Knowledge & culture

Discover Thun

Culture, nature and urban life by Lake Thun

The River Aare wends its way through the late-medieval historic centre of Thun, with its wooden bridges and locks. The castle towers high above the historic buildings and the famous 4,000-metre-plus-high mountain peaks draw the gaze off into the distance. The town of Thun lies approximately one kilometre from the shore of Lake Thun and is regarded as the gateway to the Bernese Oberland.

In Thun – the Alpine city with a distinctive flair – there’s always something going on. Traditional businesses and trendy bars, cultural highlights and historic buildings shape this town by the water’s edge.

You can explore the town in a variety of ways.

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    Sights

    The castles of Lake Thun

    Thun Castle

    The 12th century Thun Castle overlooks the town in imposing style. Between 1180 and 1190, Thun Castle was built by the Dukes of Zähringen on the town’s Schlossberg. The castle overlooks the whole town of Thun, giving a unique panorama of the Bernese Alps and Lake Thun.

    Over five storeys, the museum showcases the cultural development of the region over the last 4,000 years. The Thun Castle Museum is one of the most visited historical museums in Switzerland. The Knights’ Hall and all four corner towers are accessible to visitors. In addition, there is always something new to discover in the annually changing special exhibition.

    Schadau Castle

    The beautiful Schadau Park is situated right on the shore of Lake Thun. In wintertime, too, the park is worth visiting – both for its views over the lake and those of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau mountains. In the centre of the park stands Schadau Castle, a remarkable example of historicism built in 1850 in the style of the Loire châteaux.

    Since June 2019, Schadau Castle has been reopened after 1.5-year renovation period and presents itself in new splendour. Nine wonderful hotel rooms and suites have been added, together with a bar featuring a large selection of sherry and port as well as a restaurant serving modern interpretations of classic dishes. 
    In truly castle-like fashion, the culinary offering of course also includes Sunday brunch and afternoon tea, while guests can select the contents of their picnic basket for an aperitif or meal in Schadau Park.

    The castles of Lake Thun

    Five splendid castles, each surrounded by extensive parkland, lie directly on the lakeside, offering incomparable panoramas of the Bernese Alps. The castles of Spiez, Hünegg, Oberhofen, Schadau and Thun will spirit you away into the historic world of the Swiss nobility. All of the locations can be easily reached by boat or bus from Thun.

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      Thun Panorama

      The centre of Schadau Park is home to the oldest preserved circular panoramic painting in the world. This impressive painting was created around 200 years ago by artist Marquard Wocher. The Basel-born artist was so fascinated by the Bernese Oberland that he created the first Swiss panoramic painting in about 1814. This richly detailed artwork provides a fascinating insight into life in Thun during that era.

      Children and adults alike are captivated by the countless stories depicted in this work of art so teeming with life.

      Please observe the opening times. The Thun Panorama is open seasonally.

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        Kunstmuseum Thun

        The former Grandhotel Thunerhof is situated directly by the Aare and offers views of the Alps. Its historic walls have been home to Thun’s art collection since 1949. The Kunstmuseum Thun presents mainly contemporary art during four to five temporary exhibitions every year. Alongside the themed special exhibitions, the museum hosts an annual exhibition in which pieces from its collection are presented with a particular focus.

        After visiting the museum, you can enjoy coffee and cake on the terrace of the Café Thunerhof. A unique view of the green waters of the Aare and the mountains awaits you.

        The museum is closed between exhibitions. Please observe the opening times.

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          Historical buildings of Thun

          In Thun, a total of 28 historic buildings have been provided with uniform signage by the town council. You can learn more about the buildings on an individual tour.

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            Lake Thun

            Escape from everyday life, let your mind wander for a few hours, and relax. The cruises on lakes Thun and Brienz are perfect for this. Enjoy the wonderful views of the impressive mountains, historic castles and romantic shoreside villages, and combine your cruise with a delicious lunch on board.

