Switzerland’s alpine peaks, turquoise lakes, wooden chalets, and rolling hills, attract visitors year-round. Those looking to take a winter break will find plenty of spots around the country offering some of the longest ski runs in Europe, powdery mountains, and cozy log cabins. But if you want to combine unique winter sports with some culture, head to Montreux, a picturesque town located on the shores of Lake Geneva, at the foot of the Alps.

Where to Stay

Montreux switzerland vacation: the fairmont hotel

Image by Sucheta Rawal

The Montreux Riviera is best known for its long lake shore, where you can breathe fresh air and view amazing scenery from practically anywhere. So, as you can imagine, there are a large number of tourists taking advantage of any and all flight deals to get there every year.  If you can, try to book a stay at the Fairmont Le Montreux Palace, one of the city’s iconic buildings in the city that was built in 1906 in an elegant Belle-Époque architectural style. The central location of the hotel makes it easy to walk to the train station, promenade, bars, shops, and restaurants located on the famous Avenue Claude Nobs.

Music and Art

Montreux switzerland vacation: Statue of Freddie Mercury, the singer of the rock band - Queen, settled in Montreux Lake Side

Montreux is also home to one of the biggest jazz festivals in the world, and many great music legends have been inspired by this city. As you wander around, make sure to spot statues of some of the artists, writers, and performers that have lived in Montreux, such as Charlie Chaplin, Ernest Hemingway, Vladimir Nabokov, and Freddie Mercury.  You can take a tour of the Mountain Recording Studio, where the band Queen recorded many of their albums,  or try your luck at the adjacent Casino Barrière de Montreux.

History and Outdoors

Montreux switzerland vacation: chillon castle

Image by Sucheta Rawal

The best way to explore Montreux’s attractions is on foot. You can walk all the way to the scenic Château de Chillon, which is one of the most historic castles in the country and which is built on an island. Hauts de Montreux (or “mountains around Montreux”) is known to be a hiker’s paradise with its forested trails, alpine villages, caves, grottoes, and marmot burrows. During winter, you can watch the sunset over the lake, as you snowshoe through the snowy forests. Take a kerosene lantern walk and reward yourself with mulled wine, Swiss chocolates and Gruyere cheese fondue.

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Adventure

 Montreux switzerland vacation: suspended bridge

Image by Sucheta Rawal

For an adrenaline rush, you can spend the day at Glacier 3000 in the town of Gstaad, accessible by bus or train. Take a cable car up to the ski slopes and try all the adventure activities, including an alpine coaster, snow bus, dog sleds, peak walk, glacier flight, sledding, snowboarding, and skiing. There are 47 cable car installations linking 200 kilometers of slopes, toboggan runs, and hiking trails in the area, so you’ll never tire of this winter paradise.

At Glacier 3000, you can also walk on the only suspension bridge in the world that connects two mountain peaks. Feel like you are on top of the world, as you spot 24 summits including Matterhorn, Mont Blanc, Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau. Peak Walk by Tissot (suspension bridge) is free of charge and open year-round subject to weather conditions.

More Activities

Montreux hosts several events throughout the year, including a comedy festival, Christmas markets, volleyball tournament, art festivals, musicals and concerts. But the best is at end the winter in March with the Montreux exclusive Tous en Choeur, when 200 choral singers perform, along with numerous other artists.

Editor’s note: The author of this post may either have a relationship with or received other compensation from the product or service providers that are featured in this writing.

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Sucheta is an award winning food and travel writer who has traveled to 70+ countries and is on a mission to see the entire world. She is also the founder of the nonprofit organization, Go Eat Give, which promotes cultural awareness through food, travel and volunteering. Sucheta is the author of a series of children's books on travel, "Beato Goes To" that teach kids about different countries and cultures.