The castle dates back to the 13th century. Inside its walls you’ll discover artefacts that trace the history of Gruyères and its inhabitants back to the founding of the town. On clear sunny days, take a walk by the pathway at the foot of the castle walls to admire the views of the surrounding countryside.
You may be surprised to hear that a small town in Switzerland has a top-class Tibetan museum. But the collection here is truly fascinating and includes Buddhist statues that date all the back to the 6th and 7th centuries. The collection features over 300 carefully preserved historical items.
The medieval feel
Unlike many towns or cities which have lost some of their old-timey feel, Gruyères retains it all with it’s rustic looking homes and chalet-like restaurants. Some may think it looks like a typical tourist trap, while for others it will be a true journey back in time. Whatever your opinion, a wander through the quiet, flower-lined streets of Gruyères is incredibly peaceful and the best way to get to know the place.
It might not have the glitz and the glamour of some of the more illustrious Swiss resorts like St. Moritz and Zermatt, but the skiing from nearby Moléson village is great for families. 30 kilometres of slopes, with a mix for beginners to intermediates, are easily accessed by cable car in winter. After a day on the slopes what better way to warm yourself than a delicious cheese fondue.
It’s the cheese capital of Switzerland
Gruyère cheese is perhaps the most famous of all Swiss cheeses, although Emmental runs it close. It is because of Gruyère cheese that Switzerland is known as the cheese capital of the world. It’s used in many of the classic Swiss dishes like raclette and fondue, so, if you’re a cheese fan, you simply have to visit.
La Maison du Gruyère
High on the list of any visit to Gruyères is a visit to the local cheese factory, where you can watch the master cheesemakers hard at work perfecting enormous round slabs of famous Gruyère. It’s located outside the old town at the foot of the hill. Here, you’ll learn the history of the cheese and the intricate details of how it is made. At the restaurant you can taste local delicacies featuring the cheese itself.
HR Giger Museum
HR Giger gave the world the Alien franchise, making Gruyères a hot spot for fans of the movie series. The museum itself is a strange journey into HR Giger’s mind. You’ll either love the quirkiness of it all or rush to get out of it. The museum is incredibly easy to find — you can’t miss the Alien statue on the way up to the castle.
The meringue and double cream
While the cheese of Gruyères gets all the attention, the town also specialises in a wonderful dessert dish: crisp and doughy meringue with double cream. The cream is made locally and is much loved for its rich flavour. Almost any café or restaurant will serve it, so grab a spoon and dig in.
It’s completely accessible
Gruyères isn’t just easy to get to by public transport or by car. The town is at most a two hour drive from most of the main cities of Switzerland so can be visited as a day-trip if your time is short. When you get there it’s also so small that you can traverse all of it on foot, leaving you plenty of time to explore the surrounding countryside and other nearby sights.
A short trip out of Gruyères takes you to Moleson, a small village further up in the mountains. From here you can catch a funicular and a cable car to a viewing platform at the summit of Le Moléson, at 2,000 metres, from which you’ll have stunning views of the surrounding valleys below and of Gruyères on its hilltop.
Cailler chocolate factory
Not too far from Gruyères is a chocolate experience that you’ll never forget. At the Maison Cailler, you’ll learn the craft of chocolate making, the story of where all the sweetness began and learn the tricks of one of Switzerland’s most celebrated chocolatiers. The tour is highly interactive.