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Europe has many special university cities all over the continent. As a traveler, I’ve always appreciated the vibrant and youthful atmospheres whenever I go to one of these charming cities. Sometimes I even wish that I was still a college student! Perhaps without writing so many essays, though.
To tell you the truth, I didn’t know much about Fribourg in Switzerland before my first visit there. I only knew that this city had a university along with a student presence, but nothing else. I went in blind.
However, sometimes not having any preconceived notions works in my favor! I love being pleasantly surprised! And Fribourg certainly surprised me in the best possible way!
So, if you’re visiting Switzerland and trying to link Zurich and Geneva, then I recommend stopping halfway in the delightful medieval city of Fribourg, because, although it’s rather small, you’ll still find plenty of exciting things to see and do!
9 Awesome Things to Do in Fribourg Switzerland
Alright, let’s get into the specifics. Like I said, you’ll discover many wonderful things to do in Fribourg Switzerland. It doesn’t matter if you’re planning a weekend getaway or an 8 day itinerary in Switzerland. Be sure to stop in this delightful medieval city.
Keep in mind, though, that you may have to adjust your expectations depending on how long you want to stay in Fribourg. You won’t have time to explore the region itself in a single afternoon.
Fribourg located right next to the popular Gruyere Region. You can experience several other small towns and incredible hikes within a short distance of the city. It’s impossible to see and do everything in one visit! So don’t be too hard on yourself!
Have a great time planning your trip to Fribourg. Here are some suggestions for what to see and do.
Visit St. Nicholas Cathedral
Fribourg Cathedral or Cathedral of St-Nicholas is the most striking building in the entire city. Like most European cathedrals, the building’s history goes back many centuries. For example, the main body of the church began in 1283, but wasn’t fully completed until 1430.
This cathedral is a classic Gothic-style place of worship that is commonplace in Catholic Europe. Admire the statues outside, before exploring the majestic inside rooms. The interior is equally breathtaking with colorful stained glass windows and sacred relics.
As a side note, I always think cathedrals are a perfect quiet place to sit a few minutes and reflect. Travel is busy. Don’t forget to find some peace on your journey through Fribourg.
Without a doubt, the Cathedral of St-Nicholas is one of the loveliest things to do in Fribourg Switzerland.
Climb the Tower at the Cathedral
Are you feeling extra brave and strong? Then climb the Tower at the Cathedral of St. Nicholas! You’ll see commanding views of Fribourg even if your leg muscles hate you for the rest of the day. Absolutely worth it!
Take your time! Meaning actually pause to catch your breath whenever you need to. After all, you need to climb 365 feet into the sky, but you’ll fall in love with the sweeping landscape of the Fribourg Prealps.
Climbing the stairs is the perfect compromise if you don’t have time to leave the city.
Word of Warning: As a visitor, please keep in mind that the tower closes earlier than the cathedral. So if you want to climb those stairs, then please check the times on the website!
Eat Lots of Delicious Fondue and Cream
Fribourg is very, very, very close to the Gruyere District, which means you’ve lots of access to some fantastic local treats. Namely splendid cheese, chocolate, and cream.
Fondue is one of the most popular dishes in Switzerland. And Fribourg knows how to “do” fondue well. I personally recommend going to Cafe du Gothard located on Rue du Pont-Muré for some excellent cheesy meals (and exquisite desserts).
Not to mention, if you have a “sweet tooth,” then this university city is perfect for you! You will especially fall in love with the divine chocolates and Gruyere Cream. Oh, the cream. I am not sure how to describe the taste, but you absolutely need to drizzle this cream on a sundae or some fresh berries. Your stomach will “thank you” for it!
Explore Fribourg’s Old City Center
Fribourg is the perfect city for a traveler to get lost and wander cobblestone streets. You don’t need to have a super strict itinerary as you explore Fribourg’s old medieval center.
Part of the joy is simply existing in a place that isn’t as clogged with tourists as other Swiss cities. So explore. Stop for a coffee. Take pictures of adorable buildings. Relax near the river and watch the people enjoy their lives.
The Old City Center is an absolute delight!
Not to mention, I felt very safe wandering around Fribourg. Of course, you want to be aware of your surroundings like any city, but I never felt the urge to check on my belongings multiple times.
Cross Medieval Bridges
Fribourg is also known as the City of Bridges. This magical city was constructed on the Sarine River, so bridges are an absolute necessity.
Many of this bridges were built in the Middle Ages. For example, St. John’s Bridge was first constructed in 1259 to provide workers with an easier route into the Old Town. Today this spot is a wonderful place to snap photographs of Fribourg’s breathtaking skyline.
Another wonderful bridge is Pont de Berne – which is a wonderful example of a covered bridge that is both useful and aesthetically pleasing at the same time.
I personally love bridges. I think they photograph well. Not to mention, bridges are as diverse and exciting as the buildings and rivers that surround them.
Crossing the old bridges is, without a doubt, one of the nicest things to do in Fribourg Switzerland!
