Things to do in Gruyeres, Switzerland
Gruyères is a small town in the french-speaking canton of Fribourg, Switzerland. The town is famous for its cheese, "Le Gruyère", and is frequently visited by tourists from all over the world. The main attractions are the local cheese factory, the medieval town, the H.R. Giger museum and the castle of Gruyères (Château de Gruyères). You can easily visit all in one day but if you prefer to spend the night in Gruyères there are a couple of small hotels in town.
The cheese factory
Here you can see parts of the production process of Gruyère cheese. There is an audio tour available in several languages, including French, English, and German. The story of the cheese is told from the perspective of a cow, which is nice to keep smaller children interested. The restaurant is definitely worth a visit. Here you can taste a wide assortment of cheese-based dishes. In the shop you can also buy fresh Gruyère cheese as well as some other local products.
The cheese factory is located right across the little Gruyères train station, in the village of Pringy.
I can only say one thing about the town. It's lovely! Located on a hilltop, with splendid views over the region, medieval Gruyères looks like a perfect place for quiet romantic weekends. There is only one major street, taking you from the main road in front to the castle in the back. Cars are not allowed in town. There are several bars / restaurants where you can try out some cheese fondue and a couple of shops where you can buy local products such as wine, cheese and milk.
The medieval town is within walking distance (10 to 15 minutes) from the train station and cheese factory. There is also a bus in case you have mobility issues. Keep in mind that the town is located on a hilltop.
H.R. Giger museum
H.R. Giger is a Swiss artist who became world famous for his design of the alien creatures in Ridley Scott's movie "Alien". The museum in Gruyères houses the largest collection of Giger paintings, sculptures, furniture and movie designs on four floors. The top floor displays works from the artist's personal art collection. Behind the entrance desk is a little shop where you can buy a real piece of Giger art for an appropriate price. Outside, next to the museum is a bar which was completely designed by mister Giger himself.
Whether you like Giger's art is a matter of taste. Be aware that most works contain strong sexual suggestions. If you're easily offended by this kind of art you may not want to enter.
The museum is located in the medieval town, towards the castle.
Castle of Gruyères
Adjacent to the medieval town is the castle of Gruyères. It was constructed between 1270 and 1282 as a fortress. Later, it was converted into a grand residence. In 1849, the castle was bought by two wealthy families who restored the building and refurbished the interiors. Today, you can admire the nicely decorated rooms with amazing wall paintings and antique furniture. A mysterious severed hand is on display in one of the hallways. It was found in the private museum on the ground floor and has been the source of many tales and legends.
You can explore the castle on your own or with a guide. It's possible to buy a combined ticket that gives you access to both the castle and the H.R. Giger museum.
How to get there
There is a local train connecting Gruyères with Palézieux, which is a station on the Bern – Geneva main line. Alternatively, you can also take a bus from Fribourg to Bulle, then take the train from Bulle to Gruyères. Swiss train tickets are valid on buses as well so you only need a single ticket for this.
If you're by car, take the motorway A12 from Bern to Vevey and exit in Bulle.