Perhaps Switzerland’s most well-known castle, Château de Chillon, or Chillon Castle, lies on the eastern end of Lake Geneva just outside the town of Montreux. It’s located on Lake Geneva and is absolutely stunning with the Alps glistening in its background.
This medieval castle is the most visited historical site in Switzerland as more than 300,000 people visit Chillon Castle every year. So, what is so great about Chateau De Chillon that attracts so many visitors every year? Let’s find out!
Join me as I run through everything you need to know about Chillon Castle from its history to how to get there, what it is like to visit, and lots more.
Table of Contents
The following is the most important information you will need for your visit to Chillon Castle
|Address||Av. de Chillon 21, 1820 Veytaux (Google Maps)|
|Opening Times||Monday – Sunday: 9am – 6pm|
|Ticket Prices||Adults: CHF 12.30|
Children (6-15): CHF 7
Pensioners, Students: CHF 11.50
Prebook Tickets here
|Discounts||50% off with Montreux Riviera Card, |
Free entry with Swiss Travel Pass & Swiss Museum Passport
|Accessibility||Very little access (2 films to see & toilets upon request)|
|Parking||Bus 201 stops outside the castle. It is a 10-minute journey from Montreux, where you can connect to various trains.|
|Public Transport||Bus 201 stops outside the castle. It is a 10 minute journey from Montreux, where you can connect to various trains.|
Entrance Fee and Opening Hours
Chillon Castle is open from 9 am to 6 pm between April and October, and 10 am to 5 pm from November to March.
The price to visit Chillon Castle is very affordable compared to other medieval castles. Adults pay just CHF 13.50, students CHF 11.50, and children 15 years and under pay CHF 7. There is also a CHF 35 family card for 2 adults and 2 children. Also, be aware that Swiss Travel Pass holders and Swiss Museum pass holders can enter for free and if you have a Montreux Riviera card you get 50% off.
How to Get to Chillon Castle
Getting to Chillon Castle is incredibly easy if you are in the Lake Geneva area but it is a little more complicated than other parts of Switzerland.
From Geneva, take a direct train to Montreux, and then it is a lovely 4 km stroll along Lake Geneva to the castle. You can also take a bus if you don’t fancy walking and it should take less than an hour from A to B.
You also have the option to take a boat from Lausanne to Montreux which I highly recommend. A cruise across Lake Geneva is stunning and you will get amazing views of the alps on the way but it is advised to do it during the warmer months, as it is not so nice in the winter.
From Zurich & Bern
From Zurich, you can take a direct train via Bern to Lausanne where you change on to a train to Montreux. From Zurich, it takes 3 hours and from Bern, it takes just 2 hours.
What to Expect When Visiting The Chillon Castle
When you walk towards the castle, you will first notice its stunning surroundings. Sitting on an outcrop of rocks, it may as well be on an island in Lake Geneva and you will understand why its position was useful as a fortress. Of course, which such a location, with stunning views of the Alps, it is also clear why it was a summer residence.
Its position combined with the Octagon shape of the castle gives it a fairytale-like appearance and walking onto the rocky island is quite an experience. You will use a modern bridge, but remnants of the old drawbridge can be seen.
The castle once consisted of more than 25 buildings and has been reshaped through cleverly connected passageways. Something to notice is that the side of the castle Lake Geneva is like a palace, but the side facing the shore is like a fortress.
As you stroll around, you will see ancient paintings on the wall that date back to the 14th century. The dungeons of the castle are cut into the rocky island and go down to the water level where a secret escape door used by the Savoys to escape the Bernese lies.
You will find more and more things to discover in the castle, including the bedroom that never changed, Castellan’s Dining Hall, and lots more. The window boxes are particularly eye-catching window seats that look out across Lake Geneva.
Other things that will impress you are the cellar with its Gothic style that has a crucifixion scene on the wall that dates back to the 15th century. Also, the Peter II room is interesting as it has exhibits about the Savoys, and the Great Hall is excellent too.
It takes about half a day to explore Chillon Castle properly but you can do it in 2 to 3 hours if you want to do it quickly.
Chillon Castle History
The history of Chillon Castle is a long one and one that I will summarize into the most important parts.
The history begins at the end of the Bronze Age (3300 BC – 1200 BC), as this is the furthest point scholars can find that the Chillon Castle dates back to. The first evidence of Chillon Castle dates back to 1150 when the castle was under the control of Gaucher de Blonay, a vassal of the Count of Savoy.
The castle was built to control the trade route from Burgundy to the Great Saint Bernard Pass and was given to Gaucher de Blonay to run. Its position on Lake Geneva made it hard to conquer and it was a prime position to control the trade route.
It was then controlled by the Counts of Savoy for more than 4 centuries as a group of buildings and less of a castle. The Savoys used it as a summer residence as well as a fortress and made additions to it to create the castle you can see today.
In 1536, the Savoys lost Chillon Castle to the Bernese who were rebelling against the Savoys. Capturing Castle Chillon marked the end of their rebellion and they controlled Castle Chillon for 200 years using it as a dungeon.
In 1797, the Vaudois as part of the French Revolution, rebelled against the German-speaking Bernese and took the castle in 1798. Eventually, in 1803 the Vaud Canton joined the Swiss Confederacy and they still have control over Chillon Castle today.
The restoration of Chateau De Chillon began in the late 1800s and is still going on today.
Lord Byron & Chillon Castle
However, there is another aspect of its history that made the castle incredibly famous. The poet, Lord Byron wrote a poem entitled “The Prisoner of Chillon,” about a Genevois monk, François Bonivard who was in prisoned there in the 1500s and the world loved it. He even visited the castle during his five-month jaunt in Switzerland and signed his name on a dungeon pillar. So, if you get down to the dungeon, be on the lookout for it!
Interesting Facts About Chillon Castle
- Lord Bryon wrote a poem called “The Prisoner of Chillon Castle” in 1816 which made the castle famous
- Lord Byron etched his name into one of the castle’s pillars
- It was one of the only castles with running freshwater during its time
- The castle is the most visited in Switzerland
- Chillon is one of the only Medieval Castles in Europe not to be captured in a siege, ever
- The castle was built on an old Roman outpost
- It acted as a prison, summer palace, weapons store, and fortress in its time
- The castle inspired one of the castles used in a Disney movie
- It is made up of over 100 structures that were brought together to create the castle
- The first records of the castle date back to 1150 but it was built long before this
Where to Eat Near Chillon Castle
Considering it takes almost half a day to see Chillon Castle properly, by the time you are done, you will probably be in the mood for some food and a drink.
Luckily, there are two great restaurants just outside the castle that look over the stunning views of Lake Geneva and the Alps.
Cafe Byron sits right next to the castle and looks over Lake Geneva. It serves up great coffee, tea, and soft drinks, as well as salads, pastries, and lots of hot meals too.
Grill Mountain – Taverne du Chateau de Chillon, is a more upscale restaurant also right next to the castle with great views across Lake Geneva. It offers incredible steaks amongst other things as well as a great wine list, beers, and cocktails too.
You can also find a lot of great restaurants in Montreux if you don’t fancy eating at either of these.
Is Chillon Castle worth visiting?
Chillon Castle is definitely worth visiting due to its stunning location on Lake Geneva and its well-restored structures. The castle is one of the most visited locations in Switzerland and Europe, and will undeniably make an impression on you too!
When you add the history of the castle to the location, it takes the cake. The architecture, the paintings, and the interior are all fabulous. So, yes, you should 100% visit Chillon Castle.