Are you planning a trip to Gruyeres, Switzerland? Here you’ll find everything you need to know about the medieval town in this detailed guide!
There’s more to Gruyeres than meets the eye. If you have only heard of the famous Swiss cheese, you will be surprised at what you will find in this small medieval hilltop town. A couple of days are enough to uncover even the best-kept secrets of Gruyeres, from the magical views of its stunning castle to the extravagant bar adorned with bones!
How to Get to Gruyeres
Gruyeres is situated in southwestern Switzerland and it’s easily accessible by public transport. You can reach the town by train and bus, but it is not as simple as traveling to the more popular tourist attractions like Interlaken or Lucerne.
There are no direct trains to Gruyeres from the bigger cities in Switzerland, so you will need to switch trains in Bulle, Vevey, or Montbovon. Montbovon is on the Golden Pass route, so the town is easily accessible to travelers who are on a panoramic train tour of Switzerland.
Don’t get me wrong – you can still get to Gruyeres from Zurich, Bern, and Geneva, but it will take a while. From Geneva airport, it takes about two and a half hours and two train changes (at Romont and Bulle), but you eventually make it to the town. From Zurich, it’s about three hours and four different trains.
Things To Do in Gruyeres
La Maison du Gruyère
The medieval town of Gruyeres is known around the world for its namesake cheese, so there’s no dilemma about what the first thing you visit when you arrive should be. Head to La Maison du Gruyère, the Gruyères cheese factory, museum, and eatery that sits directly next to the main train station in town.
I’m not going to say too much because I don’t want to spoil the experience, but you can expect to spend at least a couple of hours here. See the process of cheese making, explore the museum exhibits, and definitely try Gruyère cheese before you take advantage of the discounts at the shop.
One thing to keep in mind is that the scent is quite pungent, so you might want to be prepared for that. It is a cheese factory after all, and the pungent smells won’t let you forget that even for a minute. Nonetheless, an uncomfortable smell is a small compromise to make for seeing cheese production first-hand and tasting the freshest local delicacies.
Maison Cailler Chocolate Factory
If you like chocolate, you shouldn’t miss out on an opportunity to tour an actual chocolate factory. The Maison Cailler Chocolate Factory is situated in Broc, a village close to Gruyeres. You can reach it by bus and train in about half an hour, and you can even walk from the cheese factory to the chocolate factory – it would take you a little less than an hour!
The train runs from Montreux to the chocolate factory and it’s known as the Chocolate Train. Tickets for the train also include free entrance to the Swiss chocolate factory and the cheese factory in Gruyeres, plus you’ll get free chocolate and coffee on board.
Maison Cailler offers factory tours and chocolate tastings, so it’s the ideal place to visit if you’ve got any chocolate cravings. It’s also a bit more enjoyable than the cheese factory tour, mostly because chocolate actually has an enjoyable smell!
You get to witness the chocolate-making process, see precisely what goes into different chocolates, and taste them. Visitors will also notice a variety of chocolate sculptures and decorations throughout the factory, and get special discounts for the on-site shop.
Gruyères Castle is the most famous attraction in this lovely hilltop town, apart from all the delicious cheese. The hilltop castle dates back to the 13th century, and it is one of the most famous castles in the entire country. It’s a heritage site of national significance in Switzerland, so definitely a tourist attraction worth your time if you’re ever in the area.
You can tour the castle rooms if you want, and I’d highly recommend it if you want to see something magnificent in Gruyeres. The stately rooms are beautiful and adorned with exquisite art and period furniture.
The castle grounds are equally fascinating to discover, what with the landscaped gardens, and tall walls that offer stunning panoramic views. Overall, the Gruyeres Chateau is certainly one of the most interesting attractions in town and one you shouldn’t miss while you’re in the area.
HR Giger Museum
The HR Giger Museum is one of the most popular tourist attractions in town. It’s a museum dedicated to the life and works of HR Giger, a famous Swiss who is best known for his work on the Alien film franchise.
The Giger museum is just a short walk away from the Gruyeres Castle, so you can explore it on the same afternoon as with most of the other attractions in the area. In addition to staple artworks featured in the Alien franchise, museum visitors can also discover Hans Rudi Giger’s personal art collection, which is just as impressive.
One thing to note is that it’s not recommended to bring small kids to this museum, at least I wouldn’t. Kids are allowed at the museum, but there’s quite a bit of imagery that’s disturbing to adults, let alone 10-year-old children, so keep that in mind.
Another thing you need to know is that there’s also an HR Giger Bar directly opposite the museum, and you definitely need to visit it even if it’s only for one drink. The bar is decorated in Giger’s style and there are bones everywhere, so it’s truly a unique place worth visiting even for a little while.
The Tibet museum is a unique museum in Gruyeres worth exploring if you enjoy discovering new and interesting places. It boasts an impressive collection on Buddhism and Tibet, which consists of objects, paintings, and sculptures from the personal collection of Alain Bordier, the museum’s founder.
This lovely museum is truly unlike anything else you can visit in Gruyeres, and it’s definitely worth your time if you enjoy exploring one-of-a-kind attractions. You’ll forget you’re in Switzerland for a moment because this museum has nothing to do with cheese fondue, chocolate, or mountains. Instead, it’s all about Asian art, Buddha sculptures, and Tibetan icons.
This is a pretty small museum and it takes less than an hour to discover its entire collection.
Gorges de la Jogne
Gorges de la Jogne is a nature preserve about 20 minutes outside of Gruyeres by bus. The preserve boasts a system of walking trails through the gorge, which offers an opportunity to discover some surreally beautiful Swiss nature.
