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Nestled in the Swiss Alps along Lake Thun is the beautiful small town of Thun, known as the gateway to the Bernese Oberland. Thanks to its close proximity to the Swiss capital, it’s the perfect option for a day trip from Bern and it attracts visitors all year round. Apart from its medieval old town, Thun is a haven for people who like the outdoors and are adventure seekers, as there are plenty of hiking, climbing, and skiing spots located nearby - not to mention the vast lake itself.
The weather in Thun wasn’t ideal when we visited it during our tour of Switzerland with a camper van, but we still managed to make the most of it. A lot of our time was spent indoors, especially in Thun Castle, and we were able to get some nice photos without people in them which is always a bonus when you’re travelling to popular tourist destinations in Switzerland. Despite its small size, there are enough things to do in Thun, Switzerland during a day trip to keep you entertained.
The town of Thun has thousands of years worth of history to unlock, and one of the main attractions in Thun that you’ll first come across is the Untere Schleusenbrücke. This beautiful wooden covered bridge crosses part of the river and was initially built in the early 18th century to serve as a river lock. Today you can walk across the entire bridge and get a closer look at the fast flowing river and admire the unique architecture of the bridge itself. The wooden bridge is similar to the one found in Lucerne, although it’s much smaller.
If the weather is nice when you visit Thun, then a great area of the town to go for something to eat or drink is Mühleplatz. This square sits directly next to the wooden bridge and often hosts events such as evening concerts in the summer, and is also home to a Ferris Wheel (which sadly wasn’t there when we went). Mühleplatz is a lovely place to sit out and enjoy the sunshine along the river and mix in with the locals.
In the old town, one of the main attractions in Thun is the Rathausplatz. This is the historic centre of the town and where you’ll find the town hall, which dates back to the early 16th century. In this square are a number of other important historic buildings such as Hotel Rathaus which sits in the oldest brick building in the city dating back to the 14th century, two former guild houses, and a couple of buildings from the 18th century too. Rathausplatz is also where you can snap a stunning photo of the castle popping out from between the buildings.
Thun isn’t without its shops, so if you like shopping when you travel then a walk along Obere Hauptgasse is a must. This cobblestone street is home to numerous boutique shops and a few restaurants too. In the summer months the street is lined with beautiful floral arrangements and is a bustling part of the town. Obere Hauptgasse connects Rathausplatz with the Kirchtreppe which will bring you up to the castle and the central church.
If you’ve visited Lausanne then you’ll already be familiar with this style of medieval covered steps, but for those of you who haven’t come across them before then you’re in for a treat. The Kirchtreppe is a set of wood-covered steps that lead from Thun’s main shopping street to the entrance of the central church, and beyond that is where you’ll find Thun Castle. There’s a lot of details in the wood so make sure you take time to appreciate the steps as you walk up them!
One of the main things to do in Thun, Switzerland is to visit the Stadtkirche. Also known as the Central Church of Thun, its front tower can be traced back to the 1330s, with the newer parts dating back to 1738. This Reformed church is located just below the castle, and offers amazing views of the town and Lake Thun below. If you’re not sure what to see in Thun, this should be one of the main attractions on your list.
The main attraction in Thun is Schloss Thun. This stunning medieval castle, perched at the top of a hill overlooking the town, has a very well preserved donjon dating back to the 1200s, an impressive medieval great hall, and towers that you can climb to the top of for some unbeatable views of the town and surrounding landscape. What’s great about this Swiss castle is that the exhibition inside is very interactive, so it’s a nice place to visit with the family too. We took a self-guided tour of Schloss Thun and found it very easy to walk through and learn about its history thanks to the information plaques located throughout it.
A ticket to Schloss Thun costs CHF 10 or you can purchase a combo ticket that includes the special exhibition for CHF 15. Visiting Schloss Thun is the best thing to do in Thun during a day trip regardless of the weather conditions.
Eat lunch at Quartierbeiz 13
Wondering where to eat in Thun? Whether you’re visiting Thun in the morning or the afternoon, you can’t go wrong with lunch at Quartierbeiz 13. This unique restaurant and bar is located a short walk from the old town, and is a popular place with the locals - so you know it’s good. Lunch is an especially good time to visit as they offer set menus that will definitely fuel you up for the rest of the day.
We kicked things off with a delicious freshly prepared smoothie and homemade mushroom soup. The bread is also made on-site and tasted incredible. For the main course there were three options available, and we chose the vegetarian ravioli and cow tongue. That was a bit of a bold move on our part as we hadn’t tried cow tongue before, but it’s a traditional Swiss dish so we thought we’d give it a go - and it was surprisingly very tasty! We finished things off with a chocolate fondant paired with freshly made ice cream and a coffee to warm us up before heading back out into the rain. You can never go wrong with homemade food, and Quartierbeiz 13 was one of our favourite places to eat during our trip to Switzerland because of that.
Parking tip: If you’re driving to Thun there are a lot of parking spaces available on the street outside of the restaurant which you can pay for using an app. It may be a good idea to leave the vehicle here during your day trip to Thun as parking closer to the old town can be a bit tricky, although there are car parks available.
If you’re spending more than one day in Bern then you have to check out Thun. This incredible small town has a medieval charm unlike any other, and although there aren’t a lot of things to do in Thun in terms of big attractions, you’ll thoroughly enjoy taking a leisurely stroll through its historic streets and taking in the views from the top of Schloss Thun. There’s a reason that Thun is one of the most popular places to visit in Switzerland, and it’s a great destination year round.
Have you had the chance to visit Thun yet? If so, let me know what you thought about the town in the comment section below, or get in touch via Instagram if you have any questions about an upcoming trip that you’re planning to Thun.