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Gruyeres is a top tourist destination, but there's more to the area than meets the eye. Here's just some of the fun things to do:
Gruyeres is a beautiful walled medieval town with cobbled streets on the plain at the base of the prealps www.gruyeres.ch There is an interesting cheese manufacturing museum by the station where you can take an audio tour (available in lots of languages), watch modern cheese making at certain times of the day, and buy local produce in the shop www.lamaisondugruyere.ch Gruyeres old town has a lovely chateau www.chateau-gruyeres.ch , the H R Giger Museum (famous from the Alien films) www.hrgigermuseum.com , the Tibet Museum www.tibetmuseum.ch/e/English.html and nice touristy shops and restaurants. One popular restaurant to consider is: www.chalet-gruyeres.ch/ . Gruyeres can be very busy with tour parties, but it’s also possible to find a quiet spot for yourself. It's easy to get there by train and many take an organised tour using the Chocolate train: www.goldenpass.ch/ (click on Montreux - Zweisimmen and then Chocolate train). You can also get there independently. There are different routes dependant where you are coming from and you should use www.rail.ch to plan your journey. Here are some common options: Montreux – Montbovon – Gruyeres, Lausanne - Palezieux - Gruyeres, by bus and train Vevey – Chatel St. Denis – Gruyeres, by bus and train Fribourg - Bulle - Gruyeres). If you are driving in, you need the A12 motorway from Vevey on Lake Geneva or Fribourg. There is parking at the bottom of the hill and disabled parking/drop off at the top of the hill. The town is mostly car free.
Most people come to Gruyeres for just a quick visit. It is true that Gruyeres is tucked away, making it not the most obvious base for a longer stay. However, there are a surprising number of interesting places accessible from this little town at the base of the prealps.
A short bus ride or drive above Gruyeres is Moleson village www.moleson.ch Moleson village (officially called Moleson-sur-Gruyeres) is a fairly modern looking village in an alpine setting with some fun family activities, like grass carting and a summer luge. The main draw is Moleson mountain above the village. You can catch a funicular and cable car to the top of Moleson mountain for excellent panoramic views across the prealps and down to Gruyeres. There is a café and an observatory with dormitory accommodation at the top. There's great hiking from the summit and below, plus a via ferrata for the brave.
The alpine demonstration dairy is open in the summer: www.fromagerie-alpage.ch
In the winter there is skiing and snow shoeing here, or you can sledge down from the top of the funicular to Moleson village. This is not a high altitude resort (the summit of Moleson is 2002 m), so good snow is not guaranteed.
If the funicular and cable car interests you, you can plan your journey on the www.sbb.ch/en website, you catch the bus from Gruyeres station (Gruyeres, gare) and your end point (the summit) is called "Le Moleson". There are now buses running between Moleson village and Gruyeres throughout the day. The funicular does not operate from early April to mid-end May (check website for exact dates if travelling between these times). Alternatively, you can hike up from Gruyeres. If you are driving, you can drive from Gruyeres to Moleson (look for the road signs by the station) in a couple of minutes and park by the funicular.
Bulle is an attractive small town close to Gruyeres in the Gruyere region : www.bulle.ch/ It has a photogenic chateau (not open to the public inside), an interesting museum about the region’s history, art and traditions www.musee-gruerien.ch/en, some nice restaurants and a small shopping high street.
To get there, take the train from Gruyeres to Bulle (10 minutes). By car, follow road signs from Gruyeres to Bulle. Alternatively you can walk there: (section 1 of route 81) www.wanderland.ch (type 81 in the search box)
A visit to Bulle could also be combined with a visit to the thermal baths at Charmey, a 30 minute bus journey away from Bulle: www.bainsdelagruyere.ch/fr/
Charmey is a pretty working village at the base of the prealps. The baths are not geothermal, but are very hot (heated through some type of reasonably environmentally friendly method). There is a lovely hot outdoor pool and a hot indoor one, as well as various saunas, plunge pools and treatment areas. The pools have nice views of the local mountains and the rooftops of Charmey. The baths are suitable for all seasons.
For planning purposes, you catch the bus from the bus station attached to Bulle train station and take the bus to Charmey. The baths do not have their own bus stop, but it is just a short walk from the village centre to the baths (look for a brown fountain sign off the main road which indicates thermal baths). Alternatively, walk down from behind the Chateau in Gruyeres to Epagny village and catch the bus to Charmey. By car, this is a 20 minute drive - use www.viamichelin.com to plan your journey.
