municipality in Switzerland in Vaud

Montreux is mostly known for its world-famous two-week-long Jazz Festival, but it is well worth a wander through, if only to get to the scenic Château de Chillon or to get to the hiker's paradise of Hauts de Montreux.

Montreux and Lake Geneva

Get in edit

By plane edit

Geneva Cointrin International Airport (GVA IATA) is the closest major airport to Montreux, and serves direct flights from most major European hubs, as well as a few cities in Canada and the United States, North Africa, and the Middle East. From Geneva, it's a little more than an hour by car, and less than an hour by train.

The railway station in Geneva is connected to Geneva International Airport. From the arrivals hall turn left (inside the building) and you will walk through a shopping mall where the railway platforms are one floor below.

By train edit

Montreux is served by direct rail services from Geneva, Lausanne, Visp and Brig, and is easily accessible via rail connection from almost anywhere else in Switzerland. See Swiss Federal Railways (SBB CFF FFS) site for timetable info.

1 Montreux Gare, Avenue des Alpes 45.    

Get around edit

Map of Montreux

By train edit

The railway station

The Montreux–Oberland Bernois railway (MOB) is one of the longest established of the Swiss narrow gauge railways and runs from platforms 5 and 6 of the town's main line station to Zweisimmen via the resort town of Les Avants, Montbovon, Château-d'OEx, Saanen and Gstaad. The company, which operates 1/3 of the Golden Pass route to Lucerne along with the BLS and the Zentralbahn brought under its sales banner, the cog-wheel Montreux - Glion - Rochers-de-Naye Railway and its associated funicular from nearby Territet, the Les Avants - Sonloup funicular and the lines of the former CEV from Vevey into the hills.

The trains on the Rochers-de-Naye line stop running to and from the top around 18:00 but they'll shut down early if the weather's bad, so don't count on one to carry you out of a sudden early evening rainstorm.

The MOB operates local, stopping, trains and a regular service of panoramic trains with coaches having large picture windows and glass sections reaching into the roof, which are great for the views. Twice a day the line runs a classic service using either original coaches built before World War I or some built later to the same design, a throw back to the days of the Orient Express. First and Second class fares, single and return, are available on all trains with no extra charge for the panorama or classic trains. Well worth the ride and a cup of tea or coffee in the buffet car.

The best deal to date has to be the Jazz Train, which runs on various days throughout the Jazz Festival (see above). The train goes from Montreux to Gstaad, and you can buy tickets for three of the carriages, where jazz bands play live during the journey. Once in Gstaad there is an opportunity to sample some local products and pretend to be a millionaire (Gstaad is that kind of place) before a return trip with more live jazz.

Pretty much anything heading north and/or east of Montreux will lead to some combination of charming Swiss villages, such as Château d'Oex and invigorating Swiss landscapes. Despite the heavy Golden Pass advertising scheme, most of the visitors are small groups of locals, not the hordes of tourists you'll find in nearby, but hard to get to Chamonix or Interlaken. Many of the mountain-top restaurants double as 'buvettes' - something between a refugee hut and a hotel - where you can stay the night, often for much less than you'd pay for a lakeside hostel.

By foot edit

The waterfront and the old town are best accessed by foot. If you like to take a little longer walk, the castle is a few kilometers southeast from the city center along the shore of Lake Geneva. From the old town you can walk uphill to the waterfall Les Gorges du Chauderon.

By bus edit

There are a couple of bus lines in and around Montreux, operated by the company VMCV. Their website is however only available in French.

See edit

Château de Chillon
  • 1 Château de Chillon, Avenue de Chillon 21 (The castle is 45 minutes' walk from Montreux along the lakeside, or 4 minutes by train (Veytaux-Chillon station).), +41 21 966 89 10. April to September: 09:00-21:00, October: 09:30-18:00, November to February: 10:00-17:00. A historic castle and the country's most visited place, on a small island in Lake Geneva only a few meters from the shore. It was built to allow the occupants to extract a toll from people and goods passing between Italy and the rest of Europe on the road north from the St. Bernard pass. The roadway here is wedged between the lake and the cliffs, so there was no way to get around Chillon. The Castle is more famous in modern times for having inspired Lord Byron's poem, "The Prisoner of Chillon", based on the true story of François Bonivard, a political prisoner from Geneva who was released in 1536. Byron is said to have carved his name in one of the columns in the dungeon where Bonivard was detained during a few years. Adult Fr. 12.50.    
Freddy Mercury's statue at the lake promenade
  • The Riviera Promenade. Stroll along it and challenge yourself to recognise each tree and flower. The city gardeners create each vegetal sculptures on a special theme. On week days the quai are the perfect place to roller skate from Clarens to Villeneuve.
  • 2 Freddie Mercury statue, Quai de la Rouvenaz (at the lakeshore). Likely the best known statue in Montreux, the voice of the rock band Queen overlooking the lake.
  • 3 Queen the Studio Experience.
Old Montreux
  • 4 The old town (Montreux Vieille Ville). Like Lausanne, Montreux has an old town on a quite steep hill above the modern city with a nice view over the city, the lake and the Alps. There isn't a funicular here, though, but you can ride the local bus about halfway to the highest point.
  • 5 Casino Barrière de Montreux, Rue du Théâtre 9, +41 21 962 83 83. It was built in 1881, then rebuilt in the 1970s after a fire in 1971 which was immortalised by the Deep Purple classic "Smoke on the Water".
  • 6 Swiss Museum of Games (Musée Suisse du Jeu), Rue du Château 11 CH-1814 La Tour-de-Peilz, +41 21 977 23 00, . Tu-Su 11:00-17:30. The collection spans more than 10,000 games, from antiquity to the present and from all over the world.    

