Are you confused about deciding whether to choose Lausanne or Montreux for your next trip to Switzerland? Trust us; both are charming destinations on Lake Geneva. Both have a charming town or city, fantastic views, and the lake on their doorstep.
Both are beautiful in their terms. So which place is better to visit if you had to choose one: Lausanne or Montreux?
No matter which city you choose to travel both Montreux and Lausanne are very convenient and scenic. The choice would depend on your preferences. Montreux is better for those who want a quiet and relaxing space to enjoy the scenery. Lausanne is better for those who seek a variety of activities, hang out with young people, and visit historical buildings in the city.
Both cities give you all the reasons to plan a getaway at your convenience.
The Highlights: Lausanne or Montreux
Lausanne hosts one of the largest universities in Europe and has a significant student population along with restaurants, bars, and hotels around the center. As such, this city built on three hills has a young, international, and busy vibe owing to its young residents.
It also has lots of interesting, historic buildings, an aquarium, and access to the lake.
Montreux is the most popular spa town on Lake Geneva with a relaxed, touristy feeling. Its mild climate and riviera make it seem like miniature Cannes. It has a picturesque promenade along the lake dotted by Belle Époque hotels like Fairmont Le Montreux Palace and Hotel Eden Palace au Lac.
Another huge plus is the fantastic view of the Dents du Midi of Valais. Montreux was made popular by the novel Julie ou La Nouvelle Héloïse by Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Other prominent visitors include Lord Byron, Mary Shelly, Igor Strawinsky, Edgar Wallace, and Vladimir Nabokov.
Montreux has an eight-kilometer-long riviera, proximity to the beautiful Chillon Castle, and a scenic train to the Rochers-de-Naye summit.
Montreux is home to one of the biggest jazz festivals in the world – the Montreux Jazz Festival. The festival has attracted famous musicians such as Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin, Carlos Santana, Deep Purple, Etta James, Led Zeppelin, Marvin Gaye, Prince, Radiohead, Roberta Flack, Van Morrison, and many more. This is a busy time for music lovers, locals, and businesses alike.
Things To Do: Lausanne or Montreux
Things To Do in Lausanne
Lausanne, with its charming old town and fantastic views of Lake Geneva, also has a lot of historical buildings and museums to visit. Here are some of the options in this city:
- Gothic Cathedral – Lausanne’s Gothic Cathedral is an awe-inspiring example of Gothic architecture, and it ranks among the most magnificent Gothic cathedrals in Europe. Dating back to the 12th century, this cathedral draws in hundreds of thousands of visitors every year.
- Old Town – If you wish to explore the old town of the city and perhaps indulge in a little shopping, then be sure to check out the bustling streets of Rue de Bourg, St-François, Flon, and the lively square of Place de la Palud.
- Market – Every Wednesday and Saturday morning from 8:00 AM to 2:30 PM, there is a local farmer’s market around Rue de Bourg to Place de la Riponne.
- Ouchy – The relaxing, lakeside Ouchy can be a destination for walks and in summer can be combined with a swim in Bellerive.
- Bellerive Plage – the swimming pool in Bellerive near the lake has 3 large swimming pools including an Olympic-sized pool. It also has a supervised lake beach, beach volleyball courts, basketball courts, tennis tables, and an aquatic park on the lake.
- Olympic Museum Lausanne – the Olympic Museum guides visitors through the history of the Olympics, the sports equipment of various athletes, interactive multimedia and games, and more. The TOM café is also perfect for hanging out as it gives a magnificent view of the lake and the Alps from its terrace.
- MCBA Art Museum – the MCBA showcases thousands of works of art. It covers visual arts and works such as those by Degas, Cézanne, Denis, Rodin, Giovanni Giacometti, and many more.
- Aquatis Lausanne – Aquatis is not just an aquarium. It also features a Komodo dragon, a poisonous snake, and other terrestrial animals.
Have you seen the video of MySwitzerland on Lausanne? It summarizes in under one minute the different facets of this exciting, vibrant city. Check it out below.
Things To Do in Montreux
Montreux prides itself as a spa town with a mild climate, blooming flowers, and an eight-kilometer-long riviera. Here are some ideas on what you can visit in Montreux aside from the lakeside promenade and marina:
- Old Town of Montreux – Ten minutes from the lakeside, the old town is a beautiful place for walks and is the start of the Chauderon Gorges path.
- Maison Visinand House – Located on Rue du Pont 32, the Maison Visinand House is a stunning building that dates back to 1592. Today, it serves as a cultural center with various exhibits for visitors to enjoy.
- Montreux Museum – The Montreux Museum, located at Rue de la Gare 40, is housed in a 17th-century building and showcases the history of Montreux.
- St. Vincent Church – Built in the neo-gothic style, the St. Vincent Church boasts exquisite stained glass windows.
