Gruyères in Switzerland is a fairytale-inspired medieval town. Set amongst the rolling green hills of the Swiss countryside, Gruyères merges breathtaking beauty with an inviting town that’s full of character. It may be world-renowned for its cheese, but this magical Swiss town has more to offer than fondues and factories.
Gruyères boasts a mild climate, a fabulous foodie scene, a truly captivating castle and some fascinating museums. During your visit, you may also be able to hike the picturesque trails or ascend a mountain by cable car.
This guide to Gruyères in Switzerland covers everything you need to know before you visit. From where to stay, eat and drink to the best time to visit, how to get there and what to do.
If you’re searching for the best things to do in Gruyères, this guide covers the top picks. Discover all the highlights you mustn’t miss, including chocolate and cheese factories, fine dining restaurants, one of the most unique bars on the planet, and much more.
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How to get to Gruyères
Gruyères in Switzerland lies in the Swiss canton of Fribourg, and is known for cheese-making and its mediaeval town centre. Getting to Gruyères depends on where you’re coming from. But as it’s fairly centrally located, it’s generally pretty easy to reach.
From Zurich the quickest options are to take the train or drive. The former takes about three hours, while the latter takes a couple of hours if traffic is favourable.
Geneva is at the other end of Lac Leman (or Lake Geneva), so it’s a little closer. The train journey from here to Gruyères takes around two-and-a-half hours, or you can drive between the two destinations in around an hour and 20 minutes.
Gruyères isn’t difficult to get to from the popular Swiss town of Montreux. Especially by car, as this trip only takes just over half an hour – or an hour and 40 minutes by rail.
Best time of year to visit Gruyère
Unlike other Swiss destinations, Gruyères doesn’t experience extreme cold in winter, so it’s a good place to go at any time of year. Minimum temperatures between December and February are around 1 to 2°C by night and 6 to 8°C during the day.
By contrast, overnight lows in June, July and August are around 13 to 15°C, while daytime highs may reach 20 to 22°C. October and November are slightly warmer than March on average, while April and May are when the pre-summer weather really starts to warm up.
Gruyères isn’t a winter sports destination; rather, it’s a place for cheese and chocolate tasting, delving into history, exploring the streets and touring the museums. Going at any time of year allows you to take part in such activities. Gruyères in winter or summer is an equally fine place to be.
10 best things to do in Gruyères
1. Explore the cobbled streets & Doll’s City architecture
As a mediaeval town, Gruyères has charming cobbled streets that are a delight to wander around, discovering all the unique sights of this Swiss town as you go. Unlike the narrow cobbled lanes in some destinations, the cobbled streets of Gruyères are wide. They are more like European boulevards in this sense than cramped alleys.
In fact, Gruyères is often referred to as a Doll’s City because the architecture, paths and roads are so picture perfect that they look like something from a children’s book. Or the ideal setting for a pretty doll’s house.
2. Gruyères Castle
Gruyères Castle – or the Château de Gruyères – is a site of national importance and one of the country’s most famous fortresses. The castle dates back to the 13th century and looms over the landscape from its hilltop position.
It’s incredibly photogenic. When seen from a distance, there is a pleasing Alpine backdrop; while in front, the lush emerald-green trees finish off the picture perfectly. It’s a breathtaking sight to behold.
Once you step inside you can discover frescoes dating from the days of the Ancien Régime, Middle Ages stained-glass windows, and an eclectic collection of artworks.
3. Maison Cailler Chocolate Factory
The Maison Cailler Chocolate Factory can be found in nearby Broc. Here visitors can learn all about the making and history of chocolate via multi-sensory displays, and of course taste the wares before selecting some to take home.
There’s an interactive museum with multi-sensory exhibits. You can book tours, take part in tastings or even try your hand at creating the sweet stuff during a chocolate-making class.
The setting, architecture and landscaped gardens of the site are also very attractive.
4. La Maison du Gruyère
Whether you want to witness cheese-making in action, take a guided tour, stroll around the museum, shop for gifts or sample dishes made with Gruyère cheese, you can do it all at La Maison du Gruyère.
When in Gruyères, Switzerland, a cheese factory is high on the to-do lists of most people. So even if you only have a day or two to spare, this one might well be top of the agenda.
5. Gastlosen Tour
The Gastlosen Tour is a moderate hike of around seven miles that makes a popular day trip from Gruyères. A medium level of fitness is required and this trek around the foothills of the Gastlosen massif mountain range offers the opportunity to see some rare Alpine flora and geology.
En route, walkers can expect to see craggy mountain faces, lush Alpine meadows and a great variety of native plants. The route is located south of Jaun, which in turn is within the Gruyères district.
6. H R Giger Museum
H R Giger was a Swiss artist who won accolades for his part in the creation of the Alien films. Examples of his distinctive biomechanical style can be seen at the H R Giger Museum within the Château St-Germain in Gruyères.
The mediaeval building houses a fine selection of the artist’s paintings and sculptures, all in his signature surrealist style. A collection of his personal pieces by other artists is also to be found here, and there is a bar designed by the man himself on site.
7. Tibet Museum
The Tibet Museum on Gruyères’ Rue du Château is perhaps a surprising find in central Switzerland, as it houses one of the biggest Buddhist art collections on earth. It’s overseen by the Alain Bordier Foundation, and there are works of art displayed from various parts of the Himalayas.
In fact Alain Bordier collected over 300 pieces himself. The result is a range encompassing art from countries as far afield as Burma, India, Tibet and Nepal. The ancient chapel housing the collection forms a suitably peaceful backdrop.
