Beautiful Montreux, a highlight of the Swiss Riviera, should be on everyone’s Swiss itinerary.
The start or finishing city for Switzerland’s famous Golden Pass Train Route, and only three hours by train from Zurich, Montreux is a destination in its own right.
How Long to Spend in Montreux Switzerland
There are many interesting things to do in Montreux; we recommend allowing at least two days. With this two day Montreux itinerary, you can choose the best sights in Montreux for your interests to make the most of your time in the beautiful Swiss Riviera.
If taking the Golden Pass Line between Montreux and Lucerne, read our 2 Days in Lucerne Itinerary to make the most of your time in one of Switzerland’s other beautiful cities.
Getting Around Montreux and the Swiss Riviera
If you have a Swiss Rail Pass, all of the travel and activities listed below are included in your Swiss Rail Pass at no extra cost. The only exceptions are the Charlie Chaplin Museum and cog railway to Rochers de Naye.
You can take the cog railway as far as Haut de Caux, which is about halfway to Rochers de Nayer and still has outstanding views. You will get a 50% discount on the ticket from here to the summit.
If you do not have a Swiss Rail Pass, your hotel will issue you with a Riviera Montreux Card, which will give you free public transport in Montreux and discounts on many of the attractions.
You can read more about the Swiss Rail Pass and Swiss Half Fare Card here in our 2 Days in Switzerland itinerary.
Best Things to Do in Montreux 2 Day Itinerary
If breakfast isn’t included at your hotel, head to the lakefront for a typical Swiss-French breakfast. There are some lovely hotels and cafes with stunning views of the Swiss Alps across Lake Geneva.
After breakfast, head to the Montreux Tourist Information Center on the main street (Grande Rue) in the middle of town. Check the timetables for boats leaving from Chateau Chillon to go to Vevey for later in the morning, between about 10.30 am and 12.30 pm. In winter, there are only three services on a Sunday.
Walk the Lakefront Promenade
Take a walk along the scenic lakefront boulevard towards Chillon Castle from the Tourist Information Bureau. Keep an eye out for the palm trees along the boardwalk.
Quite an unusual sight in Switzerland, but the trees are one of the reasons the area is called The Swiss Riviera.
From the shores of Lake Geneva, the views of the snow-capped Alps from any stretch of the boardwalk are breathtaking. Along the boardwalk, you will also find art installations and garden sculptures.
Look out for a fascinating sculpture that resembles a red British telephone box. The sculpture “Allô Claude” is the work of Swiss artist Pascal Bettex.
A tribute to Claude Nobs, founder of the Montreux Jazz Festival, is a curious mechanical contraption that works on kinetic energy reminiscent of a curio found at an old fairground attraction. You won’t miss it as it is near the famous Statue of Freddie Mercury.
Freddie Mercury Statue
One of the most prominent statues on the lakeside boardwalk is the famous Freddie Mercury statue.
Freddie was so taken with the serenity of Montreux he not only settled there in the last years of his life but also bought the Mountain Studio recording studio where he recorded his last album, “Made in Heaven”. Fans still make the pilgrimage to leave flowers under the statue.
Montreux Casino & The Queen Recording Studio
If you are a fan of Freddie Mercury, keep walking towards the Castle, and you will come to the Casino- ‘Casino Barrière de Montreux.’ Inside is the ‘Queen Mountain Studio’, where Queen recorded seven of their albums.
It has plenty of memorabilia, from Freddy’s costumes to pages of handwritten lyrics. It’s a self-guided tour, and admission is free—a must for any Queen fan.
How to Get to Chillon Castle
From Casino Barrière de Montreux, Chillon Castle is about a 30-minute walk along the lakefront. Or, you can take the No 201 bus from the main street Grand Rue.
Chillon Castle is the most visited historic monument in Switzerland. Located on a small island on the banks of the lakefront; for a medieval castle, it is very easily accessed.
The castle dates back to the 12th Century when the Counts of Savoy used the castle as a toll station, residence, and prison for four centuries. You can learn about Lord Byron’s connection and the Prisoner of Savoy.
There is a lot to explore in the 25 buildings, three courtyards, and two circular walls – gothic vaulted chapels, medieval dungeons, sentries’ walk, bastions, the keep, and extensive banqueting halls.
