Switzerland

Things to do in Gruyères, Switzerland

22 November, 2018 (Last Updated: 25 May, 2020)
by Carolyn
Gruyeres castle from above

The quaint historical town of Gruyères, Switzerland, is located at an elevation of 82 metres at the top of a hill with stunning views of the Saane Valley. The sloping hillsides of the surrounding valley enfold the town in calming hues of blue and green, with wild greenery at every turn. 

Things to do in Gruyères mostly relate to eating, the stunning outdoors and a few unusual museums to explore. 

Popular things to do include tasting the excellent cuisine on offer, including Cailler Swiss chocolate during a tour of the Maison Cailler Chocolate Factory, visiting unique museums such as the HR Giger Museum Bar and the Tibet Museum Gruyeres, and—thanks to its beautiful and verdant geography—a multitude of activities for the nature-inclined including hiking Gorges de la Jogne and you can also ski Moléson

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The pretty medieval town of Gruyeres in Switzerland

Things to do in Gruyères, Switzerland

Located at the base of the Swiss Alpine foothills, Gruyères is a charming walled medieval town that has stood the test of time. Originating from the 13th century when the Count of Gruyères built a castle to control the valley, the town below soon began to develop. 

The town is rumoured to be named for the crane (in French, “grue”) captured by its legendary founder Gruerius, but is much better known for the delicious cheese made in the region. 

Today, between its beautiful and enchanting ancient medieval architecture and history, and less-ancient activities like theme bars and museums commemorating a particularly Hollywood film, the town of Gruyères is a blend of both its past and modern life. 

Let’s now explore what to do in Gruyères, Switzerland.


Gruyères Castle 

Gruyeres CastleChateau Gruyères dates back to the 13th century and is open to visitors.

The Gruyères Castle (or chateau Gruyères) dates from the 13th century. It was built to secure control of the region by the Count of Gruyères, and after its completion, the town beneath its imposing stone walls began to form. 

Set atop the lush hill that overlooks the town, the Gruyères Castle is a proud tapestry of eight centuries worth of history. 

Inside the castle is a museum showcasing a multitude of artefacts and artworks including tapestries and frescoes, as well as a small screening room with a short 20-minute video presentation on the castle’s historic beginnings. 

Aside from the fascinating historical education, being atop a hill puts visitors in a prime location to witness some of the most beautiful views of the lush, rolling hillsides for which Switzerland is famous. 

For opening hours and admission fees, click here.


HR Giger Museum and HR Giger Bar

When it comes to European museums, the usual suspects are beautiful artwork, ancient artefacts, and historical locations. But the HR Giger Museum, Gruyeres is a unique tribute to the Swiss artist most notably responsible for the title character’s design and creation in the 1979 Sigourney Weaver film, Alien

The museum is full of Giger’s art and sculptures, each with the same underlying dimension of twistedness and darkness for which he is well-known. For fans of the movie, life-sized figures of the creature from Alien are mounted on display. 

The attached HR Giger Bar has a creepy interior design (based on Giger’s works) of sloped, arched ceilings made of what appear to be vertebrae and metallic children’s heads! 


Maison Cailler Chocolate Factory 

Cailler chocolateMaison Cailler is a must-visit when in Gruyeres. Photo © Nestlé

While obviously famous for the cheese named after the city, Gruyères is also notable for its excellent chocolate. The Maison Cailler Chocolate factory in Switzerland exposes a fascinating history of chocolate-making in the region, as well as the factory’s origins dating all the way back to pre-1900. 

The Gruyères chocolate factory offers a tour of the facility to show the chocolate-making process, and the shop sells handmade chocolates as well as some of the best ice cream (chocolate, of course) available in the area. 

For foodies, chocoholics and anyone interested in immersing themselves in regional food, the Cailler Chocolate factory tour is a must do. 

Maison Cailler is located at Broc, just 4 kilometres from Gruyères.


Gorges de la Jogne 

If you’re looking to burn off some of that cheese and chocolate in which you’ve been indulging (not that we blame you), then there’s an easy, accessible, and highly enjoyable hike not far from the city centre. 

The Gorges de la Jogne hike is flanked at both ends by notable sights—the above-mentioned Maison Cailler Broc chocolate factory at one end, and a hydroelectric dam at the other. 

