WHAT TO DO IN GRUYERES + TRAVEL TIPS
Are you planning your Gruyeres itinerary and wondering about the best things to do in Gruyeres? Then this post is for you.
Gruyères is a town in the canton of Fribourg, known for its picturesque medieval architecture and its cheese, which is also named after the town. Nestled in the Alpine foothills, Gruyères is where the famous Swiss cheese of the same name is produced.
And if you are planning your Gruyères trip, you might be wondering about what to do in Gruyères – if so, keep reading to learn more facts + top activities, and more.
Is Gruyères Worth Visiting?
Yes, Gruyeres is worth visiting. In this pretty, medieval Swiss town you will find a castle worthy of a fairy tale, weird and interesting museums, a Gruyere cheese factory museum, and an excellent Chocolaterie. It makes for a very iconic and traditional day in Switzerland. And if you want to spend time at a waterfall, you also have a chance to do so.
However, I would not say it is in my personal top 20 of places to visit in Switzerland – there are too many other beautiful places in the country that are must-see for your Switzerland itinerary.
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GRUYERES TRAVEL TIPS
WHERE IS GRUYERES?
Gruyeres is in the east of Switzerland, in the French-speaking canton of Fribourg, approximately between Lake Geneva and Bern.
This small town of approximately 2000 inhabitants is located at 810 meters above sea level, on top of an 82-meter-high hill. To the south, instead, are the peaks of the Natural Park of Gruyere Pays d’Enhaut, snowy white during the winter and lush with forests in the rest of the year.
HOW TO GET TO GRUYERES?
Gruyeres does have a small train station (Gruyères Gare) and is easily accessible from Montreux, Bulle, or Bern. It takes about 1.5-2 hours to get from Bern to Gruyères, and about 90 minutes from Montreux to Gruyères Gare.
To get from the train station of Gruyeres to the old town, you need to do a 15-minute uphill walk – alternatively, you can take a bus from the bus station to the city center.
If you want to do a guided tour from Lausanne, check out this tour.
MORE TIPS FOR YOUR GRUYERES TRIP:
- Make sure to wear comfy shoes – high-heels especially might be tricky with all the cobbled-stoned streets.
- Also, bring a refillable water bottle. There are a couple of water fountains – yes, you can drink that safe and delicious water.
THINGS TO DO IN GRUYERES
Most of the things to do in Gruyères are in the old town on the hill, so let´s start your one-day itinerary of Gruyere there.
Stroll the Old Town
The old town of Gruyeres is nice and traditional, but not the most charming Swiss village, in my opinion. Still, it’s a must to stroll along the main street, the Rue du Bourg which is car-free.
It’s quite picturesque with a fountain in the center, flowers decorating the buildings nearby, the castle at the top of the hill, and the mountains in the backdrop.
Explore the Gruyeres Castle
The hilltop fortress Château de Gruyères dates back to the 13th century and is located at the end of the main street – it is probably THE highlight in Gruyeres.
It really looks like a castle from a movie, with its numerous stone towers, the boundary wall around the beautiful French garden, and the red pointy roofs. The views from the top floor are lovely!
You can visit its beautifully decorated rooms and watch a 20-minute history show available in multiple languages. Very often there are also temporary art exhibitions.
- Opening hours: Every day from 9 am to 6 pm in the summer (April-October), and from 10 am to 5 pm in the winter (November-March). The garden is open only during the summer.
- Free access with the Swiss Travel Pass. Discounted tickets are available if you wish to visit also the other museums of Gruyeres on the same day.
- Calculate 1 – 2 hours for your visit.
Visit the Extravagant HR Giger Museum
Then head back to the city center and visit the weirdest museum (in my opinion) in Switzerland. The HR Giger Museum is extremely weird and slightly disturbing for my taste, BUT Alien fans and cinema buffs will love it.
Hans Ruedi Giger is a Swiss artist who contributed with his designs to the 1979 film “Alien”. With the special effects team, he was awarded an Oscar!
The HR Giger Museum was established by him in the Saint-Germain Castle in Gruyeres, right outside the Gruyeres Castle. After he died in 2014, his art remained on display for the public.
You’ll find paintings, sculptures, drawings, and even furniture, all with sci-fi and alien themes. Part of it is restricted to adults, because, you know… it’s aliens doing stuff that kids shouldn’t see! Very weird, very weird – very, very weird and disturbing at times.
- Opening hours: Winter schedule (until 24th March) Tuesday to Friday – 1 pm to 5 pm – Saturday and Sunday – 10 am to 6 pm. The last entrance is 45 minutes before the closing time. For the summer schedule please visit the website.
- Free access with the Swiss Travel Pass.
- Calculate 1 – 2 hours for your visit.
Giger “Alien” Bar
If the museum wasn’t enough, make sure you visit the Giger Bar on the other side of the road. It was completely designed by Giger, and it really feels like entering an Alien-themed bar.
The furniture looks like Alien bodies and the ceiling seems made of bones. Everything is very, very, very absurd. Seriously very weird. But you may find it fascinating instead. To each his own.
Discover the Tibet Museum
Another unique museum in Gruyeres is the Tibet Museum. This small museum showcases old Tibetan artifacts, Buddhist sculptures, ritual objects from the Himalayas, and Asian art pieces.
It’s quite an impressive collection, for such a small Swiss village and a small space! If you are interested in this culture, and if you have a combined ticket with the other museums, then it’s a nice addition to your day in Gruyeres.
- Free with your Swiss Travel Pass
Taste Swiss Cheese
Many restaurants in the old town of Gruyeres offer traditional Swiss cheese fondue in a pretty setting. Close to the bus station, there is the cheese factory museum at La Maison du Gruyère.
Cheese lovers definitely should visit: the small museum shows the steps to make the famous Gruyère cheese, and it’s even possible to watch the cheese-making process live! Fondue and cheese tastings are available, to complete the experience.
I did not visit because a) I do not really eat cheese as I avoid animal products because of ethical reasons b) I have the most sensitive nose in the world and I could not take the smell. You, or at least I, smelled the cheese from very far away already and that was enough for me.
Chocolaterie de Gruyères
In the old town is the Chocolaterie de Gruyères, a paradise for chocolate fans.
From hot chocolate to ice cream, through innumerable types of delicious chocolates in all shapes and tastes: if you like chocolate, take a break here!
Admire the Jaun´s Waterfall (Cascade de Jaun)
If you like to put another activity on your Gruyeres itinerary, add Jaun´s Waterfall to your itinerary. After – or before – exploring the old town of Gruyères, you could head to the beautiful waterfall in Jaun, located approximately 30 minutes away by car or 50 minutes by bus.
The town of Jaun is very traditional: cute wooden houses huddled along a few streets near the church, in a very Swiss way. But the attraction is the waterfall which is located less than 10 minutes from the village, close to the forest.
There is something magical and positive about this place. Especially in June, when up to 6000 liters per second spurt from the rock, if you go close enough it feels like you are breathing the water drops.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE BEST GRUYERES ACTIVITIES
Gruyeres is a cute, small village – a typical Swiss village. A beautiful Swiss village. I would not say it is a must-see if you just have 5 days in Switzerland
but it is well worth a visit. Spending one day in Gruyere is a good idea if you are looking for a more remote, and less famous destination in Switzerland. Though there are not tons of things to do in Gruyere, there is enough to do to enjoy a day or two. And if you are a cheese lover – unlike me – you will appreciate Gruyere even more.