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How to Spend 1 Day in Fribourg, Switzerland

Last Updated on March 25, 2024 by Darla Uhl

Visiting Fribourg, Switzerland for at least one day is something I highly recommend. The tranquil Sarine River gracefully flows through the city of Fribourg, an enchanting historical city to the southwest of Bern. With cobblestone streets, picturesque bridges, well-preserved buildings and fortifications, and a magnificent cathedral, this capital of Canton Fribourg is truly well-worth a visit. So don’t wait to spend 1 day in Fribourg, Switzerland, and have a great time.

Here are five of the top tours to do in one day in Fribourg, Switzerland to make the most of it:

Image of Fribourg by TouringSwitzerland.com

Whether you visit Fribourg in the summer or in the winter, you won’t be disappointed. It offers both indoor and outdoor activities for people of all ages. One day is not likely to be enough here since there are so many things to do.

Whether you’re looking for a 1-day itinerary or a list of things to do in Fribourg, this article is for you. Here are a few ideas for how you can spend one day in Fribourg, Switzerland.

Fribourg 1 Day Itinerary: What can you do?

I suggest walking for all the activities mentioned below, if possible. Fribourg is a compact city, but it has many uneven cobblestone streets, as well as fortifications and towers with stairs going up and down. So, wearing comfy shoes is a good idea.

1. Enjoy a Cozy Breakfast as you Begin your Day

Image of Rue de Lausanne in Fribourg by TouringSwitzerland.com

The first thing you should do before heading out into the city is to find a comfortable, warm, cozy place to eat breakfast. In case your hotel doesn’t offer a breakfast option, you can walk around Fribourg to find a café.

You don’t have to go far in Fribourg: there are plenty of cafes and restaurants that serve up hot coffee with delicious pastries. Head over to the old town with all of its cafés, and find a comfortable place where you can enjoy your breakfast.

  • Fribourg Train Station – In Fribourg Train Station, you’ll find a variety of coffee shops and bakeries, which could be especially convenient if you’re arriving from another city. On the ground floor, there’s a Starbucks along with other establishments like Délifrance, Sapori, Coffee & Friends, and more.
  • BAGELSTEIN Bagels & Coffee Shop (Rue de Romont 35, 1700 Fribourg) – Freshly kneaded and baked bagels for a perfect breakfast or snack are available at BAGELSTEIN Bagels & Coffee Shop near Fribourg’s Train Station.

2.  Travel with the City Funicular

Image of the Fribourg-Neuveville/Motta Funicular by TouringSwitzerland.com

I suggest strolling to Fribourg St. Pierre, where you can hop on the funicular to reach Fribourg-Neuveville/Motta. While walking is an option, opting for the funicular ride is more interesting due to its status as a historical monument.

What makes it unique in Europe is that operates using wastewater from the town. This century-old machine is a fascinating sight and worth witnessing.

This brief two-minute journey will take you to Neuveville/Motta, marking the starting point for our next destination. Walk down the road and cross the Sarine River on the Pont de la Motta bridge.

Image of the Sarine River by TouringSwitzerland.com

Address: Funicular Neuveville/Neustadt – St-Pierre/St. Peter and Fribourg-Neuveville/Motta


3. Visit the La Maigrauge Abbey

Image of the La Maigrauge Abbey, Fribourg by TouringSwitzerland.com

Begin your leisurely exploration of the city by visiting the La Maigrauge Abbey (Abbaye de la Maigrauge). The area boasts a serene street Prom. de la Maigrauge that meanders alongside the Sarine River.

If you time your visit when the abbey shop is open, you might stumble upon some unique items they offer. You can expect books, souvenirs, and local goods. They are open on weekdays from 9:30 to 11:30 AM and 2:30 to 4:30 PM.

It’s a tranquil and serene spot to kick off your day. Following your visit to the abbey, proceed up Chemin de l’Abbaye and journey past the Monastère de Montorge convent to reach one of the city’s finest viewpoints.

Address: Abbaye de la Maigrauge, Chem. de l’Abbaye 2, 1700 Fribourg


4. Capture the Best Views of Fribourg from Chemin de Lorette

Image of Fribourg from Chemin de Lorette by TouringSwitzerland.com

The most captivating panoramic views of Fribourg city are to be discovered along Chemin de Lorette. Although there are other streets with beautiful views such as Chemin du Schoenberg, this spot grants you a picturesque view of the city’s most photogenic segments in their entirety, rather than just a portion.

There are stunning panoramic views of the entire city along the Chemin de Lorette. On this street, you will also see the small chapels of Chapelle St. Jost and Chapelle de Lorette.

Image of the Chapelle St. Jost, Fribourg

Plus, it’s not distant enough to lose sight of the city’s allure. If you venture up to Chapelle de Lorette, you’ll be rewarded with an even higher panorama. In my view, the best perspective lies right beside the petite chapel of St. Jost as seen in the image above.

Address: Chemin de Lorette


5.  Make a Stop at Pont du Milieu

Image of Fribourg on Pont du Milieu Bridge by TouringSwitzerland.com

After soaking in the panoramic vistas from Chemin de Lorette, descend to the charming old town below.

