Ordinarily, Montreux Switzerland is a scenic, sleepy town on Lake Geneva. But once a year, the Montreux Riviera bursts into buzzy, bebop, bluesy beats when the Jazz Festival comes to town.
If you are a fan of Jazz, Blues, or R&B, and a lover of exquisite, serene lake towns, Montreux provides the best of both worlds.
Montreux and its three-mile-long esplanade provide photo ops at every turn, especially during the Jazz Festival when nights are bathed in every conceivable neon color.
There are plenty of places to grab a bite or a drink. You’ll find restaurant kiosks and beer gardens to your liking.
Occasionally, you’ll get lucky and catch a rising star. Here, California-based Stewart Viets collaborates with jazz-singer, Mary C. Hall (daughter of Mercedes, sister to actor Anthony Michael) for a small gathering before the Montreux Jazz Festival Main Events.
Looking for more vacation ideas? Check out our recommendations for romantic getaways around the world.
Things to Do in Montreux Switzerland
But even if you aren’t that into the rifts and rhythms of this kind of music, preferring say, Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, you’ll find much to do and stunning views along the majestic shore of Lake Geneva.
Though it hosts one of the premier Jazz Festivals on the planet, Montreux isn’t just about Jazz. The following photographs might entice you to come even after the musicians go home:
1. Walk along the Lake Geneva Shoreline Esplanade.
Strolling along the Quai Gustave-Ador on the Lake Geneva shore, you’ll find a mesmerizing blend of natural and architectural beauty. With the majestic Jet d’Eau fountain soaring skyward in the distance, the path is lined with meticulously trimmed sycamore trees that offer dappled shade. Your route takes you past Parc La Grange, where sculpted rose gardens emanate delicate fragrances. Small clusters of people are often seen picnicking on the park’s lawns or lounging on the pebble beaches nearby.
A little further, you’ll come across the iconic Bains des Pâquis, a public bathhouse that offers panoramic lake views. Along the way, open-air cafes such as the Cottage Café tempt you with the smell of freshly brewed coffee and locally sourced pastries. The air here is refreshingly crisp, tinged with the scent of lake water and blooming flora, making each step along this captivating shore a feast for the senses.
2. Gaze at the Freddy Mercury Statue.
Find the statue of Freddie Mercury on Montreux’s beautiful lakeside.
Queen frontman, Freddy Mercury, lived on and off in this quiet lakeside town. Mercury found solace in Montreux, not to mention escape from the hounding press, especially after his AIDS diagnosis.
His band, Queen, purchased Mountain Studios, where they recorded seven of their albums.
One night in July 1981, David Bowie stopped by. It turned out to be a fortuitous collaboration. After some drinking and carrying on, the two “glam performers” wrote and recorded the hit song “Under Pressure” together.
The old Mountain Studio is open for tours. Part of the Casino Barrière de Montreux, entrance to the studios and a museum of memorabilia (Queen Studio Experience), is free from 10:30am to 10pm daily.
3. Visit Château de Chillon.
It’s about a 2-mile stroll along the lakefront from the center of Montreux’s downtown on a flat, paved walkway to Chateau de Chillon. Don’t miss the Cellar, which also served as a prison. In 1816, Lord Byron visited and was moved to write his famous poem The Prisoner of Chillon. You’ll find Byron’s name carved in the basement stone.
4. Visit the Lavaux Vineyard Terraces
The Lavaux Vineyard Terraces stretch along the northern shores of Lake Geneva, offering a spectacular marriage of human ingenuity and natural splendor. This UNESCO World Heritage-listed site is a testament to centuries-old wine-making traditions, featuring terraced vineyards that cascade down steep hillsides to the water’s edge.
The area not only produces some of Switzerland’s most celebrated wines but also offers walking trails that weave through the vineyards, affording panoramic views of the lake and the distant Alps. The terraces showcase the harmony between people and their environment, as the carefully constructed stone walls ensure soil stability and optimal grape cultivation.
Visiting Lavaux provides a sensory feast, where the aroma of ripening grapes mingles with the crisp lake air, and each viewpoint invites moments of awe and contemplation.
5. Take a paddlewheel ferry around Lake Geneva.
Groove on a Paddlewheel Ferry for two hours, and then return refreshed to Montreux
The ferry leaves from Montreux and brings you back, nine stops later, refreshed and relaxed.
6. Walk uphill to Old Montreux’s stone church.
The panoramic views of Lake Geneva are unparalleled from this charmer of a church.
7. Tour Chaplin’s World
Chaplin’s World is dedicated to the life and work of the legendary filmmaker Charlie Chaplin. Housed in the Manoir de Ban, Chaplin’s former residence, the museum offers an intimate look into his private life while also celebrating his cinematic achievements.
Visitors can explore interactive exhibits, wander through faithfully recreated movie sets, and dive into a rich collection of memorabilia, including photographs, scripts, and personal artifacts. The expansive estate also features a lush garden that overlooks the lake and mountains, offering a peaceful retreat where Chaplin himself found inspiration.
8. Visit Rochers de Naye.
Accessible via a scenic cogwheel train ride from the Montreux train station, Rochers-de-Naye offers an unforgettable alpine experience at an elevation of 2,042 meters. The summit provides panoramic views of Lake Geneva and the Alps, making it a must-visit for nature enthusiasts. In addition to the landscape, the marmot park is a key attraction, where visitors can observe these fascinating rodents in a natural setting.
The summit also houses a botanical garden that celebrates the diversity of Alpine flora. Whether you’re keen on wildlife, plant life, or simply capturing stunning vistas, a trip to Rochers-de-Naye is a multifaceted adventure.
Where To Stay In Montreux
Stay at the Fairmont Le Montreux Palace.
Expensive and worth it, especially if you opt for a corner room overlooking the lake.
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