Emmental Show Dairy and Cheese-making

The Emmental Schaukaserei, aka Show Dairy, is a living museum showcasing cheese production throughout history. You can see various artifacts associated with historical cheese making, view modern cheese making live, and taste a few cheeses from the region. The site is free to visit and there is plenty to see without paying extra. Informational brochures, audio guides, guided tours and cheese making workshops are available for a fee. Kids will be pleased with the big playground, the puzzles and games on signboards around the property, and a scavenger hunt with a detective kit. It’s touristy, but well-done and a fun place to take visitors.

Location:   Central Switzerland
Address: Schaukäsereistr. 6 Affoltern im Emmental
Car: ~1hr30 from Zurich
Train: ~2hr from Zurich
Open: year round, 7 days a week
Cost (2016): free entrance, fees for audio guide and tours
More info: emmentaler-schaukaeserei.ch

Getting There

Drive to Schaukäsereistr. 6 Affoltern im Emmental using the map below and park in the metered parking lot next to the dairy. With public transport, you’ll need to take trains to Hasle-Rüegsau, then a bus to Affoltern in Emmental. The dairy is a short walk from the bus stop. The dairy is open year round, 7 days a week including holidays, generally 9:00 to 17:00, longer hours in summer.

Details

At first, we were a little confused, looking for a place to buy entrance tickets. But entrance is free to the entire complex. The large building shown below has the info desk, gift shop, and a small museum. This is a good place to start.

The info desk will give you the below map for free.

You can rent the audio guide (30-40 mins, 10CHF) or buy the following brochure, in English for 2CHF, which briefly describes nine locations throughout the dairy. I would recommend the brochure, which contained about as much information as I needed to enjoy my visit.

They also offer guided tours on weekends at 13:00 and 15:15, 1 hour, 10CHF/adults, 5CHF/children. Reservations are recommended but not required. The tour is in German, though I suspect they may do multiple languages on demand since other guided tours for large groups are available in English.

You can also attend a cheese-making workshop, run every day at 14:00, 7CHF/adults, 4CHF/children aged 6-16. We saw this workshop in progress and I can’t say that it looked very exciting. Basically, everyone was just standing around watching the cheeseman stir the cheese mixture. Maybe it got more exciting after we left.

There are a few different buildings in the complex, each housing a different era of cheese making.

If you walk past the info desk in the building shown above, you’ll find an old time small cheese making room, with some tools for cheese making. Your brochure will describe some of the items in this room. A few of the items are interactive.

The cheese making class is also run in this room, though these vats are for display only.

The building below houses the modern cheese-making factory, a cheese shop, a small grocery (if you need picnic supplies), and the cafe.

Inside, there is a gallery view down to the live cheese-making. Luckily, we happened to arrive right at 15:00, right in the middle of the live cheese making. It was fun to watch all that curds and whey slosh around. You can get the current schedule on their website. You can see the grocery at the top level in this picture. We wished that we had bought our picnic here instead of the poorly stocked convenience store in the neighboring town.

We watched the milk get stirred in the enormous vat in the background, then sent down the pipes to the cheese molds, to which the cheese man is attending. Then the curds were pressed.

We watched until he put the Emmental labels on the cheese rounds. Then we took a look downstairs where the cheese cures. The audio guide symbol appears at all these stations.

There is a nice cheese counter with lots to buy and a few to taste.

This is the oldest cheese house from 1750. Inside, they had a large copper pot swinging over an open fire. They make cheese in there too, using less modern equipment.

There’s a nice playground next to the cafe, with slides, swings, see-saw, etc. There are lots of picnic tables, not connected to the restaurant so you can bring a lunch.

There are games and puzzles on various signboards (German only) near the playground. Below is a word puzzle and “find the differences” on a picture of cheese making. In the next photo below, you can see a matching game with pictures related to cheese making and more signboards.

If you need even more to entertain the kids, the gift shop sells a detective kit for 9.90CHF, which includes a large brochure (German only) leading kids on a hunt for the “lost key.” The kids have to search for clues, answer questions and solve puzzles using the tools in the detective kits box, including a measuring tape, magnifying glass, mirror, etc. It’s very long and quite involved, so little kids may lose interest before you’re done.

Here is the cafe with indoor and outdoor seating. It was quiet when we went on a chilly Saturday in April. But it looks like they expect big crowds in the summertime.

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