8 Hours in Fribourg, Switzerland: Best Things To Do - Olliechinny
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8 Hours in Fribourg, Switzerland: Best Things To Do

Fribourg has always just been the “next city after Lausanne” whenever we board the train for our Swiss travels. I’m not sure why we never found time to come here and explore it on our own, but thankfully we were invited by Fribourg Tourism to spend a day there, and that was when we discovered this hidden gem of a city that’s merely half an hour away from us!

Because I want to ensure you have the THE BEST time in Fribourg, I have prepared a an 8-hour itinerary for you to follow on a daytrip, with sights and things you must absolutely do whilst you are there.

First Things First: Fribourg, Freiburg, or Freiberg?

Train station signboards at Fribourg, Switzerland

The first two names are correct, the first being the spelling for the city in French, and the latter in German. In fact, Fribourg (which means free castle) is one of Switzerland’s few bilingual cantons: two-third of the population is French-speaking, and the rest German-speaking. It is very unique because once we arrived, we noticeably saw that there were both German AND French signboards all around!

Take note not to get mixed up with its German neighbour with the same name, Freiburg. That’s another university and former mining town in Saxony, Germany!

9.30AM: Get your morning caffeine fix at the Bike Café

Starting off our day right with a cuppa from the Bike Café! This cute mobile set-up is conveniently located before Rue de Lausanne, the stretch leading up to the locals farmers’ market. The menu is kept fuss-free, with 4 usual choices (We opted for the Café latte). Bring your own cup for a discount!

10.00AM: Explore the local farmers’ market

Dust your reusable bags off, strap those facemasks on and adventure into the world of market mayhem at the local farmers’ market, held every Wednesdays and Saturdays.

This bustling market is an organic and zero-waste lover’s dream, offering the best seasonal produce and pantry staples. It’s much bigger than the farmers’ market in Lausanne, and we found various seasonal fruits and vegetables, organic products, dairy products, meat, and bakery.

Also, be sure to reward those hungry bellies by trying some of the region’s specialties, including the Cuchaule bread, Benichon mustard, smocked ham and Gruyère cheese. The Benichon mustard was super unique, it’s like a jam spread over the Cuchaule bread: I’d never tried something quite like that before!

And if you’d like to brighten up your weekend even more, why not pick up a beautiful bouquet flowers or a new indoor succulent at the flower stall?

11.00AM: Climb to the top of St. Nicholas Cathedral

This gothic gem of a cathedral lies right in the heart of Fribourg, in the old, lower part of the City. This is undoubtedly Fribourg’s most iconic landmark.

Founded in the 13th century, its interior is full of history, beauty and incredible architecture and craftsmanship. The main doorway is adorned with a superior relief depicting the Last Judgement, which is worth a little pause before entering.

Once inside, the cathedral looks magnificent, covered with a beautiful series of stained glass windows that gleams magically in the sunlight. They were created by Polish painter Jozef Mehoffer, between 1896 and 1936.

With a small fee of 3.50CHF, you can climb up the 365 steps of the Cathedral’s tower. I’d climbed so many stairs up different cathedrals…and yes it’s an exhausting affair. But once at the top, you’d always be guaranteed a just reward: with a stupendous view over the city!

Useful Information

St Nicholas Cathedral

The cathedral open for tourist visits
Monday – Friday : 9.30 am – 6 pm
Saturday : 9.00 am – 4 pm
Sunday and public holidays: 1 pm – 5 pm

4CHF for Adults

2CHF for Seniors and Students

2CHF for audio-guide of the Cathedral

FREE with Fribourg City Card

The tickets for the entrance to the cathedral tower are sold at the Marchands Merciers, the information point next to the cathedral.

Entrance to the tower is from the outside on the left side of the main entrance. Last entrance 30 minutes before closing time.

12.00PM: Lunch at Vietnam House

If you are searching for authentic Vietnamese food, then head to the Vietnam House. We were craving for asian food (what’s new, haha!) and randomly chanced upon this restaurant at Rue Saint-Michel.

The whole place is small but unpretentious, and was already crowded by mid-noon: A sure-sign of a local hidden gem!

We ordered the weekend’s special. Must try: This huge, steamy bowl of traditional Vietnamese Pho with mixed pork and beef, the broth was so flavourful! Vince got alongside a huge crèpe with crunchy vegetables and sweet sauce. Portions were super filling for two, which was great.

1.00PM: Admire the various historic bridges

Bellies filled and satisfied, we walked off those calories and headed towards the city bridges.

