Montreux, nestled on the shores of Lake Geneva with a stunning backdrop of the Swiss Alps, is a lovely place to visit and a really easy day trip to do from Lausanne. As I was house sitting nearby for two gorgeous cats, I thought I’d sneak out and pay a visit.
The town of Montreux is probably most well-known for its Jazz Festival, which takes place in July; however, it’s a beautiful place to visit and definitely less crowded on a sunny winter’s day.
Did You Know?
The song Smoke on the Water by Deep Purple was inspired by a fire that took place during a Frank Zappa performance in Montreux in 1971, which burned down the venue, sending smoke across Lake Geneva.
So, what is there to do in Montreux?
Take A Walk Alongside Lake Geneva
The walk alongside the lake is beautiful. If you’re planning to visit Chillon Castle, which I highly recommend you do and it’s a sunny day, walk there. It’s a really lovely 40-minute stroll, and you’ll be glad you did. There are a couple of cute coffee spots along the way to take a break and enjoy the scenery.
Chillon Castle, a 13th-century fortress, is Switzerland’s most visited historical building and is widely considered to be one of the best-preserved medieval European castles. I have seen a few castles in my lifetime, but this is definitely my new favourite.
The location on Lake Geneva is so pretty. Chillon Castle took on the oval shape of the rocky island on which it was built. In fact, the name Chillon means ‘rocky platform’.
Allow at least two hours to explore the castle. Although most exhibits are labelled in English, I recommend taking the audio guide as it’s incredibly well done and informative.
You can book your ticket in advance for Chillon Castle right here or your entrance is free if you’re visiting Switzerland with a Swiss Travel Pass.
Just outside Chillon Castle is Cafe Byron which by Swiss standards is quite reasonable in price. It’s the perfect spot for a light lunch, soups, quiches etc. The outdoor terrace faces the castle.
Queen – The Studio Experience
Located just inside Montreux Casino, this is a must-visit for all Queen fans. I was lucky to have seen Queen in concert many, many years ago; obviously, I was very, very young at the time!
Queen – The Studio Experience is located in the original Mountain Studios, inside the Casino Barrière de Montreux. The band owned the recording studio between 1979 and 1993. Queen recorded seven albums here, including their final album Made In Heaven – an album that Freddie Mercury apparently never got to hear in its finished state.
Many famous bands and artists such as David Bowie, Iggy Pop, The Rolling Stones, Yes, Led Zeppelin, Brian Ferry, and Nina Simone have also recorded works here.
It’s not a huge place, allow half an hour at tops, but definitely worth a visit, plus it’s free to enter. However, donations are gratefully received and go towards the Mercury Pheonix Trust.
The Freddie Mercury Statue
As you leave the studios, no doubt singing Bohemian Rhapsody in your head, keep an eye out for the Freddie Mercury statue on the lakefront.
Not tried them personally, but I saw a flyer for a company called Freddie Tours, where you can follow in Freddie’s footsteps around town. Probably quite fun; I did a Beatles tour once in Liverpool a million years ago. That was fun, and dare I say it, I’m not even much of a Beatles fan.
The Confiserie Zurcher, located conveniently close to the casino on Avenue du Casino, is a fabulous patisserie in Montreux. It’s been serving yummy cakes since 1879, and no day trip is complete without a coffee and cake at some point in the day.
Old Town Of Montreux
While you’re in Montreux, you really should explore the streets of the old town. Yes, it’s all uphill to get there, but the views are amazing, and it’s really only a ten-minute walk up from the lake. The old town is also the starting point for some beautiful hikes, such as the Chauderon Gorges path, but that walk was closed when I visited.
St Vincent Church
Just above the old town of Montreux is St Vincent Church. The 15th-century church is dedicated to St Vincent, the patron saint of winegrowers. There’s a nice view from the courtyard in front of the church overlooking Montreux and the lake.
How To Get To Montreux From Lausanne
Trains depart regularly from Lausanne to Montreux. Journey time is around 25 minutes. Check the SBB site for train schedules. Tickets for trains from Lausanne to Montreux can be bought online here.
Take the scenic route with views of the lake and vineyards. But note parking might be a challenge once you reach Montreux. Check here for car hire deals in Switzerland.
With its Charlie Chaplin’s World and giant fork, Vevey is only a ten-minute train ride away, so you could easily make this a two towns in one day adventure.
Another excellent day trip from Lausanne is a day trip to Gruyeres.
Interested In Housesitting?
I normally use Trusted Housesitters to find house sitting opportunities for me and also for sitters for my dog when I travel. This link will give you a 25% discount on membership if you’re interested in trying out Housesitting.
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