Montreux: Switzerland’s Picturesque Resort Town on Lake Geneva

montreux switzerland

Right on the edge of Lake Geneva with the Alps as a breathtaking backdrop, Montreux is the epitome of a Swiss resort town, offering a mix of history, cultural festivities, and pristine natural beauty.

We’ll unpack everything that makes Montreux a must-visit: from its historic Château de Chillon to the legendary Jazz Festival. Whether you’re looking to relax in style, savor delicious Swiss flavors, or adventure through scenic landscapes, Montreux has something exciting for everyone. 

If you are looking for a stay in Geneva I would recommend this quaint village over the crowded city any day of the week!

Discover Montreux

montreux switzerland from above

Montreux has long stood as a beacon of luxury and relaxation, its reputation as a resort town solidified over the centuries. Originally a modest lakeside village, Montreux began transforming into a coveted destination in the 19th century when its mild climate and stunning natural scenery attracted the European elite.

This influx spurred the development of grand hotels and elegant villas, setting the stage for a world-class resort town. Over time, Montreux has seamlessly married modern amenities with its historical charm, ensuring a perfect blend of old-world sophistication and contemporary luxury.

The town’s allure is not only found in its landscapes and luxury but also in the glamorous figures who have walked its paths. Montreux has been a favorite among celebrities and artists, adding layers of intrigue and prestige. One of its most famed visitors was Freddie Mercury, who found peace and inspiration in Montreux’s serene environment – so much so that he recorded his last album with Queen here. The town pays homage to him with a life-sized statue along the lakeside promenade. 

Other notable figures, including writers like Vladimir Nabokov and musicians like Igor Stravinsky, have also called Montreux home, drawn by its tranquility and beauty. These connections to internationally renowned personalities not only enrich Montreux’s cultural tapestry but continue to draw visitors eager to walk in the footsteps of giants.

—> Read More: Best Places To Visit In Switzerland: Beyond Zurich & Geneva

Best Things to See and Do in Montreux


Visit Château de Chillon

Château de Chillon, a medieval castle set on an island near the shores of Lake Geneva, is a must-see for its rich history and breathtaking architecture. Explore its ancient halls, underground vaults, and towers with an audio guide available in multiple languages to deepen your understanding of the castle’s storied past. 

Purchasing tickets online ahead of your visit can save time waiting in line, and consider visiting during off-peak hours to enjoy a less crowded experience.

Discover the Old Town

Montreux’s Old Town, or Vieille-Ville, offers a charming escape from the more tourist-heavy lakeside. With its narrow, winding streets and historic buildings, this area offers a glimpse into the quieter side of Swiss life. Explore local shops for unique souvenirs, or stop by a café for coffee and pastries in a cozy setting. 

The Old Town is also home to the Musée de Montreux, which presents local history and art, adding a cultural dimension to your visit.

Stroll along the Lakeside Promenade

montreux lakeside walk

The promenade in Montreux offers a picturesque setting perfect for a leisurely stroll along Lake Geneva. This beautifully maintained walkway is lined with sculptures, flowers, and Mediterranean trees, providing a tranquil environment to enjoy the panoramic views of the surrounding Alps. Benches along the way offer spots to relax and take in the scenic views. 

Visit during different seasons to see the landscape change, from vibrant autumn leaves to the lush greenery of spring.

Freddie Mercury Statue

freddy mercury statue montreux

A visit to Montreux isn’t complete without stopping by the Freddie Mercury Statue, a tribute to the singer who spent much of his later life in the town. Located along the promenade, it’s a hotspot for music fans. 

For the best experience, consider visiting during the early morning or later in the evening when the crowds are thinner. This timing makes for better photo opportunities and a moment to reflect on Mercury’s impact on music.

bern historical museum

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Enjoy the Montreux Jazz Festival

The Montreux Jazz Festival, held every July, is one of the premier music events in the world, attracting top international artists. To fully enjoy the festival, explore beyond the main stages by attending some of the free concerts that occur around the town, which offer a wide range of performances. 

—> Read More: Bern: Switzerland’s “Unofficial” Capital City

Booking accommodation well in advance is highly recommended, as the town fills up quickly during the festival period.

