Best Things to Do in Thun, Switzerland
If you‘re planning your Thun itinerary, you’re probably wondering about the best things to do in Thun. Whether you stay in Thun for one day or for one week, this post will help you find out about the best places to visit and the best things to see (and believe me, there is tons to do and see).
Thun is not only the perfect base for exploring the region of Lake Thun and the stunning Bernese Oberland, but also a fun place to visit – and discover one of the prettiest towns/cities in Switzerland.
Thun is located at the lower end of Lake Thun (one of the prettiest lakes in the country) and the historic Old Town is situated about one kilometer from the shore of the lake, on the river Aare, which makes it easy to see many of the places by just walking.
But as in many places in Switzerland, public transportation is superb and you can easily get around by bus and boat. Just a few reasons to fall in love with Thun.
I have many favorite places in Switzerland, and Thun is probably in my top 3 favorite towns. It is pretty, charming, and perfectly located and it is one of the best places to stay in Switzerland.
Yes, it is small and you do not need much time to explore the town center itself, but there are so many stunning activities in and around Thun that I never tire of it; I am always in awe when I visit.
Here are my favorite Thun activities and my tips for the best things to do in Thun in one (or more) days.
Thun´s old town is small, but gorgeous and this is why I start with attractions in the old town of the city. As I always say, Interlaken´s old town is quite disappointing, so if you are looking for an old town in the region, head to Thun.
There are several main attractions in the old town – here are my tips for places to visit in Thun´s old town.
Town Hall Square
I judge cities and towns based on market squares – they often tell a lot about the city, and Thun´s market square is cute and interesting.
This is the heart of the old town, where many celebrations also take place (including Thunfest). Here you’ll find the 15th-century town hall, the oldest brick house in the town (14th century), two former guild houses that have turned into hotels (Hotel Metzen and Hotel Krone), and of course, more interesting buildings.
So, while the town square is small, don’t rush through. Take your time to look up and pay attention to the details.
Speaking of looking up… From the market square, you’ll also have a nice view of Schloss Thun (Thun Castle) that proudly sits on a hill overlooking the city.
Thun Castle is probably one of the most iconic castles in the country, offering lovely views of Lake Thun, the city, and the mountains.
Of course, it is not only about the views (though for me, mostly), but the beauty of the castle itself. It was built in the 12th century as an administrative castle and was expanded throughout the years.
Now, it is a historical museum (very small and simple though) where you can learn a bit more about the city’s history.
I repeat myself, it is also good to have a nice view – so, climb the stairs (not too many, I promise) and enjoy the view.
With a Swiss Travel Pass, you can visit for free; otherwise, you have to pay around 10€ for the entry fee.
Bälliz is a little island, surrounded by the Aare River, that is also a famous shopping mile that has shops of various sizes, restaurants, and cafes.
This street is a unique street in the old town of Thun. I really enjoy strolling this shopping mile even though I am not much of a shopper.
What makes this street unique is the high pavement that you can also climb – allowing you to stroll the main pavement or walk on the raised promenade level. Also, I think, it is much more picturesque than Bälliz and gives you a unique Thun experience.
You can end your day (or have lunch) at Mühleplatz, which is a fun area with loads of cafes and restaurants (loads, considering the size of the town). It’s located in between the old town and Bälliz, a place where locals and tourists come, and I had some good (vegetarian) lunch here at xxxx.
Obere Schleuse (Scherzligschleuse)
The Obere Schleuse, originally built in the 18th century, is a floodgate that you can walk and which is, in season, decorated with flower pots. With some imagination, you could call it the baby sibling of the Chapel Bridge in Lucerne.
The Aare River runs quite fast and surfers use the waves to surf here in the warmer months, so keep an eye out for them.
Untere Schleuse (Mühlenschleuse)
This floodgate was also originally built in the 18th century and you’ll find surfers here, too.
Switzerland does not have stunning beaches. True? Yes, there are no real beaches in Switzerland since it is landlocked, BUT there are still enough options to swim (Lake Thun is just an example). There is also a little beach area where you can put your feet into the water.
From the old town, you can go on a nice walk towards Schloss Schadau (okay, it is not always scenic, but still a nice walk and takes about 20 minutes from the town center) and head to one of my favorite parks in the country.
Schadau Park is located on the shores of Lake Thun and offers fantastic views of the Swiss Skyline – the mountains of Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau.
On a clear day, that view is amazing, so make sure to head towards the end of the park, just at the lake’s edge, and look out toward the skyline.
Admittedly, kids probably do not care much about the view – but they can play, run, or enjoy the miniature steam train that runs every second weekend.
