During our 2 weeks in Switzerland, we stayed for 3 nights in lovely Montreux at the shore of Lake Geneva. Why didn’t we opt to stay in Geneva but choose the smaller city instead? I give my 10 reasons for our visit to Montreux that will convince you to explore Montreux too.
Montreux has amazing views across Lake Geneva
Lake Geneva is the 580 km² (224 square miles) big lake edged between Switzerland and France. Called Lac Leman for the French side, named Lake Geneva for the international population. Surrounded by mountains, Lake Geneva has been a popular trade route since ancient times. And I can’t blame them!
From Montreux, you’ll have amazing views of Lake Geneva. As Geneva is located in a bend of the lake, you’ll not have such spectacular views from there.
We stayed at the Royal Plaza Montreux & Spa Hotel and with our 7th-floor suite, we had amazing views to watch the sunset every night. I absolutely loved it.
This post is partly sponsored because I received a media rate for my stay at the Royal Plaza Montreux & Spa. But all my opinions are my own, as always.
Visit the Chillon Castle from Montreux
If you’re interested in castles and historic value, the Chillon Castle is a must-visit when you’re staying near Lake Geneva. Luckily for you, Montreux has excellent bus connections to the castle or it’s a 30 to 40-minute beautiful walk from the center of Montreux to the castle.
For only 12,50 CHF, you can explore the castle and visit all the different rooms, towers and banquet halls. (There are plenty of discount options, so make sure to research what suits your situation best.)
You’ll learn all there is to know about the history of the Savoy and the role the castle played in distant and recent history. Did you know, the castle was made as a strong defense hold, but actually was never attacked?
Plan 2 to 3 hours to explore the castle grounds but whatever you do, do not buy the castle’s wine. That was money down the drain, as we learned the hard way. Read more about the castle here.
Journey on Lake Geneva by boat
Chugging across the lake is the impressive steamboat that honks its horn every time it is ready to depart. Glide along the glistering lake’s surface and visit the smaller towns and cities of Lake Geneva. A perfect way to enjoy Lake Geneva and from Montreux, a number of boats leave each day.
Find prices and the timetable here.
Start or finish of the Golden Pass Line Train Route
The main reason we stayed in Montreux, was because it has a perfect train connection to the rest of Switzerland. We came from Zermatt, where we hiked in the mountains and it was a beautiful and straight forward train ride.
Montreux is the start point for the Golden Pass Line, the scenic train journey across the heart of Switzerland to Lucerne. Or the finish point, depending on which way you’ll travel. Meandering across the mountains of Lake Geneva, it gives you dramatic views of Lake Geneva and Montreux as you ride the Golden Pass Line.
Day Trip to Rochers de Naye
Montreux turned out to be a great base to explore more of the region by train. From Montreux, you can take the cogwheel train up the mountains, to Rochers de Naye. This makes for an excellent (half) day trip from Montreux.
Sitting at 2,042 meters (6,699 ft.) the views across Lake Geneva are spectacular but just as breathtaking is the steep climb up the mountains. Seated in an old train carriage, the ride up (and down) the mountain takes almost an hour and as you gradually climb, the view becomes wider and the rock formations become more impressive.
At the top, you’ll find the railway station with an (outdated) restaurant. There is a botanic garden, a playground and when you’re lucky, you can see the marmots play outside. The main feature at the top is the view though, so bring a picnic and enjoy it!
Great base to explore Gruyères
From Montreux, more train journeys leave to explore the surround area. From Montreux, Switzerland you can take the Chocolate Train. A vintage Pullman carriage takes you up the mountains to visit the Gruyeres cheese factory and the village of Gruyeres. Then you’ll be transported by coach to the Nestle Factory to eat chocolates.
Basically a Chocolate and Cheese train. Although I love train rides, and the 1-hour train ride up the mountains around Montreux was spectacular, the whole train journey is a way too expensive marketing scam. Don’t waste your money and just use Montreux to visit Gruyere village instead.
No hordes of tourist at the chocolate factory or a half-ass tour of a wannabe cheese factory, just visit the lovely village of Gruyere on your own and enjoy that!
