Montreux travel guide & 12 things to do

Montreux Promenade

Nestled in the Swiss Alps and set on the shores of Lake Geneva, the first time I visited Montreux it completely took my breath away. It is a true oasis of beauty and tranquillity.

From rock stars to writers, this lakeside town in Switzerland is a magnet for creatives, the rich, and the famous – and I can see why.

Known as the Pearl of the Swiss Riviera, I have no doubt that you will be in awe of Montreux’s natural beauty. It’s no wonder that it has captivated the hearts and imaginations of so many musicians, artists and writers.

If you’re planning to visit Montreux, my travel guide will tell you everything you need to know. Among all Swiss destinations, I think Montreux is a must for fans of hiking, music, watersports, history and culture.

Here I share my tips for the best things to do in Montreux at all times of the year, from the fairytale Chillon Castle and the Swiss chocolate train to lake cruises and watersports.

My Montreux travel guide will point you in the direction of all that’s fabulous about this town. 

Whether you’re visiting Montreux for its tranquil lakeside position, or the lively Montreux Jazz Festival, my guide has you covered. Discover the best time to visit, how to get there, and where to stay and eat.

Let’s explore the fascinating Swiss town of Montreux – a place I love to return to time and time again.

Author Bio: Jessie Moore

Jessie Moore is a luxury travel expert with years of experience travelling the world to find the best destinations, hotels and adventures.

How to get to Montreux 

The nearest airport to Montreux is Geneva International Airport, and I’d recommend simply catching once of the regular trains travelling between the two Swiss destinations.

This trip takes about an hour-and-a-half, and trains depart about twice per hour or more. Trust me when I say that you’ll want the journey to be longer, because the views are exceptional!

Montreux is one of the stations covered by the GoldenPass Line, a scenic train route running between Lucerne, Interlaken, Zweisimmen and Montreux.

It’s also easy to reach Montreux by train from other Swiss towns and cities. 

Montreux Couple Statue

You may choose to drive instead if you have a rental car. The journey time to Montreux from Geneva is around an hour by road, depending of course on traffic.

From Zurich the trip takes about two-and-a-half hours. Discover my pick of the best day trips from Zurich or check out my guide to the best luxury hotels in Zurich.

If you do drive, there are a number of car parks in Montreux. The Place du Marché car park is one of the largest and cheapest places to park in town. You may also find parking close to Chillon castle, near the lake.

Swiss Travel Pass

If you’re travelling around Switzerland then I’d really recommend getting the Swiss Travel Pass.

The pass allows you to travel on most forms of public transport – including trains, buses, and boats – throughout the country. 

It’s is a convenient and cost-effective way to explore the striking Swiss countryside and charming towns like Montreux, LauterbrunnenSpiez and Chur.

You can get the pass for different durations, ranging from three to 15 days, depending how long you’re spending in the country.

Plus I love that the pass even provides free entry to many world-class museums and exhibitions throughout Switzerland. 

Best time of year to visit Montreux

Unlike other Swiss destinations, Montreux is not known for being a ski region, though there are winter sports resorts within reach of the town.

Even in December, January and February, average overnight lows in Montreux are around -1 to -2°C. 

Montreux is relatively warm in summer too, with average daytime highs reaching between 23 and 25°C. Due to this mild Montreux weather, it’s a popular place to visit all year round. 

In winter the Christmas market is a star attraction, while activities like hiking, watersports, paragliding and boat trips tend to attract summer visitors.

In July, the world famous Montreux Jazz Festival is also held on the shores of Lake Geneva – and I’d highly recommend visiting if you’re a fan of jazz!

Spring is another great time to visit Montreux, as the many flowers which line the lakeside promenade are in full bloom. This is when I visited on my recent trip and it’s a truly stunning sight.

Temperatures aren’t particularly warm but it’s a slightly quieter time of year to visit than the peak summer holiday season.

12 best things to do in Montreux

1. Montreux Lakeside Promenade

Montreux’s lakeside promenade is an eight-mile-long scenic path running between Vevey, Montreux and Chillon Castle.

It’s a picturesque route, passing the glimmering waters of the lake with snow-capped peaks beyond. Palm trees and flowers provide an almost-tropical feel along the way.

You can walk the whole route, or I’d suggest just taking the section starting out from town if you’re strapped for time.

Many people set out from the well-known Freddie Mercury statue in Montreux, which can be found right by the covered market.

Seeing and photographing this is one of the top things to do in Montreux in summer or winter, so it’s always busy. 

Book a tour of famous Freddie Mercury spots in Montreux.

2. Château de Chillon

Opening times:

  • April to September: 09:00 – 19:00
  • March and October: 09:30 – 18:00
  • November to February: 10:00 – 17:00

Book: Entrance ticket

I’d definitely recommend seeing Château de Chillon – or Chillon Castle – as it’s one of the best things to do in Montreux, Switzerland.

In fact it’s one of the most-visited places in the entire country, and looks like something lifted straight from a children’s fairytale. 

