WHAT TO DO IN THUN – BEST ACTIVITIES
- 1 WHAT TO DO IN THUN – BEST ACTIVITIES
- 2 TIPS FOR SEEING THE BEST OF THUN
- 3 BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN THUN & TOP ACTIVITIES
- 3.1 Town Hall Square
- 3.2 Thun Castle
- 3.3 Bälliz
- 3.4 Obere Hauptgasse
- 3.5 Mühleplatz
- 3.6 Obere Schleuse (Scherzligschleuse)
- 3.7 Untere Schleuse (Mühlenschleuse)
- 3.8 Schadau Park
- 3.9 Schloss Schadau (Schadau Castle)
- 3.10 Thun Panorama
- 3.11 Toy Museum
- 3.12 Aare River
- 3.13 Lake Thun Boat Tour
- 3.14 Spiez
- 3.15 Oberhofen Castle
- 3.16 St. Beatus Caves
- 3.17 Swimming
- 3.18 Watersports
- 3.19 Surfing
- 3.20 Sigriswil Suspension Bridges
- 4 DAY TRIPS FROM THUN
- 5 FINAL THOUGHTS ABOUT THINGS TO DO IN THUN
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 one week, this post will help you find out about the best places to visit. Believe me. There is tons to do and see.
Thun is the perfect base for exploring Lake Thun’s and Interlaken region and the stunning Bernese Oberland. But is also a fun place itself and one of the prettiest towns/cities in Switzerland.
Thun is located on the northern shores of Lake Thun (Lake Thun is one of the prettiest lakes in the country, by the way).
The historic Old Town of Thun is situated on the Aare River, making it easy to see many 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.
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TIPS FOR SEEING THE BEST OF THUN
Before discussing the best things to do in Thun, here are some important travel tips for your stay.
How to Get to Thun
- If you fly into Switzerland, you most likely will fly into Zurich or Geneva airport. From there, you need to take a train or drive there yourself.
- Thun has a train station and is well connected (bus and trains) to many places within Switzerland.
- If you take the train from Zurich airport, make sure to take the Interlaken-Lucerne Express Train. This train connection comes with amazing views. From Zurich, get to Lucerne, then change the train to Interlaken and then take a train or bus to Thun. It sounds complicated but is not actually that bad. Especially because of those window views if you take the scenic train rides.
How to Get Around Thun
- Many attractions in Thun are located within walking distance. Wear comfy shoes, and you can explore Thun on foot. I walk very long distances whenever I am in Thun – the beautiful views and stunning scenery make walking a lot of fun!
- Public transportation in Thun is great.
- If you stay in an official accommodation in the area, you will also get a guest card (PanoramaCard), so you can use buses for free.
- Most of the time, you might need a bus to get from one place to the other (rather than trains) but once in a while, you might want to catch a train which is faster but sometimes more expensive.
- Walking and cycling are other great ways to get around Thun. I have never cycled in that area (mostly because of my dog) but would love to.
- There are some good cycle lanes, and riding along the shores of Lake Thun seems like a fantastic activity.
- Within Thun, you will not need a car. The only times you might need a car is when you do day trips. Keep in mind that parking at famous places often possible though costly. I rather use public transportation.
- However, driving around Lake Thun is amazing…These views are top-notch.
Check out my guide on driving in Switzerland for more tips.
If you road trip, check out my road trip tips for Switzerland.
Where to Stay in Thun
Here are a few tips on where to stay in Thun.
- If you are looking for a unique place to stay in Thun, check out the Schloss Schadau Hotel & Restaurant loacted in a beautiful park area. Though I have never stayed there myself, this park is one of my favorite places in Thun and a must-see. So, staying there seems like heaven.
- Boutique Hotel Spedition seems to be a good choice if you want to stay in the old town – and close to most Thun sights.
- Also, if you stay in an official accommodation in Thun, you will get a Thun Public Transportation Card, allowing you to use buses in Thun. You can get from Thun to Interlaken, e.g., and some other places close by.
Best Time to Visit Thun
Thun is a lovely place to visit (and honestly much prettier than Interlaken town) but not as busy as other hot spots in Switzerland.
- Weather can get crazy in Europe, and you will never know what you get in Central Europe.
- However, I always against visiting in July or August. Accommodation prices get up. And the region is already quite expensive. Also, it gets busier. The crowds in the area can be insane in the summer months.
- My favorite travel months are Thun is May or June or September, or early October. The weather should be warm (though it can be rainy) in these months, and it is perfect for exploring the many outdoor places in and near Thun. Also, the crowds are mostly gone (or not there yet), and accommodation prices dip a bit.
Find more tips for your Switzerland trip here.
BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN THUN & TOP ACTIVITIES
So, let’s get started with the best things to do in Thun and the surroundings.
