ask at the tourism office in Montreux or Vevey (the tourist office in Chexbres was closed when I arrived in the afternoon).
- Free to visit
- Open 24/7, all year round but the vineyards
From the vineyards in Chexbres, head back to Vevey by train. You could also walk down from Chexbres, which should take about 1.5 hours.
Vevey is a small village by Lake Geneva, and it offers some beautiful spots to rest, chill, or swim. So after visiting the vineyards, it is the perfect place to continue your Montreux sightseeing tour.
You´ll find enough restaurants/cafes to have lunch in Vevey. Vevey is a tiny town that can be discovered on foot in a short amount of time. It is worth spending about 1/2 day in Vevey (including some chilling time).
If you are with kids and it is warm, you will love the free pools for kids. Where else will you find free pools for kids right next to a lake that is so clear that you could swim there, too?
Vevey also has a beautiful, old town, which is worth checking out, and some other attractions as well.
I try to avoid Nestle products for several reasons, but Nestle has their main office here, which you could visit. However, though it is a kind of magnet for visitors, let´s focus on the positive sides of Switzerland.
The famous fork – Fork of Vevey – is also located in Vevey.
- Plan for at least half a day to see this cute town.
I took a boat back to Montreux (about 20 minutes) and recommend having dinner there because evenings in Montreux are just lovely. Or you also add a trip to the museum of Charlie Chaplin which is also in Vevey.
Charlie Chaplin Museum – Chaplin’s World by Grévin
Freddie Mercury was not the only prominent person in love with Montreux – Charlie Chaplin was another superstar who lived in Montreux/Vevey.
If you are a Charlie Chaplin fan, you are probably interested in visiting Chaplin´s World, which you can check out here. Find out about his life in Montreux – he spent more than 25 years of his life here.
Chaplin’s World by Grévin opened in 2016 at the former Chaplin family home, the Manoir de Ban, in Corsier-sur-Vevey. You can discover his personal belongings, learn about his childhood, enjoy the park of his ten-acre estate.
- Opening hours: Open every day, April to October from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm, November until 24th December from 10:00 am – 5:00 pm (different opening hours between Christmas and New Year´s Eve).
- Prices around: 25 CHF for adults
Every two years, Montreux is home to a special art festival – the Biennale. In 2008, it took place for the first time and since then, it takes place every second year.
I actually stumbled upon it by accident when I visited Montreux for the second time and LOVED it. I am – normally – not much into art but this is a special art exhibition that even I enjoyed! You will find many art pieces along the shores of Lake Geneva – which is absolutely lovely!
Since it is an open-air museum that lasts for 3 whole months, the pieces must be made of materials withstanding the sun, rain, and wind.
- It is free to visit.
- Open 24/7 for three months every second year (now, it is still going until the 24. October 2021).
Rochers de Naye
If you have some more time, you could visit the famous Rochers de Naye – another popular Montreux tourist attraction in the region. It is a mountain overlooking Lake Geneva near Montreux and Villeneuve and stands at 2,042 meters above sea level.
On my last day in the region, the weather was lovely, but I could see the clouds up in the air. So I decided not to go up, though I am a fan of getting up the mountains.
The best part is that, for the lazier ones, Switzerland has ways to get up the mountain without hiking (a.k.a. there is a cogwheel that gets you up).
- It takes about one hour via cogwheel to get to the summit of Rochers de Naye
Montreux Jazz Festival
Okay, this is an extra. Montreux is extremely famous for its Jazz festival. It is held annually in early July in Montreux on the Lake Geneva shoreline. It is actually the second-largest annual jazz festival in the world (just after Canada’s Montreal International Jazz Festival).
During that time, it gets jam-packed (and, of course, even more expensive), and it is probably the best thing to do in Montreux in summer. However, if you aren’t into jazz (like me), then you probably had never heard of it before.
Just keep that in mind when planning your Montreux trip!
- It takes place from Friday 1. July to Saturday 16. July 2022
- The average ticket price is around $1000
Christmas Market in Montreux
If you visit Montreux in December, you will get to experience the magical Christmas Market in Montreux. You have many stalls on the promenade, the Loggers’ Village, the Gourmet Space, the light show, Medieval Magic at Chillon Castle and Santa’s House at Les Rochers-de-Naye, and more – the Christmas Markets in Montreux is known as one of the best in Switzerland.
- It takes place from 19 November to 24 December 2021
FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE BEST MONTREUX ACTIVITIES
Though Montreux is not the first destination that comes to people’s minds when thinking about Switzerland, it is an absolutely amazing place. I hope you have gotten some travel inspiration for Montreux.
Whether you visit in summer, fall, or winter – Montreux is always a good idea and hopefully, this post has helped you find out about the best things to do in Montreux.
- More beautiful places to visit in Switzerland: 20 most beautiful towns and villages in Switzerland.
- Best things to do in Switzerland: Find out about 25 fun things to do in Switzerland
- Find out about the best places to stay in Switzerland.
- Check out my 10-day Switzerland itinerary