Where to Go on The Swiss Riviera

The Swiss Riviera stretches from Lausanne to Montreux and encompasses the beautiful Lavaux vineyards perched on steep hills with a dramatic view of the lake and the Alps on the other side. Then you reach Vevey and its old town, passing La-Tour-de-Peilz before ending in Montreux, its casino and of course Chillon castle.

Dents du Midi, 1873 Val-d'Illiez, Switzerland
The mountain, Les Dents du Midi, can be seen from Vevey on a clear sunny day. Although beautiful to admire from afar, visitors to the region can also make the challenging ascent up to the top of the peak for some of the best views of the surrounding area.
With well over a thousand lakes, Switzerland is blessed with its fair share of stunning bodies of water. The most extensive, however, is Lake Geneva (also known as Lac Léman), where you can bask in seductive views and amazing sunsets. It’s practically impossible to take your eyes off the shimmering water when driving down the mountainside or gazing out a train window, especially in the upper regions of Montreaux and Vevey. Other recommended viewing points include the banks of Lausanne, where bobbing swans and crystal-clear water calm the soul, and the Château de Chillon, a castle three miles from Montreux. Of course, you could also enjoy the views from the lake itself, where steam boats, ferries, and private yachts roam freely.
Veytaux, Switzerland
Expect to be transported back to medieval times during your visit to Château de Chillon. More than 1,000 years old, the beguiling castle has inspired many poetic greats, none more so than Lord Byron, whose poem The Prisoner of Chillon was based on François Bonivard’s imprisonment. Travel across Lake Geneva on a paddle steam boat to arrive at the castle and note that the Rivera Pass, offered by most hotels, grants you half-price admission. Once inside, pick up an audio guide (available in English) and explore everything from cobblestone courtyards and eerie dungeons to secret passageways and castle walls.
Chemin de Beau-Rivage 21, 1006 Lausanne, Switzerland
In operation for almost 160 years, this renowned Belle Époque resort on the shores of Lake Geneva in Lausanne is steeped in important history and culture. The treaty that broke up the Ottoman Empire was signed here in 1923, and guests have included everyone from Charlie Chaplin and Gary Cooper to Rod Stewart and Nelson Mandela. From 2012 to 2014, the hotel received a nearly $30 million makeover, helmed by famed interior designer Pierre-Yves Rochon, which complemented the timeless elegance of all 168 rooms and suites with such luxuries as Murano glass chandeliers, expansive mirrors to bring the views indoors, and entertainment screens discreetly embedded in bathroom mirrors. There are four restaurants on the property, most notably the exquisite Anne-Sophie Pic, which has two Michelin stars. In the summer months, the hotel also serves dinner on its own turn-of-the-century, steam-powered paddleboat as it plies the waters of the lake. The state-of-the-art spa, offering a wide selection of restorative treatments, opens up onto the resort’s 10-acre park and includes separate saunas and hammans for men and women, a Jacuzzi, two heated pools (one indoor, one out), and two tennis courts.
Switzerland only exports 1 to 2 percent of its wine production, so few know of its stony whites, which pair ideally with raw hard and melted Swiss cheeses. While most cantons make wine, there are few places better to sip Swiss wines than the UNESCO-listed Lavaux, dangling on the banks of Lake Geneva and 90 minutes north of the city in Canton Vaud. An e-bike is the best way to explore the steep hilly region peppered with slate-roofed chapels and chocolate-box villages. The grapes here were planted by 9th-century monks; the terraces they built for them are lined with stone walls that retain the sun’s heat, extending the grape-growing season. Unique varietals like ermitage, doral, and gamay, and ancient Lémanic reds like the Plant-Robert varietal, are grown only here. E-bike rentals can be picked up from most Swiss railway stations; Lausanne, 20 minutes away, is the closest. As with all wineries in Switzerland, calling ahead to arrange a visit is essential.
Av. Claude-Nobs 2, 1820 Montreux, Switzerland
Building on Montreux’s growing popularity as a tourist destination in the early 1900s, two Swiss hospitality pioneers joined an existing hotel with a newly constructed palace section, creating what was then one of the most cutting-edge hotels around—with such “modern” touches as electricity, heating, and private bathrooms. Officially opened in 1906, Le Montreux Palace went on to host everything from glamorous masquerade balls to the signing of international peace treaties, and everyone from New York tycoons to Indian maharajas.

The history lives on in today’s incarnation, which has been under the Fairmont umbrella since 2007. Following several years—and stages—of renovations, the Palace is as majestic as ever, with the 236 rooms and suites all featuring classic décor and balconies showcasing the lake or Alps. The hotel’s location at the edge of Lake Geneva is echoed in the seafood dishes at on-site restaurant MP’s Bar & Grill, where fresh catches (and fine cuts of meat) pair well with top Swiss wines. Additionally, both La Palmeraie and the seasonal La Terrasse du Petit Palais offer flavorful menus backed by spectacular views. Nightlife is big here, particularly at the Montreux Jazz Café and Funky Claude’s Bar, both of which serve casual cuisine, potent cocktails, and a good time. As a partner to the famous Montreux Jazz Festival, Claude’s also hosts live music six days a week, including jam sessions with festival members. Recuperate at the lakeside spa, which has indoor and outdoor pools, a gym, saunas, and a lengthy menu of face and body therapies.
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