The trails are pretty easy, so they’re perfectly suitable for families with kids. You will need to wear sturdy hiking boots though since there’s a lot of water in the area so the terrain can be quite slippery, especially the bridges and water crossings. If you visit in the winter, expect certain parts of the trail to be frozen and prepare accordingly.
This hiking trail features waterfalls, caves, and bridges, which reward you with some truly spectacular views. It’s one of the best places for a quick excursion from Gruyeres, and you can easily pair it with a trip to Broc and its awesome chocolate factory!
Moléson-sur-Gruyères is a village in the Alps, popular among hikers and skiers who want to experience this magical mountain. It’s only a 15-minute bus ride from Gruyeres to Moléson-sur-Gruyères, so you can easily travel to the scenic little village.
A via Ferrata on the mountain’s north face is very popular with adventurous climbers, who are looking for an adrenaline rush during their stay in Switzerland.
If you enjoy panoramic mountain views but you’re not in the mood to climb a 2,000+ meter summit, you can ride the cable car to the Moléson peak. The bottom station of the cable car is in Plan-Francey, plus there’s a restaurant at the top where you can enjoy some delicious food along with the beautiful views.
On top of that, it’s worth noting that the slopes of Moléson are popular skiing and snowboarding destinations in the winter, and the Moléson-sur-Gruyères village is by far the best place to stay in the area.
The Gastlosen is a mountain chain close to Gruyeres and one of the best places to visit if you want to explore nature in this part of Switzerland. The mountains can be visited on a day trip from Gruyeres, but they’re certainly not for everyone. This tour is most popular among mountain climbers, so maybe stay in Gruyeres if you’re not one to conquer tall peaks.
The hike starts in Jaun, a municipality that’s about half an hour away from Gruyeres by both car and bus. Look for Jaun-Gastlosen Bergbahnen and take the chair lift to Musersbergli chalet. The hike follows an 11-kilometer loop trail, and it usually takes around 4-5 hours to complete.
The Gastlosen hike is best done in the summer months. During the winter, the hiking trails turn into ski slopes, which become very popular with skiers and snowboarders from all over the world.
Where to Stay in Gruyeres
Gruyeres is a very small town so it doesn’t matter that much where you stay. Whether you book a hotel next to the chateau or closer to the train station, all the top attractions will still be within easy walking distance.
Hôtel de Ville Gruyères is the most popular hotel in town and the best place to stay if you want to be centrally located. It’s situated in the town of Gruyeres, mere minutes away from attractions like the HR Giger Bar and Château de Gruyères. It’s worth noting that this isn’t the only hotel in this area and that Rue du Bourg is generally the best place to stay in Gruyeres.
La ferme du Bourgoz is also an option worth considering, especially if you want to stay in a more peaceful part of the town. This is a lovely bed and breakfast surrounded by vast pastures with stunning views of the nearby mountain peaks. It’s also just a 10-minute walk from the cafes and restaurants in the heart of Gruyeres, so you’re still close to everything important.
Where To Eat in Gruyeres
The best selection of restaurants and cafes in Gruyeres is along Rue du Bourg. The central town street is home to all the most popular locales, and this is where most people eat in Gruyeres.
Chalet de Gruyères is by far the most popular restaurant in the town. It’s situated right next to the HR Giger Bar, and it’s by far the best place to eat in town if you want to try local Swiss delicacies. The restaurant has an excellent selection of traditional Swiss dishes, and everything there tastes as good as it looks. Also, the Fondue Academy is in the same area, and it’s a good place to visit if you have an interest in taking a fondue-making class.
There’s also the cheese factory near the train station, where you should head whenever you even think about eating cheese. It’s got by far the best selection of cheese in town, and it’s absolutely the best place for tasting fresh-made local delicacies.
The HR Giger Bar is a popular place for lunch/dinner with visitors who don’t mind paying extra for a unique experience. This is a bar first and foremost, so the food selection isn’t huge, but they offer a few snacks that will curb your appetite for a while until you can find a proper restaurant.
Best Day Trips from Gruyeres
Gruyeres is situated in southwestern Switzerland near Lake Geneva, so there are plenty of attractions in its vicinity worth checking out.
Montreux, Vevey, and even Lausanne are all close to Gruyeres and worth visiting if you’ve never been. They’re all lovely cities with lots to offer to travelers, whether they’re looking to tour museums, visit historical landmarks, or just enjoy the views of the lake.
Bulle and Broc are also good day trip locations and they’re much closer to Gruyeres. They’re similar to Gruyeres because they’re also small towns, but each features unique tourist attractions that are worth checking out.
All nature lovers and outdoor adventurers will be thrilled to know that Gruyeres is surrounded by tall mountain peaks. Le Moleson, Dent du Chamois, and Dent de Lys are all very close to the town and explorable on daily hiking excursions.
Is Gruyeres Worth Visiting?
Absolutely! Gruyeres is a hidden gem often overlooked in favor of glitzier places like Montreux and Vevey, but it’s absolutely worth visiting if you’re traveling in southwestern Switzerland. The medieval town is home to unique attractions that you can’t experience anywhere else in the country, plus it’s got the small-town charm.
It also helps that Gruyeres is on the Golden Pass route, so you can easily visit it by riding one of the panoramic sightseeing trains in Switzerland. Get a ticket that allows you to get on and off the train whenever you like, so you don’t miss out on this wonderful Swiss gem.
Can you drive to Gruyères?
It is easy to drive to Gruyeres via Bulle from the main highway between Montreux and Bern. There is ample parking within walking distance to the town at the bottom of the hill.