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7 Best Things to See and Do in Montreux, Switzerland

montreux switzerland lake promenade

Oh Montreux! This Swiss city on the shorelines of Lac Léman needs no introduction: Being most famous being the home to one of the world’s most celebrated music event: the Montreux Jazz Festival! Every year during the first two weeks of July, the festival spirit drifts over Montreux like a sweet holiday fragrance…a unique ambiance of excitement, lightness and carelessness.

But did you know that aside from jazz, there are tons of other exciting activities, excursions and daytrips to do within Montreux and the Swiss Riveria Region?

In this post, I am sharing my essential Montreux travel guide, with 7 best things you MUST do when you are here. This itinerary is best broken down into 2-3 days, so you can get the most out of your trip!

1. Montreux Lakeside promenade

girl standing above on the lake looking out to the French Alps and surrounded by pink flowers and green grass, in Montreux, Switzerland

I’ve been on walks along the lakeside promenades in Geneva, Morges, Lausanne, Thun,and Zurich…and I daresay that the one in Montreux is quite simply, the most picturesque promenade of all!

Often referred to as the Chemin de Fleuri or the ‘Flower Path,’ this 13 kilometres promenade starts from Vevey and stretches on up till Chillon Castle at Villeneuve. Along the way, you can admire blooming flowers, graceful swans and birds, sculptures, and swaying Mediterranean trees and grand Belle Époque buildings.

While you don’t have to walk the entire distance, this is definitely one unmissable activity to do in Montreux.

2. Freddie Mercury’s statue

Girl smiling wide and with arms raised imitating Freddie Mercury bronze statue, in front of lake promenade in Montreux Switzerland

Along the waters just in front of the old covered market you will find an unmistakable bronze statue of Freddie Mercury: The famous lead singer of the band, Queen.

Why is a statue of a British rock icon here in Switzerland? Well, in fact Freddie Mercury had settled and lived in Montreux from the late 70s till 1991, enjoying the peace and serenity till his death in 1991.

In memory of the King of Rock, Freddie Mercury’s statue has stood on the lakeside promenade since 1996: Immortalized in his famous position, with his arm raised flamboyantly. You can tell that he is well-loved up till today: People would often leave garlands of flowers, and lit candles below the statue. A fitting homage to an incredible artist with an unforgettable voice!

For best photo opportunities, visit early in the morning. There are often hordes of people trying to get photos of the statues in the afternoon, so it might be hard to get a shot sans photobombs…but the lighting is especially nice at sunset!

3. Montreux Casino and Queen: The Studio Experience

Tucked away in a corner inside the Montreux Casino lies the Queen: The Studio Experience. This is the former location of the Mountain Recording Studios, where the band Queen had recorded 6 out of their 15 albums between 1978 and 1995. Other greats artists who had recorded here over the years includes David Bowie and the Stones.

Entrance of Queen the Studio Experience, in Montreux, Switzerland with wallpaper and a toy soldier

Small but intimate at the same time, the studio offers a rare and revealing insight to Queen and Freddie Mercury´s history. Here, You will find an impressive collection of memorabilia: ranging from album covers, handwritten lyrics, band instruments, to costumes worn by Freddie Mercury. While walking around the area, you can also put on headphones and be transported back in time as you listen to their band’s various albums.

Memorabilia in Queen the Studio Experience, in Montreux, Switzerland
Yellow jacket with white pants, Stage costume worn by Freddie Mercury in Queen: The Studio Experience in Montreux, Switzerland

The most moving part for me was actually to see his handwritten lyrics. It was such a testimony to his music genius: This man was churning out brilliant songs with just a pen and scraps of paper!

Freddie Mercury's handwritten lyrics in Queen the Studio Experience, in Montreux, Switzerland

Not to be missed is the Control Room. Almost all of the fixtures and sound equipment remain exactly as they were since the days when Queen worked here. The only thing that has been replaced is the original Neve desk mixer. In its place now stands a replica, where visitors can actually sit at the controls and remix some of Queen’ classic favourite songs.

Entry to Queen:The Studio Experience is free (something pretty rare in Switzerland!), the same goes for casino which is another fun thing to do in Montreux if you enjoy a thrill or two.

Useful Information

Queen: The Studio Experience

Opening hours: Monday to Sunday – 9am – 9pm

Free entrance

4. The Chillon Castle

No visit to Montreux is complete without visiting the Chillon Castle, which happens to be the most visited historical site in the whole of Switzerland! Impressive in size and grandeur, it transports you back to the middle ages from the moment you step inside the courtyard. 