Given Fribourg’s geography as a rocky peninsula set within the bend of the River Sarine, this made the construction of bridges necessary for transportation during the olden days. There are a whooping 17 bridges in total within Fribourg, we didn’t have time to see all of them so we only visited 2 of the more historic ones.

Bern Bridge

Bern Bridge, Fribourg

Built in 1250, a century after the establishment of the city, the Bern bridge is the last-surviving covered wooden bridge in Fribourg and one of the oldest in Switzerland. Set right within the BasseVille (Old Town) this is the must-see bridge if you want an classic old town experience.

The Bern bridge is also the best viewing point for marvelling the Zaehringen Bridge just downstream. From here, you can also walk by foot to visit the modern Poya Bridge, just 15 minutes away.

Note: The Bern bridge has only one lane and is very narrow, so cross with caution when there are passing vehicles.

Zaehringen Bridge

Zaehringen Bridge, Fribourg, Switzerland
Zaehringen Bridge, Fribourg, Switzerland

The Zaehringen bridge was built in 1924, to replace the Grand suspension bridge, which was at one point in history the longest suspension bridge in the world! It was made car-free in 2014, in order to protect Fribourg’s historic centre from damage caused by excessive congestion.

Strolling on the Zaehringen Bridge, we enjoyed a wonderful bird’s eye view of the picturesque Auge district, and we could see the charming Bern bridge, the alleys, the hidden gardens and the medieval city towers.

2.00PM: Immerse in the best views at the Le Belvédère

We spotted so many rustic-looking cafés within Fribourg, but the owner at Vietnam House specifically recommended us to head this one café at Le Belvédere. And now we know why so!

We were pleasantly awestruck by the experience of sitting outside the lovely terrace, sipping on ice-cold beer while soaking in the 5-star views of the Sarine River and the Old Town! This café definitely has the best scenery of Fribourg, so I recommend you come here for your afternoon break.

View from Le Belvédère, Fribourg, Switzerland

Useful Information

Le Belvédère
Grand’Rue 36
1700 Friborg

Restaurant 026 323 44 08
Café 026 323 44 07

Admission Prices:

7 CHF for Adults, 5 CHF for seniors and students

FREE with the Fribourg City Card and for children under 16

3.00PM: Explore art at the Espace Jean Tinguely – Niki de Saint Phalle

This musuem features kinetic works of art by Fribourg’s local artist: Jean Tinguely and the colourful, non-conformist installations of his equally famous wife, Niki de Saint Phalle.

The gallery is not large; but it is playful and intriguing, just about the right size to keep your attention for an hour. So you won’t need to devote an entire afternoon to explore the whole space.

Once inside the musuem, Tinguely’s masterpiece Retable de l’abondance occidentale et du Mercantilisme totalitaire (Altar of Western abundance and totalitarian consumerism) occupies centre-stage. It looks bizzare: Like a carnival stank made up of stuffed toys, bicycle parts and other bric-a-brac you’d usually find cluttering up apartments and garages. Interestingly, the sculpture serves as a critique on the culture of opulence and mass-consumerism in western society.

Up on the second level, there are also incredible works by other artists, with pop art and grafitti-like wall reliefs.

Useful Information

Espace Jean Tinguely – Niki de Saint Phalle

From 3 Jan 2020 to 31 Dec 2020:

Wednesday, Friday – Sunday: 11:00 – 18:00

Thursday: 11:00 – 20:00

Admission Prices:

7 CHF for Adults, 5 CHF for seniors and students

FREE with the Fribourg City Card and for children under 16

4.00PM: Uncover the History of Press at the Gutenberg Musuem

The Gutenberg Musuem is named after Johannes Gutenberg, who revolutionized the world of printing with his invention of the mechanical movable type printing press in 1450.

Guternberg Museum, Fribourg Switzerland

Housed in a restored granary dating back to 1527, the musuem showcases the history of printing industry: From the traditional usage of paper scrolls, the making of letters, the first bound books, the creation of typewriters, to the modern printing presses of today.

Unfortunately the display information were mainly in French and German, and I couldn’t understand them all. But just by looking at the gigantic printing machines from the 19th century alone, one can’t help but marvel just how far printing technology has come!

Useful Information

Gutenberg Musuem

From 3 Jan 2020 to 31 Dec 2020:

Wednesday – Saturday: 11:00 – 18:00

Sunday: 10:00 – 17:00

Admission Prices:

10 CHF for Adults, 8 CHF for Seniors, 6 CHF for children

FREE with the Fribourg City Card and for children under 6

5.00PM: Ride the Little Train of Fribourg for a final city tour!