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 and one of the prettiest in Switzerland.The market square 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),
- the Burgerhaus Thun (a late-baroque building dating from the 18th century)
- and of course, more interesting buildings.
So, while the town square is small, don’t rush through. TInstead, takeyour time to look up and pay attention to the details.
Speaking of looking up… You’ll also have a nice view of Schloss Thun (Thun Castle) that proudly sits on a hill overlooking the city from the market square.
Thun Castle is probably one of the country’s most iconic castles, offering lovely Lake Thun’s views, the city, and the mountains.Of course, it is not only about the views, but the beauty of the castle itself.
- It was built in the 12th century as an administrative castle and was expanded throughout the years.
- It is a historical museum (tiny and simple though) where you can learn a bit more about the city’s history.
- 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.
The castles in Switzerland look beautiful from the inside but cannot be compared with castles in Germany, Austria, or Sweden.
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Bälliz is a little island, surrounded by the Aare River, a famous shopping mile with stores of various sizes, restaurants, and cafes.
It is a popular spot to visit, and besides all kinds of stores, you will also find a weekly market there twice a week.
WEDNESDAYS: 7 am – 6:30 pm, SATURDAYS: 7 am – 5 pm
This street is unique 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 climb, allowing you to stroll the main pavement or walk on the raised promenade level. It is a wonderful mix of shops, offices, cafes, and apartments – with tons of flower pots at certain months.
Also, I think it is much more picturesque than Bälliz and gives you a unique Thun experience.
You can end your day at Mühleplatz. It is a fun area with loads of cafes and restaurants (loads, considering the size of the town). It’s located between the old town and Bälliz, a place where locals and tourists come, and I had some good (vegetarian) lunch here.
Obere Schleuse (Scherzligschleuse)
The Obere Schleuse – Scherzligschleuse – 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, Mühlenschleuse, is just about 300 meters from the main one above and was also originally built in the 18th century – you’ll find surfers here, too. It looks less pretty than the Scherzligschleuse, but given its proximity, you can visit, too.
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 Lake Thun’s shores. It 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. I had not previously come across it 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 art piece 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.
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, and I named the river the most beautiful river globally (I am still sticking with it).So, it does not surprise that one of my top tips to do in Thun is strolling 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 soak in the beauty of the area.
Lake Thun Boat Tour
A boat tour on Lake Thun is a must-do activity. While Lake Brienz is probably a bit more unique regarding 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), 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. Walking along the Lake Thun’s shores in Spiez feels like being in the French Riviera rather than in Switzerland.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.
Though, it is a small place. I try never to miss it and always head there for an hour or two – it‘s just a tranquil place 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 Lake Thun’s shores and is probably one of the region’s most famous photo locations.You can visit the castle for an entrance fee, or you can admire it from the boat or the promenade.
St. Beatus Caves
On the shores of Lake Thun are the beautiful caves of St. Beatus. From Thun, it takes about 30 minutes by car.
It is a limestone cave system created over millions of years. You can visit the caves or just enjoy the amazing scenery around.
It is a perfect trip from Thun.
As Lake Thun is warmer than Lake Brienz, swimming here is more common. Please 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 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.
Even though I have mentioned watersports already, a really unique thing to do in Thun is to surf. Just behind Obere Schleuse, people (I mostly assume locals) use the lock’s water power to surf.Just look closely at the picture, and you will spot a couple of surfers – so, if you are really into surfing, it is probably one of the very few good spots to surf in Switzerland.
Sigriswil Suspension Bridges
There are many gems on Lake Thun´s shores – one of them is The Sigriswil Suspension Bridge.You can enjoy spectacular views far into the Bernese Alps from the 340-meter long bridge. It is easily accessible (by car or bus) and a very family-friendly activity (it is not as scary as the Trift Bridge, for example). So, if in Thun, consider adding Sigriswil to your Thun itinerary.
DAY TRIPS FROM THUN
As you can see, Thun itself is overly cute and has quite some attractions – but there are also many stunning places nearby to visit. So, if you make Thun your base, why not explore other areas close by.
Kandersteg (Oeschinensee and Blausee)
Kandersteg is quite close to Thun – so, if you want to explore more of this stunning part of Switzerland (yes, it really is stunning), you could visit Blausee and Oeschinensee in one day as a 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).
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 located in a national park (small entrance fee).
You can visit both lakes in a day if you plan properly in advance. Check out Lake Oeschinen’s post here.
FINAL THOUGHTS ABOUT THINGS TO DO IN THUN
I love Thun – it is an extraordinary pretty town with stunning outdoor places close by. Is Thun worth visiting? Yes, definitely.
These are my tips on the best things to do in Thun – it 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.
It might be small – but Thun is just another perfect example of Swiss towns and villages that size doesn’t matter.