The Top 12 Things to See and Do in Montreux, Switzerland

| Xavier von Erlach / Unsplash
Pratyusha Prakash

Set against the stunning backdrop of the Swiss Alps and nestled on the shores of Lake Geneva, Montreux has attracted an impressive list of past visitors. The likes of Mary Shelley, Lord Byron and Charlie Chaplin chose to frequent this beautiful lakeside resort in Switzerland, and not surprisingly, given the cultural attractions and sporting activities on offer there. Read our guide to the best things to see and do in Montreux.

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1. Château de Chillon

Historical Landmark

Château de Chillon on the shores of Lake Geneva in Switzerland
Andrea Caramello / Unsplash

One of the best things to do in Montreux is a visit to this 13th-century fortress is Switzerland’s most visited historical building and graces postcards and books about the country’s sights. Originally owned by the House of Savoy, the castle houses several medieval frescoes and Gothic dungeons, the latter of which were the subject of a poem penned by Lord Byron, The Prisoner of Chillon. The poet directly references the château in the line, “There are seven pillars of Gothic mould/ In Chillon’s dungeons deep and old.” Explore the haunting interiors for yourself as you soak up the atmosphere of this medieval castle.

2. Glacier 3000

Park

The Tissot Peak Walk suspension bridge, connecting two mountain peaks at Glacier 3000, Switzerland
Logan Gouget / Unsplash

Head all the way up to the highest point of the Vaudois Alps to discover a world of snowy fun and spectacular mountain vistas at Glacier 3000. You’ll hop on a cable car that whizzes you up to a remarkable 3,000m (almost 10,000ft) peak, from which on a clear day you can spot the Matterhorn and Mont Blanc. As well as the cable car and endless epic photo opps, you’ll also be able to stroll along the only suspension bridge in the world that connects two mountain peaks, as well as embarking on the the Quille du Diable Glacier Walk, and many more memory-making adventures in the snow. Recommended by Gethin Morgan.

3. Maison Cailler Chocolate Factory

Museum

Close up of flowing chocolate
Kaffee Meister / Unsplash

No trip to Switzerland is complete without treating your tastebuds to some of the world’s finest chocolatey creations. This country is famous for high-end chocolatiers, and you can witness them working their magic at the Maison Cailler factory in nearby Broc. You’ll learn all about the history of chocolate, dating back to the Aztecs, discover how cocoa beans become chocolate bars and even get the chance to whip up your own creation. Of course, there’s only one way to end a tour of a chocolate factory, and that’s with a mouthwatering tasting session. Recommended by Gethin Morgan.

4. Promenade

Architectural Landmark

Flowers in bloom on the promenade of Montreux, Switzerland
MARCIN CZERNIAWSKI / Unsplash

The 3.5km (2mi) stretch between Clarens and the Château de Chillon flaunts a variety of lovely blossoms. It is a must do thing in Montreux – the promenade is most beautiful during springtime and highly recommended for a relaxed walk along the shoreline while enjoying the view of the Chillon’s postcard-perfect mirroring in Lake Geneva.

5. Lavaux vineyards

Winery

Lavaux Vineyards near Montreux, Switzerland
Gabriel Garcia Marengo / Unsplash
The Lavaux vineyards, a Unesco World Heritage site, stretch an impressive 830ha (2,050 acres) between Lausanne and Montreux. Although the majority of visitors choose to see them via the Lavaux Express or the Lavaux Panoramic tourism trains, there are also well-trodden trails for exploring the vineyards on foot. Wander through the beautiful vineyards and enjoy the magnificent views, with occasional stops at the wine cellars to taste the best of the Lavaux wine. Lavaux sells mostly Chasselas wines, which are dry and aromatic.

6. Queen: The Studio Experience

Casino

Statue of Freddie Mercury at Montreux
Noah Näf / Unsplash
The exhibition of Queen: The Studio Experience is aimed at aficionados as well as emerging fans of the rock band Queen. It is held at the Montreux Mountain Studios, where the band created large portions of their most acclaimed albums. There is plenty of Queen memorabilia, such as signatures, photographs and the original handwritten copies of lyrics. The exhibition’s centrepiece is the original sound studio, where Queen’s lead singer Freddie Mercury recorded his last songs.

7. Montreux Jazz Festival

Casino

Close up of man playing saxophone
Jens Thekkeveettil / Unsplash
The Montreux Jazz Festival has a world-famous reputation for its diverse and renowned musical performances. Although it was initially a jazz-only festival, it has since broadened its musical horizons. It is perhaps most famously immortalised in Deep Purple’s Smoke on the Water. The Casino where the Jazz Festival was housed burned down during Zappa’s 1971 performance, sending smoke across Lake Geneva and providing the inspiration for the song. Over the years, it has featured the likes of Miles Davis, Nina Simone and Ella Fitzgerald; post-1970s, it has also featured non-jazz artists such as Pink Floyd, Deep Purple, BB King, Oscar Peterson and many more.

8. Gorges du Chauderon

Historical Landmark

Whilst wandering through Montreux’s quaint Old Town, be sure to stop at the Gorges du Chauderon. The river of La Baye de Montreux flows from this starkly chiselled gorge down to Lake Geneva. There are clearly marked trails indicating paths to and from Montreux, as well as trails for further exploring the woodsy enclave.

9. Lantern Trail of Les Pléiades

Train Station

The lantern trail of Les Pléiades is an unusual choice for a visitor to Montreux, but it’s a must-try in the winter. To get the most out of this experience, take a train from Montreux to the Les Pléiades train station, and follow the trail lit by lanterns. Wear snowshoes on the trail, and explore the hushed and magical wintry landscape by the light of the lanterns. To finish it off, be sure to sample traditional fondue before heading back to Montreux.

10. Montreux Noël

Market

Montreux lit up at night on a Christmas evening in Switzerland
Laura Nardi / Unsplash

Winter in Montreux means one thing: Montreux Noël. Montreux completely transforms itself in preparation for this Christmas event. For a whole month, the city is decked and decorated to celebrate the festival in style. There are medieval markets, Father Christmas makes an appearance, and the Château hosts a fairytale festival. Nearby Caux also transforms into an authentic and mesmerising portrayal of a Christmas village.

11. Narcissus trails

Architectural Landmark

An open view of Lake Léman from the summit of Dent de Jaman above Montreux.
Xavier von Erlach / Unsplash

One of the non touristy things to do in Montreux is to follow a narcissus trail. The mountains surrounding Montreux have beautiful narcissus trails to enjoy in the springtime. Use the Narcissi Forecaster to plan your route, and then set off for a day to enjoy the flowery trails in the Alps. Spring in the Alps means beautiful, unusual Alpine floral varieties in every nook and cranny – a photographer’s (and hiker’s) delight.

12. Water sports at Lake Geneva

Natural Feature

Shores of Lake Geneva in Montreux, Vaud, Switzerland
Armand Khoury / Unsplash
Lake Geneva offers plenty of enjoyable alternatives to hiking. While swimming here is a wonderful experience – you’re surrounded by gorgeous views and stunningly clear water – other options include canoeing, waterskiing, sailing and more. There’s something for everyone of all abilities, and lessons can be easily arranged.

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