5 must-see places for a weekend trip to Montreux

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5 must-see places for a weekend trip to Montreux

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Montreux is a popular tourist destination because of its mild climate, magnificent location between high mountains, terraced vineyards and lake, and the famous Montreux Jazz Festival, which attracts thousands of visitors every July. But this small town on the shores of Lake Geneva is rich in must-see attractions, small hidden treasures and one of the most famous and visited monuments in Switzerland: the Chillon Castle. We were there over a weekend, and here are 5 places not to be missed during a weekend in Montreux.

We love... Montreux!

Montreux is certainly one of the most loved and appreciated tourist destinations by Swiss and international tourists because it perfectly combines a relaxed and cosy atmosphere with a magnificent location between high mountains, terraced vineyards and a lake and a pinch of culture. In fact, the town has hosted many artists, from Charlie Chaplin to Freddie Mercury, who were fascinated by it and were inspired by the beauty of the place for their art. It is no coincidence that it is here, in Montreux, that the Montreux Jazz Festival has been held for more than 50 years, an internationally renowned music festival that attracts thousands of visitors to the town every July. But this city on the shores of Lake Geneva is not only Jazz Festival and Christmas markets, it is also home to some of the most famous and popular monuments in Switzerland! If you decide to spend a weekend here, you certainly won’t be bored! But now let’s cut to the chase: here are 5 places not to miss during your weekend in the city and all the information you need to plan your visit!

Our visit

Where to stay in Montreux

We visited Montreux during a weekend in early December. We stayed at the Hotel Masson, a hotel belonging to the network of Swiss historic hotels. It dates back to the 1800s and retains its old-world charm. In addition, it has a hospitable and welcoming staff. It is located a stone’s throw from Chillon Castle and is very well connected to the city by trolleybus line 201. In short, we recommend it!

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Vieille Ville, the old town of Montreux

Nestled in the hills overlooking the lake, the old town of MontreuxVieille Ville, in French – leaves behind the hustle and bustle and modernity of the lakefront to throw itself into the atmosphere of a warm, colorful and cheerful old town with a distinctly French yet thoroughly Swiss character.
You can reach it on foot, through a short walk of about 15 minutes from the lakefront and the Place du marché. However, the route is gently sloping and requires some effort. So if you prefer something less tiring, our advice is to take bus 206, which passes through several stops along the lakefront and takes you to the stop Montreux, Les Planches. Here there is also a stop on the cogwheel line that runs from Montreux station to the top of the city’s mountain, Rochers-de-Naye. A good alternative to the bus, depending on your schedule.
We suggest you start your visit at the Church of St. Vincent (St. Vincent Temple), which is interesting in its own right but above all offers a panoramic terrace with a magnificent view of the town and the lake, all the way to Chillon Castle.
From here, you can continue your visit in the direction of the historic town by turning back to the bus stop and then continuing along Rue du Pont until you first reach a road bridge and then the small building of the town theater.
Anyway, as always our advice is to get lost in the narrow streets and alleys, which provide some surprising discoveries and really picturesque corners.

Chillon Castle

Chillon Castle (Château de Chillon in French) is certainly a true historical treasure, and it is no coincidence that it is one of the most famous and visited monuments in Switzerland. It may be because of its fairy-tale appearance or its magical location – lying on the waters just beyond the lake shore – the fact is that visiting its cobbled halls and courtyards will really feel like stepping back in time.
The building is located in Veytaux, a few kilometers from Montreux, and is easily accessible both on foot and by public transportation.
The first core of the building has never been exactly dated, but it seems to date back even before the year 1000. What is certain is that the castle has a truly ancient history. It consists today of more than 20 buildings, linked together by gates, passages and tunnels, and protected by two imposing walls, which can be accessed from the lakeside through a wooden bridge. Once you have passed through the entrance gate, you can follow the tour itinerary shown on the maps and brochures given to you at the entrance. For a relaxed visit, we suggest you consider at least an hour and a half, preferably two. The Castle can be visited daily from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. The entrance fee is CHF 13.50, but Montreux Riviera Card holders receive a big discount. To fully experience the visit, we suggest you hire the audio guide – available in English, French, German, Spanish, Italian and many other languages – which costs an additional CHF 6.00 per person. More information is available at this link.

