Short break in Montreux

Enjoy the best of Switzerland in one beautiful lakeside resort

Lakeside walk Ask people to vote for the world’s greatest showmen and Queen front-man Freddie Mercury is sure to rank up there with the best.  So as I stroll through Montreux in the early morning sunshine, I’m pleased to find a statue of him in typical pose on the edge of Lake Geneva, right arm punching the air in perpetuity against a backdrop of snow-capped Alpine peaks.  A dramatic viewpoint for a man who did drama to the max.

The statue appeared in silhouette on the cover of Made in Heaven, Freddie’s final album with Queen that was released in 1995, five years after his death.   The classic tracks were recorded here in Montreux, where Freddie Mercury is something of a local hero, his statue photographed by fans from far and wide.

Freddie Mercury statue Montreux combines the very best of Switzerland in one elegant package – sparkling water and elegant buildings, mountain views and some of the best floral displays I’ve seen outside Chelsea or Kew.  In early spring, every bed along the lakeside promenade is filled with colour-coordinated blooms, floral frames for a host of photographic memories.

It’s all so utterly delightful that I can’t believe I’ve never been to Montreux before.  Just one hour from Geneva airport – by train or panoramic dual-carriageway – it’s easily accessible for a short break, as well as a base for wider exploration.

Montreux is famous for its annual July jazz festival, its public gardens dotted with statues of illustrious performers such as Miles Davis and Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald and Carlos Santana.  But Montreux isn’t just about jazz.  Many high profile musicians have laid tracks at the town’s prestigious recording studios, and early September brings together the best symphonic and classical music in a popular two-week festival. 

Chateau de Chillon Music apart, Montreux is just a glorious place to chill out, the perfect antidote to real life with its blend of scenery, lifestyle and visitor attractions.  Essential activities around town include the Castle of Chillon, immortalised in Byron’s epic poem The Prisoner of Chillon; the leisurely lake cruise which stops at points along the eastern shores; and of course that floral lakeside promenade.

Take the cog railway from Montreux to Rochers-de-Naye, more than 2,000 metres above sea level for sweeping panoramic views; catch the train to nearby Vevey with its pretty lakeside square and fascinating food museum; or book a tour of the UNESCO World Heritage vineyards of  Lavaux vineyards, that cling to south-facing terraces.   

Gruyere If you’ve a hire car at your disposal, drive up to the medieval mountain village of Gruyère with its picturesque houses, imposing chateau and famous cheese dairy.  And don’t miss nearby Broc, home to the Cailler chocolate factory, now part of the Nestlé group.  Discover the history of chocolate, watch a packing demonstration, and enjoy unlimited tastings before succumbing to the temptations of the factory shop.  In peak season, the Belle Epoque Chocolate Train links Montreux, Gruyère and Broc, to include coach transfers and entry fees (www.goldenpass.ch).  

Lakeside walk - Montreux The steep slopes of Montreux are dotted with elegant hotels but for a special occasion, I can recommend cracking open the piggy bank and indulging in a couple of nights at Le Montreux Palace, part of the Fairmont group.  This Belle Epoque hotel with its canary yellow awnings and wrought iron balconies is a local institution, separated from the lake by spacious gardens and a large spa complex with mountain views.

Enjoy a cocktail and live music in Harry’s New York Bar; try Swiss and international cuisine in La Brasserie du Palace; and, in summer, eat outside on La Terrasse du Petit Palais overlooking the lake.  If you’re pulling out the stops to stay here, I’d recommend that you don’t skimp with a ‘Mountain Vew’ room, which actually looks over the city to the mountains behind the hotel. Go for a Lake View Room instead.   One of the great pleasures of this stylish hotel is sitting on your own private balcony and sipping coffee – or something stronger – with a front row seat as the light changes over the lake and Alpine peaks.  As Queen so rightly acknowledged with that final, epic album, this is a view that is truly Made In Heaven.

Read about more to see and do in Montreux

190 people found this helpful
16851

Share Article:

Gillian Thornton

Travel writer

Leave a comment

*

Sign up to our newsletter to receive the latest travel tips on top destinations.

Join the club

Become a member to receive exclusive benefits

Our community is the heart of Silver Travel Advisor, we love nothing more than sharing ideas, inspiration, hints and tips between us.

Most Recent Articles

With over 7,000 years of history, Malta is the ultimate holiday destination for any history buff!…

Come feel the love on a Princess cruise. You’ll enjoy the MedallionClass experience others simply can’t, and it’s exclusively for everyone. Visit incredible destinations and be involved in the best experiences around each one of them.

Experience more with Princess and connect effortlessly with the world around you, spend time away with loved ones, take a moment for yourself, and fall in love with your holiday of a lifetime, every time.

With over 20 years of experience, Wendy Wu Tours has mastered the art of creating exceptional, fully inclusive tours which showcase the very best of each destination.

Each tour is led by a world-class guide, who will highlight the very best of their homeland, and includes authentic cultural experiences so you are not just seeing the sights, but truly immersing yourself in local life.

Say hello to ease at sea. Ambassador’s purpose is simple: they want to inspire every guest to experience authentic cruising, effortlessly and sustainably. Passionate about protecting our oceans and destinations, their ships comply with the highest industry emission standards and there is no single-use plastic on board.

On your voyage, you will receive the warmest of welcomes from the Ambassador community as you sail upon the friendliest ships afloat.

This is a global co-operative co-owned by local partners using real local experts and guides, which supports local communities, environments and wildlife. It offers travellers quirky places to stay, activity holidays and learning experiences. Not In The Guidebooks gets travellers off the beaten track into local culture with day experiences and longer, immersive adventures.

From wild wellness breaks in Wales to painting in Portugal, sustainable adventures in Mauritius to food safaris in Brazil, this is immersive, exciting travel.

Seabourn’s five intimate ships carry guests to the heart of great cities, exclusive yacht harbours and secluded coves around the world, while two new purpose-built expedition ships will combine exhilarating adventures in remote destinations with the sophisticated amenities of the world’s finest resorts at sea.

From the luxury of all suite accommodations to complimentary fine wines and spirits, and a no tipping policy, Seabourn exemplifies the definition of travelling well.