Girl sitting on rock during sunset and looking out at Chillon Castle in Montreux, switzerland

The first information of the Chillon castle dates back to the 12th century. The word ‘Chillon’ meant ‘rocky platform’ in an ancient Latin language, in reference to the flat rock that the castle is situated on giving it an illusion of floating above the waters.

Due to its excellent positioning along the shores of Lake Geneve, the castle provided natural protection, as well as strategic and economic control over the passage between northern and southern Europe.

We explored first the base dungeons, which are fully carved out of the rock and support the castle’s foundations.

dungeons of the Chillon castle in Montreux, Switzerland

One of its most famous prisoner was Francois de Bonivard, a Protestant monk who fell into political dispute and was chained inside the dungeons for 6 whole years. 3 centures later, the English romantic poet Lord Byron visited Chillon and after hearing Bonivard’s tragic tale, penned his most famous poem “The prisoner of Chillon”.

Within the castle there is also a wine cellar, 3 furnished halls, 4 courtyards and over 40 other rooms. Within, they contain a vast collections of arms, decorations and furniture. Some of the rooms even still have remnants of its original wall paintings, giving a glimpse of the castle’s former splendour.

huge dining hall inside Chillon Castle in Montreux, switzerland
painted wars with bernese crest in Chillon Castle, Montreux, Switzerland

Aside from the audio guide (which you can rent for 6CHF), there are also digital panels in multiple languages in every room/ They provided excellent background information on room’s functions, details on the furniture and paintings, and I found that pretty helpful for some brief reading up on history at your own pace.

If you love all things medieval, time will pass by in a breeze, and you can easily spend 2 hours to fully explore the castle. However my guess is that it could also be deemed boring if you are not a castle enthusiast! To each its own.

As there are many steps and slopes within the castle, do note that the Chillon Castle is not fully wheelchair accessible nor suitable for baby prams. Nevertheless, there are two audiovisual screens in the cafeteria which offer a virtual tour and eight mini themed films of the castle.

How to Get to the Chillon Castle

Getting there- Access to the Chillon castle is virtually possible by every means of transportation.

By public bus – The bus service is extremely fast and the most convenient option to reach the castle. Take the bus 201 (every 10 minutes) from Vevey, Montreux or Villeneuve. The bus stop is “Chillon” in front of the castle.

If coming by train: Take to Montreux Gare and transfer to the regional S5 train to Veytaux-Chillon, which is just 300 meters from the castle.

If coming by car,: take the motorway A9 and exit either at Villeneuve or Montreux. There is free parking along the road in front of the castle.

Another great transport option is by cruise. During peak tourist seasons (from April to September) there are regular cruise departures from Lausanne, Vevey, Montreux and Villeneuve to the Castle. You will dis-embark from the Chillon quay, which is 100 metres from the castle and presenting a spectacular view when you arrive.

By foot – Walking from Montreux will take 4 km and about 45 minutes, or from Villeneuve at about 2 km or 20 minutes along the lakeside footpath. If your time permits, I highly recommend walking to the castle to enjoy the breathtaking beauty along the waters.

Useful Information

Castle admission for individual visitors is 13.50 CHF for adults and 7 CHF for children. Discounts available upon presentation of Montreux Riveria Card, Swiss Museum Pass or the Swiss Travel Pass.You will find information on prices and various discounts here.

You can buy tickets online from up to three months in advance here (with early-bird discounts available), or purchase the tickets on-site.

Audio guides are available for rent at 6CHF.

5. Go on a daytrip to the Lavaux vineyards

girl wrapped in a blue shawl looking out to green lavaux vineyards in Switzerland

Just a stone’s throw away from Montreux (15 mins by train to St Sephorin) lies the magnificent Lavaux Vineyards.

Comprising over 830 hectares of terraced vineyards and stretching 30km over Lake Léman: This is one of Switzerland’s most prized UNESCO heritage sites, and rightfully so: The landscape here magically changes with every season, luring locals and visitors alike for visits over and over! We have been to Lavaux for walks for numerous times and still we never tire of it.

For lunch, consider the posh restaurant and lounge bar at Le Deck.

