I’ve heard the drive from Geneva to Gruyere isn’t so bad. I hate driving, so used public transportation. While it is user friendly (easy to connect and find trains), it was quite expensive and time consuming. I intended to spend one day in Montreux and one full day in Gruyere but the cost of the train tickets persuaded me to combine both places into one long day trip.
Despite the length of the train ride, and the number of switches, I absolutely cannot complain about the scenery. The first train from Geneva to Montreux cruised along the coast of lake Geneva (or Lac Leman) zooming through picturesque farms and sunflower field.
In Montreux, we hopped off to visit the famous Chateau du Chillon. Some people claim this castle was the inspiration for the Little Mermaid castle. This gorgeous lakeside castle was a ten minute bus ride from the main station. If you’re interested in seeing pictures from inside the castle, sign up for my mailing list to be notified of future posts!
After a quick tour of the castle, we were back on a train climbing up the mountains into the Swiss Alps. I would have loved to spend a little more time exploring the castle from the lake or splashing in this cute little beach just next to the castle, but in order to make it to Gruyere and back to Geneva in one day, we had to hurry on our way.
The Train Ride to Gruyere
The view of Lake Geneva and the mountains from the train was incredible. Twisting and turning up the mountainside we saw the village of Montreux from above, more farms, and lovely scenery. At our final transfer, we boarded the final train to Gruyere. We continued traveling past small village after small village. Each with its own church and about a dozen or so homes. The train stops at each station were like a step back in time. I could tell it would have been very special to spend a day or two in this peaceful region living life at a much slower pace.
Gruyere has a number of attractions, but it can be hard to get around the area without a car. We cut our trip in half, so we had to make some difficult choices about what to see and what to skip. Contenders included the Gruyere Cheese Museum, the chocolate museum, the alien museum, Gruyere castle, and Mount Moleson.
The cheese shop is located directly across from the train station, making it the easiest attraction to visit, so we started there. You can also access the castle and medical village by walking up a steep hill not far from the town. I was traveling with my friend’s mother on this day, and she was not keen for the hike. The chocolate shop was located in another village accessible by train. Mount Moleson was about a 10 min bus ride from the train station, but hiring a taxi for the drive was nearly impossible. Apparently the taxis have to come in from another town. You have to pay the fare starting from when they leave their origin to when they return.
We decided to do the cheese museum and the cable car up Mt. Moleson.
La Maison du Gruyere
La Maison du Gruyere is a small factory in the village of Gruyere, located directly across the street from the train station. Inside you will find a lovely restaurant, a shop (I picked up some chocolates since I ran out of time to visit the chocolate factory), a small tribute to the making of cheese and a viewing station to watch the workers as they process the cheese.
From the observatory we saw them empty the creamy mixture into several smaller vats where the cheese was molded and hardened. To see more pictures and videos of this process please visit my Instagram account here.
Mount Moleson Cable Car & Funicular
After the cheese museum we struggled to find the bus to he mountain. Not everything was so clearly marked. The bus itself was easy to find, but understanding the destinations and which to take to the mountain was a challenge. With the help of the lovely women at the cheese museum we realized we just missed the hourly bus, but if we made the next one we could get to the mountain top and back down on the last bus of the evening.
It was slightly risky as we heard that it was nearly impossible to get a taxi earlier, but we decided to give it a try. Of all the places to hitchhike, a small village in Switzerland is probably not the worst place. Oh yeah, I would know because we had to do it after we took the train one stop too far. Thank goodness I speak a little German.
We finally boarded the bus to the mountain. There are several options for going up and down the mountain. You can walk parts of it or take the cable car and the funicular, stopping in between. Due to the lack of time we took the cable car all the way to the top and back down again, but I’m sure it would have been a lovely hike had time allowed. We definitely would have had quite the hike if we missed that last bus!
The Top of Mount Moleson
We wasted no time at the switching stop. Straight to the top for us! Once you reach the top of the mountain there are a few options to explore. You can climb above the restaurant for a beautiful panoramic view. There are also two peaks that can be reached with a short walk, but my travel companion wasn’t hiking and I wasn’t wearing appropriate footwear. I opted to take the stairs to the landing above the restaurant. We spent about ten minutes at the top of the mountain taking in the beautiful scenery all around us. We could see Lake Gruyere, cows, various other mountain peaks and the Mt. Moleson luge which looked like a blast!
I captured the descent on video, enhanced by hyper lapse to add a little thrill. Once again the views were absolutely breathtaking. We headed back to our train resting assured that we chose the right activities for our day trip to Gruyere. We boarded the train for our long trek back to Geneva. This time as we rode along Lake Geneva, the sun was setting and there was an outlet above my train seat. All was good in the world. At least for that moment. And we even made it back to Geneva in time for a farewell dinner for my friend’s mom!