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 Aare River
- 3.12 Toy Museum
- 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.
Thun is the perfect base for exploring Lake Thun, the Interlaken region and the stunning Bernese Highlands (Berner Oberland). But is also a fun place itself and one of the prettiest towns/cities in Switzerland.
The city is located on the northern shores of Lake Thun (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. These are 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, but there are so many stunning places in and near Thun that you can stay there for weeks without getting bored.
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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 also take the Interlaken-Lucerne Express Train. This train connection comes with amazing views. From Zurich, get to Lucerne, then change the train Interlaken-Lucerne Express, and in Interlaken 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, so 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.
- The bus is a good option to get from one place to the other, but once in a while, you might want to catch a train which is faster but also more expensive.
- Walking and cycling are other great ways to get around Thun.
- There are some good cycle lanes, which makes riding along the shores of Lake Thun a fantastic activity.
- Within Thun, you will not need a car. The only times you might need a car is for day trips.
- Parking at famous places is often possible though costly. I would 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 located 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
- Weather can get crazy in Europe, and you will never know what you get in Central Europe.
- However, I am 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. However, Thun might not be as busy as other hot spots in Switzerland.
- My favorite travel months are Thun is May or June, or then September, or early October. The weather should be warmish (though it can be rainy), which makes it perfect for exploring the many outdoor places. Also, the crowds are mostly gone (or not there yet), and accommodation prices dip a bit.
Find more tips for your Switzerland trip here.
Swiss Travel Pass
If you use public transportation, I recommend getting a Swiss Travel Pass. I visit Switzerland often, and most of the time I get one – even if it’s a road trip.
- It allows you to use trains and buses without any extra costs.
- You can also do boat cruises without additional costs – and you can cruise Lake Thun with the regular boats to get around.
- It also gives you a 50% discount on most mountain rides (you can get up via cable car/funicular for half of the price, and if you follow my tips, you will need it twice).
The initial prices for a Swiss Travel Pass are quite high – but it pays for itself if you get around via public transportation and are active in Switzerland for more than three or four days. So, check out prices for boats and trains and then calculate if it is a good option for you.
For me, it usually makes sense as I am very active and use public transportation/mountain rides often (even if I road trip Switzerland). I also love boat rides – which means many, many boat cruises for me whenever I have a Swiss Travel Pass. Check out prices for a Swiss Travel Pass here.
It is only for non-Swiss residents though.
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
The Town Hall Square is the historic center of the city and is named after the town hall built in the 16th century, which is just one of several stunning buildings surrounding the 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 in Thun 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. instead, take your 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) which proudly sits on a hill overlooking the city from the market square.
Thun Castle is probably one of the country’s most iconic castles. It was built in the 12th century as an administrative castle and was expanded throughout the years. Now, it is a historical museum (tiny and simple though) where you can learn a bit more about the city’s history.But it is also about the views:
- Climb the stairs (not too many, I promise) and enjoy the panorama of Lake Thun, the city, and the Swiss Alps.
- 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.
ADDRESS: Thun Castle, Schlossberg 1, 3600 Thun
- April to October: every day – 10 am – 5 pm
- November to January: every Sunday – from 1 pm – 4 pm
- December to January: every day – from 1 pm – 4 pm
- February and March: every day – 1 pm – 4 pm
Bälliz is a little island in Thun, 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.
- WHEN: WEDNESDAYS: 7 am – 6:30 pm, SATURDAYS: 7 am – 5 pm
The Obere Hauptgasse is a 250-meter long shopping, business, and residential street. It is very different from most other shopping miles we might know and very unique. 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 experience.
You can end your day at Mühleplatz. Until the 1970s the place was used to grind grain into flour.
Now, 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. It gets busy but in a lovely way – you come here, to have food (I also had a good vegetarian dinner here twice), relax, watch people, and have a good time with friends and family.
Obere Schleuse (Scherzligschleuse)
The Obere Schleuse – Scherzligschleuse – originally built in the 18th century, is a floodgate that you can walk. The wooden covered bridge 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 and Schadau Park – one of my favorite parks in the country. Schadau Park is located on Lake Thun’s shores – the walk might not always be scenic, but still a nice walk and takes about 20 minutes from the town center.
