Canton Fribourg is best known as the home to its Holstein cows—those black and white beauties that provide most of the agricultural folk in this region with their income.
About 230,000 people reside in this mostly rural canton, which is 1,036 square miles of gently-rolling green hills, making it the eighth largest canton in terms of land mass.
Fribourg is the 12th largest canton, and has a very low rate of foreign citizens living here (only10.5%). Fribourg joined the Swiss Confederation in 1481 and has retained much of its medieval flavor in the 21st century, found especially in the capital city of Fribourg.
With its green pastures and low-rolling hills, Canton Fribourg is an excellent choice for walking, biking and hiking excursions and is often overlooked by many tourists, except during the summer months, when many flock to the towns of Fribourg and Gruyere.
Here you’ll find the best fondue, made from the Gruyere cheese, as well as the traditional fall dish—Kilbi. The Fribourg feast, which takes place each autumn (in September), symbolizes the return of the Fribourgeoise cows from the upper Alpine pastures, and also features sweet smoked ham, lamb stew and a mixture of liquored pears.
The capital city of Fribourg sports a great number of castles, churches and monasteries in a cobblestoned village with quaint narrow streets that sits along the shores of the Saane River.
Founded in 1157, Fribourg is home to 42,000 inhabitants who enjoy lively Wednesday and Saturday mornings throughout the year, when a lively market is held near the village’s town hall. Here you’ll find fresh baked goods, produce and local artisans selling handmade crafts. Most of the Old Town is located on the west banks of the river.
Exploring Fribourg is best done on foot, as most of the streets are narrow, steep and cobblestone. If you’re into fountains, then you’ll love this city, as there are quite a few medieval fountains located in the Old Town. Many of them are copies, as the originals have been relegated to the Museum of Art & History.
You’ll want to get the view of Fribourg from the top of a small hill that overlooks the city and one which also offers a nice panoramic view of the countryside, with the Bernese Alps in the background. If you’re lucky, on a very clear evening, you can even glimpse the southern Alps as well.
To get here, you can either walk or take the local funicular that leaves hourly. You’ll also pass a covered wooden bridge that dates back to 1580, and is known as the Ponte de Berne.
You also might want to visit the Schwarzsee (Black Lake) while in Fribourg. This is an easy journey either by car, bike or on foot. It is located 17 miles south of Fribourg, and really makes for a nice bike ride in the summer time.
To get there take the local road that travels southeast from Fribourg in the direction of Plaffeien. When you reach this village follow the signs to the village of Gypsera and the Schwarzsee (south). The scenery along this route is breathtaking.
The Alpes Fribourgeoises (Fribourg Alps) as they are known, offer plenty of opportunities for downhill and cross country skiing as well as snowboarding and sledding. 17 miles south of Fribourg is the Schwarzee (Black Lake/Lac Noir in French), that offers three ski areas with eight lifts. You’ll also find a short cross country ski trail, and a skiing and snowboarding school. There are several nice peaks here ranging in height from 5,500 to 6,500 feet.
If You Go…The Fribourg Tourist Office is open Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m., 1:30-6 p.m.; Saturday from 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m, 1:30-4 p.m., Sunday from 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Closed from October-April on Saturday afternoons. Avenue de la Gare 1, CH-1700 Fribourg.
The cantonal information numbers are phone 26-321-3175, fax 26-322-3527, and the town information numbers are phone 26-350-1111, fax 26-350-1112. www.FribourgTourism.ch.