WHAT TO DO IN MURTEN + TRAVEL TIPS
- 1 WHAT TO DO IN MURTEN + TRAVEL TIPS
- 2 MURTEN TRAVEL TIPS
- 3 TOP THINGS TO DO IN MURTEN IN ONE DAY +
- 4 FINAL THOUGHTS ON VISITING MURTEN
One of the most beautiful towns in Switzerland, if not THE most beautiful, is Murten. This medieval town, sitting on a hill above Lake Murten, is just stunning. Seriously, Murten is the definition of stunning.
I have seen my fair share of towns and villages in Switzerland – Murten is in my top 3 of gorgeous towns in the country. And if you are wondering about the best things to do in Murten, then this post is for you. Though Murten is not rich in attractions or sights in itself, it is definitely worth a visit.
Thus, I am sharing my tips on what to do in Murten plus some quick travel tips.
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MURTEN TRAVEL TIPSHere are some quick travel tips for your trip.
- Murten is located in the west of Switzerland – on the language border between French and German, in the canton of Fribourg.
- This is also why it is known as Morat in French – while Murten is the German name. However, German is the main language (76%) and so I will keep calling it Murten.
- Murten is easily accessible via car or train. It takes only about 30 minutes by train or car to get there from Bern and less than 2 hours from Zurich or Lucerne. Thus, it is also a perfect day trip from any one of these cities.
- From the Murten train station, it is a five-minute walk to the old town. To see the main sights you will need comfy shoes. Medieval towns often come with cobbled-stoned streets – and so does Murten. With the right shoes, you can explore the town on foot. The town center is small and even if you walk along the shores of Lake Murten you will not need a bus/car.
- To see the places/activities mentioned here, you will need about half a day – if you do a boat cruise (especially the 3-lake cruise) you should plan for a full day in Murten.
- If you get around via public transportation, you should check out the Swiss Travel Pass. I visit Switzerland often, and most of the time I get one – even if it’s a road trip. It is for sale for non-Swiss residents and allows you to use trains and buses without any extra costs. You can also cruise Lake Murten without any extra costs (boat cruises on most other lakes in Switzerland are also included). There are also more perks that come with the Swiss Travel Pass – the initial prices for a Swiss Travel Pass are quite high but it pays for itself if you get around via public transportation and are active in Switzerland for more than three or four days. So, check out prices for boats and trains and then calculate if it is a good option for you. For me, it usually makes sense as I am very active and use public transportation/mountain rides often (even if I road trip Switzerland). I also love boat rides – which means many, many boat cruises for me whenever I have a Swiss Travel Pass. Check out prices for a Swiss Travel Pass here.
- This flat/apartment (check out here) has very good reviews and offers a fully equipped kitchen, a garden terrace, and free WiFi right in the heart of Murten.
- If you are looking for a hotel, then this 3-star hotel, also in the heart of Murten, might be a good choice for your stay. Check out this hotel here.
TOP THINGS TO DO IN MURTEN IN ONE DAY +Okay, let´s start with what to do in Murten.
Rampart WallsThe very best thing to do in Murten is to walk the town’s rampart walls. They were built in several stages and from a variety of materials such as gravel, tuff, and sandstone. The lower 15 layers of stone date from before the town’s construction (12th century). Documents state, that King Conrad IV requested his citizens to build a wall around the city. In return, King Conrad issued a 4-year tax exemption to all citizens. The views from there of LakeMurten and the old town are splendid. You have to climb a few steps but it is nothing strenuous.
- Free to visit
- Open daily from sunrise to sunset
- Closed during the carnival season (3 days in March/April) and during Youth Festival “Solennität“ in June
Murten Castle + Tower / Schloss Murten / Château de MoratYou might be surprised, or maybe not, to find out about a castle in Murten. Actually, it will be the first attraction you come across when you get from the train station to the old town. The Murten Castle dates back to the 13th century, though today’s castle is from the 18th century.
It served as a residence to the bailiffs from Bern and Fribourg. Throughout history, it also served as a hospital, prison, and barracks. Today it houses the Canton of Fribourg’s Prefecture of the Lake District.
- Opening hours: The tower castle is open from late June to the end of October, from 9 am to 7 pm.
Old TownAhhhh, the beautiful buildings in the old town are a feast for the eye! You might be familiar with this kind of buildings if you have visited Biel e.g. I would not say they are extremely unique but they are extremely picturesque.
Traditional and colorful – this is what you get with these buildings. The flower pots are just the icing on the cake.
Founded eight centuries ago by the Dukes of Zähringen, some buildings date back to the 16th century. The main street (Hauptgasse / Grand Rue) is full of these charming buildings, but you will find many more in the little side streets, along with cute cafes and boutique shops. Also, keep an eye out for the vaulted arcades. You will notice many unique fountains throughout the town – they are not only pretty, but you can also refill your water bottles with fresh water. Look at this police station (Polizeiposten) – is it not pretty? Though there are many buildings that will attract your attention, also look out for the town hall (Rathaus). It was rebuilt after the city fire in the 15th century and later it was renovated and enlarged. But the baroque tower and clock were added only in 1816. The ground floor was formerly used as a storage area and arsenal and these days it is used as a reception hall. Fun fact: Neon-lit signs are not allowed – this way, the charm of this gorgeous old town can be preserved.
Bern Gate / BerntorAnother attraction is the Berntor. It was first mentioned in history in the 13th-century and was completely destroyed in the 15th century.
Over the years, it had been rebuilt several times and today’s Berntor dates from the second half of the 18th century. If you have been to Bern you might see the resemblance to the “Zytglogge” Tower in Bern – that is because they were built by the same architect, Niklaus Hebler.
The clock, high above on the Bern Gate, dates back to the 18th century and is still wound every day. Three heavily weighted stones, probably cannonballs from the Battle of Murten, are raised by hand cranking every 24 hours.
Lake Murten / Murtensee / Lac de MoratMurten is located on the south-eastern shores of Lake Murten, which is also known as Murtensee in German or Lac de Morat in French. As you might know, I am a lake chaser. And the unofficial reason I adore Switzerland are the many, many breathtaking lakes. And guess what? Murten has also its own pretty lake. Yes, it is not as big in size as Lake Geneva, nor does it have a unique color like Lake Brienz, but rest assured: Lake Murten is a wonderful place to visit. Because of its shallow depth, Lake Murten warms up quickly by the sun which makes it perfect for swimming (you do not want to jump into the cold glacier lakes you have in other parts of Switzerland). However, it is not only for the water sport enthusiasts: You can also do a boat cruise on Lake Murten which takes about an hour. There is even the option to get to Neuchatel through the Broye canal which takes just under two hours. But apart from all that: you can also just look at it and walk along its shores or rest at the meadow in front of the lake. Boat cruises are free with a Swiss Travel Pass
Murten MuseumThe Murten Museum is one of the oldest in the canton of Fribourg. Since 1978, it is located in the former mill, just outside the rampart walls. The permanent collection illustrates 6,000 years of Murten’s history, as well as that of the surrounding area. There are also temporary exhibitions on display each year.
- Free with your Swiss Travel Pass
- Open from Tuesdays to Saturdays from 2 pm to 5 pm, Sundays from 10 am to 5 pm