A white castle on the Schlossberg, an old town with historic buildings, elevated promenades and the whole with beautiful views of the imposing Bernese Alps, one always feels transported to a postcard when visiting Thun. Left aside by many tourists who rush directly to Interlaken, one could almost speak of a little insider tip. Thun has a lot to offer, not least as an ideal starting point for day trips to Lake Thun, the Jungfrau Region and the rest of the Bernese Oberland. But also in Thun itself there is a lot to discover, after all, it can be counted without a doubt to one of the most beautiful cities in Switzerland. Thanks to a great variety, the city of Thun is worth a visit at any time of the year. Whether for a day or a week, here we tell you which places you should not miss.

About the City Thun

Situated at the northwestern end of Lake Thun, Thun is the largest city in the Bernese Oberland with about 44,000 inhabitants. The cityscape is strongly influenced by the Aare River which flows from Lake Thun to Bern. The city center with a large shopping and pedestrian zone is practically embraced by the two river courses. Not far away, cobblestone streets wind through the canyon of houses of the old town. The city of Thun is worth a visit at any time of the year, but especially in spring when the charming river and lake promenade comes to life, it becomes clear why it is sometimes called the summer capital of Switzerland. Countless cafes and restaurants on the central Mühleplatz, in the old town or on the banks of the Aare invite you to linger and enjoy the sun. Thanks to the mountains, rivers and the magnificent lake right on the doorstep, however, all sports enthusiasts, hikers and water rats get their money’s worth in Thun. On warm summer days, it is not unusual to see crowds of people in swimwear strolling through the city center. The more daring jump off the bridges and let themselves drift with the current of the Aare towards the open-air swimming pool Aareli. Even surfers who stroll through the city with their boards are now a fixed part of urban life in the summer in Thun, but more about that later.

Things to do in Thun

Visit the old town

Only a short walk from the train station you reach the old town of Thun the Obere Hauptgasse. This is unique with its historic elevated promenades and an absolute highlight. The stroll along the cobblestone streets lined with beautiful flower boxes takes you past interlocking houses painted in different colors. Various small stores, cafes and restaurants on different levels invite you to browse and discover. 

At the end of the upper main street you finally reach the town hall square. There you will find the town hall from the 16th century which is still the political center of the city of Thun. The square with the fountain in the middle surrounded by historical buildings also offers a fantastic view with Thun Castle in the background. On weekends you can find a small market on it and during the holidays a magnificent, large Christmas tree. 

After strolling through the old town, you will find the Aarequai and the central Mühleplatz directly adjacent to it on the banks of the Aare. Here various cafes invite you to sit and watch the hustle and bustle of the passers-by.

Climb the Thun Castle (Schlossberg)

From the Obere Hauptgasse and the Rathausplatz two staircases lead up to the Schlossberg. From there, one finds one’s way through the small alleys towards the castle and enjoys beautiful views of the city again and again. 

Since its completion in 1190 by the Dukes of Zähringen, the striking castle with its four towers is a landmark of the city of Thun. This is from everywhere in the city, always an impressive sight and therefore definitely worth a visit. 

It is worth planning a few hours for the visit, so you have enough time to visit the small historical museum and the restored interiors, with the knight’s hall. On site you can find information about the history of the city of Thun up to the Middle Ages and objects from the different eras.

Those who are not much into museums, however, will get their money’s worth thanks to the view alone. After you have slowly climbed up through the different floors of the castle, you can finally visit the four towers. From them you can enjoy an incredible view of the city and, weather permitting, of the lake with the snow-capped peaks of the Alps in the background. 

The castle is open daily from February to October. From November to January with limited opening hours.

Wander Through the Covered Bridges

No travel guide to Thun would be complete without mentioning the covered wooden bridges/locks. The Unter Schleuse directly at the Mühleplatz and the Scherzligschleuse about 300 meters away, regulate the outflow of water from Lake Thun into the Aare. On the one hand they are thanks to the beautiful flower decorations during the warm seasons, a really pretty sight and popular photo subject, on the other hand are responsible for the mentioned curiosity of the surfers in the city of Thun. For a city that is hundreds of kilometers away from the nearest sea and waves, Thun is teeming with surfers who are on the move with their surfboards and wetsuits in the city. The reason is that with the right amount of water and the position of the lock gates, a river wave forms below both locks on which the surfers can pursue their passion, far away from the sea. Therefore, with a little luck you can watch this special activity. 

Thun

Otherwise, a short walk across the bridges is an experience in itself. 

Schadau Park and Schloss Schadau

From the city center, past the train station, you can take a short walk along the water to Schadaupark and Schadau Castle. The walk takes about 20 minutes, but can also be done by bus (line 1). 

The small castle from the 19th century has romantic as well as neo-gothic style elements. Situated in the middle of the beautiful park, it nowadays houses a restaurant and beautifully restored rooms for overnight stays. 

The highlight of the Schadaupark, however, is clearly the breathtaking view. In the background of Lake Thun rise the impressive peaks of the Alps, with Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau. But also the pyramid-like Niesen seems close enough to touch and is a very special sight. 

Here in the immediate vicinity of the lake and the Aare, it is probably one of the most beautiful places for a picnic, and in summer to lie in the sun and swim. 

The highlight for children, however, will probably be the large playground and the miniature steam train, which meanders through the green park every other weekend.

Wocher Thun-Panorama

Thun offers countless great views and has a very special one in store with the Wocher Panorama. Because this is an impressive 360 ° panoramic painting with a height of 7.5 meters and 38 meters in length. This Thun panorama was created between 1809 and 1814 by the artist Marquard Wocher and is the oldest preserved circular painting in the world. The specially built circular building of the Kunstmuesum Thuns is located in the Schadau Park and invites you to get a very special view of life and the city of Thun from the early 19th century. 

If you want to learn more, it is best to book a guided tour and get a very detailed insight into the creation and significance of this unique painting.

Take a Boat Cruise on Lake Thun

The city of Thun is the ideal starting point for various excursions in the Bernese Oberland. A round trip on Lake Thun is almost a must. In the high season, you can discover various stations on the lake in the course of the day with different course boats. Either you stay on board for the whole trip and enjoy the magnificent view of the Bernese Alps or you get off at different stations to continue your journey of discovery from there. The beautiful bay of Spiez, the St. Beatus Hölen or the railroad up to the Niederhorn are just a few of the many possibilities. Catering is provided on the ships and especially the evening tour with a fine dinner on the beautiful Blüemlisalp steamboat is an absolute highlight.

How to get around in Thun

  • Thun can be discovered very well on foot. Many of the sights are within walking distance and you will always discover beautiful and interesting perspectives of the castle and the surrounding mountains. 
  • As in any Swiss city, public transport is great and extremely convenient if you want to get from point A to B quickly. If you stay in a local accommodation you usually get a guest card (PanoramaCard) with which the city bus lines are free. 
  • Within the city you don’t need a car and parking can be expensive.