Gruyeres Castle from above
Things to Do Western Switzerland

Things to do in Gruyères: Castles, Chocolate, Cheese and more!

March 25, 2021 Last Updated on August 27, 2021

The quaint historical town of Gruyères, Switzerland, is located 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. 

The most popular things to do in Gruyères 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 Gruyères.

Thanks to its beautiful location, there are also a multitude of activities for nature-lovers and sporty types including hiking Gorges de la Jogne and skiing at Moléson. 

It’s no wonder that Gruyères was voted the most beautiful village in Western Switzerland in 2014 and is a member of the Most Beautiful Villages in Switzerland association.

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Gruyeres village
The pretty medieval village of Gruyères is watched over by its castle. © Manel Antolí / Fribourg Tourism

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 in 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 famouse Hollywood film, the town of Gruyères is a blend of both its past and modern life. 

So, let’s explore what to do in Gruyères, Switzerland.


Gruyères Castle 

Gruyere Castle in Switzerland
Chateau Gruyères dates back to the 13th century and is open to visitors.

The Gruyères Castle (or Chateau de Gruyère) 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 fortified Gruyères Castle is a proud tapestry of eight centuries worth of history and it remains one of the most famous castles in Switzerland.

Featuring turrets, battlements, defensive walls, a Knights’ Hall and garden, Gruyères Castle offers a wonderful window into what life was like in medieval times.

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 Gruyères 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. Fans of the movie will appreciate the 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 Swiss Chocolate Factory 

Maison Cailler Swiss Chocolate Factory in Broc
Maison 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 provides a fascinating look at the history of chocolate-making in the region. Visitors can also learn about the factory’s origins which date all the way back to 1898. 

The Maison Cailler Gruyères chocolate factory tour begins with an interactive exhibition where you’ll learn about the Cailler family. The tour then continues with a tour of the facility to show the chocolate-making process and learn about the producers of the ingredients used in the chocolate. There’s also a chance to touch the raw ingredients.

The tour ends with a sampling of Cailler chocolates and a visit to the shop which sells handmade chocolates and pralines 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. It is open every day of the year except Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.


Chocolaterie de Gruyères

Another chocolate destination well worth a visit is the Chocolaterie of Gruyeres, an artisanal chocolate making company that creates luxurious chocolate using to its ‘bean to bar’ method. 

‘Bean to bar’ means that the chocolatiers of  the Chocolaterie of Gruyeres are responsible for every step of the chocolate making process from the cocoa bean through to the end product which, interestingly, is not very common in Switzerland. 

As well as milk and dark chocolate products available for purchase in the store there are also a number of specialities including chocolate beer, salted chocolate products and chocolate vinegar.

Workshops can be arranged where participants learn the finer points of chocolate making. Bookings are essential.

The shop is located in the centre of Gruyeres and is open  daily from 9am to 6pm.


La Maison du Gruyère: The Gruyères Cheese Factory 

Cheese making at La Maison du Gruyeres, Switzerland
Cheese making in Gruyeres. Image © La Maison du Gruyères

Food connoisseurs and cheese fans will have an unforgettable experience at La Maison du Gruyère, a cheese factory famous for producing the delicious cheese that is made in this region.

Visitors to the Gruyères cheese factory can watch the master cheesemakers at work and learn about the cheesemaking process itself. Arrive early in the day if you’d like to see the cheesemakers at work creating the famed regional cheese as it is always made in the morning between 9am and 12.30pm.

The interactive Gruyère cheese factory tour is a real treat for the senses. As you pass through the exhibition, you’ll use all five senses – sight, sound, smell, touch and taste – to give you a real appreciation for the work that goes into producing the famed cheese.

Tours last around 30 to 45 minutes and include free samples. La Maison du Gruyere is open daily and there is also a restaurant serving fondue and a cheese shop where you can purchase more of the delicious cheese.


Chalet de Gruyères Fondue Academy

If you’d like to take a more hands-on approach to cheesemaking, be sure to pay a visit to the Fondue Academy of Gruyeres. Learn the art of fondue from a teacher with a Master’s degree in cheese and fondue.  

Participants learn about Gruyère’s ancient traditions and discover the secrets of cheesemaking as they prepare their own fondue and enjoy it accompanied with potatoes, gherkins, pickled onions and dried meat.  This is followed by a meringue served with La Gruyère cream.

Workshops operate every weekend, holidays and official holidays and bookings are essential.

Eating fondue in Gruyeres, Switzerland
Take a lesson in fondue-making at the Fondue Academy. © Pascal Gertschen / Fribourg Tourism

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 some quiet time, the Tibet Museum is a zen-like retreat to spend a few hours thanks to serene and restful music. 

Located inside 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

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

Outdoor enthusiasts and skiers should not 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. 

View towards Gruyeres Switzerland
Gruyères is surrounded by the picturesque Saane Valley. © Editions Berra / Fribourg Tourism

Gorges de la Jogne 

Another way to burn off some of that cheese and chocolate you’ve been indulging in, is the easy, accessible, and highly enjoyable hike to Gorges de la Jogne.

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. 


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 towns and cities less than a 75-minute drive away.  Montreux, Bern, Gstaad and Geneva are popular excursions from Gruyères.


Where is Gruyères?

Swiss map

The charming medieval town of Gruyères is located in the canton of Fribourg in south western Switzerland. It is 35 kilometres south of the canton’s capital, which is also called Fribourg.


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, as well as options from Lausanne and Zurich.  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.

These tours are our top picks:

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

Chocolate Train, Switzerland
The Chocolate Train runs between Montreux, Gruyères 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 Gruyère cheese dairy, free time in Gruyères, 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. (Note: Amended schedules in 2021.)

> Click here to check timetables and prices


Where to stay in Gruyeres

Hotel Gruyères Switzerland

The Hotel de 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 include 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 and to make a booking


Final Thoughts

Gruyeres village at night
Gruyères sets a romantic scene at nighttime. © Christof Sonderegger / Fribourg Tourism

Whether you plan to visit for the chocolate and cheese, to explore the museums, to wander the medieval streets and admire the castle, or just to appreciate the stunning scenery, a visit to Gruyères will not disappoint.

From a half or full day visit to a longer stay, there are plenty of things to do in Gruyères to please all your senses – but especially your taste buds!

Enjoy your visit 🙂


Podcast

Learn more about Gruyères in our podcast episode on the canton of Fribourg. Click the green arrow below to listen.


This article was originally published on our sister-site holidaystoeurope.com.au


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Things to do in Gruyeres, Switzerland

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