Thun is a city in the canton of Berne and is often called the gateway to the Bernese Oberland. With a population of 90,000 „Ihwohner“ (en: inhabitants), Thun is the eleventh largest city in Switzerland. The town is perfect for taking a stroll; its late medieval old town and breathtaking setting on Lake Thun are difficult to resist. The most important landmark in the city is Thun castle with its „mächtigi Muure“ (en: mighty walls) rising up over the town centre.

Sightseeing in Thun

Cable car in the Bernese Oberland with view of Lake Thun
Cable car in the Bernese Oberland with view of Lake Thun

Most of Thun’s old town was built in the 12th century and its lanes are lined with countless little shops and inviting cafes. „Ä Bsunderheit“ (en: a peculiarity) of the town are the raised pavements in the main street. The best way to get up to the castle hill from the old town is by climbing the old covered church steps. There is a stone portal at the bottom and a romantic round pavilion at the top of the steps. The Burgtor, the last still standing city gate is also on the castle hill on Schlossbergstrasse.

Thun Castle

The most important landmark on the castle hill is, of course, Thun Castle itself. The castle was erected in 1190 and has been expanded often since. However, it has never been lived in. Today, it houses a history museum with exhibits on the cultural development of the surrounding area in the last 4000 years. There are regular guided tours through the castle.

Thun castle
Thun castle

At the bottom of the castle hill in Burgstrasse, you can visit the Chutziturm. Built in 1250, it has been used for various purposes through history, once even as a „Gfängnis“ (en: prison). The Berntorscheune on Berntorgasse documents carpentry work in the 17th century and is the only agricultural building left in the city. Another place worth seeing is Thun’s Rathaus. It was built in 1500 and is distinguished by its facades featuring cupola windows and its domed roof.

The reconstructed Schwäbisturm that was once part of the town defences is also worth stopping at. One of the highlights of visiting Thun is Schadau Castle. It lies on the southern bank of Lake Thun in the middle of a large English park and features both Romanesque and Neogothic architecture. The pentagonal Venner-Zyroturm is another defence tower.

There is a signposted walking route which will guide you from one historical building to the next. The walking tour takes approximately 90 minutes

 

A wide variety of museums and galleries

Riverside promenade in the old town
Riverside promenade in the old town

Thun is not lacking in things to do on rainy days. The Thun Art Museum in the former luxury hotel Thunerhof hosts works by artists „us dr Schwiiz“ (en: from Switzerland). These exhibits cover a wide range of art from classical modern art through pop art to contemporary art. The Thun Panorama, a 360° panorama located in Schadau Park, is managed by the Thun Art Museum and showcases daily life in the early 19th century.

The Swiss Gastronomy Museum in Schadau Castle is also worth a visit. It houses an interesting exhibition of kitchen utensils from bygone times.

Five whole floors at the Historical Museum in Thun Castle are dedicated to the eventful history of both the town and the castle. The Hall of Knights in the castle, for instance, is the largest still intact representation hall from the High Middle Ages. The Swiss Army  Foundation for Historical Material offers group tours of the military accoutrements upon request.

Visiting the Toy Museum is a fun-filled way to spend a couple of hours for both the young and the young at heart. Marvel at its collection of dolls, teddy bears and more. The earliest toys can be dated back to 1850.

The Weaving Museum is a slightly more unusual museum and has over 500 exhibits on various weaving techniques and materials used from many different countries.

Visitors can experience and touch art at the Art-House Gallery. Rosengarten Gallery showcases paintings and graphic art as well as three dimensional works and photographs. Regional, national and international contemporary art can be viewed at the Hodler Art Gallery and the Bernhard Schindler Gallery hosts works by both nationally and internationally renown artists.

Relaxing and walking along Lake Thun

Magnificent view of Lake Thun and the Niesen
Magnificent view of Lake Thun and the Niesen

The Mühleplatz is a lovely spot to take a break from sightseeing. It is located on the Aare river and is a popular „Träffpunkt“ (en: meeting spot) with many cafes and restaurants. You can stroll along the Aare and the lake from the Rathaus to the Hilterfingen boat station . The relaxing two kilometre long „Wäg“ (en: path) along the water is suitable both for walking and cycling and offers breathtaking views of the mountains and the Staen.

Another lovely footpath takes you from the Strandbad bus stop along Lake Thun to the Gwattlischenmoos. This path is 1,5 kilometres long and features a number of wooden bridges to protect the shoreland.

Lake Thun is only 1,5 kilometres away from the old town and offers even more than the already mentioned paths. There are boat trips that take place „S ganze Johr“ (en: the whole year) where you can just sit back and enjoy the magnificent mountain back drop.

Using Swiss German

The gorgeous scenery in Thun and the Bernese Oberland really cries out for a relaxed visit, which means than many Swiss spend their „Freizit“ (en: leisure time) in this area. This makes it easy to practice not only the „Bärndütsch“  that is spoken in the region, but all other forms of the dialect as well.

Have you been to Thun? What did you like best about the town? Leave a comment and let us know what you thought about the area. You could also let us know which city you would like us to showcase next.

Vocabulary list

 

Swiss German English
1 Ihwohner inhabitants
2 mächtigi Muure mighty walls
3 ä Bsunderheit a peculiarity
4 Gfängnis prison
5 us dr Schwiiz from Switzerland
6 Träffpunkt meeting spot
7 Wäg path
8 s ganze Johr the whole year
9 Freizit leisure time

 

Thun – a medieval town with a magnificent back drop
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