Chillon Castle

There are also magnificent views across the lake towards France from the castle, while at the site you can discover courtyards, towers and even old prison cells.

The castle can be accessed via the pretty lakeside promenade in Montreux. 

Book your Chateau Chillon entrance ticket.

3. Montreux Jazz Festival

When: First fortnight of July

The Montreux Jazz Festival has long transcended the genre, and has been a world famous musical gala for decades.

It’s also famous for the fire that occurred here in 1971, as immortalised in the Deep Purple track Smoke on the Water

Montreux Jazz Festival

Some huge names have played at Montreux, including artists and bands such as Prince, David Bowie, Elton John, Lady Gaga and Pink Floyd.

Jazz singers like Ella Fitzgerald and Nina Simone have also featured. I told you it’s a big deal!

Held in July, the Montreux Jazz Festival sells out fast, so I’d advise booking your tickets, accommodation and travel as early as possible if you plan to go. 

4. Queen: The Studio Experience

Another Montreux attraction that I’d recommend for music fans is ‘Queen: The Studio Experience’.

This can be found at the former Mountain Studios, where Queen recorded at various times between the late 1970s and the mid 1990s. 

Brian May opened the museum in 2013, and it’s packed with memorabilia related to the British rock band. It’s therefore a must for fans of the group’s music in particular and of pop or rock music in general. 

5. Go hiking

Hiking in Montreux is hugely popular, and there are routes to suit all levels. For a relatively short walk, I’d recommend a stroll through the Lavaux vineyard, a UNESCO world heritage site.

Or take a long-distance trek through the mountains of the Montreux Riviera. 

Vineyard Near Montreux

The shortest routes are just two or three miles long, while some are double that or more.

There are narcissus trails to follow in season, as well as a range of mountain treks, plus scenic lakeside and vineyard routes.

I really think that hiking is the best way to soak up the spectacular scenery of the area.

6. Boat tour on Lake Geneva

For one of the most relaxing and incredibly picturesque things to do in Montreux, I’d suggest taking a boat tour on Lake Geneva.

You can hop onto a historic paddle steamer departing from the jetty in the town centre to experience a unique perspective on the town, lake, mountains and countryside. 

Boat tours on Lake Geneva are available all year round and give you the unique opportunity of cruising the water while enjoying a majestic Alpine backdrop. 

Book a 2-hour Riviera Cruise on Lake Geneva.

7. Lake Geneva watersports

I love that there are lots of sporting activities which take place on Lake Geneva in Montreux. With tuition available, you can also learn a new skill if you want to.

Tranquil Montreux

In summer, swimming is popular, and other local watersports include sailing, kayaking, canoeing and paddle boarding. I think it makes for such a wonderful atmosphere too!

Parasailing, jet boats and jet skis have however been banned on Lake Geneva by the local council. 

8. Montreux Christmas Markets

The Montreux Christmas market runs annually between mid-to-late-November and Christmas Eve, and comprises over 150 wooden huts peddling all kinds of seasonal wares. 

The illuminated market is held by the lake, and is a very pretty spectacle with an enticing festive atmosphere. I think it’s also a great place to pick up unique Christmas gifts.  

Discover more of the best Christmas markets in Europe in my guide.

9. Cog railway to Rochers de Naye

The charming cogwheel railway to Rochers de Naye runs all year round, and takes you along the shores of Lake Geneva before beginning the 2,000 metre ascent.

Montreux Hiking

En route you’ll pass charming Swiss countryside, forest and lakeside villages – it’s immensely beautiful and I’d highly recommend taking the cog railway when in Montreux.

At the summit there are hiking trails, plus the La Rambertia Alpine garden with over 1,000 species of local flora to see.

10. Gorges du Chauderon

Gorges du Chauderon is close to Montreux Old Town and believe me when I say that the sight of the river running through the gorge is a breathtaking spectacle. 

The route is signposted from town and there are walking routes to follow from Gorges du Chauderon too. 

11. Paragliding

Taking a paragliding trip over Lake Geneva is for many a once-in-a-lifetime experience, giving a bird’s-eye perspective over Montreux and the water, vineyards and mountains. 

If you’re like me and suffer from motion sickness, just be wary that paragliding can trigger it. I learnt this the hard way!

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12. Swiss chocolate train

The Swiss chocolate train traces a route between Montreux and Broc, where the Cailler-Nestlé chocolate factory is based. 

Swiss Chocolate Train

Historic Belle Epoque carriages and incredible views over the lake and vineyards make this seven-and-a-half hour trip very worthwhile in my opinion.

Best hotels in Montreux

1. Grand Hotel Suisse Majestic

Address: Av. des Alpes 45, 1820 Montreux

Best for: Lake views

The imposing Grand Hotel Suisse Majestic dates from the Belle Epoque era and is located by the lake in Montreux town centre.

It’s my personal favourite hotel in Montreux and I’d definitely recommend getting a room with a private balcony or terrace.  

The hotel has a lakeside restaurant with outdoor terrace, a cocktail bar, a cigar lounge, a gym and a sauna and hammam.

