So much more than just delicious cheese, Gruyères is a beautiful, romantic Medieval walled town in the Fribourg canton, Switzerland and well worth a day trip. It's a 35 minute drive from Montreux and 50 minutes from Bern, so really easy to add onto your Switzerland itinerary!
While exploring the cobblestoned centre complete with flower boxes and a fountain (the whole tiny town is pedestrianised), quaint shops and cafes, we felt like we'd stumbled into Disney's Beauty and the Beast . Gruyères nestles in the Swiss Alpine foothills and has some really fun (and random) things to do, from a 13th century castle to a museum and café inspired by H.R. Giger (creator of Alien) and a Tibetan museum!
If you're looking for what for what to do in Gruyères in one day, here is our recommended itinerary for the perfect day in Gruyères.
Start at the bottom of the hill at La Maison du Gruyère, the local cheese factory that produces the world famous Gruyère AOP cheese. Be sure to go between 9am and 12pm to watch the huge round cheeses being made from scratch. Your visit will take about 45 minutes and includes three little tasting samples of cheese and an audio guide featuring a rather superior cow called Cerise...
The shop sells everything you can think of that is cow themed, big pieces of Gruyère cheese, cheese boards and knives, and the restaurant serves local delicacies like fondue and rostis.
When you've finished, drive up the hill to the car park just outside the old walls, park up and head into the Medieval town. The main square looks like Disneyland! Really pretty, with wooden chalet style restaurants and handicraft shops. At the back, on the highest point, Gruyères' fairy tale castle, complete with pointy towers and extensive ramparts, sits surrounded by mountain peaks.
You might also like: What to do in Lausanne, Switzerland
Chateau Gruyères is about 800 years old and a Swiss heritage site of national significance. As you walk through the castle's film set worthy Medieval rooms and courtyards, you'll notice the transitions from 13th century fortress to 15th century stately residence and again when it became the summer home of a 19th century artists colony including Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot and Barthélemy Menn who spent months at the Chateau repainting many of the rooms.
Time for a sweet treat in a spooky setting! As well as making cheese, Gruyères is famous for its exceptional double cream, typically served with merengues. While any cafe in the town will serve this, we'd recommend heading to the H.R. Giger bar, which is in the square leading back into the rest of the town as you leave the castle. H.R. Giger was a Swiss artist who's most famous creation was the xenomorph in the Alien film series, and fans will LOVE this cafe/bar. Plunge into an immersive world completely decked out in Giger's biomechanical style, with skeletal chairs, tables and even bone like ribs across the vaulted ceiling! Want more? Just across the square is the H.R. Giger museum, founded by the artist himself in 1998, which houses a huge collection of his artwork.
Need more ideas for what to do in Gruyeres?
Visit the Tibet Museum, which displays Tibetan art from the 6th - 18th century.
There is a beautiful walking trail around the outside of Gruyères' walls called Les Grands Chemins.
A short drive away is the village of Moléson-sur-Gruyères, sitting below the mountain, Moléson, there are scenic cable cars that will take you up to beautiful hiking trails, and a summer toboggan bobsleigh (or rodelbahn). In winter months this is skiing and snowboarding heaven!
10 minutes up the road is Maison Cailler where you can visit the factory of this famous Swiss brand. Founded in 1819, it's the oldest Swiss chocolate brand still in existence! You can book onto a tour to learn about the history and manufacturing methods and of course, try lots of chocolate!
Pin this blog for later!