Fort de Chillon

This was probably the real surprise of our visit to Montreux. First of all because, to be honest, we had never heard of this place, whose name can easily be confused with the better-known castle. In fact, Fort de Chillon is something else entirely and, apart from its name and geographical location, has nothing in common with Chillon Castle. However, the two attractions are located exactly opposite each other, so much so that it will be very easy to combine their visits. The Fort de Chillon is a military fortress carved into the rock and dating back to the years of World War II. Dismissed in 1995, today the fort can be visited in its entirety and its exhibit is designed to ensure complete immersion in the lives of Swiss soldiers during the years of World War II. In addition, extensive use has been made in the exhibits of video projection systems, virtual reality and interactive experiences that help make the visit interesting, instructive but at the same time fun for adults and children.
The Fort of Chillon, like the Castle, is located in Veytaux and is easily accessible from Montreux either on foot or by public transportation. It can be visited Wednesday through Sunday, 10:00 am to 6:30 pm, and the ticket cost per adult is CHF 25. Again, Montreux Riviera Card holders receive a discount. Also housed inside the fort is a small Café, where you can have a quality snack or lunch. We took advantage of this for an afternoon dessert and coffee, which were really good.

More info about the Fort de Chillon can be found at this link.

Queen - The Studio Experience

Those who know the Queen probably already know all about their special relationship with Montreux and the Riviera. Those who don’t know them, on the other hand, will get a closer look at them and their music here. The exhibition “Queen: The Studio Experience” was born out of a desire to bring new life to the historic Mountain Studios, the recording studios purchased by the band in 1979. The museum was opened in 2013 and allows visitors to explore a lesser-known aspect of the city – its music scene – through the face and voice of one of its most famous guests – Freddie Mercury – who together with Queen created and recorded some of the best-known songs here.
The Museum is located inside the Casino building on the lakefront. You can therefore easily access the museum from the Casino’s main entrance at Rue du Théâtre, 9. Admission is free – although an offering to contribute to the running costs is appreciated – and the exhibition can be visited daily Monday through Sunday from 9 am to 9 pm. Get ready to sing, because during and after your visit, you really won’t be able to stop!

Terrasses of Lavaux

The Wine Trail along the Terrasses de Lavaux is a fascinating hiking trail that runs along the rolling terraced hills on the northeastern side of Lake Geneva. This wonderful wine region, about 800 hectares wide, is one of the largest in Switzerland and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2007. The walking trail, about 12 kilometers long, starts from St. Saphorin and reaches Lutry. We chose to walk it in the opposite direction, but whichever starting point you choose, both villages are easy to reach by car and of course by public transportation, as they are only a few kilometers from Montreux.
Although summer – when the area is in full swing and accommodations, restaurants and wineries are ready to welcome visitors – is the best season to visit Lavaux, we suggest that you don’t miss a visit at any season of the year. In this article, we tell you about our itinerary and give you some useful tips for planning your visit.

How to get there

See the location in Google Maps. Montreux is easily accessible by public transport. To find the best travel option for you, as always we recommend using the SBB website or the SBB App that you can also use to check the timetables and operating status of the lines and purchase tickets.

See the location in Google Maps. Montreux can also be reached by car. To find the best travel option for you, as always we suggest you use Google Maps. In Montreux parking areas are rather limited. In any case, at this link you can check the status of free parking spaces in real time.

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Tips

1

If you stay in one of the hotels in Montreux you will receive the Montreux Riviera Card free of charge. This card allows free travel on public transport in the area and discounts on tickets for the main attractions.

2

As we always suggest when it comes to visiting Swiss cities, if you are looking for some city life, try to don’t plan your visit on Sundays, when stores and shops are closed. Instead, both Chillon Castle and Fort de Chillon and the Queen Studio Experience are open on Sundays!

3

During the Christmas season, Montreux hosts one of the most popular and charming Christmas markets in Switzerland. Our suggestion is not to miss the chance for a visit (perhaps avoiding weekends, which are definitely too crowded). We tell you about our visit in this article.

4

Are you planning a trip or a weekend getaway here and have any doubts or questions? Let us know by leaving a comment below and we will get back to you as soon as possible!

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