Along this hike, you are treated to beautiful and breathtaking natural views, waterfalls, rock crevices, rushing streams, magical little bridges and pathways that have been carved right through solid rock, giving a mystical and enchanting effect. You’ll feel as though you are walking through a fairy tale. 


La Maison du Gruyères: The Gruyères Cheese Factory 

Cheese making in GruyeresCheese making in Gruyeres. Image © La Maison du Gruyères

Food connoisseurs and general cheese fans will have an unforgettable experience at La Maison du Gruyère, a cheese shop famous for not only the eponymous cheese that is made in this region, but the Gruyère cheese factory tour offered that details the process of the cheesemaking process itself. 

Arrive early in the day to see the cheesemakers at work creating the famed regional cheese. 

Included in the Gruyères cheese factory tour price are free gruyère samples, and when you’ve completed your tour through the cheese kitchen, be sure to stay awhile to order the cheese fondue to really get a taste for how cheese is incorporated into local cuisine. 


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Tibet Museum Gruyères

The list of unique museums in Gruyères isn’t limited to just one. The Tibet Museum, as the name might suggest, holds a collection of Buddhist art, and is located in the centre of this medieval city. 

For those seeking a reprieve from the constant touring, but still want to spend their day immersed in the city, the Tibet Museum is a quiet and zen-like retreat for a few hours thanks to serene and restful music. 

Located inside of an abandoned Catholic church that was reclaimed by collector Alain Bordier, the Tibet Museum boasts a large and fascinating collection of Asian artefacts, statuettes, and other treasures that give this little medieval European town a slight exotic flavour. 


Moléson sur Gruyères

Wheels of cheese in GruyeresWheels of Gruyeres cheese during the ageing process. Image © La Maison du Gruyères

Just a short drive from Gruyères is the small village Moléson sur Gruyères.

Outdoor enthusiasts and skiers, make sure you don’t miss out on the Moléson, a mountain located in the Swiss Pre-Alps with striking views of the countryside below and the region surrounding famed Lake Geneva. 

If you want a panoramic view on the way up, you can take the Moléson funicular to get right to the top, at nearly 2,000 metres above sea level. Don’t miss the observatory equipment, complete with super-zoom binoculars, to get another perspective on the jaw-dropping view from above. 

On the way down, there are hiking trails if you want to see the natural beauty of the mountainside, making a summer hike a great way to burn off some of the gruyère cheese you’ll have undoubtedly sampled by the time you get here—but make sure you bring good walking shoes. 

If you happen to be visiting in the wintertime, ski and snowshoe trails are available for those who want to experience the winter wonderland. The restaurant located at the top comes highly recommended for something to eat after a long day of exploring and feasting your eyes. 


Day Trips from Gruyères 

If you’re staying in Gruyères but are itching to explore the larger cities surrounding the town, there are endless options for exploration in cities less than a 75-minute drive away. 

Geneva 

Only an hour and a half’s drive from Gruyères, the city of Geneva offers an endless array of activities for travellers. Geneva is a wonderful melding of ancient history and modern life, with sights that range from The Tavel House, which details urban life throughout six centuries of Genevan life, and the Red Cross Museum, which outlines the humanitarian work of the Red Cross. 

Other notable sights to see in Geneva include the Broken Chair, a 12-metre high public art installation of a chair with a broken leg (don’t worry—it won’t fall on you), The St. Pierre Cathedral, the Palace of Nations (the headquarters for the UN in Europe), as well as endless art and history museums. 

Click here to read more about Geneva

Bern 

As the capital city of Switzerland, there is no shortage of things to do in Bern. There are options for every range of museums: history, art, natural history, and even such ones as The Museum of Communication, detailing human connection and communication throughout history. 

Aside from the wide array of museums, Bern offers interesting local architecture, such as the Zytglogge (a historical and astrological clock dating back to 1405 AD), the Bern Munster (a Gothic cathedral famed for its 100m tall spire and beautiful stained glass), and even outdoor activities like the Bern Rose Garden and the Bärengraben, a 19th century bear pit where live many brown bears (the city’s symbol). 

Click here to read more about Bern

Lausanne 

Less than an hour’s drive from Gruyères and nestled on the banks of Lake Geneva is Lausanne. Featuring a mixture of architecture ranging from the Gothic-style Lausanne Cathedral to the Renaissance-style Palais de la Rumine, Lausanne is a city that effortlessly combines historical architecture with contemporary life. 