Lake Geneva Boat Cruise
From the Castle, take a one and a half hour Lake Geneva Classical Circular Cruise to the other side of the lake near the Swiss-French border.
Enjoy quintessential Swiss Alp vista as you pass quaint Swiss-French villages on the banks of the crystal clear waters of Lake Geneva.
There are several stops along the way, including Villeneuve, Le Bouveret, Saint-Gingolph, and Vevey Marche.
It is possible to have lunch on board, although a stop at either Le Bouveret or Saint-Gingolph for lunch at a local cafe is possible. Just be mindful of the boat schedule to Vevey, especially in winter. You can find details of this cruise here.
Disembark at Vevey Marche and walk along the lakefront until you reach the large aluminium fork installation in the lake.
Nearby is a Charlie Chaplin statue. If you are a Charlie Chaplin fan and have time, take the No 212 bus from Vevey town to the Charlie Chaplin Museum.
Cogwheel Train to Rochers de Naye
Take the No 201 bus back along the lakefront route to Montreux station and take the one-hour scenic cogwheel train to Rochers de Naye.
The train route zig-zags its way up the side of the mountain, offering spectacular views of the Swiss countryside and ultimately from the summit.
There are several hiking tracks at the summit if you want to stretch your legs and enjoy the landscape on foot.
Many excellent restaurants in Montreux offer both french and typical Swiss cuisine with views over the lake. The Montreux Jazz Cafe and MP’s Bar and Grill are popular dining places.
If you only want a quick takeaway meal after a long day, there is a small shopping centre, The Forum Montreux Centre, on the lakefront near the Freddie Mercury statue. It has all the typical fast-food chains and a couple of pleasant restaurants.
Up by the railway station is the Barrel Oak Irish Pub, a popular place for a meal and an evening out.
Go online to the SBB app or at the station ask for a print out with;-
1. times for trains to Gruyeres (two trains) between 8 am, and 9 am
2. times for trains Gruyeres to Broc Fabrique between 12 noon and 2 pm
3. Times for train from Broc Fabrique to Montreux between 3 pm and 5 pm
Gruyeres Medieval Castle & Cheese Factory
From Montreux Station, take a train between 8.00 am and 9.00 am to Gorgeous Gruyeres (you will need to change trains at Mont Boven). The trip will take about 2 hours. Gruyere is loaded with fascinating sights and attractions.
At Gruyeres, you will see the castle up on the hill above the station. It will take about 20 minutes to walk to the castle. Or check to see if there is a bus from the station. Gruyere Castle is a must-see.
Interestingly, in Gruyere, there is also a Tibetan Museum, high on the hill alongside the medieval castle.
There is also the H R Giger Museum. H R Giger, the Swiss painter, was part of a special effects team that won an Academy Award for design work on the film Alien and was well known for his nightmarish science-fiction motifs.
When you’ve seen the castle, head back through the medieval village and back down to the station. You may wish to have lunch at one of the small cafes in the village or the cheese factory. Try the traditional meringues with fresh berries and La Gruyeres double cream.
Behind the station is the cheese factory La Maison du Gruyère. There is an interactive tour that takes you through the production of Gruyeres Cheese. The tour also includes free samples. There is also an excellent shop and cafe on the premises.
Cailler Chocolate Factory
Take the train and to Broc Fabrique. You will see the Nestle Outlet shop at the station and, a little further down the road, the Cailler Chocolate Factory. The factory offers a great interactive tour and free chocolate tasting.
Final Night in Montreux and Fairmont Le Montreux Palace Hotel Gardens
Return to Montreux and enjoy a final sunset walk along the lakeside promenade and see the sculptures of famous musicians in the garden of the Fairmont Le Montreux Palace Hotel.
Montreux has always attracted famous musicians to the town and is well known for the annual Montreux Jazz Festival. In the garden, you will see sculptures of famous musicians who have played at the Jazz Festival.
If You Have Time, add Lavaux Vineyards.
If visiting on the warmer months stretched over 30-kilometres, the Lavaux terraced vineyards are very popular for hiking, picnicking, and wine tasting.
About the Author
Maureen, who writes So Many Places! So Little Time! is a New Zealander with a great passion for travel. When she and her husband became ’empty-nested’ in the late 1990s, they sold their business, rented their home, and started travelling in earnest. They hope their website / online travel magazine will provide plenty of inspiration and practical travel information for other passionate travellers.