Fribourg is a city in Switzerland that is also the canton’s capital and economic center. The city was founded in 1157 by Herzog Berthold IV of Zaehringen. Fribourg is known for its cultural plurality, university, and bridges over the Sarine River that link the French-speaking part of Switzerland to the German-speaking part.
Fribourg offers a multitude of architectural sights. The Old Town, with Switzerland’s best-preserved fortifications, is under a preservation order and there are still more than 200 Gothic-style houses to be admired. In addition there are aristocratic town houses, monuments, St. Niklaus cathedral and numerous churches.
Far off the beaten Swiss track brings you to one of the country’s hidden gems – the city of Fribourg. The gateway to diversity, as its location is widely known for being the link between the French speaking Switzerland to the German speaking Switzerland, the city has a wealth of fascinating tourist sites, incredible history, breathtaking charm and romantic appeal wrapped up in a quaint medieval setting. The densely rich forests of Jura provide a dramatic panoramic backdrop that offers some of the most evocative landscapes in the country.
Peering over the Land of the Three Lakes, the Jura Forest region offers an abundance of incredible outdoor adventures right throughout the year, whether it’s cycling through alpine paths or cross country skiing during the frosty chilly months, there are plenty of opportunities to work off all of that delicious Swiss cuisine; the fondues, chocolate, pastries and cheeses. The lake region offers great places for water sports during the warmer months of summer and no matter what time of the year that you visit Fribourg, there will be something to delight again and again.
As it is one of Switzerland’s most underrated tourist attractions, it is possibly more well-known for its fantastic university and the iconic sweeping bridges that bend over the Sarine River, providing a physical link between French and German cultural areas. This one region of the country that is possibly the most beautifully looked after, with a highly active preservation order. There are over 200 medieval residences and buildings in the city alone, making this a true cultural and historic gem to experience.
Fribourg has been a part of the Swiss Confederation since 1481, with over 10,000 inhabitants at that time. Since the city was founded on a peninsula many bridges were built to span the Sarine River, the first one in 1250. In the 19th century Fribourg was famous for its suspension bridges which have now been replaced with concrete. The university was founded in 1889. The 2000 census showed a population of 35,000 city residents and 235,000 in the Fribourg canton.
Sprinkled throughout the city are Renaissance fountains and more recent fountains such as the Tinguely Fountain made in 1984.
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The Best Time to Go
Every season of the year is something very special in the city of Fribourg. The weather is pleasant and there is something to do all year round. Fribourg is something to be savored and visitors should take the time to meander through, rather than rush around all at once. The weather definitely warms up a bit during summer, and during the months of June, July and August, locals and visitors alike can be seen out and about enjoying themselves in the sunshine.
Cycling is a favorite local pastime, for commuting and leisure, all throughout the year, so it is no surprise to see lots of cyclists out whizzing about the town in the warm weather. Winter is a truly magical time of year, as the city and the surroundings is sprinkled with a generous dusting of snow, and there are ice palaces and ice sculptures and ideal conditions for you to traipse around wearing snow shoes and seeing the sights.
The city turns into a real life magical winter wonderland fairy tale and it is also no surprise to see the city filling up with visitors despite the chilly weather. Expect middle of summer temperatures to reach 24°C (75°F) and middle of winter temperatures to drop down to low single digits like 2 or 3 degrees Celsius (37°F).
Getting Around in Fribourg
Hands down the best way to see the city is on foot or by bicycle. Fribourg is easy to navigate many of the interesting major sights and attractions are easily accessible just walking or cycling the streets. You can hire bicycles from all over the place and at just about every single bus and tram station and it is the nicest way to travel around the pretty city, although perhaps not so comfortable in the middle of below freezing winter. You can hire a car and if you plan on travelling in and out of Fribourg and surrounds, this may be the best away to see everything.
Otherwise, being Switzerland, you are in luck, there is fantastic bus and rail public transport system that runs on perfect Swiss time, is never late and gets you where you want to be. The buses and light rail trams are clean, easy to use and are good value for money, and there are lines that will take you further afield and to surrounding cantons like Neuchatel.
Travel by train to Fribourg
Fribourg has an excellent mainline rail service, run by SBB. Trains run frequently day and night from Geneva airport, Geneva, Thun, Lausanne, St Gallen, Bern and Zürich, and many other places in Switzerland. The 1 SBB Railway Station is in the modern city centre, from here head east (downhill) for Old Town. There’s a second railway station 1 km north at Fribourg Poya: you’d only use this for St Leonard Sports Stadium or Caserne military base.
Bern airport is close by but has few flights, so the best airport for Fribourg is Geneva (), with direct trains every 30 mins taking less than 2 hours. Alternatively use Zurich () or perhaps Basel ().
Flixbus direct services from Fribourg include Lyon, Frankfurt and Munich.
The bus station is 100 m east of the SBB at Place Georges Python.