Covering an area of 200 square kilometers, the Freiberg Mountains, known for their harsh climate, were settled at a relatively late date, reluctantly. In order to attract more inhabitants, the prince-bishop who was in power in 1384 introduced a charter that freed all inhabitants from taxes and interest on their cleared land. This is the origin of the name Freiberge ("Free Mountains").
Even though these special rights ended in 1792, the Freiberg Mountains are still the ideal destination for excursions for those who love freedom. Bicycle tours, horseback rides, hikes, covered wagon rides, snowshoe hikes, cross-country skiing or dogsled riding - the Freiberg mountains are just the right place for all these activities. The main town in the Freiberg mountains is Saignelégier. The moor lake "Étang de la Gruère", which is well worth visiting, is nearby.
Being the home of Franches Montagnes horses, the Jura is a true paradise for riders with over 200 kilometres of marked riding trails and the possibility to enjoy rides in covered wagons, carriages and wagons. And the horse foundation in Le Roselet is definitely worth visiting - a home for retired horses, ponies and donkeys. The annual horse market in Saignelegier is nowadays the biggest horse festival in Switzerland.
From Saignelégier a hiking trail leads to the Etang de la Gruère moorscape, a highlight of the Franches Montagnes countryside. Around the biggest moor pond in Switzerland boards provide information about the flora and fauna as well as moor and nature preservation.
National cycle route number 7 from Basel to Nyon is - particularly the stretch through the Franches Montagnes -is particularly popular with families. Bicycles are available for hire from the railway stations. Thanks to the well-developed rail and bus network it is easy to start or shorten tours at stops along the way.
The countryside of the Franches Montagnes is ideal for cross-country skiing and snow-shoe trekking. In addition to a great many cross-country skiing routes the number of marked routes for snow-shoe trekkers is increasing constantly. The unspoilt landscape of the Franches Montagnes is particularly suitable for these two sports.
- Franches Montagnes landscape – the sparse parkscape with open pastures, tree clusters and pine forests is the primary sight of the region.
- Etang de la Gruère – a high moor which was created 12'000 years ago and is of national importance featuring animals and plants which are rare or even in danger of becoming extinct. A trail combining all the characteristic elements of the Franches Montagnes high plateau has been built for walkers.
- Historic «Tête de moine» exhibition cheese dairy (only for groupes) – the cheese originating from the 12th century is produced in the vaulted hall at the old Bellelay farm. Further cheese dairies: Saignelégier, St-Imier.
- Chemins de Fer du Jura – the red one-metre gauge trains of the Jura Railways (CJ) mainly provide access to the high plateau of the Franches Montagnes and is perfect for excursions in the region.
- La Chaux-de-Fonds – an exursion destination near the Franches Montagnes. The watch museum is a must-see highlight when visiting the centre of time measurement.
- International dog-sled race – almost like in Alaska: for two days the best teams in the world race through the snow-covered Franches Montagnes (January).
- «Marché-Concours national de Chevaux» (National Horse Market) – horse race, parading of 500 horses in front of the competition jury and the procession attract thousands to the biggest horse show in the country (August).
- Organic Market – every year during a September weekend the organic produce of the Franches Montagnes are presented to the general public in the market hall of Saignelégier (September).
- Chant du Gros Festival – music festival in Le Noirmont, last open-air festival of the season in Switzerland (September).