Must visit for Queen Fans around the Globe
The English rock band, or should I say, legendary rock band, Queen owned a studio in Montreux. They performed at the Montreux Pop Festival in 1986 and after recording in the UK and Munich, they settled for the peaceful and low-key Montreux Switzerland to record their last albums.
Left alone by the local people, they could be creative and productive. A statue of the iconic pose of Freddy Mercury stands fierce at the lakeside. As a huge Queen fan, it was an extra special moment to see this statue and experience Montreux.
We didn’t have time, but the Queen Studio Experience, where you tour the Queen music studio where they recorded 7 albums, can be visited for FREE! Find more information here.
Amazing nature year-round in Montreux Switzerland
Montreux prides itself on her lush gardens and green vegetation. Everywhere we went, we saw neatly mowed lawns, colorful flowers, and fragrant plants. All plant pots were stuffed to the brim with flourishing flowers and green trees, shrubs and plants spruced up the streets.
It was a great sight to see such a variety of vegetation in the city. It felt like we were in the Swiss Riviera. As we walked the streets of Montreux, we stopped every 5 minutes or so, to sniff out a new and surprising smell or just take in the fragrant flourishing flowers. If you wonder if Montreux is worth visiting, I can only answer that with a resounding “yes!”, especially during spring and late summer.
Great stroll along the lake’s shore
Montreux is easy to get around on foot. We walked numerous times along the broad lane hugging the lake’s shape. We walked all the way to Chillon Castle without any traffic around us. On a quiet pedestrian lane, surrounded by green plants and bright flowers, we could stroll all the way to the castle and then back to town again.
Posh and fancy but not too expensive
Montreux does look posh and fancy. The amazing hotels, casino, and green parks exude luxury and class. But we found out, you don’t have to break the bank to stay in Montreux. We had some of the best experiences eating out in Montreux, without going broke.
We noticed Montreux had a wide variety of great restaurants to experience Swiss cuisine and local foods. We enjoyed the amazing cheese fondue and had a great time at the Irish pub. Ok, granted, not the typical Swiss experience but good food, good views, and moderate Swiss prices. When you stay in Montreux, your hotel can offer you the Montreux travel pass that allows you to use public transport for free!
Where to stay in Montreux?
Montreux has plenty of posh and luxurious options but also a good variety of mid-range hotels. Take your pick from below options in Montreux for a good night’s sleep.
- Royal Plaza Montreux & Spa; we stayed here for 3 nights and enjoyed the amazing exuberant breakfast and views across the lake. We like that it was not too far from the center and was quite affordable. For prices and availability, check here.
- Villa Toscana Montreux. Cozy, comfortable and super cute. The charming villa is now converted into a luxurious hotel with indoor pool and sunny terrace to have your morning’s breakfast. Check prices here.
- Grand Hôtel Suisse Majestic. What’s in a name? Grand and Majestic, that describes this hotel to a tee. The signature yellow sunscreens welcome you on the shores of Lake Geneva. See availability here.
How to get to Montreux?
As mentioned above, Montreux marks the end of the Golden Pass Line train from Lucerne. Of course, you can take the train to Montreux from Lucerne, Interlaken, Gstaad, Bern and Geneva. You can use your Interrail or Eurail pass in Switzerland or buy regular train tickets at the station. Make sure to look for a discount pass, like the Swiss half-fare pass, which you can buy here.
You can travel from Paris, France on TGV train to Montreux, Switzerland in 4 hours and 15 minutes. Buy your train ticket from France here.
If you arrive by plane, your best international options are either Geneva or Zürich for air travel. As Geneva airport is only 2 hours away by train from Montreux, this is the closest biggest airport to Montreux.
All in all, I was very happy to include Montreux in our Swiss travel itinerary. Mostly because of the convenience of transport options but as we enjoyed our time in Montreux, I started to see what a great place Montreux is for a visit. Make sure not to skip Montreux on your Switzerland travel and explore Montreux and the region.
Have you been to Montreux? What did you think? What did you do in Montreux?
Images in the post have been taken by myself or my boyfriend unless stated otherwise.
This post contains affiliate links. If you decide to book something via one of my links, I’ll earn a small commission. This is at no extra costs to you.