Since the first half of the 19th century, Montreux has developed into one of the most important tourist destinations in Switzerland. Today the waterfront is one of the city’s main attractions. Here are the hotel palaces, the casino and the congress center; you can enjoy a wonderful view of Lake Geneva with the Grammont massif and the peaks of the Dents du Midi.
The development took place in three steps: The first hotels were built between 1836 and 1859, but at that time there was no tourist infrastructure. It was only with the construction of the railway (1861), the improvement of the roads and the establishment of the shipyards in Clarens and Montreux that the city was also much easier to reach for guests from abroad. Thanks to its mild climate and attractive location, Montreux has become a world-famous summer health resort. In a third step, the surrounding heights were built by funicularsdeveloped for tourism. Sanatoriums were built in the high-altitude villages of Glion, Caux and Les Avants.
Other important hotels were also built along the lakeshore, such as the “Hôtel des Alpes” and the “Grand Hôtel” (both 1887) in Territet, as well as the ” Montreux Palace ” (1905). Montreux became a popular place to stay for monarchs (such as the Empress Elisabeth of Austria) and aristocrats, artists and philosophers, politicians and displaced persons, for example. B. Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Leo Tolstoy and Vladimir Nabokov. The latter lived in a luxurious suite in the Montreux Palace from 1961 until his death in 1977.
Montreux has a wide range of cultural events and a good reputation as a city of music. The most famous festival is the Montreux Jazz Festival, held annually in July since 1967. There is also the Montreux Choral Festival and the Nuits du Jazz de Chernex.
The parish church of Saint Vincent, mother church of the parish of Montreux, was first mentioned in 1228, but was probably founded as early as the 11th century. The current building with a polygonal choir and ribbed vault dates from the end of the 15th century. Next to it is an ossuary from the 16th century. The Catholic Church is a neo-Gothic building from 1883 to 1885.
On a hill above Clarens is Châtelard Castle, which was built in 1441, partially destroyed by the Confederates in 1476 and then rebuilt. It has a massive square donjon (residential tower) with machicolations made of brick, reminiscent of the northern Italian style. The residential tower was extensively restored and redesigned in the 17th century and has a rich interior from this period.
In Montreux and Clarens there are numerous notable hotel and residential buildings from the second half of the 19th century and the early 20th century. These include the Montreux Palace (1904), the Grand Hôtel in Territet (1887), the Palace Hotel in Caux (1902), the Villa Karma (1904–1906) and the Villa Chartran.
Chillon Castle is located three kilometers southeast of Montreux.
Montreux was a haven for Catherine Barkley and Lt. Frederic Henry in Ernest Hemingway’s classic, A Farewell to Arms.
Montreux hosts several festivals:
The Septembre musical de Montreux, founded in 1946 and held every year since then.
Freddie Celebration Days – Montreux Celebration is organising this major and entirely free event in Montreux around September 5th, the birthday of Freddie Mercury, late singer of the band Queen.
The Montreux Jazz Festival, annually in July since 1967. It is held at the Montreux Convention Centre, built in 1973 and has become a global phenomenon.
The Golden Rose Festival, annually in spring (1961–2003), which awarded the Golden Rose of Montreux, an international award for television.
The Golden Award of Montreux, annually in April, is traditionally, since 1989, the first international advertising and multimedia Competition in Europe – starting the global season for awarding creative excellence.
Montreux has a walking trail along the lake, stretching from Villeneuve to Vevey. The main square of the town, Place du Marché, features a statue of Freddie Mercury facing Lake Geneva. Some of the numerous small villages around Montreux include La Tour-de-Peilz, Clarens, Territet, and Villeneuve. The Château of Chillon has views over Lake of Geneva and can be accessed via bus, train, walk or boat.
Deep Purple travelled to Montreux in December 1971 to record Machine Head. The band’s song “Smoke on the Water” tells of the events of December 1971, when a Frank Zappa fan with a flare gun set the Montreux Casino on fire, destroying the casino where they had originally planned to record the album. Thanks to Claude Nobs who eventually arranged alternate locations, the Grand Hotel was where the album was created and recorded, except for Smoke on the Water which was recorded at La Petit Palais on Rue du Lac. Deep Purple again returned in 1973 to record Burn. The Montreux Casino was reopened in 1975 and later a monument commemorating Deep Purple and their song Smoke on the Water can be found next to the casino.
The Dubliners’s song “Montreux Monto” on their album Live at Montreux was recorded live at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1976.
Montreux is the home of Mountain Studios, the recording studio used by several artists. “Bonzo’s Montreux” by Led Zeppelin is named after the city where the drums session of John Bonham was recorded in 1976. In 1978, the band Queen bought the studio. It was then sold to Queen producer David Richards. In 2002, the Mountain Studios was converted into a bar as part of a complete renovation of the studio. David Richards has left Montreux to settle down somewhere else. Queen also appeared in 1984 and in 1986 at the Golden Rose Festival and Queen guitarist Brian May appeared in 2001 at the Jazz Festival. Montreux was also the subject of the 1995 Queen single “A Winter’s Tale” on the album Made in Heaven, one of Freddie’s last songs before his death on November 24, 1991. The album cover features the statue of Mercury beside the lake.
