A visit to the fairytale castle of Chillon in Montreux is definitely on the list when a visit to Switzerland is on cards. The castle sits on the shores of Lake Geneva with a backdrop of the snow-capped Alps in a magical landscape setting. But the castle is not the only Montreux attractions if you have more time in this beautiful resort town we have a list of things to do in and around Montreux for an enriching Swiss experience. Montreux is an hour train journey from Geneva and couple of hours train ride from the Switzerland capital Bern.
Things to do in Montreux
The 13th-century medieval castle has an amazing history of more than 1000 years. The castle is open to the public with a small entrance fee and hosts several guided tours and audio guided tours. The tours walk you through the castle rooms adorned with medieval frescoes, underground rooms with impressive gothic arches, halls and courtyards, prison rooms and private bedrooms which offer an interesting peek into the glorious history of the castle.
The Lavaux vine terraces along Lake Geneva between Montreux and Lausanne is a UNESCO world heritage site. Based out of Geneva we have passed this view of lush terraces maybe like 100 times when exploring Switzerland. There are several guided tours which walk through the vineyards and guide you through the cultivation and processing of wine with stops at the wine cellars for wine tasting sessions. A walk around the terraces offers wonderful views of Alps across the lake. One can also choose to ride the Lavaux Express or the Lavaux Panoramic to take in the views of the terraces and the lake.
Queen: The Studio Experience
The fans of the famous rock band, Queen would not want to miss the Queen Studio Experience. The Montreux Mountain Studio was the venue where Queen band recorded several of their albums. The studio exhibits an interesting collection of memorabilia from Queen band such as photographs, signatures, even the original handwritten copies of lyrics. And if you happen to visit do not miss the sound studio where Queen’s lead singer Freddie Mercury recorded his last songs.
A bronze statue of Freddie Mercury stands on the waterfront to commemorate his time in Montreux.
A Walk along the Lake Geneva
The lake promenade which stretches for a couple of miles from Montreux to the nearby town of Vevey is worth a stroll. The promenade lined with vibrant and colorful flower beds offers a stunning vista of the alps and the shimmering deep blue Lake Geneva at its foot. Explore the several pretty chalets, lush parks, palace, hotels and soak in the magical Swiss aura.
Fairmont Le Montreux Palace
Lake Geneva Boat tour
The Geneva lakeshore is dotted with several beautiful villas, quaint cafes, chalets, gardens and several small villages and towns. If you are not in for a walk then hop onto the cruise and take in the vistas of the town and villages rising along the lakeshore. The ferries departing from these cities is a great way to explore the neighboring towns of Geneva, Lausanne, Vevey or Nyon. The Nyon port also serves ferries to the nearby small medieval village of Yvoire in France which is around 20 minutes boat ride.
Festivals in and around Montreux
Montreux Jazz Festival
The Montreux Jazz festival is a popular music festival held every July and is said to be the second largest annual jazz festival in the world. Every July for two weeks the town of Montreux on Geneva Lakeshore is enlivened with crowds of musicians and fans from all over the world. The concerts and the performances are mostly held in the Montreux convention center and the casino but you can also find several ticketed and free performances from bands all around town. More details here.
Montreux Balloon Festival
The annual International Balloon Festival held in Alpine village of Château d’Oex near Montreux is one of the popular festivals in Switzerland which draws enthusiasts from around the world. Every January for 9 days the blue skies over the snowed landscapes around Montreux is dotted with hundreds of hot air balloons in various sizes and shapes. The flight offers spectacular 360 ° panorama of the Alps from the Mont Blanc to the Eiger, the Matterhorn and the Jura.
The festival is a perfect family especially on Wednesdays when the festival is planned for the kids with interesting balloons. The Night Glow that happens has a part of the festivals witnesses the sky adorned with balloons lit in golden light. No doubt the village of Château d’Oex is popularly known as the ‘Hot Air Balloon Capital’.
Château d’Oex or Pays-D’Ehaut
You can also visit the Balloon Museum housed in the Town Hall which exhibits information and artifacts on the history of adventures of hot air ballooning. You can also take a walk through the pretty village of Château d’Oex and the 17th-century heritage hamlets of Pays-D’Ehaut for a quintessential Swiss experience. Pays-d’Enhaut Museum is also worth a visit for the large collection of cut papers an ancestral art of cutting, carved furniture, drawings, and engravings.
Day Trips from Montreux
Golden Pass Train
The Golden Pass train is a scenic route winding through the stunning landscapes of Switzerland through the villages and lakes at the foothills of Alps. The Golden Pass scenic route spans from Montreux all the way up to Lucerne. The route can be covered with a combination of two special trains ‘Panoramic’ and ‘Classic’ and the regular trains.
Rochers de Naye
Rochers de Naye mountain can be reached by a cog railway ride up into the Alps. The route is laden with breathtaking vistas of mountains and lakes. In summer Rochers de Naye draws numerous hikers to explore the trail through the alpine meadows and flower beds where there is a high chance of spotting the cute mountain marmots too.
Swiss Vapeur Parc
The Swiss Vapeur Parc is a miniature park located on Lake Geneva and is home to several models of Swiss attractions. A total of 9 trains take the visitors around the park to explore the amazing miniature Switzerland and the popular Swiss landmarks. Even the trains are miniature models of Swiss trains. The park also hosts an annual International Steam Festival in the month of June. The park is 30 minutes ride from Montreux. Click here for prices and timings.
Visit the neighboring Town of Vevey
Vevey is one of the charming town located on the Swiss Riviera. A walk along the lake promenade offers wonderful views of the shimmering lake and the Alps towering above. There are several memorials and statues along the promenade. You can also rent paddleboats and take a trip through the calm blue waters of the lake.
Have you been to Montreux? Did you discover some hidden gems which we missed? Do share with us in comments.
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