Sitting on the shores of Lake Geneva in Switzerland surrounded by a stunning backdrop of the Swiss Alps is the charming lakeside town of Montreux.
Montreux might be one of the most stunning towns along the Lake Geneva shoreline and it has attracted visitors for years.
Between the views across beautiful Lake Geneva into the alps, and access to awesome activities, culture, and ancient sites, it’s no wonder that thousands upon thousands of people flock to it every year.
But what is it that makes Montreux so special? That is what we are here to find out! Join me as I run through all the great things to do in Montreux so you can see the best of this amazing town.
Table of Contents
The Montreux Jazz Festival – Dance and Sing
If you happen to visit Montreux in July then you will have the chance to attend the legendary Montreux Jazz Festival.
Once a jazz-only festival, it has expanded its musical genres over the years and iconic acts such as Stormzy, Pink Floyd, David Bowie, and more have played there in the past.
Being the second largest jazz festival on the planet, you can rest assured that the festival is going to put on a serious show, and the location couldn’t be better. Just imagine watching some of the best artists in the world perform along the shore of Lake Geneva with the alps in the background.
If you like music and want to attend, I highly recommend booking your tickets now and your accommodation too. Prices for accommodation skyrocket closer to the festival and everything gets booked up, so be sure to secure a good deal and spot as soon as you can!
Montreux Lakeside Promenade – Take A Stroll
Taking a stroll down the Montreux Lakeside Promenade is one of the “must” things to do in Montreux.
The promenade is 13 km (the entire length of Montreux) and follows the lakefront of Lake Geneva all the way. It actually ends in the neighboring town of Vevey and begins at Château de Chillon in Villeneuve.
The stunning views across Lake Geneva are incredible and the flowers along the Montreux promenade are magical.
Known as the Flower Path (Chemin Fleuri), the promenade is lined with expertly landscaped flowers and sculptures just to make it even more beautiful. You’ll find impressive artwork all the way along the promenade.
If a 13 km walk seems too time-consuming, just do a section and turn back or do the whole thing and get the bus back to Montreux.
Chillon Castle – Go Back In Time
One of the best things to do in Montreux is to visit Chateau De Chillon, aka Chillon Castle. The medieval castle, Chateau De Chillon is one of the most visited sights in Switzerland and it is a must-see while you are in Montreux.
Built in the 13th century on an island in Lake Geneva, it could be in a more beautiful location. Marvell at the gothic architecture from the outside and medieval frescoes, and be sure to take a tour around the inside too.
You’ll find Gothic dungeons and many more rooms to discover in Chillon Castle as well as multiple breathtaking views around every corner that frame the lake in a new way. It might take an hour or two to do the full tour but it is very much worth it!
Getting to the Château De Chillon is very easy. You can either take a long 30 to 60 min walk, hop on a 15-minute bus ride, or enjoy a boat ride across the lake to Chillon Castle.
Freddie Mercury Statue & The Queen: The Studio Experience
You probably didn’t know that the rock band Queen spent a lot of time in Montreux. They used to head to the Montreux Mountain Studios to record some of their best albums and since Queen and Freddie Mercury have become a part of the town.
If you head to the Market Square in Montreux you’ll find a Freddie Mercury Statue which was installed way back in 1996. It has become quite a famous tourist attraction in Montreux and is well worth seeing.
If you want to see more of Queen in Montreux, you can head to the Studio Experience exhibition at Montreux Mountain Studios. Here you’ll find some original lyrics that were handwritten, a ton of memorabilia, and you can even tour the original recording room where Freddie Mercury recorded his last few tracks.
Lake Geneva: Enjoy Some Water Sports
It would be a crime not to enjoy some of the Lake Geneva water sports on offer in Montreux. Even if it is just taking a dip in the clear water, it is by far one of the great things to do in Montreux.
If you want to take your water sports a little further you can sail on Lake Geneva, go stand up paddle boarding, fishing, water skiing, wakeboarding, wake surfing (book those here), or simply go on a little boat cruise around the lake too.
There is no better way of seeing the lake than being on it. You will get stunning views back to Montreux, so you’ll see right down the valley past Villeneuve, get a closer look at the alps, and hopefully be refreshed in the crystal clear lake waters.
If adventurous water sports aren’t your thing, make some time each day to sunbathe on the beaches around Montreux and have a dip (summer only), as it is just magical.
Hike Through The Ancient Lavaux Vineyards
The Lavaux Vineyards along the shores of Lake Geneva are a Unesco World Heritage Site and taking a hike through them and stopping to taste some Swiss wines are a must when in Montreux, Switzerland.
The Lavaux Vineyard Terraces have been growing vines since the 11th century and they begin just up the lake past Vevey. You can walk amongst the terraced vineyards all the way up to the town of Lutry and stop off at wineries along the way.
It is said that the vineyards and grapes are made so delicious by having three suns. This includes the sun, the reflection off Lake Geneva, and heat emitted from the terraces.
A great way to see the vineyards is to get the bus to Bourg-en-Lavaux and then walk to Lutry through the vines. Once you are at Lutry, you can get a boat back to Montreux on the lake.
