“If you want peace of soul, come to Montreux.” So said the inimitable Freddie Mercury, who fell for the Swiss Riviera town—and rented one of its lakeside houses—after recording an album here in 1978. The Queen frontman may have come to escape the prying eyes of paparazzi and the legions of adoring fans back home, but for two weeks each summer, the town sheds its quiet image during the Montreux Jazz Festival, the world’s second-largest such event. Expect as many as 200,000 concertgoers to pack out Montreux’s diverse performance venues, ranging from a 3,500-seater auditorium and old-school music clubs to trains and pleasure boats on Lake Geneva. This year, the festival runs from June 30 to July 15, marking its 51st edition.
Just 20 minutes down the train tracks from Lausanne, Montreux is roughly three hours from Zurich by rail, with one change in Lausanne or Yverdon.
Where to Stay
La Rouvenaz (41-21/ 963-2736; doubles from US$160) is a cozy option just steps from the waterfront. For a memorable splurge, upgrade to the terrace suite, fitted with oversize windows and a spacious sundeck overlooking the lake.
Half an hour away by bus, Château de Chillon is a well-preserved island fortress with a labyrinth of rooms and passageways to explore.
The manor house in nearby Vevey where Charlie Chaplin spent the final 25 years of his life is now Chaplin’s World, a museum chronicling the star’s meteoric rise, his career as both actor and director, and even his role as a family man.
This article originally appeared in the April/May 2017 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“All That Jazz”).