Entrance of Le Deck, in Chexbres, Lavaux Vineyards, Switzerland

It has one of the best paranomic views of the surrounding vineyards, with the glistening blue lake as an enchanting backdrop. I don’t find the food here extraordinary good considering the price though (its within 40-50CHF for mains,which is considered on the high side, and Switzerland is already expensive to begin with). So if you are on a tigher budget but would still like to have an experience here, I would suggestion skip the food and opt for just drinks instead. The lounge outside is a great place for chilling!

To explore the Lavaux vineyards, your best way is by foot. There are plenty of tiny cute villages dotting the entire Lavaux region, and it’s a nice weekend activity to simply free your mind and explore aimlessly through the cobbled alleys, narrow passages and churches.

Girl against backdrop of Lake léman and Lavaux vineyards in Montreux Swiss riveria region

Normally there are two routes which we like to go for our hikes: First the one starting from Lutry to Grandvaux and back. The other is St Sephorin itself, considered one of the prettiest villages in Switzerland.

6. Take the cogwheel train to Rochers de Naye (or do a hike!)

Girl in white winter coat standing next to blue and white cogwheel train with the words "Rochers de Naye" painted, at the top of Rochers de Naye above Montreux, Switzerland

For outdoor adventurers, do plan a visit to Montreux’s local mountain, Rochers de Naye. With a peak of 2,042m, its summit boasts one of the best paranomic views of French-speaking Switzerland.

To come here: take the vintage cogwheel train which departs every hour starting 8.17am from Montreux Gare at platform 8. The whole ride passes through 16 stops and takes about 55 minutes.

As it winds its way up, you can look out the windows at the most amazing views of Lake Léman and the surrounding mountains.

girl lin red cap, striped shirt and pants ooking out of cogwheel train up to rochers-de-naye in montreux, switzerland

While you could also hike up, this would be quite a steep ascent of more than 1600m and takes about four hours, which is considerably difficult. Instead, a more manageable alternative would be to take the cogwheel train up to Haut-de-Caux station, and then hike downwards to Glion.

This is a supremely lovely trail especially during end-May to early June, where the fields are covered by a sea of white narcissus flowers. While I have yet to personally go on this hike myself, judging from the looks of it on social media, it is wildly beautiful and an exceptionally popular hiking spot during springtime!

Most people who go up to the top of Rochers-de-Naye linger around abit for the peak mountain views, have lunch at the restaurant and then hike down. The summit affords views of the Bermese Alps, and on a clear day: you can look out to perfect views of the three mountain peaks of Mönch, Eiger and Jungfrau.

Mountain restaurant at top of Rochers de Naye, 2092m above Montreux, Switzerland
Snow-capped view of Mönch, Jungfrau and Eiger from Rochers de Naye, 2092m above Montreux, Switzerland

We visited the mountain in end-April and unfortunately, the narcissus flowers had yet to bloom. Also, there were heavy snow the night before the ground were not suitable for hiking. Thus only managed to hang around for about an hour taking pictures and resting, before heading back down via the train.

I would suggest that the best time for visiting the Rochers-de-Naye is between end May to July when there’s no snow.

Useful Information

Round Trip: 70 CHF for full price, 35CHF for round-trip. 26.50CHF with Montreux Riveria card

Free for GA, Children under 6 or with SBB Junior card

16. Kids with a SBB Junior Card or under 6 ride free. If you have a Montreux Riviera card, the trip costs CHF 26.50.

If you are taking the cogwheel train and alighting at stops before the Rochers-de-Naye, visit MBB website for detailed pricing

7. Alimentarium Food Museum in Vevey

Vevey is just one stop away from Montreux and is an ideal daytrip option.

Walking along the lakeside promenade, a giant fork sticks out from the waters of Lac Léman. this is the sign that you have arrived at the Alimentarium, the first food museum of its kind established by the Nestle Foundation.

Fork outside Alimenatrium, along shores of Lake Léman in Vevey, Switzerland

The Alimentarium explores all aspects of food and nutrition from a historical, scientific and cultural perspective. Its permanent exhibition is structured around three sectors: Food, Society and the Body. This interactive food museum invites visitors young and old to explore eating: an activity full of history and emotion.

informational exhibits in alimentarium, Vevey, Switzerland

At our time of visit, there is a special exhibition on veganism. It covered the four aspects of vegan gastronomy, health and nutrition, environment and ethics, activism and popular culture.