The Montreux Christmas Market
If you happen to be visiting Montreux at Christmas then you will be able to experience the fabulous Montreux Christmas Market, aka Montreux Noël.
In the month leading up to Christmas, the entire town is turned into a bit of a Christmas fantasy land, which is needless to say, an epic thing to experience.
The whole town is decorated with lights, trees, and more. There are medieval markets everywhere selling festive goods, mulled wine is flowing, there is a Father Christmas house where the man himself makes an appearance and more.
Something else you should not miss during the festive period is to see the fairytale festival held at the Château De Chillon. It is mesmerizing! A visit to Caux is also very much worth it as it becomes an authentic Christmas village with serious attention to detail.
If you love Christmas, spending part of the build-up in Montreux along the lake adorned in every festivity you could think of might just blow your mind.
Experience Winter Romance At The Lantern Trail of Les Pléiades
If you are visiting Montreux in the winter then a stroll down the Lantern Trail of Les Pléiades is something you have to do, especially if you are looking for a romantic activity.
The Lantern Trail of Les Pléiades is a lantern-lit trail through the snow and forests surrounding Lake Geneva. To get there you will need to take the train to Les Pléiades train station from Montreux which takes about an hour.
Be sure to wrap up warm as it will be very cold since you will be walking at night. On arrival, you will be given snowshoes and more warm clothing before starting the trail.
Walking down the lantern-lit trail is a bit of a once-in-a-lifetime experience. To experience the trees and snow glittering under the lantern lights is very magical and about as romantic as a winter stroll can get.
End the walk with some fondue at the local restaurant and then hop on the train back to Montreux with a beaming smile of winter delight.
Of course, a hike up at Les Pléiades even in summer is worth it for the views alone. You can see Montreux below, Lake Geneva, and even the distance mountains close to Mont Blanc.
Hike The Gorges du Chauderon
If you are looking for a local hike close to Montreux that will have you in some rugged mountain landscapes then a walk up the Gorges du Chauderon is a must.
The Gorges du Chauderon is found where Montreux Old Town ends and where the La Baye de Montreux flows into the town and eventually into Lake Geneva.
The river has formed one of Switzerland’s most stunning gorges that looks like a large scar across the mountainous landscape. There are well-marked trails that lead you up into the Gorges du Chauderon where you can hike in fresh mountain air away from the noise of the town.
You will hike amongst the forest, cross bridges, see waterfalls, and lots more. Also, the views looking back down the gorge and over Montreux, and across Lake Geneva are breathtaking.
If you like hiking then the Gorges du Chauderon is not to be missed and you can do the hikes at any time of the year!
Head Up To Rochers de Naye
Rochers de Naye mountain is one of the most stunning views of the Montreux and lake Geneva area you will find. There is a train running up from Montreux that takes you slowly above the town and then through the back valleys to reach the peak of Rochers de Naye itself.
From here you can get 360 views of the surroundings, which includes the whole of Lake Geneva and the French side of the lake. You also see the nearby mountains at the start of the Rhone Valley.
There are also lots of things for kids to do there like the Marmot Paradise and the Alpine Garden.
There are various routes to hike to the top, if you want a day hike with epic views at the top. You can actually combine this hike with the Gorges de Chauderon, or go on a shorter version by taking the train up to various points below the mountain.
Experience The Chaplin’s World Museum
You might not have known that Charlie Chaplin and his family lived in Montreux for the last 25 years of his life and since Montreux has built a museum in his honor.
Located closer to Vevey, the museum was voted the Best Museum in Europe by the European Museum Academy in 2018 and is an incredible experience. Set inside a manor house with a four-hectare park looking over the alps and the lake, it is a hard location to beat.
Chaplin’s World will take you through the life of Charlie Chaplin with excellent interactive exhibits featuring old film clips and lots more. You will also find wax statues of Chaplin along with his family and friends.
Even if you are not a big fan of Charlie Chaplin, a visit to Chaplin’s World Museum is still very much worth it. Between the stunning location and great exhibits, it will not disappoint!
Take A Ride On The Chocolate Train
Swiss chocolate is something that has to be sampled on any trip to Switzerland and there is a great way of doing so when in Montreux.
The chocolate train is a train that takes you from Montreux to the Cailler-Nestlé chocolate factory in Broc. The journey takes you through exquisite Swiss countryside with reaching views and on arrival in Gruyères, you get to explore both the cheese factory and chocolate factory.
During your tour of the factories, you will be able to see the process used to make the cheese and chocolate plus sample some of the goods. Finally, you can also buy some Nestle and Cailler chocolate at factory prices.
Glacier 3000 – Have A True Alpine Experience
Not far from Montreux lies one of the coolest alpine experiences in Switzerland, Glacier 3000. At Glacier 3000 you will get on a cable car that takes you to the top of the mountains, rising some 3,000 meters in 15 minutes. The views and this experience are beyond amazing.
Once you are at the top, you can gaze across the alps, cross a jaw-dropping suspension bridge between two peaks, ski, snowboard, hike, and ride the Alpine Coaster, the highest bobsleigh track on the planet.
You can experience Glacier 3000 at any time of the year and it is just 1.5 hours from Montreux train station.