Do edit

  • Cruises. Take a cruise on the unique Belle Epoque paddle steamers and discover Lavaux from the lake. Timetable at Compagnie Générale de Navigation's website.
  • Take a journey at the "alpage". Up High but not so far away, spend a night at a true "alpage", have a dinner with the "armailli", sleep on straw, and if you are awake early enough, milk the cows, watch the cheese making on woodfire and if you are lucky turn the "batte à beurre". Nothing can beat a spoon of cream served with a wooden spoon carved by a local artisan. Don't miss the L'Etivaz cheese, of course. Information: Olivier et Huguette Yersin. Tel. +41 79 230 30 77
  • 1 Montreux Jazz Festival, Montreux Musique & Convention Centre and other venues. It is the second largest annual jazz festival in the world after Canada's Montreal International Jazz Festival. As more rock and pop artists have been invited, you're just as likely to catch Beck as, say Steve Coleman.    
  • Golden Award of Montreux Festival, Grand Rue 92, +41 21 966 55 53. An award festival that takes place annually in April in Montreux and is the first international advertising and multimedia competition in Europe, starting the global season for awarding creative excellence. Montreux has been home to a number of creatives and artists, such as Charlie Chaplin, Ernest Hemingway, Vladmir Nabokov, and Freddie Mercury, and the awards reflect that history.

Hiking edit

The mountains around Hauts-de-Montreux are threaded with forest trails, isolated villages, caves, grottos, and wildlife. Any of the train stops will lead to several hiking options. For a real hiker's hike, tackle the four hour, 1000-metre climb from Caux to 2 Rochers-De-Naye peak (2045 m above sea level). Saner folks might want to get off at 2 Dent-De-Jaman station, just below the peak (1875 m above sea level), where you can enjoy the views and fresh air without the huffing and puffing. You can walk the trails up there which are not difficult, one being across to The Alpine garden which is very beautiful with nearly 800 varieties of plants and flowers.

  • 3 Marmots' Paradise. Rochers-De-Naye is home to an odd little compound called "Marmots' Paradise" where marmots from all over the world live in an observable system of underground burrows.
  • 4 Via Ferrata Rochers-De-Naye.
  • Another option is to go to Vevey & take funicular to 5 mont Pelerin or a train to 6 Les Pleiades. From Les Pleiades, enjoy the amazing views including the majestuous Mont-Blanc.
  • Go to Chexbres and walk to Cully to discover the "à pic" scenery of Lavaux vineyards.

Learn edit

Montreux is in the French-speaking part of Switzerland. Therefore you can learn French in Montreux in some language schools including ESL.

Buy edit

Every Christmas Montreux hosts an excellent Christmas market for several weeks over the holiday period. The main road through the town (Grand' Rue) and the lakeside path are lined with wooden chalets where you can find anything to buy from local wine (free tasting sometimes on offer) to chocolates (of course) and local crafts. The atmosphere is magical, your kids can visit Père Noel (Father Christmas). With all the regular shops also open you could do all your Christmas shopping in one trip and get some unique presents into the bargain. For the cheapest souvenirs in Montreux, check out the Kiosque Biblique, which is housed in a small wooden chalet next to the Eurotel. It's not always open because it's run by volunteers, but it always offers a friendly welcome to everyone and has lots of free Christian literature in many languages.

Eat edit

The lake promenade is sided by cafés, restaurants, bars and...palm trees

Budget edit

  • 1 Coop Pronto grocery store (a few yards to the right of the exit to the railway station). 08:00 - 22:00. Offers a range of sandwiches and salads.
  • 2 Forum shopping mall, Place du Marché 6B (walk about 10 minutes into the town centre: straight ahead out of the railway station and down steps to the lake front, then turn left), +41 21 966 40 20. M-F 08:00–20:00, Sa 08:00–19:00, Su 10:00–19:00. There are two supermarkets (Migros and Denner) selling sandwiches.
  • If you turn left as you leave the débarcadère (where you get of the boats) you will see a small outdoor café selling drinks and Mövenpick ice creams. If you buy something there you can sit under the spreading vine that shelters the café from the sun and watch the world go by. As long as it's not too busy you can sit there as long as you like - drinks and ice creams are about Fr. 3.50 each.

