Montreux is situated close to the French border in south-west Switzerland, and on the eastern shores of Lake Geneva. The Romans were first to settle there, as the area provided a convenient stopping place for travellers on their way from Italy to Gaul. It also became an early centre for viticulture because the sunny slopes rising up from the lake provide excellent land for grape growing.

The town became particularly famous as an international tourist resort during the nineteenth century. Many artistic luminaries were captivated by its stunning setting – surrounded by mountains on one side and water on the other – and their reports of the town attracted a great influx of visitors to it. Lord Byron, Mary Shelley, Leo Tolstoy, Hans Christian Andersen, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Charles Lindberg for example, all holidayed or lived in Montreux. It was here that Stravinsky composed his Rite of Spring, and the market hall in the Place du Marché was financed by Henri Nestlé, founder of the powdered milk company. More recently, Montreux was home to Freddie Mercury, who died here in 1991. The world-famous Montreux Jazz Festival ensures that the town remains popular today.


Montreux is one of the best places in Switzerland for live music. It hosts the international [ Montreux Jazz Festival] from the first Friday in July for two weeks, which over the years has been host to such great names as Miles Davis and Chick Corea. Its programme extends beyond strict jazz to blues, rock, reggae and soul. The whole town comes alive during the festival, and there is a wonderful atmosphere on the promenade where free concerts keep the crowds entertained. The Montreux Voice and Music Festival succeeds the main jazz festival at the end of the summer, in late August. It attracts internationally-renowned artists who give classical recitals, and orchestras and opera companies from around the world. There is also a smaller three day jazz festival every March in Chernex, a short distance from Montreux. In addition, the Ned Music Club near the railway station – open from September to June – provides an eclectic mix of live modern music, from rock to punk, ska and reggae.

Top of the sightseeing list must be the impressive twelfth-century [ Chateau de Chillon], one of the best maintained medieval fortresses in Europe, situated just south of Montreux. It is a fairytale building, majestically jutting out into Lake Geneva. The exhibitions in the Chateau provide an illustrated history of Montreux and the surrounding region through the ages, and particularly of the intricate politics of the thirteenth- and fourteenth-century Counts of Savoy. The castle also accommodates impressive collections of antique furniture, weaponry and local artefacts, whilst the views across Lake Geneva from its towers are spectacular.

History lovers will also be interested in the Museum of Montreux, in the heart of the old town. Its exhibitions describe the region’s history from Roman times until the late nineteenth century, and there are also a number of interesting temporary displays. Meanwhile, Visinand House – the oldest remaining house in Montreux – contains a modern cultural centre which provides rotating exhibitions on traditional and modern fine art. For dedicated art-lovers, the newly-renovated museum of the local artist Ruzo is especially worthy of note.

A holiday in Montreux is also a good way to become acquainted with the Swiss Riviera in general. There are plenty of nearby footpath networks and hiking trails for the avid rambler, whilst numerous excursions by public transport are also available from the town. During the summer for example, it is possible to take the ‘Chocolate Train’ from Montreux to Gruyères and Broc – this is an authentic 1915 vehicle aboard which passengers learn about and visit the famous cheese- and chocolate-making towns in the locality. There are also numerous funicular railways close by, in addition to a number of companies which offer boat trips to other places on Lake Geneva – from Evian to Yvoire, to Lausanne, to Geneva.


Shopping of every kind is available in Montreux, from big designer names to fairtrade products; from clothes to jewellery to books, music and gifts. Moreover, there are many inexpensive markets such as a regular outdoor flea and food market in the place du Marché throughout the year, and a famous Christmas market in December.

Nightlife and Eating Out

Montreux contains a tremendous range of eateries, from high-class restaurants to alpine inns. Many have French and Italian influences, and – from slightly further afield – the Persian-themed [ Palais Oriental restaurant] serves Iranian, Moroccan, and Lebanese influenced cuisine. However, many restaurants in the town centre do serve traditional Swiss fare like fondue and raclette, plus local cheeses, numerous types of fish from the lake, and various regional wines. The chasselas wines of the nearby Lavaux vineyards are particularly popular.

The best nights in Montreux are passed down by the lakeside, in a pavement café or bar. Also by the water is the glamorous [ Casino de Montreux] for those who fancy a flutter in a refined atmosphere.

Tourist Information

Rue du Théâtre 51820 Montreux

  • Telephone: +41 848 86 84 84
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Although Montreux does not have an airport itself, there are frequent trains to Bern (1.5 hours), Geneva (1 hour) and Lausanne (20 minutes), which all have their own airports. There are also boats to Geneva (4.5 hours) and Lausanne (1.5 hours).