10 Things to See on the Swiss Riviera
Although there’s no river, the stretch along Lake Geneva from Lausanne to Montreux feels like nothing less than the most classic of Mediterranean riversides. Brimming with relics of global history and slices of local life, the Swiss Rivera is the perfect destination to sample the charm of Swiss culture. From vineyards to castles to museums, there’s something here for everyone. A good and efficient way to get around is to use the Swiss Travel System to buy a pass which provides access to multiple modes of transport and comes with added benefits such as discounted museum tickets.
Montreux Promenade, Montreux
Though stretching for nearly 6 km – from Montreux to Villeneuve – the most dramatic part is the lakeside in Montreux. It has spectacular views of Lac Leman or Lake Geneva, beautiful flower beds and avenue trees, quirky and cheeky sculptures, walking paths, play areas for children, seating areas, and much more. The highlight is the statue of rockstar Freddie Mercury. Whether at sunrise, sunset or anytime during the day, the promenade is a lovely place to be.
Chillon Castle, Veytaux
Perched loftily on the eastern edge of Lake Geneva, Chateau de Chillon is a medieval island castle dating back over a thousand years. Although it was originally built as a strategic military outpost, Chillon Castle is unique in that it never fell prey to siege or destruction. The result is a beautifully preserved vision of 13th-century splendour, serving as an inspiration to centuries of writers, poets, and artists.
Address: Av. de Chillon 21, 1820 Veytaux, Switzerland
Timings: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday to Sunday
Queen: The Studio Experience, Montreux
While Lake Geneva isn’t bohemian in the least, there’s certainly a rhapsody or two to be found in this museum dedicated to the British rock band Queen. Located in the former Mountain Studios, where they recorded for over a decade, music aficionados can find original instruments and other curios that detail Queen’s history. The cherry on top? The life-size Freddie Mercury statue around the corner, of course!
Address: Casino Barriere Montreux, Rue de Theatre 9, 1820 Montreaux, Switzerland
Timings: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday to Sunday
Montreux Christmas Market, Montreux
Who said Santa Claus isn’t real? At the Montreaux Christmas market, old Saint Nick is a central attraction as he flies overhead on his reindeer-pulled sleigh. Every December, he’s joined by a larger-than-life cat sculpture, over 150 quaint stalls and shops, and an abundance of mulled wine to add a little magic to the holiday season.
Address: Grand Rue 24, 1820 Montreaux, Switzerland
Lavaux Vineyards, Canton of Vaud
Sprawled over the southern banks of Lake Geneva, the UNESCO-protected Lavaux is home to 200 vineyards dating as far back as Roman times that produce Switzerland’s finest wines. Curated experiences include winery visits, day-long hikes, and - for the more adventurous - the opportunity to join a winemaker on a day’s work.
Address: Lavaux, Canton of Vaud, Switzerland
Chaplin’s World: Charlie Chaplin Museum, Vevey
Famously Chaplin’s home from 1953 until his death, the Manoir du Ban has in modern times been renovated into a charming museum called Chaplin’s World. The space still contains artifacts from his career and family life and is complete with a movie theatre in which the legendary entertainer’s films are screened for visitors.
Address: Manoir du Ban, Route de Fenil, 1804 Corsier-sur-Vevey, Switzerland
For food lovers, an essential stop is the Alimentarium, the world’s very first food and nutrition-centered museum. It showcases a wide array of exhibits, including history, local cuisine, interactive segments, and even a vegetable garden. The museum also offers immersive workshops throughout the year for visitors.
Address: Alimentarium, Quai Perdonnet 25, 1800 Vevey, Switzerland
Timings: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday to Sunday
Farmers’ Market, Vevey
Fancy a slightly more organic experience of the local culture? Look no further than Vevey’s twice-weekly farmer’s market at La Grenette. Head over on Tuesdays and Saturdays to sample a selection of produce and food products from the farms that dot the hills around Lake Geneva and take in the vibrant notes of the town.
Address: Grande-Place 29, Point d'information, d'accueil et d'assistance touristique 1800, Rue de Lausanne 1, 1800 Vevey, Switzerland
Timings: 6:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Tuesdays and Saturdays
Notre Dame (Lausanne Cathedral), Lausanne
From almost anywhere in Lausanne, you’re likely to catch a glimpse of a towering gothic structure standing tall over the town. This is the Cathedral of Notre Dame of Lausanne, a relic of the Middle Ages complete with a massive custom organ, seven tolling bells, and the tomb of an ancient knight. The church has also had a lookout since 1405, who stands on watch every night to call out the time.
Address: Pl. de la Cathédrale, 1005 Lausanne, Switzerland
Timings: 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday to Sunday
Narcissus Trails, Montreux
The narcissus flower is a ubiquitous symbol of Montreaux and a beloved part of the local landscape. The area offers several hiking trails that make the most of this flower’s natural habitat on the slopes above the lake, and guided tours are also available. A word of caution - plan ahead and make sure the flowering season is on to make the most of your experience!
Address: Blonay-St-Legier, Switzerland
Timings: The flowering season spans from May to July, for more details