You can visit a chocolate factory in the area, and sample the produce: www.cailler.ch/en/Home.aspx It's possible to visit this as part of the Chocolate train tour from Montreux or independently by train (Gruyeres - Bulle - Broc Fabrique). By car, this is about a 10 minute drive. Use www.viamichelin.com to plan your journey.
Alternatively, you can walk from Gruyeres or, you can walk through the woods from Bulle.
Visit the Epagny aerodrome and eat at the restaurant. For the brave, take a pleasure flight by plane or helicopter or organise a parachute jump: www.aerodrome-gruyere.ch/
To get there, either walk down to Epagny village from behind the Gruyeres chateau and then walk to the aerodrome (or catch the bus for 2 minutes from Epagny village bus stop to Epagny aerodrome). Or, take the train from Gruyeres to Bulle and the bus from Bulle to Epagny, aerodrome.
Chateau d'Oex, particularly famous for its balloon week, can be reached in 45 minutes by public transport (Gruyeres - Montbovon - Chateau d'Oex): www.chateau-doex.ch/en/index.cfm
The famous elegant resort of Gstaad can be reached in just over an hour by public transport (Gruyeres - Montbovon - Gstaad): www.gstaad.ch/en/
You can reach beautiful Montreux on Lake Geneva in an hour and a quarter by public transport (Gruyeres - Montbovon - Montreux): www.montreux.ch/tourism/
Fribourg is the capital of the canton of Fribourg and is in reach in just over an hour by public transport (Gruyeres - Bulle - Fribourg) www.fribourgtourisme.ch/en/welcome.cfm
There is plenty of nice hiking in the area:
From Gruyeres: Gruyeres to Broc (after the walk, catch the train back from Broc village or Broc Fabrique (chocolate factory station), changing trains at Bulle for Gruyeres. Alternatively, catch the bus from Broc-Village gare to Epagny, village and walk up to Gruyeres and the chateau above Epagny)
From Gruyeres: Gruyeres to Les Paccots (section 23 of the Alpine Panorama trail) after the walk, catch the bus back from Les Rosalys place, to Chatel St. Denis gare, then the train to Gruyeres. Or continue walking down through the village, and follow yellow pedestrian signs to Chatel St. Denis from the centre of Les Paccots village - adds another hour to your hike, then catch the train from Chatel St. Denis gare to Gruyeres)
From Gruyeres: Gruyeres to Jaun (section 22 of the Alpine Panorama trail) after the walk, catch the bus back from Jaun Post and either continue to Bulle, and catch the train to Gruyeres, or get off at Epagny, village and walk up to Gruyeres and the chateau above Epagny)
From Gruyeres: Gruyeres to Bulle (section 1 of route 81) (after the walk, catch the train back to Gruyeres from Bulle)
From Gruyeres: Gruyeres to Charmey (after the walk, catch the bus to Bulle, then the train to Gruyeres, or catch the bus to Epagny village, then walk up to Gruyeres old town)
From Moleson summit: (click on activities and then hiking) lots of marked paths (to start exploring this area, catch the bus from Gruyeres to Moleson village, then the funicular and cable car to the summit. Alternatively, walk from Gruyeres to Moleson village, or all the way up to the summit)
From Bulle: Bulle chateau to Gruyeres chateau via demonstration cheese dairy (click on Top Hiking Trails then Bulle to Gruyeres: From one castle to the next (to start the walk, catch the train from Gruyeres to Bulle)
From Bulle: Bulle to Bouleyres forest: (click on Top Hiking Trails then Bulle Exploring the Bouleyres forest) (to start the walk catch the train from Gruyeres to Bulle)
From Charmey: Montsalvens lake (click on Top Hiking Trails then Charmey Montsalvens lake round tour) (to start the walk, catch the train to Bulle and then the bus to Charmey, village to start the walk. Alternatively, walk down from behind the Gruyeres chateau to Epagny, and catch the bus from Charmey from the bus stop called Charmey, village)
From Charmey: Jogne Gorges (click on Top Hiking Trails then Charmey The Gorges of the Jogne) (to start the walk, catch the train to Bulle and then the bus to Charmey, village to start the walk. Alternatively, walk down from behind the Gruyeres chateau to Epagny, and catch the bus from Charmey from the bus stop called Charmey, village)
From Jaun: Jaun to Schwarzsee (section 3 of route 78) (to start the walk, catch the train to Bulle, then the bus to Jaun, post. After the walk catch the bus from Schwarzsee to Fribourg, then the bus from Fribourg to Bulle, and finally the train from Bulle to Gruyeres)