Take a Boat Tour on Lake Geneva

lake geneva switzerland

Exploring Lake Geneva by boat offers a unique perspective of Montreux and the surrounding areas. Various operators offer tours ranging from hour-long rides to full-day excursions that can include meals and stops in nearby towns like Lausanne and Geneva.

For something special, look for themed cruises, such as culinary cruises or sunset tours, which provide enhanced experiences with local flavors or romantic vistas.

Explore the Lavaux Vineyards

Lavaux Vineyards

The Lavaux Vineyards, just a short drive from Montreux, are not only a UNESCO World Heritage site but also a spectacular destination for wine enthusiasts. 

The terraced vineyards offer stunning views over Lake Geneva and the Alps, and many local wineries provide tastings and tours. Walking paths throughout the vineyards invite leisurely hikes with numerous vantage points for unforgettable photos. Spring and autumn are particularly beautiful times to visit when the vines are lush and the landscape is vibrant.

Ride the Rochers-de-Naye Cogwheel Train

The cogwheel railway from Montreux to Rochers-de-Naye is one of the most thrilling experiences in the region, offering stunning views as you ascend over 2,000 meters above sea level. 

At the summit, you can visit the marmot park, enjoy hiking trails, or dine at the panoramic restaurant. The ride itself takes about an hour each way, making it a perfect half-day outing. Be sure to dress warmly as temperatures can be significantly cooler at the top, even in summer.

—> Read More: 3 Reasons Why You Have to Visit Switzerland

Visit the Montreux Christmas Market

The Montreux Christmas Market is one of the most enchanting in Switzerland, with its stalls nestled against the backdrop of the Alps and Lake Geneva. Visitors can shop for traditional Swiss crafts, seasonal goods, and culinary treats like raclette and mulled wine. 

The market also features ice-skating rinks and festive lights, creating a magical holiday atmosphere. Staying late into the evening allows you to experience the twinkling lights and festive activities at their best.

Attend a Concert at the Montreux Casino

The Montreux Casino is not only a gaming destination but also a historic music venue famously associated with Deep Purple’s song “Smoke on the Water.” The casino hosts a variety of concerts throughout the year, covering a range of genres beyond just jazz. 

Checking the event schedule and purchasing tickets in advance is recommended to secure a spot at one of these performances. The venue offers a vibrant atmosphere that music lovers will particularly appreciate.

Swiss Cuisine in Montreux

swiss fondue

Savor some Swiss cuisine in Montreux which offers a delightful blend of flavors that reflect both the local culture and the broad influences of Switzerland’s culinary heritage.

Cheese Fondue – A must-try Swiss classic, fondue is a communal eating experience where diners dip bread into a warm pot of melted cheese. Montreux’s location in the Vaud region, known for its cheese production, ensures that the cheese used is fresh and flavorful.

Raclette – Another cheesy delight, raclette involves scraping off melted cheese from a wheel to eat with potatoes, pickles, and onions. It’s a fun and interactive way to enjoy a meal, perfect for a cozy evening after a day of exploring.

Lake Fish Dishes – Given Montreux’s lakeside setting, fresh fish dishes are prominent on local menus. Perch, char, and trout are commonly served, either grilled or prepared in delicate sauces.

Meringues with Double Cream – For a sweet treat, this dessert is iconic in the Vaud region. Light, airy meringues are paired with thick, luscious double cream from Gruyère. It’s a simple yet decadent finish to any meal.

Local Wines – Montreux is close to the Lavaux vineyards, a UNESCO World Heritage site, where terraced vineyards offer some of Switzerland’s best wines. A wine tasting tour could be a delightful way for Susan to spend an afternoon, enjoying exquisite views and sipping local varietals like Chasselas.

And That’s A Wrap!

Montreux stands as a timeless gem lying along the serene waters of Lake Geneva, offering a beautiful blend of history and modern luxury.

Its evolution from a quaint village to a prestigious resort town is a testament to its enduring appeal and the rich cultural heritage that continues to attract global luminaries and global travelers alike.

Whether it’s exploring the architectural marvels, strolling along the picturesque lakeside promenade, or following in the footsteps of famed personalities, Montreux promises a captivating experience that encapsulates the essence of Swiss life.

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Jack Baumann

President of Guidester

Jack Baumann has lived and traveled throughout Europe for over 15 years, creating Guidester in 2014. Over the years Guidester has developed into a unique travel concierge and tour company helping travelers make the most of their trip to Europe.

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