Moléson-sur-Gruyères is the closest that the Gruyères municipality comes to a European ski resort – even though it’s more of a warm weather spot. This Alpine village has a cable car and funicular which can transport visitors to the summit of the Moléson, the peak of the Fribourg Pre-Alps.
The summit is over 2,000 metres above sea level and offers superlative views over Lake Geneva, the Swiss plateau and Mont Blanc. There are hiking and biking trails to explore in summer and the cableways operate between mid-May and the start of November.
9. Gorges de la Jogne
If you want to find things to do in Gruyère that are energetic but not too taxing, the easy Gorges de la Jogne hike is a popular choice. The route takes walkers through lush green Swiss countryside and past a number of local landmarks.
Along the way trekkers can see the Maison Cailler Chocolate Factory in Broc and the Montsalvens double arch dam. There are great picnicking spots en route too, offering superb views of the Jogne Valley.
10. Fondue Academy
The Fondue Academy in Gruyères is a shop, restaurant and cookery school in one. An airy space with lots of exposed wood provides diners with a place to sample authentic Swiss fondue, or a place to buy unique foodie gift items.
Upstairs the teaching space is where a local expert instructs anyone who’s keen to learn about the art of making delicious dishes. This includes, of course, fondue – all created from the dairy and other farm produce of the region.
Best hotels in Gruyère
If you’re looking for a luxurious Gruyère bolthole, then you may be best off staying elsewhere and taking a day trip to town, as there aren’t any five star hotels in this area. The following, however, are great options for those who would like to linger for longer.
1. Le Saint Georges Hotel
Le Saint Georges in Gruyères offers a range of sleek, modern rooms in a sustainable travel property, and is located in the very heart of town. Some accommodation has mountain views, and each room sleeps up to five guests.
The hotel in Gruyères offers a bar, a restaurant with terrace and a garden, and there is free WiFi throughout. Rooms here come equipped with amenities like flat screen satellite TV, hair dryer and luxury toiletries.
2. Hôtel de Gruyères
The three star Hôtel de Gruyères is on the edge of town and offers cosy, comfortable accommodation. Rooms have a rustic, local charm and the views from within are wonderful. Some have private balconies and a mountainous outlook.
Quads and triples are available as well as doubles, so it’s good for groups and families. There is an on-site wellness centre and gym, and pleasant outdoor areas for guests to relax in.
3. Au Soleil De Gruyères Chez Chantal
Au Soleil De Gruyères Chez Chantal has an appealing local feel and is situated right in the centre of town. Rooms here range from en-suite doubles to a more spacious apartment, and Gruyères attractions are just moments away on foot.
Guests may also see the mountains from their accommodation. Each room comes with a kettle, toaster and fridge for preparing simple meals and snacks. The apartment, meanwhile, adds parquet flooring, a private terrace and two bedrooms.
Best bars, cafés & restaurants in Gruyère
1. Restaurant du Cheval Blanc
It’s well worth popping to the nearby village of Bulle to visit Cheval Blanc – which literally translates as ‘White Horse’. This is no British pub though; it’s a Michelin-recommended restaurant offering great value and traditional fare prepared to perfection.
Save space for dessert: the tarte tatin is highly rated here. Bulle is only seven or eight minutes away from town by local bus or taxi.
2. H R Giger Bar Museum
H R Giger Bar is nothing less than a work of art, albeit a functional one: Giger designed this space himself. The detail is modelled on his Alien film artwork and the detailing is breathtaking to behold.
It’s a great place for a beer or a hot drink. The signature Giger coffee with schnapps is outstanding. Don’t miss this place if you’re in the vicinity, it really is a one-off.
3. Auberge La Couronne
Auberge La Couronne is in Enney, just down the road from Gruyères. It’s a contemporary, bistro-style eatery serving up top quality food and thus worth heading a little way out of town for.
Combine casual French bistro-style fare with gastronomy and perfect presentation, and it all adds up to Auberge La Couronne.
4. Restaurant de La Croix-Blanche
Restaurant de La Croix-Blanche offers delicious cuisine in a modern, elegant dining room. Presentation is very Instagrammable indeed, and meat lovers in particular will rate the steakhouse-style menu.
Grills are served on a hot slab of granite and Restaurant de La Croix-Blanche also does a decent Swiss cheese fondue.
5. L’Ecu Restaurant
Like Cheval Blanc, L’Ecu is also in neighbouring Bulle and is the number one place for a fine dining experience in the Gruyères area.
All dishes are of excellent quality and service is top-notch too. Desserts here are especially delectable, so do make room for something sweet if you can.
6. Le Passage Café
Bulle is something of a local foodie destination and is also where you’ll find Le Passage. It’s ideal for a daytime lunch stop or coffee break, though the range of over 100 beers may tempt drinkers to stay longer.
This place is good for all-day dining, as it’s open from Thursday to Saturday until midnight and closes at 8pm on Wednesdays. You’re out of luck on Sunday, Monday or Tuesday, however, as it will sadly be shut.
Gruyères travel guide FAQs
Are there any good day trips from Gruyères?
Popular destinations for a day trip from Gruyères include taking the Chocolate Train to the Maison Cailler Chocolate Factory in nearby Broc, hiking the Gastlosen Tour or Gorges de la Jogne route, or taking a trip up the mountain from Moléson-sur-Gruyères.
You could also enjoy a gastronomic experience in nearby Bulle, which is home to a couple of exceptional restaurants.
Is Gruyères a good destination for solo travellers?
Switzerland is one of the world’s best destinations for solo travellers and Gruyères is a typical example. This safe, clean and beautiful place encapsulates much of what’s great about Europe. The efficiency with which things are run means you’re highly unlikely to encounter any problems that could be trickier to sort out alone.