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, instead, play, run, or enjoy the miniature steam train that runs every second weekend.
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. BUT… 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.Schloss Schadau is located inside Scadau Park. It was built in the 19th century and features romantic and neo-Gothic style elements.
Now, it is home to a gourmet restaurant and the Swiss Gastronomy Museum.
While I did not go inside the castle, I love the park and the castle – and taking tons of images of that pink color. It probably is not really, really pink, but kind of and probably as pink as it gets in Switzerland.
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 was produced in the early 19th century, by artist Marquard Wocher of Basel, and is a giant painted pieced – 7.5 meters high and 38 meters long – that portrays the city back then.
- To find out more, you can book a guided tour that explains everything in more detail.
- Alternatively, you can – beforehand – check it out here and look at it here first.
I am a fan of the Aare River, and I named the river the most beautiful river in the world (I am still sticking with it). This almost 300-milometer long river rises and ends in Switzerland. And some of the river flows through Thun.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 can 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.
While I have never visited myself, the Toy Museum is a popular place to visit in Spiez near Thun. Twelve rooms feature many children’s games from 1850 to 1960 – a place where visitors can embark on a journey into the world of childhood from times gone by.
Since 2005, you will find dolls, teddy bears, construction sets, play shops and kitchens, trains, model cars, tin soldiers, children’s books, social games, and much more at this museum.
This is probably not only interesting for kids (to see what previous generations, including grandparents, played with) but also for people of all ages.
- Ticket prices are around CHF 8 for adults. There is a discount if you have a Swiss Travel Pass.
- Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 2 pm to 5 pm, from October to the end of March from 2 pm to 4:30 pm. Closed on Mondays and from 21st – 24th of Juni
- Check out the website for more information.
Lake Thun Boat Tour
A boat tour on Lake Thun is a must-do activity. It is located between Interlaken and Thun. With its 48.3 square kilometers, it is the largest of Swiss lakes located within a single canton (Bernese Oberland).
While Lake Brienz (another stunning lake close by) 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 (complete tours take almost 2 even if you do not get off, as the lake is so huge), you will get to see many stunning villages along the shores of Lake Thun.
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. But you can also get out at pretty Spiez.
- If you have a day pass, you could get out at a few other stations and explore the area. Check out day passes for Lake Thun. Lake Thun boat cruises are free with a Swiss Travel Pass.
- Check out my detailed post on Lake Thun with many tips for places to visit around Lake Thun.
Spiez must be one of the prettiest villages/towns in Switzerland. It is located on the southern shores of Lake Thun and makes a fantastic trip from Thun.
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 walk along Lake Thun.
After a drink/lunch at the promenade, you can head to 1000-year-old Spiez Castle. There you have a fantastic view of Mount Niesen (the pyramid-shaped mountain that is one of a kind) and walk the pretty garden in front of the castle.
Though it is a small place, I try to 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, Oberhofen 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.It dates back to the 13th-century and besides the castle, you will find gardens with a museum of Bernese culture & a smoking parlor.
- The garden is free to visit.
- For the castle, you have to pay an entrance fee of about CHF10. Free with a Swiss Travel Pass.
- 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. It is a limestone cave system created over millions of years that features a system of lit pathways leading through tunnels & chambers.
The scenery is beyond amazing – so even if you do not visit the caves (which you should though) enjoy the stunning views of Lake Thun and the Swiss Alps.
- It is a perfect trip from Thun and just takes 30 minutes by car or bus (and it is a scenic drive).
- It is closed in the winter months (late October to the mid of March).
- The entrance fee is about CHF 18 – It is quite pricy, so if you are on a tight budget, skip the caves and just come for the views!
- Check out my detailed guide on the St. Beatus Caves
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, it is still not warm like the Indian Ocean after a warm day.
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.
- Check out my detailed guide on the Sigriswill suspension 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
Is Thun worth visiting? Yes, definitely. I love Thun – it is an extraordinary pretty town with stunning outdoor places close by. It is a perfect example of a Swiss city that combines beautiful outdoor activities plus cultural sightseeing.
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 a Swiss town where size doesn’t matter.