Chateau de Chillon claims to be Switzerland’s most visited historical monument. This romantic castle is beautifully located on a small rocky island in Lake Geneva (Lac Léman) near the popular Swiss resort town Montreux. The interior of the medieval castle can be seen without a guided tour making Chillon Castle a great option for families traveling with smaller children too.
Due to the number of stairs and uneven surfaces, Chillon Castle is not accessible to wheelchair users or strollers (buggies).
Touring Historical Chateau de Chillon Castle near Montreux
Chateau de Chillon is mostly visited without guided tours. Free information sheets in various languages are issued with tickets for a reasonably comprehensive description of sights in the castle. Audio guides may be rented but many will find the free information sheet quite sufficient.
The top sights at Chillon Castle are numbered and well signposted throughout the building. Following the recommended tour route is fairly simple even without consulting maps. However, the free information sheet usefully indicated where to retrace the route and where it is necessary to ascent or descent to different levels.
In total, nearly 50 rooms are seen on the full tour – even at a fast pace two hours should be considered the minimum time required to see the interior of Chillon Castle.
As the tour winds in and out of the buildings and courtyards, it is easy to vary the length of the visit. Rooms are often bare or with very limited furniture or art work making visiting the castle less of a cultural tour de force than it may seem at first. Many stairs and narrow staircases are scattered throughout the castle while large parts of the wooden sentries’ walk are open to visitors making for sufficient physical entertainment for smaller children.
Highlights of Touring Chateau de Chillon Castle
Tour highlights include the dungeon where Bonivard was held prisoner and Lord Byron defaced the wall with graffiti, the reception rooms and private chambers of the dukes of Savoy and later the Bernese castellan, several latrines (with crude medieval artworks and jokes), and the defensive structures including sentries’ walk, watchtowers, and bastions.
Fantastic views can be had from most windows in the castle. However, the best are the wonderful 360° views that can be enjoyed from the top of the 25 m high keep of Chillon Castle. From here it is possible to see the Alps, Lake Geneva, Montreux, and the transportation infrastructure next to the castle.
The top of the keep (donjon) can only be reached by several narrow and very steep wooden staircases. Passing is impossible and these staircases are best avoided during busy periods.
Opening Hours of Chateau de Chillon Castle in Switzerland
Chateau de Chillon is open year round. The only two days that the castle is closed is December 25 and January 1.
Much of the castle is unlit thus restricting opening hours to daylight time only. Opening hours are as follows:
10 am to 4 pm from November to February
9:30 am to 5 pm in October and March
9 am to 6 pm from April to September
Tickets for Chateau de Chillon Castle in Lake Geneva
Tickets for Chateau de Chillon are sold at the ticket counter on the bridge between the mainland and the fortress. Reservations for individuals are not possible.
Tickets for adults are CHF12 (US$11) for adults and CHF6 (US$5.50) for children aged 6 to 16. Family tickets are CHF28 (US$26) for a couple with own children under 16.
Chateau de Chillon Castle is a great rainy day or bad weather destination for visitors to Montreux, Lausanne, Geneva, and Alpine ski areas in Switzerland, France, and Italy. Views may be restricted on foggy days but the inside of the castle is dry although in winter definitely not warm. Multiple transportation options bring the castle within easy reach of many nearby vacation resorts.