Admire Medieval Puppets
Fribourg is also the City of Puppets! Pretty unique, huh?
One of the attractions to check out in Fribourg is the Swiss Puppet Museum. This museum is home to over 3,000 puppets ever since its founding in 1985.
As for me, I was lucky enough to visit Fribourg at the height of the Puppet Walk. These gigantic puppets – fourteen in total! – were temporarily scattered across the city. I love following this quirky route and spotting the puppets!
Even if you miss the puppet walk, go to the museum or a catch a puppet show when you’re visiting Fribourg! I promise that you’ll have a ton of fun.
Ride the Funicular
Did you know that Fribourg has its own adorable funicular? This old-fashioned and rather small funicular connects the lower part of the town (Basse-Ville) to the town center. Honestly, the funicular is so worth the ride, because it is a deceptively challenging walk between the two areas, haha. Lots of stairs!
Believe it or not, Fribourg’s funicular actually runs on waste water from the town. No, I’m not kidding. This funicular is one of the last of its kind.
This funicular runs every six minutes, which makes it a super convenient ride. Don’t miss out, because hopping on this classic funicular is one of the funniest things to do in Fribourg Switzerland. Just being on a funicular makes me feel filled with joy, because I know I’m in Europe.
Go Shopping and Discover Gems
Honestly, Fribourg is a wonderful city for you to explore, shop, and eat.
Like I already mentioned in this post, as much as I love big cities with lots of attractions, running from place to place and checking off sites feels absolutely exhausting by the end of the day.
Sometimes you just need to unwind, and Fribourg is the perfect place to do just that. You’ll find big malls in Fribourg with all the brand stores, but I personally recommend going to the small shops in the old part of the city for special souvenirs. For example, Chocolate Villars is a special chocolate shop that is a Fribourg staple.
You will also discover vegetable and flower markets on Wednesday and Saturday mornings if your schedule fits! Markets are always a wonderful place to find the freshest food, as well as artisan trinkets to bring home with you.
Take a Day Trip to Gruyeres
Due to Fribourg’s location, taking a day trip to Gruyeres isn’t too difficult and well worth a visit, especially if you’re staying in Fribourg for the weekend and have extra time in your itinerary.
In Gruyeres, visiting the La Maison du Gruyere is a must! The museum is admittedly a little cheesy (see what I did there?), but as one of the most eaten cheeses in Switzerland, you will definitely want to learn all about Gruyeres including its flavors, the cows, the factory, and more.
And, of course, you need to take the bus to the town and castle! The castle’s tour is especially well done and worth the cost of admission.
As a side note, I recommend you go to the town of Gruyeres early or late, since day trippers and tourist groups have equally fallen in love with this delightful medieval gem nestled in the Swiss countryside.
Other Fribourg Travel Tips
I hope you had a great time reading about all the amazing things to do in Fribourg Switzerland. I know I want to go back again after I wrote this post!
I want to wrap everything else with a few tips on how to get around this lovely city, as well as a few suggestions on where to stay in Fribourg.
Lastly, as a side note, I personally recommend you brush on some French phrases when you visit Fribourg. You’re officially in the French-speaking section of Switzerland, and although most people speak excellent English, a few French words shows respect for the local culture and residents.
How to Get to Fribourg
You will most likely arrive at Fribourg’s Main Train Station.
Fribourg is very well-connected to other major Swiss cities. Most notably, the station is part of the Lausanne-Bern railway, offering easy connections to Switzerland’s capital and the Lake Geneva region.
At the station, you will probably need to use the bus system into Fribourg’s pretty old center. The Fribourg Trollybus System is fast, clean, and convenient for locals and visitors alike!
To tell you the truth, hoping on Bus 4 and riding a pleasant loop through the center is another one of the lovely things to do in Fribourg Switzerland.
Where to Stay in Fribourg
Last but not least, you want to pick the perfect place to stay on your visit to Fribourg.
Keep in mind that Fribourg is a smaller Swiss city especially when you compare it to the nearby capital Bern. The good news is that hotel prices are a little bit more reasonable – which is important in Switzerland! However, the bad news is that accommodation options are more limited.
Here are a couple of suggestions for staying in Fribourg.
- Hotel du Faucon: This casual and cozy hotel (only 23 rooms!) is just a five minute walk away from Fribourg’s spectacular St. Nicholas Cathedral. You cannot beat this location! See prices on TripAdvisor.com and Booking.com.
- Hotel Hine Adon Fribourg: These charming apartments are in Fribourg’s beautiful Old Town and are perfect for travelers who require a bit more space. See prices on TripAdvisor.com and Booking.com.
- Le Sauvage: This 16th century downtown hotel has wonderful charm and is located on a picturesque and quiet street. Their breakfast is absolutely delicious too! Highly recommend. See prices on TripAdvisor.com and Booking.com.
I hope you liked reading all about the many things to do in Fribourg Switzerland! You definitely should visit this medieval wonderland the next time you are visiting Switzerland!