On your way, you’ll encounter the Saint-Jean Church and the delightful row of houses in Planche-Supérieure. You may also take a small path through the forest called Chem. Saint-Jost.

Proceed to the central bridge known as Pont du Milieu. If you arrive early enough, you’ll have the chance to capture this enchanting spot without the bustling presence of tourists and vehicles, making it perfect for snapping pictures.

One side of the bridge treats you to the view of the towering cliffs where the Gottéron Valley begins, while the opposite side presents the impeccably preserved edifices that lend Fribourg its picturesque allure. It’s worth taking a pause here; the beauty is truly captivating.

Close to the middle bridge, you’ll find a fascinating puppet museum, and there are also a handful of restaurants around if you’re inclined to enjoy your lunch here.

Addresses:

  • Pont du Milieu 1700, 1700 Fribourg
  • Musée Suisse de la Marionnette, Derrière-les-Jardins 2, 1700 Fribourg

5. Discover the City’s Defensive Walls beyond Pont de Berne

Image of Fribourg and Pont de Berne Bridge by TouringSwitzerland.com

Step over the impeccably maintained wooden bridge, Pont de Berne. Despite its age, it remains functional, serving both pedestrians and vehicles as they cross the Sarine River. Once you’ve crossed the bridge, the path leading to the Gottéron Valley will be on your right.

Fribourg Switzerland’s Defensive Towers

However, I recommend turning right instead, to acquaint yourself with the city’s fortifications. Fribourg’s City Walls are a well-preserved example of medieval fortification. You can even walk along the walls and enjoy stunning views of the city in one of the towers. In this area, you’ll come across three distinct towers:

  • the Bern Gate Tower (1418) – The Bern Gate Tower is 24 meters high and above the mouth of the Gottéron.
  • the Cats Tower (1383) – The Cats Tower is the middle tower that can be accessed from the walls of the Bern Tower. It is 5 levels high.
  • the Red Tower (1387)- The Red Tower, built with red stone, is 38 meters high. In the past, it served as a location for executions and confinement of prisoners.

The city of Fribourg houses numerous fortifications including six towers, five gates, seven sections of walls, and one Great Bulwark. If you would like to learn more about topic, you can embark on a historical tour of the city fortifications using this link from Fribourg Tourism: https://fribourg.ch/en/fribourg/tour-of-the-fortifications/.

Image of the Cats Tower (left) and Bern Tower (lower right) by TourngSwitzerland.com

After ascending Bern Tower and Cats Tower, you can exit through the door near the Cats Tower. From there, take the narrow path that leads to Rte de Bourguillon. Once on Rte de Bourguillon, you can choose to continue towards Chemin de la Tour-Rouge to explore the Red Tower. Alternatively, you can proceed directly on Rte de Bourguillon and cross the Zaehringen Bridge (Pont de Zaehringen) where you will have a fantastic view of the Poya Bridge to your right.

Addresses:

  • Bern Tower – La porte-tour de Berne, Rue des Forgerons 34, 1700 Fribourg
  • Cats Tower – Katzenturm, Chem. de la Tour-des-Chats, 1700 Fribourg
  • Red Tower – Tour Rouge, Rte de Bourguillon 5, 1700 Fribourg
  • Zaehringen Bridge – Pont de Zaehringen, Chem. des Archives, 1700 Fribourg
  • Poya Bridge – Pont de la Poya, 1700 Fribourg

6. Step Inside St. Nicholas Cathedral

Image of the St. Nicholas Cathedral by TouringSwitzerland.com

St. Nicholas Cathedral (or Cathédrale Saint-Nicolas) is one of the most well-known landmarks of Fribourg built between 1283 and 1490. It has a towering peak that you can easily spot from far away. And if you wish to do so, you could climb up this tower and have a fantastic view of the city.

The Cathedral is actively used, and during my visit, a church service was taking place. Consequently, I can share pictures from its exterior. I strongly suggest you take the opportunity to witness its interior too. The exquisite stained glass on the walls and its intricate designs captivate. The entrance door boasts elaborate embellishments, and the cathedral itself has a lengthy and captivating history.

Address: Rue du Pont-Suspendu, 1700 Fribourg


7. Explore a Museum or Two

Fribourg boasts its fair share of museums. Three that stand out are the Museum of Art and History, the Espace Jean Tinguely – Niki de Saint Phalle, and the smem Music Museum. The Gutenberg Museum is, unfortunately, no longer in Fribourg.

  • Musée d’art et d’histoire MAHF – The museum is situated across three historical structures within Fribourg town. Inside, you’ll discover an array of insights spanning archaeology, Fribourg’s history, and artistic endeavors.
  • Espace Jean Tinguely – Niki de Saint Phalle – This is an enchanting location that honors the creative legacies of two prominent 20th-century artists and a married couple: Niki de Saint Phalle, a French-American artist, and Jean Tinguely, a Swiss sculptor renowned for kinetic art. Constructed in 1900, the building originally served as the Fribourg tramway depot.
  • Schweizer Museum und Zentrum für elektronische Musikinstrumente – For enthusiasts of synthesized music, this museum offers a fantastic visit. It even includes a playroom where you can experiment firsthand. Given its limited opening schedule of twice a week, it’s advisable to plan your visit on one of those specific days if this topic appeals to you.

