Murten is situated between Berne and Lausanne and is the capital of the Lake District of the canton of Fribourg. This small medieval town lies in the Swiss "Midlands" on the edge of the Great Marsh, on a gentle hill (450 metres above sea level) and on the shore of a lake named after the town. Numerous attractions from a significant past have been well preserved here, such as the castle, the ring wall, the street scene and the arcades. Lake of Murten is a smaller lake in between Lake of Biel and Lake of Neuchatel.
Mount Vully is situated on the western side of the Seeland's largest plain and resembles a pearl gently placed among the three lakes of Murten, Neuchatel and Biel. Already long ago, the Celtic and Helevetic tribes appreciated the region's temperate climate and the local countryside's particular charm. Today, the Vully vineyards take up a large part of the south face of the Vully. The over 100 hectares of vineyards are facing towards the Murten Lake, witch assures the mild regional climate.
Murten is also famous in history for the defeat of Charles the Bold by the Swiss. The former fortified city, which has kept most of its ramparts and towers, has picturesque charm.
Attractions and Activities
The well preserved and charming town of Murten invites you to discover its past through its monuments. The lovely area surrounding Murten is lined with vineyards and three lakes invite for watersports and other leisure activities.
Excursions nearby Murten
Mount Vully is situated on the western side of the Seeland's largest plain and resembles a pearl gently placed among the three lakes of Murten, Neuchatel and Biel. Today, the Vully vineyards take up a large part of the south face of the Vully. The over 100 hectares of vineyards are facing towards the Murten Lake, witch assures the mild regional climate. There are 14 wine growers looking after the wine making process. On the other side of the Mt. Vully, vegetable fields are cultivated. The protected natural reserves along the Broye and the shores of Lake Neuchatel offer quiet and peaceful moments to both walkers and nature lovers.
From the south face at the highest point of the Mount Vully, a spectacular bird's eye view awaits the tourist.
The lovely Murten Lake, Murten region and the plateau are in the foreground, and the pre-Alps gently rise up to meet the majestic Alps forming a breath-taking picture. Walk to the north face of the Vully and observe the Neuchatel and Biel Lakes with the Jura Mountains on the horizon.
A national historic site close to Murten: In the early days of our era, Avenches, the capital of Roman Helvetia, had approximately 20 000 inhabitants. Today, the town's Roman vestiges offer the visitor many a fascinating glimpse of the town once called Aventicum: the Roman amphitheatre, a superb setting for many a breathtaking show, the theatre, the "Cigognier" column, and the Eastern Gate and Tornallaz Tower. The Roman Museum, housed in a mediaeval tower built on the grounds of the amphitheatre, features a precious collection of Gallo-Roman antiquities, including the celebrated bust of Emperor Marcus Aurelius.
A cornucopia of cultural events: the impressive backdrop of the Roman amphitheatre sets the stage for several highly reputed cultural events. A country where the horse is king: an Equestrian Sports Centre, one of its kinds in Europe, was set up in Avenches in 1999. On 142 hectares, the Centre boasts a racecourse (gallop and trot), and a first rate infrastructure for all equestrian activities: jumping, dressage, horse driving and three-day events. Numerous races with betting and competitions take place each week, making Avenches the undisputed horse capital of Switzerland.
The Kerzers region is located on the southern edge of the Great Marsh. During the Roman period, the Seeland was a dry zone. Roman military roads cut through this area towards the east. The Seeland became marsh land during the 16th century and from then on became known as the Great Marsh. The man-made corrections of the Jura waterways permitted the inhabitants to cultivate the land that had once been invaded by mosquitoes and humidity (see the chronology). Thanks to the corrections, numerous archaeological discoveries were made dating back to the Iron Age, the Celtic and Roman eras.
The famous "black earth" of the region produces a wide assortment of vegetables for Swiss tables. Vegetable gardening is the mainstay of the local economy.
Papiliorama-Tropical Garden, Kerzers
Discover hundreds of colourful, tropical butterflies flying freely around you in an extraordinary garden. Meet hummingbirds, water lilies, fishes and many other fascinating species. Or discover the fascination world of the nocturnal fauna in the tropical forests of America. Observe mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fishes and invertebrates in moonlight atmosphere.
City Excursions in Murten
Berne – Switzerland's Captivating Capital
Beautiful Berne is only a half-hour rail trip from Murten! Bern is another city of medieval magic, listed by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage. Attractions include the famous clock tower, the bearpits – home to Berne's heraldic animals – and excellent shopping arcades.
One of Switzerland's secret destinations, Lausanne is only 30 minutes' travelling time from Montreux. The city is renowned for its elegance, the historic Cathedral and the Olympic Committee headquarters.
Neuchatel is a pleasant, smiling town that stands in the middle of vineyards; its pale ochre houses made Alexandre Dumas say it was carved out of a pat of butter. The silhouettes of the collegiate church and the castle dominate the scene. Lake Neuchatel is the largest wholly Swiss Lake, being nearly 24 miles long and 5 miles wide. It is teeming with fish. Canals used by pleasure boats join with Lake Biel and Lake Murten.
Rail Excursions in Murten
Montreux – on Lake Geneva
Full-day excursion by rail. This attractive excursion crosses the "border" between German and French-speaking Switzerland. Can be combined with wine-tasting in Switzerland's largest wine-growing region.
Summer Sports in Murten
Murten and the surrounding areas are an excellent location for leisure hiking. The greater region features many miles of summer Hiking paths.
Switzerland in general and the surrounding area of Murten are great places for biking and mountain biking. Getting around on two wheels is made significantly more feasible by the ease of bike access. You can rent a seven-gear country bike or a quality 21-gear mountain bike from Rent-A-Bike, located at 200 SBB-CFF-FFS train stations nationwide.
The Lake of Murten, Neuchatel and Biel are all clean and invite for a refreshing swim. Several public swimming areas open their doors during the summer month.
Shopping in Murten
The Main Street was originally known as Reichengasse. Shopping is moderate but covered by arcades and the baroque houses that line the street are magnificent.
Events in Murten
Murten Classics Festival
August – September. Classical music festival with mostly open-air concerts in the court of Murten Castle, on beautiful spots at the lakeside and in different churches.
Opera Festival, Amphitheatre Avenches
The Opera Festival, launched in 1995, has become a renowned venue which attracts 50 000 enthusiastic spectators each year, who come to delight in the outstanding quality of the productions and the magic of a site that is unique in Switzerland.
Rock Oz'Arènes, Avenches
The smallest of major rock festivals, featuring a different pick of outstanding popular musicians each year takes place in the Amphitheatre Avenches, a magical site.
Museums in Murten
The Murten Mill, built in 1524, is located just below the Murten Castle. The Mill houses Murten's historical collections, special exhibitions.
Roman Museum Avenches
The Roman-Capital is now one of the most important archaeological sites of Switzerland. Visit Museum with its wonderful Gallo-Roman antiques, including the Marcus Aurelius bust.
Old Farm Museum Jerisberghof
The 300 year old farm museum is the oldest building in the area. Old farm implements as well as homemade crafts can be viewed. The farm can be reached by way of Kerzers.
Location and Map
Murten is located in West Switzerland, 27 km (16 miles) from Bern. The nearest international airport is Geneva which is 128 km (80 miles) from Murten. Travel time from Geneva is 90 minutes by car and about the same by train. Murten is 117 km (72 miles) from Lucerne and 149 km (93 miles) from Zurich.
By train, take international train connections to Berne and change trains in Bern.