One highlight for families with young children would be the Alimentarium’s Junior Academy. Every Sunday morning, children are invited to discover the world of food and nutrition through 28 fun-filled educational games, from quizzes to fishing and food shopping. There is also a guided culinary class designed to make cooking within easy reach of younger visitors: where they can have their hands on preparing and cooking either an international or asian cuisine.

At our time of visit, there is a special exhibition on Veganism.

Alimentarium in Vevey, Switzerland, information panels showed in vegan temporary exhibition

For lunch, the museum’ restaurant-café and terrace would be a perfect dining option. All dishes are seasonal and prepared in-house by chefs, using herbs and ingredients grown from the Museum’s very own garden.

Useful Information

Alimentarium

+41 (0)21 924 41 11

Opening hours:

Tuesday to Sunday:

10:00 – 17:00 (October to March)

10:00 – 18:00 (April to September)

Admission Prices

13 CHF for adults, 11 for seniors, persons with disabilities and students

6.50CHF with Montreux Riveria Card

4 for Children aged 6-15, free for 5 and below

Visit here for full ticketing prices

Where to Stay in Montreux

Grand Hotel Suisse Majestic in Montruex, Switzerland

From hotels to holiday apartments, there are no lack of accommodation to choose from in Montreux. When you are staying in Montreuxx: you will receive the free Montreux Riviera Card, which provides free travel on all public transportation within the Montreux-Vevey region, as well as discounted offerings for admissions to various attractions, museums, including cruises on Lake Léman.

If you want to live large – you’re on holiday, after all – consider the elegant “Belle Epoque” themed Grand Hotel Suisse Majestic Montreux, where we stayed for the trip.

This is great choice in terms of location considering that it’s right below the Montreux Gare. Once you come down from the station escalator, and the hotel is a mere 100 metres step away. On top of that, it boasts spectacular prime views of the Riveria, which you can enjoy from your balcony window or from the restaurant terrace.

grand hotel suisse majestic montreux restaurant terrace
Grand Hotel Suisse Majestic in Montruex, Switzerland double room
Grand Hotel Suisse Majestic in Montruex, Switzerland double room

All rooms and suites are beautifully furnished includes free WiFi, en-suite bathroom, hair dryer, flat-screen television and minibar. This is also a pet-friendly hotel!

Useful Information

Grand Hotel Suisse Majestic Montreux

Avenue des Alpes 45
1820 Montreux

+ 41 21 966 3333
suisse-majestic@brhhh.com

Where to Eat in Montreux

Montreux has no shortage of great restaurants, but these are some of my favorites.

Montreux Jazz Café: If you happen to be in Montreux for the Montreux Jazz Festival in July, this restaurant is mere just steps away from all the action at the music concerts, and you are highly likely to run into famous musicians! Ask for a table near the window or on the patio to see the action.

Safran: This dining establishment is located within the Hotel Eurotel Montreux and overlooks the lake promenade. It serves modern international cuisine by and boasts 12 GaultMillau points. They particularly have a good wine selection offering mostly Vaudois and Swiss bottles. Special mention goes out to the traditional perche filet: (a local dish worth trying when in the region) and the trout, and if you are missing asian food: they also have Malaysian chicken curry with basmati rice (not pictured).

Rando Burgers: Honestly, this place one of the best burgers you can get on the French part of Switzerland. We were previously recommended by one of Vince’s colleagues and came down specially just for it on a daytrip, and it didn’t disappoint! The burgers here are succulent and juicy (huge portions as well), with great flavour, and a wide range of toppings.T hey also use mostly local ingredients for their cheese, patties and salad. You also have the option to make your own burger too! Also, don’t miss the homemade brownie. All in all and absolute gem if you’re looking for an honest, tasty burger joint in Montreux.


girl in flower promenade along LacLéman in Montreux, Switzerlad

I hope you find this Guide to Montreux useful! Let me know which is your favourite activity, and if you have other local suggestions on what to see and do when in the Swiss Riveria.

If you are looking for more travel recommendations specifically for Swiss Romande: be sure to check out my other itineraries and travel guides down below as they would be come in handy for exploring French-Speaking Switzerland!

Top 10 Places to Visit in Lausanne

5 Best Places for Coffee in Lausanne

8 Hours in Fribourg, Switzerland: Best Things To Do

Valais, Switzerland: A Summer Guide

Your Ultimate Guide to Gruyères, Switzerland

As usual, have fun exploring Switzerland!

With Love,

Ollie

This post is written in partnership with MySwitzerland and Montreux-Vevey Tourism. All opinions are my own.

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