In 1990, the Wakker Prize for the development and preservation of its architectural heritage was awarded to Montreux.
The Fédération Internationale de Roller Sports was founded in Montreux in 1924. Montreux HC, the oldest roller hockey club in Switzerland (founded in 1911) is based in Montreux.
Between the lake and the Prealps, from the Lavaux terraces to the top of Rochers-de-Naye at an altitude of 2,042 meters (highest point of the destination), the particular relief of Montreux Riviera offers a unique setting for sublime walks and hiking.
Cinemas & Theaters
Because holidays can also be an opportunity to treat yourself to a good slice of entertainment or to be tempted by the local cultural offer.
Shopping & markets
Between souvenir gifts, shopping for pleasure and discovering local treasures.
Montreux Riviera is a gourmet’s paradise. With more than 20 restaurants listed in the Michelin or GaultMillau guides, it is one of the most renowned regions in the world for tableware. In total, the destination offers 356 accumulated G&M points and 5 Michelin stars.
The most beautiful terraces
A sunny table, the sparkling lake, the mountains in the background… the scene is set to sip your drink in the best conditions. Here is a selection of 10 terraces that are worth seeing in Montreux Riviera…
The best brunch
Buffet or à la carte, brunches are always accompanied by a plus in Montreux Riviera: the splendor of the view, the elegance of the place, the quality of the coffee, the good taste of regional products…
In a soothing environment, the world’s leading specialists in revitalization, anti-aging and cosmetic surgery work for the well-being of their guests. A secular know-how and always at the forefront.
Wellness & Spa
Haven of relaxation, such could be one of the definitions of the Swiss Riviera. The numerous wellness & spa centers set up in the prestigious hotels of the destination offer a wide range of revitalizing and relaxing treatments.
Summer and winter, a world of sensations and thrills. Everyone clings to their buoy and let’s go! From the toboggan to do solo to the Houla Hoop with the family, via the Booster Loop – the 4G toboggan: to each his adrenaline.
Laser Game Villeneuve
Equipped with a laser gun, players enter the labyrinth of Laser Game Evolution in Villeneuve with a mission: shoot the laser beam at as many opponents as possible and avoid the enemy rays. The game takes place in a dark place on several levels with special effects.
In an area of 10,000 m2 entirely dedicated to the world of entertainment, the Fun Planet in Rennaz offers a constellation of indoor leisure activities. Bowling, tree climbing, themed fluorescent minigolf, billiards, a host of video games and a new Virtual Room activity.
In groups (2-6 people), players must look for clues scattered around a room, then combine them with each other to be able to advance in the puzzle and exit the room. Logic, imagination, creativity and above all a strong team spirit are among the necessary assets. 2 rooms are available.
A life-size adventure in unusual settings. The escape game consists of escaping from a room in less than 60 minutes. Locked in an immersive environment, the players, in groups of 2 to 5 participants, look for clues scattered around the room. They combine them in order to solve the puzzles that allow you to advance in the puzzle and exit the room.
On a plot of 28,000m2, players evolve in an ultra-realistic environment, with multiple infrastructures. Thanks to high-end equipment and the use of the latest technologies, Cobalt Project develops new game scenarios where tactics, exploration and team spirit are the key words.
Swiss Vapeur Parc
This one-of-a-kind amusement park is popular with families and vaporists. The Swiss Vapeur Parc occupies 18,000 m2 of greenery. On board the miniature steam trains, it takes 15 minutes to cover the 1,700 meters of the main route past the miniature Swiss monuments.
In summer (May-Oct), the famous Train du Chocolat takes visitors to La Maison du Gruyère, where the famous Swiss cheese is made. He will then be able to stroll freely in the medieval village of Gruyères. Finally, the visitor will venture to the legendary Maison Cailler de Broc where he will dive into the secrets of chocolate making. Since 2019, the train journey has only been carried out on the sumptuous Montreux-Montbovon section. The other transfers (Montbovon-Gruyères-Broc-Montreux) are operated by bus.
Vine & Wine
Revel in the wonders of nature in fall. A palette of colors, sensations and experiences that take on a new dimension in Montreux Riviera.
UNESCO-List Lavaux terraces
Lavaux is a site steeped in history, a sacred land shaped over the centuries by generations of winegrowing families who today continue to maintain the soul of the place to reveal its timeless charm. The history of Lavaux, one of the most beautiful regions of Switzerland, is ancient, rich and naturally linked to viticulture.
Located between Lausanne and the Château de Chillon, along Lake Geneva, Lavaux is one of the most beautiful landscapes in Switzerland. Shaped by man, its terraced vineyards are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Lavaux is also known for its hikes, its villages and of course its wines.
Winemax – Wine Exclusive Tours
During an exclusive excursion, Winemax unveils the most beautiful views over the breathtaking landscape of Lavaux and takes you to meet passionate winegrowers, in the heart of their domain. The program can be personalized according to affinities, for example by choosing the tasting of organic wines or old vintages, or even by integrating a cruise or a helicopter flight.