The first thing I thought when I arrived in Switzerland was “how have I never been here before?!”. This was my fourth trip to Europe, but the first time making it to Switzerland. I have to say, this country is undoubtedly one of the most picturesque places I’ve ever laid my eyes on. Every corner is charming, grand and undeniably beautiful. Keep reading to read about 4 places I visited on my trip in Switzerland and why you need to visit too!
Vevey is a lakeside town on the shores of Lake Geneva and considered of of the “Pearls of the Swiss Riviera”. I arrived in Vevey on the most beautiful summer day, with not a breeze or cloud in the sky after catching the train in from Geneva airport. Within my first few hours of visiting, I knew there was something special about this place. It’s intimate and glamorous, but not over the top. That’s not to say it’s not painstakingly beautiful, because it certainly is.
Where to stay in Vevey, Switzerland:
Grand Hotel du Lac Vevey
I arrived from Geneva airport and caught the train to Vevey railway station, which took around an hour and a half, although it hardly felt like it given how scenic the ride was. From there, I caught a 10 minute bus and arrived in front of Grand Hotel du Lac Vevey. If I could choose one word to describe this hotel, it would be charming. The hotel is in the old section of the town of Vevey, right on Lake Geneva, and surrounded by snow-peaked mountains. It sometimes was hard to believe a place like this even exists.
The rooms weren’t huge, but at the same time, still felt spacious and luxurious. Everything is designed with elegance in mind and perfectly encapsulates the surrounding areas. If I was to return to Vevey, which I certainly will, I would definitely choose to stay again.
Best things to do in Vevey
Alimentarium. The first museum in the world devoted exclusively to nutrition.
Vevey market. Each Tuesday and Saturday morning in summer, the square belongs to the famous Vevey market, with its colourful, perfumed stands offering flowers, fruits, vegetables, cheeses, meats, fish and old objects.
Chaplin’s World. Another famous museum in Vevey which honours Charlie Chaplin in his former home, with interactive displays, memorabilia & a cafe.
Dine at Ze Fork. Born in 2014, the restaurant Ze Fork occupies the ground floor of an old restored mansion. It’s known as one of the best restaurants to dine in Vevey, boasting quite impressive views of Lake Geneva.
Brunch at Grand Hôtel du Lac. If you’re not staying here, you can always come for brunch! The setting is breathtaking and the food just as good. I could easily spend all morning here.
Set against the dreamy backdrop of the Swiss Alps and on the shores of Lake Geneva is where you’ll find Montreux. It’s about a 20 minute bus ride from Vevey and it’s no surprise why it’s the birthplace of tourism in Switzerland. Millions of people from all over the world flock to this place, including many musicians and artists. It’s beyond magical. We spent a few hours one morning strolling along Lake Geneva in Montreux and I could’ve probably stayed there the entire trip (or life…?).
Best things to do in Montreux
I also wrote a dedicated travel guide to Montreux so be sure to check it out!
Montreux Jazz Festival. The Montreux Jazz Festival is a week long celebration in July that has a world famous reputation for its musical performances. Not only that, the whole town comes alive with street festivals, pool parties and more! It’s definitely the best time to visit but just be sure to get in early, as accommodation and tickets book out real quick.
Walk along the Promenade. The 3.5 kilometer stretch between Clarens and the Château de Chillon is one of the most beautiful walks along Lake Geneva, and flaunts a variety of pretty blossoms.
Château de Chillon. The 13th century medieval fortress on the shores of Lake Geneva is the most visited monument in Switzerland.
Queen: The Studio Experience. If you’re into music history and are a fan of Queen, you’ll love this one! This tour takes you to the Montreux Mountain Studios, where the band wrote and recorded some of their most acclaimed music. Plus there’s plenty of Queen memorabilia, such as photographs and original handwritten copies of lyrics.
Lavaux Vineyards. The Lavaux vineyards stretch an impressive 30 km between Lausanne and Montreux. The scenery is jaw-dropping, it’s no wonder they’re a UNESCO World Heritage site. Although there is some evidence that vines were grown in the area in Roman times, the present vine terraces can be traced back to the 11th century. Hikers through the terraced vineyards can enjoy easy walks or just stop by for a wine tasting!
I headed to into the city of Zürich for a few days which was a total change of pace from Montreux! Being a big city (well, big for Switzerland), it is very business-oriented, but still so beautiful. I spent 3 nights in the city which I think was the perfect amount of time to explore. We got very lucky with the weather too, which only meant we were spoiled with activities to do!
Best things to do in Zurich
Explore the old town (Altstadt). Who knew Zurich had an old town?! I’d recommend taking a sightseeing tour through it’s charming cobblestone streets and hidden alleyways. It’s such a great way to learn more about it’s colourful history and really become immersed in your surroundings.
Go chocolate testing. I mean this is sort of a no-brainer in Switzerland as the country is renowned for it’s chocolate. Head to Sprungli for the most known chocolate in Switzerland and make sure to try alllll the truffles and macarons!
Dine at Fischer’s Fritz. We took a quick boat ride across Lake Zurich to Fischer’s Fritz, a gorgeous seafood restaurant but in a holiday setting (there’s even a camp next door where some people spend all summer!). All the fish for their dishes are even sourced directly from there. If you’re catching Zurich on a summer day, I wouldn’t miss this place!
Dine at NENI. One of my favourite places that I had the pleasure of dining at in Switzerland was NENI, with a mix of Mediterranean, Persian and Austrian food. I believe there’s a few locations throughout Europe now with two being in Zurich (25Hours hotel and Zurich West). We headed to the 25Hours restaurant as we were staying at the hotel and loved it. It comes alive on a summer night. Order the “Jerusalem Teller”…. trust me.
Visit Zurich West. I loved the vibe of Zurich West most – it reminded me a little of one of my favourite cities, Berlin. Perhaps it was all the trendy and cool bars, clubs & restaurants. It is a former industrial site but new generations have turned it into the trendiest part of the city.
The last place I had the chance to visit in Switzerland was the alpine town of Engelberg. The town is most known for Mt Titlis which has made it one of the largest winter and summer holiday destinations in central Switzerland. I think by this point my body was in a bit of a shock coming from 30°C degree weather in Vevey, to -10°C degrees on Mt Titlis. There is snow at the top all year round but in the winter it’s basically a winter paradise. Lots of skiing, snowboarding and sledding! During summer there’s biking, hiking and lots of activities to offer active people.
Best things to do in Engelberg
Mt Titlis. As the main attraction of Engelberg, this can be a whole day (or more!) in itself. Once you take the cable car up to the top of the mountain, depending on the season, things to do in Mt titlis include:
– Skiing / Snowboarding
– Cliff walk
– Walk inside glacier caves
– Bike riding
– And of course end the day with a hot coffee or chocolate in the cosy chalet!
Trüebsee. Before making it to the top of Titlis, be sure to stop by cable car at Trüebsee, one of the most beautiful lakes in Switzerland. It’s also along a few walking paths if you’d prefer to visit by foot.
Cheese factory. Inside the monastery in the town of Engelberg, be sure to drop by the cute cheese factory to get a glimpse into the production (and even try some for yourself).
Visit the Monastery. The Benedictine Monastery, built in 1120, forms the center of Engelberg. To date there are still approximately 30 monks living and working in there!