Many sports fans might know that Lausanne is home to the headquarters for the International Olympic Committee, but the city is also famous for its Olympic Museum, with exhibitions on athletics, and even an outdoor track. 

Areas surrounding Lausanne are a haven of forests and parks, making sunny days perfect for hiking, picnics, or countryside driving. 


Where is Gruyères?

The picture book medieval town of Gruyères is located in the region of Gruyères in the canton of Fribourg in south western Switzerland.


How to get to Gruyères

By car: You can easily get to Gruyères by car from anywhere within Switzerland.  It is only 90 minutes’ drive from Geneva and a 60-minute drive from either Bern or Lausanne.

By train: Like most cities in Switzerland, Gruyères is also easily accessed by train. Frequent train services operate to Gruyères. Visit the Swiss Railways website to check timetables.

By organised tour: If you prefer someone else to take care of the plans, there are plenty of tours from Geneva to Gruyères you can join.  Regardless of the tour you join, most follow a similar route and take you to visit the Maison Cailler Chocolaterie and the cheese factory.  There will also be plenty of time to stroll the village.

Click here to compare tours and check prices


On the Chocolate Train from Montreux to Gruyères: For a real treat, why not hop aboard the Chocolate Train which runs between Montreux, Gruyeres and Broc?

Your first class journey will either be aboard Belle Epoque carriages or the modern, panoramic GoldenPass train.

Coffee and croissants are served on departure from Montreux, and the ticket price also includes a visit to La Maison du Gruyere cheese dairy, free time in Gruyeres, and a tour and tastings at La Maison Cailler chocolate factory.

The Chocolate Train operates four times per week from May to June, daily during July and three times per week from September to October.

Click here to check timetables and prices

Chocolate TrainIf you are visiting Gruyeres from May to October, the Chocolate Train is a fun way to reach the town. Image © GoldenPass.ch


Where to stay in Gruyeres

Hotel Gruyères Switzerland

The Hotel Gruyères Switzerland is located at the gates of Gruyères and offers panoramic views to the Dents du Chamois et du Broc from most rooms.

The hotel has a spa area and fitness room as well as a garden and terrace.  Individual rooms include amenities such as bathroom, WC, TV, telephone, Wi-Fi, mini bar and safe.  Room configurations are either queen or 2 twin beds, with family rooms available that contain a queen bed and 2 twin beds.

Distance to local attractions:

  • 500 m to Chateau de Gruyères
  • 350 m to HR Giger Museum
  • 350 m to Tibet Museum
  • 1 km to La Maison du Gruyère
  • 10 minute drive to Maison Cailler Chocolate Factory
  • 10-minute drive to Gorges de la Jogne
  • 10-minute drive to Moléson Village

Click here for more information about the hotel or to make a booking.


Hotel de Ville Gruyères

The Hotel de Ville Gruyères is located in the centre of the village with stunning panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.

This hotel is set in a chalet style building and has an onsite restaurant.  The hotel has 8 fully renovated individual rooms which include amenities such as bathroom, WC, TV, telephone and Wi-Fi.  Breakfast is also included in the room rate.  Rooms include a double bed or a double bed as well as a sofa bed. 

Distance to local attractions:

  • 250 m to Chateau de Gruyères
  • 150 m to HR Giger Museum
  • 150 m to Tibet Museum
  • 1 km to La Maison du Gruyère
  • 10 minute drive to Maison Cailler Chocolate Factory
  • 10-minute drive to Gorges de la Jogne
  • 10-minute drive to Moléson Village

Click here for more information about the hotel or to make a booking.


La Fleur de Lys Gruyères

La Fleur de Lys Gruyères is located in the centre of town in a 350-year-old building.

The hotel has views of the city centre as well as the alps and also has an on-site restaurant.  There are 10 individual rooms each with twin beds (no double beds) and includes a bathroom, WC, TV, telephone and Wi-Fi.  Breakfast is also included in the rate.

Distance to local attractions:

  • 250 m to Chateau de Gruyères
  • 250 m to HR Giger Museum
  • 150 m to Tibet Museum
  • 1 km to La Maison du Gruyère
  • 10 minute drive to Maison Cailler Chocolate Factory
  • 10-minute drive to Gorges de la Jogne
  • 10-minute drive to Moléson Village

Click here for more information about the hotel or to make a booking.


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