Addresses:

  • Musée d’art et d’histoire MAHF – Rue de Morat 12, 1700 Fribourg
  • Espace Jean Tinguely – Niki de Saint Phalle – Rue de Morat 2, 1700 Fribourg
  • Schweizer Museum und Zentrum für elektronische Musikinstrumente – Pass. du Cardinal 1, 1700 Fribourg

Recommended Hotels in Fribourg, Switzerland

Image of Hôtel de la Rose, Fribourg by TouringSwitzerland.com

While the options for hotels in Fribourg aren’t extensive, we’ve listed three below near the old town. If you’re unable to find accommodations in Fribourg, you might consider staying in Bern and making a day trip to Fribourg instead.

Should you need some assistance choosing a hotel in Fribourg, here are some suggestions:

  • Le Sauvage (4-star) – Le Sauvage is an excellent hotel situated in the lower section of Fribourg, close to the Pont de Saint-Jean. The hotel provides easy access to the old town and dining establishments. It offers really good value for your money.
  • Hôtel de la Rose (4-star) – The hotel is perfectly situated, right in the heart of the town, near the Cathedral and museums.
  • Hotel Hine Adon Fribourg (3-star) – This is an excellent value hotel near the old town, offering a clean and well-maintained environment. It boasts the best location close to the center, and it’s just a short stroll away from the main city area, which is filled with numerous restaurants and shops.

NOTE: For those who are sensitive to noise, my recommendation would be to opt for Le Sauvage among the three choices. This is because it’s located at a distance from the Cathedral, where the bells can be quite lively, unlike the other two hotels.


Summary: 1 Day in Fribourg, Switzerland

Fribourg offers numerous experiences to enjoy. I highly suggest ascending to elevated viewpoints like Chemin de Lorette and exploring the city fortifications. For those seeking a more relaxed and leisurely experience, visiting Pont du Milieu, along with Fribourg’s museums and shops, is a great option. All in all, Fribourg has more than enough to fill a day of your life.

You may swap out one of the options above if you would like to visit other areas in Fribourg by checking out the list below. The following are other things you can do in Fribourg on a 1-day trip:

  1. Pont de Saint-Jean: A historic bridge offering scenic views of the city near Fontaine de Saint-Jean and Église Saint-Jean.
  2. The City Hall: Hôtel de Ville was completed in 1522 and is currently the seat of the Cantonal Parliament and Court.
  3. Shopping streets: Rue de Romont, Rue Pierre-Aeby, and Rue de Lausanne are three lively streets known for shops, cafes, and historical buildings. I found Rue de Lausanne very charming.
  4. Musée d’Histoire Naturelle: A natural history museum with diverse exhibits about earth sciences and biology.
  5. Motta Swimming Pool: Open during summer from May to September, it is an open-air swimming bath near the Sarine River.
  6. Gottéron Valley: Accessed to the right of Bern Bridge and the Fountain of Faithfulness, you can head over the the Gottéron Valley and see the Gottéron Gorge.

More Things to Do near Fribourg, Switzerland

Image of Murten by TouringSwitzerland.com

What I would personally recommend after exploring Fribourg is also visiting Bern, Murten, Romont, or Avenches.

Canton Fribourg might be small but it also has many interesting attractions worth checking out. It is highly recommended to spend at least one day there, if not a week. Here are more attractions to visit near Fribourg, Switzerland:

  1. Bern: The Federal City of Switzerland, famous for its UNESCO World Heritage Old Town with its well-preserved buildings from the medieval era, is always worth visiting.
  2. Murten: Murten is a walled town with well-preserved ramparts that you can go up to as well as a beautiful lake (Lake Murten).
  3. Romont: Romont is a beautiful medieval town with a castle and a Stained Glass Museum.
  4. Avenches: Avenches is a beautiful, medieval town in the canton of Vaud, in the district of Broye-Vully. The town sits on top of a hill in Broye Valley. 
  5. Gruyères: Famous for its medieval village, Gruyères has a cheese factory and a castle too.
  6. Estavayer-le-Lac: Another historic lakeside town on Lake Neuchâtel with water activities.
  7. Mont-Vully: Worth visiting for the Lamberta caves (Les Grottes des Roches Grises La Lamberta), man-made tunnels excavated in sandstone. You can also enjoy vineyards, stunning views, and hiking trails here.

Even after visiting several times, we still haven’t seen everything in Canton Fribourg. Enjoy your trip!

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Darla Uhl is the owner of TouringSwitzerland.com. Her home is in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. Having lived almost 20 years in Switzerland, she's traveled extensively all over the country.

Darla's favorite regions to visit in Switzerland include Engadin, Lake Geneva, Bernese Oberland, Ticino, and Valais. She loves spending time with her family, hiking, visiting museums, and reading books.

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