- Chillon Castle – Chillon Castle is a romantic castle 2.5 kilometers away from Montreux. It was built by the house of Savoy and included in the Swiss Inventory of Cultural Property of National and Regional Significance.
- Rochers-de-Naye – You can take a cog railway ride from Montreux to reach the summit of Rochers de Naye, where you can delight in breathtaking panoramic vistas of Lake Geneva, the nearby Swiss Alps, and the cities of Montreux and Lausanne. If the weather is clear, you can even catch a glimpse of the Jura Mountains and the French Alps in the distance. The total travel time is around 49 minutes.
- Freddie Mercury’s Statue – along the promenade, the bronze statue is a popular photo subject for tourists. The band recorded music in this town during the 80s.
- Nice open-air markets
Hotels: Lausanne or Montreux
While Lausanne has a greater variety of hotel options, Montreux also offers a variety of hotels with stunning lake views, suitable for a variety of budgets. Check out our Lausanne and Montreux hotel recommendations below.
Recommended Hotels in Lausanne
- Beau-Rivage Palace (5-star) – The Beau-Rivage Palace is a luxury hotel located in Switzerland and one of the best hotels in Europe. Since 1861, it has been a popular address for celebrities and politicians, such as Charlie Chaplin, Coco Chanel, and Nelson Mandela. This beautiful hotel features not only gorgeous architecture and antiques, but also excellent service, two swimming pools, a spa, and a fitness center.
- Lausanne Palace (5-star) – Located in Lausanne, this elegant 5-star hotel is a historic landmark. Located near the Montbenon Esplanade, it features views of Le Flon or Lake Geneva. The hotel features an indoor pool, spa, fitness center, and Michelin-starred gourmet restaurant.
- Château d’Ouchy (4-star) – Located in Ouchy, Lausanne, this renovated medieval castle near the lake has an original donjon. In addition to an outdoor pool, there is a restaurant and bar at the hotel.
- Alpha-Palmiers by Fassbind (4-star) – Our favorite hotel in Lausanne, we have stayed here at least three times. It is located near Lausanne’s train station and offers clean rooms at a reasonable price. There is a Thai restaurant, a classic Swiss restaurant, and a bar. The hotel has a tropical garden in the middle.
- Hotel Angleterre & Résidence (4-star) – On the shore of Lake Geneva, the Hotel Angleterre & Résidence is 12 minutes away from the lake. This unique hotel is spread over 6 historical pavilions dating from the 18th, 19th, and 21st centuries. The hotel features a swimming pool, a beachfront, and a fitness center. Here you can enjoy a good breakfast or a fine dining meal at the Italian restaurant.
- Hôtel du Port (3-star) – Located near the lake and harbor in Lausanne, this small hotel is family-run. The hotel offers cozy rooms, fine cuisine, and beautiful views of Lake Geneva and the Alps.
Recommended Hotels in Montreux
- Fairmont Le Montreux Palace (5-star) – Fairmont Le Montreux Palace is located on the shores of Lake Geneva. It offers magnificent views of the lake and the Alps, dining spaces, fitness facilities, swimming pools, and a large garden.
- Montreux Grand Rue – Swiss Hotel Apartments (5-star apartments) – These spacious apartments in the heart of Montreux offer gorgeous rooms, lake views, a terrace, and a fully equipped kitchen.
- JETTY Boutique Hotel (4-star) – A picturesque, newly established beachfront boutique hotel featuring breathtaking lake vistas, a garden, and a fantastic restaurant, tailor-made for those who want rest and relaxation.
- Grand Hotel Suisse Majestic, Autograph Collection (4-star) – With its proximity to Montreux Train Station, this Belle-Époque hotel is ideal for GoldenPass passengers. Hotel amenities include elegant and air-conditioned rooms with a balcony or terrace, restaurant, bar, terrace, winter garden, fitness room, business corner, and laundry services.
- Marché 28 Guesthouse (4-star) – A centrally located gem in Montreux offering spacious suites at an excellent price point. Adorned with tasteful decor, I encourage you to book it fast due to its limited room availability.
Summary: Lausanne or Montreux
No matter which city you choose to travel both Montreux and Lausanne are very convenient and scenic. However, it depends on you – which city appeals to you more?
Both cities give you all the reasons to plan a gateway at your convenience.
My personal preference is Lausanne. I think that it is the perfect place. It combines both old and new, lake and hilltop panoramic views, a busy city, and relaxed lakeside.
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Darla Uhl is the owner of TouringSwitzerland.com. Her home is in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. Having lived almost 20 years in Switzerland, she's traveled extensively all over the country.
Darla's favorite regions to visit in Switzerland include Engadin, Lake Geneva, Bernese Oberland, Ticino, and Valais. She loves spending time with her family, hiking, visiting museums, and reading books.