Of all hotels in Montreux, Switzerland, I really think this one has an unbeatable location. 

2. Fairmont Le Montreux Palace

Address: Av. Claude-Nobs 2, 1820 Montreux

Best for: Five star luxury

Fairmont Montreux Spa

Another of the best Montreux hotels is the imposing five star Fairmont Le Montreux Palace. Located by the Lake Geneva shoreline, it has a glorious winter garden for outdoor dining.

This elegant hotel has a range of rooms and suites. There are also several eateries and bars including a cocktail bar, a luxurious 2000 m² spa with a hot tub and indoor pool, plus an outdoor pool for summer use. 

I’d recommend booking with ASMALLWORLD for access to VIP benefits like free room upgrades and late check-outs where available.

3. Les Résidences du National de Montreux

Address: Av. des Planches 21, 1820 Montreux

Best for: Stylish self-catering

Les Résidences du National de Montreux

Les Résidences du National de Montreux is an upmarket apartment complex, where stylish self-catering properties are let out to guests by private owners.

While there is no on-site restaurant, the complex does boast a sauna, a spa, a gym and a steam room for the use of visitors, so I think it’s perfect for those after self-contained accommodation.

Apartments also come with garage parking, laundry facilities and fully-equipped kitchens. 

4. Villa Kruger Boutique Hotel B&B

Address: Montreux CH, Villas Du Bochet 17, 1815 Clarens

Best for: A boutique hotel

Villa Kruger Boutique Hotel B&B

This boutique bed and breakfast in Montreux is an intimate property with just half a dozen guest rooms. Located by the lake, I love that it offers a spacious garden with magnificent lake and mountain views.

Guests here can book into a lake view double room, or a range of suites. These include a two-bedroom option suitable for a large family. 

5. Hotel Victoria Glion

Address: sur Montreux CH, Rte de Caux 16, 1823 Glion

Best for: A peaceful setting

Hotel Victoria Glion

Hotel Victoria is located in nearby Glion rather than Montreux, and enjoys a peaceful setting by the lake and close to the forest. 

The four star hotel has a fine dining restaurant, an outdoor pool, a hot tub, a sauna, a gym and tennis courts.

There is also a lovely garden dotted with trees and featuring large lawns, which I think looks just dreamy.

Best bars, cafés & restaurants in Montreux

1. Tea Room de la Baye

Tea Room de la Baye is tucked away on Rue du Pont and I consider it to be the number one spot in Montreux for pastries, tea, coffee and cakes. 

Vegetarian options are offered and the outlook is truly beautiful. The service is also good and I find the prices to be very reasonable (well, by Switzerland’s standard!).

2. Zurcher

Centrally located on the Avenue du Casino is Zurcher, a popular Montreux eatery specialising in Swiss and French cuisine plus freshly-baked cakes and pastries. 

I think it’s the ideal venue for snacking or dining at any time of day and the selection of sweet treats offered here is outstanding. 

3. Auberge de Chaulin

Five star reviews abound for this Montreux restaurant found on Rue de Chaulin and I can see why.

It serves a range of refined Swiss, French and European dishes to discerning diners, all executed and presented with flair.

For me, the highlight of this hilltop eatery is the panoramic views over the lake. 

4. Montreux Jazz Festival

If you’re in town at the time then the Montreux Jazz Festival offers a feast for the palate as well as the ears. 

A range of exciting food and beverage stalls are offered during early July, so guests can wander among these sampling culinary delights from the local area as well as way beyond. 

5. Restaurant Le Museum

Positioned on Rue de la Gare, Restaurant Le Museum is just that: a traditional Swiss-style eatery that I consider to be the best place in town for fondue.

Stone walls, carved staircases and old wine barrels create a rustic ambience in which to savour an authentic Swiss dining experience. 

Montreux travel guide FAQs

Are there any good day trips from Montreux?

Yes, I love how many amazing day trips from Montreux there are! Perfect for exploring more of the riviera.

I’d recommend going to Rochers de Naye by cogwheel railway, taking a trip on the Swiss chocolate train, hiking to explore the vineyards, taking a longer boat trip towards French shores or travelling the GoldenPass Line. 

Is Montreux a good destination for solo travellers?

Switzerland is one of the most popular places in the world for solo travellers, as it’s such a safe and welcoming country. It’s also one of my personal favourite places for solo travel.

There is lots to see and do here, and it’s particularly popular among those who enjoy hiking, watersports, music, shopping and exploring.

Looking to discover more beautiful places in Switzerland? Have a read of my guide to the best Swiss towns or check out my travel guides for Grindelwald, Gruyères and Chur.

Planning a winter trip? Read my ultimate Zermatt ski resort guide or discover the best hotels in Zermatt in my guide.

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Subscribe to my newsletter and get immediate access to my guide on how to save money on flights and hotels. Our weekly emails are filled with adventure inspiration, insider travel tips and exclusive discounts.

Jessie Moore
Jessie Moore

Jessie is a luxury travel expert with years of experience travelling the world to find the best destinations, hotels and adventures.

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