Fribourg Region - Between Tradition and Modernity
Tradition, modernity and a touch of futurism unite in the Fribourg Region. While active holidaymakers can do sports in the impressive nature, lovers of culture get their money's worth in the cities and towns. A great number of culinary pleasures await travellers here.
Geography - From the Swiss Plateau to the Fribourg Alps
Fribourg Region (also the Canton of Fribourg), officially the State of Fribourg or État de Fribourg in French, is located in the west of Switzerland. Its capital is the city of the same name (Fribourg). The canton has an area of 1,671 km² and counts 291,395 inhabitants. It borders on the cantons of Vaud, Bern and Neuchâtel. Geographically speaking, it can be divided into two regions: the Swiss Plateau in the north and west as well as the Swiss Prealps (also called Fribourg Alps) in the south of the canton. The highest point is the Vanil Noir (2,389 m) in the south at the border to the Canton of Vaud. The lowest point, on the other hand, is Lake Neuchâtel at a height of 430 metres. A symbolic mountain is the Moléson with a height of 2,002 metres. Most mountains in the Fribourg Alps are between 1,600 and 2,000 metres high. The climate is temperate for the most part. However, it is warmer and almost Mediterranean at the lakes in the north. The Alps are dominated by a somewhat colder climate as well as very low temperatures and a lot of snow in the winter months.
Nature - The "land of the three lakes" is calling
The canton fascinates with a varied landscape, especially around Gruyère. The multi-faceted nature is covered in vast meadows and forests, conservation areas, high moors, swamps and gorges. Furthermore, you see the smooth hilly landscape of the Swiss Plateau, which has a special charm, and the mighty mountains of the Fribourg Alps, in which you can often spot ibexes. Fribourg Region belongs to the greater region of the Three Lakes Region and lies at two of the three lakes. The canton is also called the "land of the three lakes" itself because of its three lakes Lake Neuchâtel, Lake Murten and the Lake of Gruyère. The two regions are not to be confused as the greater region (Three Lakes Region) accommodates Lake Biel instead of the Lake of Gruyère. Important rivers are the Saane (French: Sarine) and the Sense. The Saane flows right through the city of Fribourg and constitutes the most important centre of the region. A highlight for lovers of nature is the Papiliorama with its impressive flora and fauna. The conservation area La Grande Cariçaie is also worth a visit.
Culture - Medieval history and unique museums
In 1481, Fribourg was the first French-speaking canton which joined the Swiss Confederation. Today it is officially bilingual with the official languages German (about 29 %) and French (about 63 %). German is mainly spoken in the north and north-east of the canton. While the south is rather rural, the north and north-west are highly urbanised. Fribourg is the canton with the youngest population on average but also the one with the fastest growth of population in Switzerland. Important stopping points for travellers are the cities Fribourg and Murten as well as the historical towns Tafers (French: Tavel), Bulle, Romont and Châtel-Saint-Denis. Fribourg is most of all known as a university and educational town but also as a centre of art and culture. It holds Switzerland's only bilingual university. The city of Fribourg also has one of the best-preserved old towns, which is very popular with holidaymakers. It fascinates with over 200 Gothic facades from the 15th century. Especially worth seeing are Saint-Nicolas et Trésor Cathedral, which was built from 1283 to 1639, the Espace Jean-Tinguely - Niki de Saint Phalle (an art museum) and the Swiss Stained Glass Museum in Romont. Another highlight is Murten's old town, which accommodates the historical curtain wall with its two towers and the Gothic handicraft houses. The medieval town Gruyère impresses with the fantastic Castle of Gruyères, which sits enthroned on a hill above the city. Today the castle is a museum, which displays over 800 years of regional culture, history and architecture. The nearby Saint-Germain Castle was bought by H. R. Giger, one of the creators of the film "Alien", in 1997. It now accommodates the Giger Museum, in which the Academy Award winner and artist exhibits his private collection of fantastic works. In the small town Gruyère, you find the Tibet Museum, which was opened in 2009, with an exhibition of over 300 Buddhist sculptures, paintings and other ritual works.
Experience - The home of the Gruyère cheese
In the Retro Train La Gruyère (also called Fondue Train) in the Fribourg Region, travellers experience a twofold pleasure. On the one hand, they can enjoy the beautiful landscape and on the other, they experience the culinary highlight of the Fribourg fondue. This regional speciality is followed by a sweet dessert. The name of the train and fondue is derived from the region, which is home to the delicious Gruyère cheese. The production of this cheese dates back to 1113. Another delicacy is the Gruyère Cheesecake. Visitors should also not miss out on a visit to a demonstration cheese diary. A great example is the La Maison de Gruyère. Travellers can recharge with a hearty Swiss cottage soup after being active. Worth trying are also the traditional Fribourg pretzels (Sensler Bräzzele) made of flour, butter, sugar and sour cream as well as the Pot-au-Feu, a beef and vegetable stew. If you like it sweet, you should taste the traditional aniseed buns. The canton is vibrant with medieval charm and captivates visitors with its rich cultural heritage in both summer and winter. The region also has a rich tradition of festivities. One highlight is the yearly Alpzug, during which all cows are decorated and driven from the summer pastures into the Unterland with a gigantic parade. Other unique events are the celebration of Saint Nicholas in the city of Fribourg with its traditional parade, the Open-air exhibition of Christmas cribs in Estavayer-le-Lac and the Christmas market in Murten. Travellers who like to go shopping find two big shopping centres in the city of Fribourg: the Manor and the Fribourg Centre. In addition, there are many markets like flea markets, weekly markets and jumble sales. Visitors who want to go gambling on their holidays find a casino in the city of Fribourg. There are not many clubs or discos but a number of bars and theatres.
Activities - Unique cycling and hiking trails
The diverse landscape makes a great variety of activities possible. The Fribourg Alps are a paradise for snowshoe hikers but they also offer excellent conditions for other kinds of winter sports, for example at the Moléson and the Schwarzsee (French: Lac Noir). You can go skiing, snowboarding and tobogganing in these regions. Holidaymakers will especially enjoy the short access routes and the low price level in the winter sports areas. In addition, the mountains are greatly suited for climbing, mountaineering and paragliding. At and around the three lakes, travellers can go hiking, horseback riding, cycling (by bike or velo), mountain biking, golfing and skating. Nordic Walking is another popular sporting activity in this region. You can go sailing, canoeing or kayaking on the lakes as well as bathing in them, which is why the region around Fribourg is often called the Fribourg Riviera. Furthermore, there are countless indoor and outdoor swimming pools as well as thermal baths. The rivers, for example the Sense, offer great conditions for going fishing. They are mainly populated by river trouts, barbels, European chubs and rainbow trouts. You can marvel at the region's landscape from above on a hot-air balloon flight. The region's spas hardly leave anything to be desired.
The Canton of Fribourg has a very well developed infrastructure. The two main branches of the Swiss motorway network run straight through the Fribourg Region. Arriving by train is another convenient option as the railway connection Geneva-Zurich leads through the region. The airports Zurich (ZRH), Geneva-Cointrin (GVA) and Basel-Mulhouse (BSL) are less than one and a half hours away, the regional airport Bern-Belp (BRN) less than one hour. So, travelling to the Canton of Fribourg is easy and convenient.
The Canton of Fribourg comprises no less than three different holiday regions. While the cool mountains in the south are perfectly suited for leisure and sporting activities, the city of Fribourg is a cultural centre which hardly leaves anything to be desired. In addition, the land of the three lakes offers a lot for families and sporty tourists and impresses with its breathtaking nature.