A Visit To Murten Switzerland: Best Spots, Tips & More

Murten Morat walled city

Murten is one of those places that visitors to Switzerland unfortunately often miss. It is a historic walled-city oozing with charm and is also located right on the shores of Lake Murten in the Fribourg region.

Because Murten is in the French-speaking part of Switzerland it also has two names. It is actually called Morat in French. Murten is the German name!

Find out why Murten is worth your time, even if it is just for half a day!

Best Things To See In Murten

Murten is small but still chock full of highlights. These are the things you should see when you visit.

Murten Old Town

There are lots of things to see in the old town, even if you just walk around and soak up the history and stunning medieval buildings. But first, you should start with the ring wall.

Ring Wall

Murten City Walls
Murten City Walls facing Lake Murten (Image from Wikimedia)

Murten has the claim to fame of having the only complete ring wall in all of Switzerland. It makes for a stunning fantastic entrance to the city, as you pass through the wall via the Berntor clock tower, and it continues to dominate from almost every angle.

Berntor from outside Murten
Berntor from outside the city walls

One of the best ways to appreciate the wall is to actually climb the stairs to the top and walk along to the tower at the other end. I could not get enough photos from this location as you get not only view of the city but of Lake Murten in the distance as well.

Murten Old Town from the Ring Wall
View from rear Murten walls
Views from the rear ring wall in Murten - German Church in view
Views from the rear ring wall in Murten – German Church in view

You actually have to head to the back streets of the former fortified city to get to the walls. Then climb up to the top. It’s a fun way to explore the less visited areas of the town. And the covered walkway along the wall, which you can see in my image above, is a great experience. Like being in a medieval castle!

Churches

There are actually a lot of churches in Murten, which might be surprising to some of you. Part of the reason is the Swiss religious history of both Protestant and Catholic churches. The other is the bilingual nature of the city.

So, historically there was both a German church and a French church which are the oldest and most interesting to see. The French dates back to the 15th century and the German, seen above by the town wall, is younger but also quite beautiful.

The Main Street

Murten main street with Berntor
Murten main street with Berntor

Medieval Murten’s main street is also something of a highlight with its vaulted arcades and wide cobbled street. This is where the majority of the shops and restaurants are, so spend some time exploring what is on offer.

We decided to spend lunch here at the Freiburger Fall. They have great burgers and steak, which we ate outside on the terrace inside the arcade. They also have a fun historic-themed interior that makes for a memorable meal.

Murten main street from the top end
Murten main street from the top end

Of course, you also get a great view again of the Berntor from the street, so be sure to have your camera ready. I also found it is worth taking shots from both sides as the Berntor makes for a great subject and there is also some nice medieval artwork on the adjacent building.

Murten Old Town back street
Murten Old Town back street

We also planned on eating at the Kaserei which is a top-notch restaurant on the back streets of Murten. However, they were unfortunately booked out. So, if you are interested, be sure to book ahead.

Other Worthwhile Attractions

A few other things you might want to see while you are rambling about the old town streets.

Musée de Morat is the place to go if you want to learn more details of Murten’s history. This small town has a very long history dating back thousands of years.

Pile dwelling sites on UNESCO’s World Heritage Site

There are actually 111 ancient lake-dwellings in Switzerland and one of them is right below Murten at the harbor. It is called the Segelboothafen (sailboat harbor) and it is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites collection. It was discovered only in 1880 but is a noteworthy historic site to this day.

Lake Murten

Lake Murten at sunset
Lake Murten at sunset – courtesy of Wikimedia

Lake Murten is one of three lakes in this region known locally as the Fribourg Riviera. Vineyards can be seen on the shores of the lake and there is also a local swimming pool (Strandbad) right on the lake, as is common in most swiss lakefront villages. Why not take a dip in a freshwater lake, instead of a chlorine swimming pool I always tell visitors to Switzerland!

The lake is also a great place to go stand up paddling or kayaking if you love water activities. I always get my paddle board out on any new Swiss lake I visit, and have never regretted it to this day. You can rent SUP boards down towards the harbor at Dirtys or Bise Noir if you don’t have your own!

Getting To Murten

Murten is relatively easy to reach by train or car.

By Train

The Murten train station is in the new part of town, outside the old city walls. However, it is just a short walk to the old town, around 5 minutes. Trains from:

  • Zurich, Luzern & Geneva take 1 hour 40 minutes
  • Bern will take you only 38 minutes

By Car

Murten is just off highway 1 running south from Bern towards Lausanne. You can park just outside the old town in Murten City Parking. That is where we parked and it is a very easy stroll from there to all the attractions.

Frequently Asked Questions

How old is Murten Switzerland?

Murten is over 800 years old, having been founded at some point either in 1159 or the following two decades by Duke Berchtold IV of Zaehringen. Settlements in the same location date back many more centuries with the first written reference of a place called “Muratum” back in 515.

Can you swim in Lake Murten?

Yes, Lake Murten is completely safe to swim in. In fact, it is very popular with the locals, and when you get to midsummer, the waters are warm and as enjoyable as any swimming pool.

Is Murten worth visiting?

Although Murten is not as well known as many other popular Swiss villages, it is certainly worth visiting. The walled city with the restored old town as well as the fantastic restaurants and location right on Lake Murten make for a memorable day out.

Which Canton is Murten in?

Murten is located in Canton Freiburg in French-speaking Switzerland.

Written by Ashley Faulkes
As a twenty-year resident of Switzerland, I am passionate about exploring every nook and cranny of this beautiful country, I spend my days deep in the great Swiss outdoors, and love to share these experiences and insights with fellow travel enthusiasts.

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