Legs sore and exhausted from all the walking, we decided to take a final tour around the city with the Little Train of Fribourg!

It might seem like a kiddy ride, but it was actually equally fun for adults, as we chugged through slowly the narrow streets and lanes of the Old Town and admired the beautiful Cathedral and the city bridges for the last time. There’s also an audio-guide to listen and follow while passing by historic or scenic landmarks. While exploring by foot is the best way to experience Fribourg, I think this could be a great option for those with kids, or if you’re looking for a more relaxing way to discover the city.

I hope you enjoyed the recap on my daytrip to Fribourg! And for videophiles, great news, I’ve made a full vlog on our trip as well, be sure to watch it!

For my Swiss travel inspirations, check out my other travelogues, such as my weekend in Gruyères and recent visit to the Lac Souterrain de Saint Léonard!

This visit to Fribourg is in collaboration with Fribourg Tourism. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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  • MariaJose

    Thanks for sharing! I can’t wait to go back to Switzerland. I love that country so much! ❤️🇨🇭❤️

    • Olivia

      I wish you good luck and hopefully when the pandemic is over you have the chance to come again to Switzerland! 🙂

  • Kriszti

    Oh I totally missed this place when I was visiting Switzerland, but it looks so beautiful! I’m saving this for my next trip to Switzerland, thanks for sharing!

  • Urska

    “Fribourg has always just been the “next city after Lausanne” ” – I can relate to that. 🙂 Looks like a nice place to visit! Thanks for sharing!

  • Vanessa Shields

    Fribourg looks lovely and I would love to spend a day here! The ham, bread and mustard at the farmers market looks incredible. I’d enjoy wandering the town, climbing to the top of tower and seeing those beautiful bridges! What a great place to visit that’s so close to you!

  • Elena Pappalardo

    Ooo, I’ve never heard of this beautiful place! I will definitely keep it in mind for when I finally make it to Switzerland, pinned for later!

  • Lisa Shehan

    Ah, I can’t believe I have never visited this city!! I’ve been to Switzerland 4 times but I’ve always overlooked Fribourg! Adding this to the bucketlist for sure! Your pictures and vlog are both so great!!

  • Sara

    Reading your post really made me crave Cuchaule with moutarde de Bénichon! Unfortunately, I have never seen it at any bakery in Zürich 🙁 thank you so much for your recommendations, Fribourg is such a lovely city! 🙂

  • Andrew

    Hello, loved the video and blog post. I’ve just returned from a 7 day stay in Fribourg and can suggest a few extra places to take in on a day trip.
    – The western defensive ramparts. You get to the high, long and thin defensive wall built in the 1400s via either Derriere les Remparts (where you can start the wall) or the Rue de Morat (in the middle of the wall where there is a tower). The Musuem of Art and History and the Espace Jean Tingeuly are also on Rue de Morat so it’s just a bit further down the road.
    – On the way back near Fribourg University you might notice the u-shaped tower Tour Henri Theirryturm built in 1397.
    – After you cross the Pont de Berne in your video/post, turn left and walk along the ramparts on the other side of the Sarine, including the ‘Cats Tower’ built in 1383.
    – Walk back over the Pont de Berne, go straight ahead through the local town square and across the Pont du Milieu to Le Port de Fribourg area where you will find an open air market and coffee shops on a Sunday. Nearby, check out the Prison Central ‘Les Falaises’ and ancient chapel next to the Eglise Saint Jean. Then walk back across the Pont de Saint Jean towards St Nicolas up on the hill. You can walk up the hill and end up at St Nicolas or catch the funicular railway that will take you up a bit further away.
    – While back in central Fribourg area, check out the St Michael’s College established in 1582. See if you can find where, in 1798, French troops who were occupying the town under General Pijon shot a cannon ball into the church building. Nearby, drop in to the Cafe Populaire for a drink.
    – Some local cafe restaurants to try out (a) Bao Vista down the Boulevard de Perolles on the corner of Rue des Charmettes for great hamburgers and food, (b) L’imprevue cafe not far from Bao Vista.
    – Fribourg Centre, many great shops including a good book store at the basement floor. If you are looking for books in French (mostly), try Albert le Grand book store, one of the oldest book stores in Fribourg.
    – If you are struck in Fribourg on a Sunday when nothing is open, you can get some coffee and food from the shops beneath the train station platforms (in addition to other open air cafes)
    Enjoy your time in Fribourg.

    • Olivia

      Wow, thank you Andrew for your very comprehensive additions to Fribourg! Now I think I have reason to head back again!

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