We were only in Switzerland for a few days but I am already in love! My only regret is not staying longer to explore the whole country!
We arrived in Geneva and from there we took the train to Montreux – known as a luxury destination, home of the Montreux Jazz Festival, and where our hotel was located. 🙂 We stayed at the Fairmont Montreux Palace, situated on the shores of Lake Geneva in Switzerland – overlooking the Alps. Montreux Palace is a destination into itself with a rich history. It was built in 1906 and was used as a hospital in World Wars 1 and 2. Despite its age, the hotel is well maintained – the rooms have been renovated to be modern while keeping the character of the hotel.
The hotel is beautiful and the view from our room was breathtaking!
We stayed in a junior lake view suite with a luxurious open-concept room and elegant design, where you can admire the amazing view on Lake Geneva and the Alps from the cute balcony.
Tip: Make sure you ask the concierge for a free Montreux Rivera Card – it gives you free travel on the local public transportation network and 50% off boat cruises, some mountain rails and museums.
Swiss Travel Pass
We only had 3 full days to explore, so we made sure we got the Swiss Travel Pass which got us unlimited travel on the Swiss Travel system, including all trains, buses and boats. The train system was very comprehensive and it was so easy to get around. It is definitely highly recommended to get the pass, as it’s a time and money saver.
Tip: Panoramic scenic trains are included but you should plan ahead and make a seat reservation – especially during the busy season.
Tip 2: The mountain trams and funiculars are not included with the Swiss Travel Pass but you do have access to a 50% discount, so make sure you ask before you buy your tickets.
Tip 3: The Swiss Travel Pass also gives you free access to many museums and attractions, so do your research ahead of time.
The VIP seats on the panoramic first class train were totally worth the additional seat reservation charge. They are at the very front of the train with the view out the front, like what the train conductor would see.
Most regional trains in Switzerland do not require reservations. Whenever we were ready to leave we could just hop on the next train and take any open seat. We had first class tickets, which allowed us to access the first class cabins. They had larger comfortable seats and are generally quieter and less busy than the second-class coaches.
3 Day Itinerary from Montreux
Day 1 – Golden Pass Panoramic scenic train to Interlaken and Harder Kulm
The Golden Pass train ride was not just a journey but part of the Switzerland experience. It was amazing sitting right at the front and seeing the train wind through the Swiss Alps and country-side. It was postcard perfect at every turn!
Harder Kulm is a viewpoint at 1,321 metres (4,334 ft) overlooking the towns of Interlaken and Unterseen, which are both located among steep mountains. Despite being dwarfed by the several peaks in the distance, it still offers one of the best views of Interlaken and the surrounding region. Once you are in Interlaken, you can walk to the funicular that will take you up the mountain (not included but available at 50% off). We would have loved to check out Jungfraujoch – Top of Europe – but the trains were no longer offered after October… so I guess I will just have to go back for next time… and stay a lot longer then! 🙂
There is also a restaurant at the top of Karder Kulm! It was a perfect spot to grab a snack and some wine while enjoying the surrounding views.
We also checked out the cute town of Interlaken where you can shop for chocolate, watches… and more chocolate! It was a relaxing way to end the day.
Tip: You may be overwhelmed with all the different chocolate shops in town, but one of the best is Laderach, a family run company that offers top quality and handmade Swiss chocolate.
Some people actually get off at a small village (Caux) and hike up, but we opted to take the cogwheel train up to the peak (Also 50% off. With these discounts, my next trip is right around the corner!). At the peak you can still hike around the top to check out all the surrounding views. It was a lot of fun just wandering and exploring!
There are two restaurants – one curved into the side of the mountain with beautiful views (unfortunately it was closed when we were there) and another one right by the cogwheel train station. We had our very first Swiss fondue experience there and it was amazing!
On the way back down, we transferred to take the Glion-Territet funicular.
Once in Terriet, we walked along the shore of Lake Geneva to Chateau-de-Chillon. Approaching the “castle”, it felt like we were in a fairy tale… with the lake, fall leaves, castle and mountains in the back…
Chillon is listed as “Switzerland’s most visited historic monument” and it is really a sight to be seen. You can explore the castle and is well worth the trip. The sights within are well labeled and organized. It was a really fun self-guided tour.
Tip: Plan your trip around sunset and get some amazing shots of the castle with a coloured sunset background.
Day 3 – Geneva and Lausanne
On our last day, instead of checking out the natural beauty of the Swiss mountain and country-side, we decided to change pace and check out the city life. We took the train from Montreux into Geneva for a day of eating and shopping!
We explored the old town making our way to the Geneva water fountain. Unfortunately, it was closed for maintenance (yet another reason to visit again). We then checked out the Musée d’Art et d’Histoire – Geneva’s largest museum with items ranging from pre-historic finds to modern paintings. Then we checked out St. Pierre Cathedral.
Tip: When it comes to nightlife in Switzerland, Lausanne is the place to be. Lausanne has many bars and clubs offering everything from tango to trance.
In the evening, we decided to make our way to Lausanne to check out the party scene and as compared to Geneva, there is more of a night life. The city definitely comes to live at night! There aren’t many gay options but we did end up going to Chic Club, and it was super cute. It wasn’t huge, but it had a lot of character. Everyone was just having a great time with a lot of bottle services (which means they are having fun!)
And with that – our trip sadly ended… We all left knowing that we want to come back to see more of Switzerland. It is a beautiful country with a lot to do and see. Next time, I want to try skiing the Swiss Alps or perhaps some parasailing/paragliding, which seems to be very popular around Interlaken. I cannot wait to plan my next trip!!!