Mid-range edit

Splurge edit

Drink edit

  • 1 The terrace at the Hôtel Suisse-Majestic, 45 avenue des Alpes (directly across from the train station), +41 21 966 33 33. The prices are not bad, and the view superb. There's a saxophonist who plays along to some kind of super drum machine during the early evening hours, and he's pretty good. Even if you're not normally into the sort of music he plays (smooth jazz) you'll have to admit that it works in this environment.

Sleep edit

Budget edit

  • 1 Hôtel-Restaurant de la Rouvenaz, Rue du Marché 1, +41 21 963 27 36, fax: +41 21 963 43 94, . The Italian restaurant in this family-owned hotel seems to get more attention than the building, however accommodations are an inexpensive bet near the city center. Groups of up to 24 can rent out the entire place.

Mid-range edit

  • 2 Golf-Hôtel René Capt, Rue de Bon-Port 35, +41 21 966 25 25, fax: +41 21 963 03 52, . Charming Belle Epoque-style hotel is outside the city center but close to the lakeside promenade.
  • 3 Hotel Masson, Rue Bonivard 5, +41 21 966 00 44, fax: +41 21 966 00 36, . Billing itself as the oldest hotel in Montreux dating from 1829, the Masson offers proximity to the lake and the outdoors, but is a bit of a hike from the city center. The location is a bit of a hike from town though near the Château de Chillon.
  • 4 Hôtel Bon-Port, Rue du Théâtre 4bis, +41 21 962 80 70, fax: +41 21 962 80 79, . Quiet hotel that is only a few minutes walk from the city center. Unlike many of the hotels in Montreux, the Bon-Port doesn't have lake or mountain views, however it makes up for this with an extra-friendly staff and pleasant ambiance.
  • 5 Villa Toscane, Rue du Lac 2-8, +41 21 966 88 88, fax: +41 21 966 88 00, . Charming Art Nouveau-style villa next to the lake. The hotel sits about 1 km from the city center and 2 km from the railway station. You can access free amenities such as a business center and spa in the Royal Plaza across the street.
  • 6 Grand Hotel Excelsior, Rue Bon Port 27, +41 21 966 57 57, fax: +41 21 966 57 58, . Victorian-style four-star that overlooks the Swiss Alps and Lake Geneva. It sits about 2 km from the city center, but offers a variety of spa and wellness facilities on site.
  • 7 Hotel Eurotel Montreux, Grand Rue 81, Montreux, +41 21 966 22 22, . All rooms lake view, you are only 5 meters from the lake.

Splurge edit

Fairmont Montreux Palace
  • 8 Le Montreux Palace, Grand Rue 100, +41 21 962 12 12, fax: +41 21 962 17 17, . A Belle Epoque-style building constructed in 1906, this renovated hotel is part of the Fairmont group (previously owned by Raffles), offers the usual 5-star amenities, and overlooks Lake Geneva.    
  • 9 Suisse-Majestic, Avenue des Alpes 45, +41 21 966 33 33, fax: +41 21 966 33 00, . In a town of very fancy hotels the Suisse-Majestic stands out at least for its fine location. Also it's a four-star and as such not nearly as expensive as the five-stars further down the list, so given that it receives rave reviews this makes the Majestic a great value.
  • 10 Mirador Kempski, 1801 Mont-Pèlerin, +41 21 925 11 11, fax: +41 21 925 11 12, . A chateux-like hotel sitting in the foothills above Vevey and Montreux.
  • 11 Royal Plaza, Grand-Rue 97, +41 21 962 50 50, fax: +41 21 962 51 51, . This renovated hotel sits right on the shores of Lake Geneva and can offer you 5-star views of the "Swiss Riviera" - if you manage to get a room on that side of the hotel.

Go next edit

  • Vevey — a lovely city in a cove, and the corporate home to the Nestlé chocolate and food empire.
  • Lavaux — terraced vineyards and one of the prettiest landscapes anywhere stretching between Lausanne and Vevey.
  • Lausanne — a university town and home to the International Olympic Committee.
  • Château d'Œx — a ski town that also offers a wide range of multi-season sporting activities.
  • Yvorne — yet another wine growing region, this one on the slopes of the Vaudois Alps.
  • Montreux is the western end of the luxurious Golden Pass scenic train line going all the way to Lucerne.
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