Tropenhaus Frutigen: Tropical Fruit and Caviar in the Swiss Alps

Bananas growing in the tropical gardens of Tropenhaus Frutigen.

My Visit to the Tropenhaus Frutigen

You should discover a tropical corner of the Swiss Alps at Tropenhaus Frutigen. This location represents a unique example of Swiss ingenuity. More specifically, it uses renewable energy from the Alps to cultivate food products, like bananas and caviar, not usually found in Switzerland.

It all started with the construction of the Lötschberg Base Tunnel, which opened in 2007. This construction project created a need to divert rain and melt water from the mountain. At approximately 18°C (64.4°F), this warm mountain water could not be fed directly into existing waterways. Unfortunately, it would have negatively impacted the spawning grounds of the local lake trout. Furthermore, cooling the water would have been an expensive undertaking. Instead, this water has been cleverly harnessed for the purpose of growing tropical plants and farming sturgeon and other fish.

At the foot of the Bernese Alps, you’ll find fish tanks and tropical greenhouses.

Tropenhaus Frutigen first opened in 2009. Since that time, it has been welcoming visitors to explore its tropical greenhouses and observe its farm-raised fish. Located about a 7-minute walk from the Frutigen train station, the complex includes a restaurant, exhibition space, fish farm and gift shop. From Tuesday through Sunday, the Tropenhaus also offers guided tours and hosts school groups and corporate events.

Restaurant Tropengarten

In the greenhouse gardens, the Restaurant Tropengarten has a lush canopy of tropical plants. When we were there at lunchtime, it has a family-friendly atmosphere. My children enjoyed exploring the gardens adjacent to the restaurant. In terms of the cuisine, the menu features dishes with ingredients grown and raised onsite. These include fresh tropical fruits and fish, such as sturgeon, perch and zander. After consulting the menu, I ordered the three-course menu for CHF 45.

  • Pumpkin soup with fermented pumpkin and pumpkin seed oil
  • Tempura battered perch filets with coconut dip, sweet potato fries and purslane
  • Guava Crème Brûlée with marinated banana

With generous portions, the dishes were fresh, colorful and satisfying. In addition, the servers were attentive and helpful.

Our first course: Pumpkin soup with fermented pumpkin and pumpkin seed oil.
Restaurant Tropengarten also has individual tables within the tropical garden, for a more private dining experience.

Oona Caviar

At the Restaurant Tropengarten, you’ll also find Oona Caviar on the menu. They harvest this caviar from the sturgeon raised on-site. In all, the Tropenhaus has approximately 80,000 sturgeon. It does not use any antibiotics, medicines or chemical pesticides for its fish breeding or aquaculture.

One of the sturgeon fish tanks at Tropenhaus Frutigen. 

If you like caviar, Oona Caviar is a fresh, high-quality and premium Swiss product made without additives or preservatives, such as borax.

I first learn about Oona Caviar at Chef Alps 2017 in Zurich.

Along with tasting caviar at the restaurant, you can also purchase it at the Tropenhaus shop or order it online for home delivery in Switzerland.

Tropical Gardens

Available in English and with a special version for children, the Tropenhaus offers a self-guided audio tour of the greenhouses, the exhibition and the fish farm. Annually, about two tons of fruit are collected from the trees and plants in its greenhouses. Examples of the fruit grown in the greenhouses include mango, guava, physalis, lychee, durian, kumquat and many others.

Papayas growing in the tropical gardens of the Tropenhaus Frutigen.

During your visit, you’ll see that tropical gardens in the Tropenhaus Frutigen feature some birds and animals, orchids and several themed trails. These include coffee, banana and spice-theme trails.

The tropical garden adjacent to the Restaurant Tropengarten and Swiss-grown bananas.
The view of the canopy of the tropical gardens at Tropenhaus Frutigen.

Tropenhaus Frutigen also has an interactive exhibit that opened in March 2016. This exhibit is entitled “How the fish came to the mountain.” It provides information about the sturgeon raised at the farm and the caviar production process.

You can see some of the tools and gear used to harvest caviar.

Overall, my family spent about 3-4 hours at Tropenhaus Frutigen, including our lunch at the restaurant. We enjoyed all aspects of our visit there: great food, a tropical climate and fish tanks. Plus, my children were captivated by it all. In conclusion, this is truly a one-of-a-kind Swiss food experience for people of all ages.

Tropenhaus Frutigen, Tropenhausweg 1, CH-3714 Frutigen, +41 (0)33 672 11 44, info@tropenhaus-frutigen.ch.

Updated: May 10, 2022

6 replies »

    • Glad you enjoyed it! Especially with the cold weather we’re having right now in CH – it’s a great place to visit. Thanks for visiting my blog, and have a great weekend. 🙂

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