On my first visit, I met a big Arabic family (probably from the United Arab Emirates) that had a picnic in the park – women with headscarves put on music and danced to it, enjoying a day in the park. This is something I had not previously come across in Switzerland – and this is probably why I have such fond memories of the park, as it was a happy place with happy people.
So, if you are up for a picnic, this is a good place to go.
Schloss Schadau (Schadau Castle)
If Switzerland lacks one thing, it is pinkish buildings.
However, since Thun is my top tip for pretty castles in Switzerland, it does not really come as a surprise that the finest castle I have seen was in Thun: namely, Schloss Schadau.
While I did not go inside the castle, I love heading to Schadau Park and taking tons of images of that pink color (okay, it is not really, really pink, but kind of and probably as pink as it gets in Switzerland).
It was built in the 19th century and features romantic and neo-Gothic style elements – right in pretty Schadau Park.
Now, it is home to a gourmet restaurant and the Swiss Gastronomy Museum.
Once at Schadau Park, also enjoy the Thun Panorama. Yes, you’ll find many great views all over Thun, but this is a different kind of panorama. This piece of art was produced in the early 19th century and is a giant painted pieced – 7.5 meters high and 38 meters long – that portrays the city back then.
To find out more, book a guided tour that can explain everything in more detail.
More Things to Do Thun
While I have never visited myself, the Toy Museum is a popular place to visit in Thun. Twelve rooms feature many children’s games from 1850-1960.
This is probably not only interesting for kids (to see what previous generations, including grandparents, played with) but also for people of all ages.
I am a fan of the Aare River – The river I named the most beautiful river in the world and which I am still sticking with.
So, it does not surprise that one of my top tips of things to do in Thun is stroll the Aare River. You can start from Thun directly and see how far you came – I could walk for hours without getting bored. There are benches and a lot of greenery so you can always rest and just soak in the beauty of the area.
Lake Thun Boat Tour
A boat tour on Lake Thun is a must – While Lake Brienz is probably a bit more unique in regards to color, Lake Thun has more stunning scenery and nicer towns and villages to visit.
If you do a Lake Thun boat tour (tours take several hours even if you do not get off, as the lake is so huge), then you will get to see all the pretty places – many of them are some of the most beautiful places in all of Switzerland.
You could get out in Interlaken (though there are many great spots to get out) and then do a Lake Brienz boat tour or explore Lake Brienz.
If you have a day pass, you could get out at a few other stations and explore the area.
Spiez must be one of the prettiest villages/towns in Switzerland – even though walking along the shores of Lake Thun in Spiez feels a bit like being in the French Riviera.
Before strolling this pretty town, enjoy the view from above and then head to the promenade and stroll the area. After a drink/lunch at the promenade, you can head to the castle where you have a fantastic view of Mount Niesen (the pyramid-shaped mountain that is one of a kind) and stroll the pretty garden in front of the castle.
To be honest, though, it is a small place. I try to never miss it and always head there at least for an hour or two – it‘s just a tranquil place that is different from the rest of Switzerland.
Not directly located in Thun, this castle is another beautiful nearby attraction. This picture-perfect castle is located at the shores of Lake Thun and is probably one of the most famous photo locations in the region.
You can visit the castle for an entrance fee, or you can just admire it from the boat or from the promenade.
As Lake Thun is warmer than Lake Brienz, swimming here is more common. Don’t ask me, since I never hopped into the water, though the color is impressive and it is somehow inviting (but at the end of the day, swimming is just not my favorite activity).
Watersports on Lake Thun are quite big – Whether you want to do stand-up paddling, kayaking, etc., Lake Thun is not only pretty to look at, but also offers fun activities on the water.
Kandersteg (Oeschinensee and Blausee)
Kandersteg is quite close to Thun – so, if you want to explore more of this stunning part in Switzerland (yes, it really is stunning), you could visit Blausee and Oeschinensee in one day as day trip from Thun.
Oeschinensee is often called the most beautiful lake in the country – reminding me of many Canadian lakes (it is just much smaller). Since I visited on a rainy day (spoiler: weather in that region seems to be quite bad most of the time, as whenever I checked the weather, rain was predicted, so I eventually went even though hail and rain were predicted), I could not do any hiking in that area, but it really is a gorgeous lake.
If you have less time or do not want to visit the mountain lake (via a hike or cable car), then head to the tiny Blausee that is located in a national park (small entrance fee).
You can visit both lakes in a day, if you plan properly in advance.
As you can see, Thun is definitely worth a trip and there are so many fun things to do – so, do not skip Thun when you plan your Switzerland itinerary as it is surely one of the top places in the country.