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              Guided tours

              Thun’s tour guides will show you the town’s hidden treasures, secret corners and culinary highlights during exceptional tours of Thun.
              Please register for the public guided tours

              Tour of the historic centre

              Experience Thun’s civic history

              On the classic tour of the historic town centre and castle hill, you will learn about the diversity, culture and history of Thun. The town guides will tell you how Thun’s high pavements were created and why the town’s shopping precinct, Bälliz, is situated amidst two arms of the Aare.

              An interesting tour with interesting background information on the town’s richly traditional culture.

              • Public tours of the historic centre are held regularly from June to November.
              • 1 ½-hour guided tour of central Thun
              • Tour of the historic centre and castle hill
              • The classic town tour
              • Public guided tours are offered in German
              • CHF 15.00 per person/ticket

              «Spooky Thun» guided town tour

              Accompany the night watchman on an approximately 1.5-hour round tour of night-time Thun. He will take you on a journey through the centuries and explain the significance of the former defensive walls, fire brigade and guilds. Along the way he will reveal hair-raising secrets to send shivers down your spine. He will tell of foul deeds, licentious living and prostitution. Let yourself be captivated by his tales, especially those based on historical fact.

              Guided group tour: Get to know the culinary side of Thun

              A guided city tour and fine dining all in one – the culinary tour of Thun-
              Take some traditional establishments and some trendy bars. Add canapés, appetisers, a main course and a dessert. Season with local wines and regional products. Then add a sprinkling of stories about the town of Thun. The result: the culinary tour. The ample time provided and the short walk between the various “courses” make this a very enjoyable dining adventure.

              Children’s town map

              High pavements, money on the ground, the “Fulehung” (a traditional Thun carnival mask) and a number of fascinating museums are just waiting to be discovered by little guests. The children’s town map helps families and school groups to explore the town on a puzzle tour with 20 different stops. And the fun continues in the museums, as everywhere children are actively invited to express their creativity and curiosity. The museums can also supply the answer sheet and information on the puzzle tour of the town. The children’s town map lists important addresses for little ones and indicates meeting places and leisure facilities. Why not download the children’s town map from the comfort of your own home?

              FoodTrail

              On the FoodTrail in Thun, visitors can sample six well-known specialities to eat or drink. Along the way, you also learn some fascinating facts about the town and its history. You’re sure to feel you’ve eaten and drunk well on the FoodTrail, in fact.

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                Shopping and dining

                Bälliz is the town’s popular shopping precinct, where you will find everything from department stores to specialised boutiques. The town-hall square is the historic centre of Thun. This is where the weekly Saturday market with regional products is held. Immediately adjacent is the beginning of the Obere Hauptgasse, with its famous high pavements. The split-level construction of Thun’s historic centre is unique. Family-run businesses, trendy shops, elegant stores and hip bars await you on the town’s two levels.

                Time for a break? Around Mühleplatz you will find a lively gastro scene with restaurants, bars and cafés directly by the water – the Thun Riviera.

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                  Hiking tip

                  Shore path

                  A great many people enjoy strolling along the approximately 2 km-long “Aarequai”, which leads from the Thun Town Hall along the inner Aare River and the shores of Lake Thun to the Hilterfingen boat landing stage. In winter, too the magnificent mountain panorama, the closeness to the water and the lovely views invite visitors to linger.

                  Panorama circular trail at Lake Thun

                  The route leads from Thun to Sigriswil and then across an impressive, 340-metre-long, panorama bridge some 180 metres above the ground.

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                    Availability Today (Friday) open

                    Thun is a place that offers plenty to see all year round.

                    Public guided tour of the Old Town

                    Sat           14.00−15.30 hours (May to November)
                    Wed         14.0015.30 hours (July to August)

                    “Spooky Thun” guided town tour

                    Every Friday from 23 October 2020 to 11 December 2020 and from 15 January to 26 March 2021. The meeting point is the Hotel Freienhof (in front of the hotel entrance) at 19.00 hours.

                    Foodtrail

                    Sat            10.00–14.00 hours  Tue–Fri      09.00–12.15 / 13.30–14.30 hours 

                    How to get there

                    Travel comfortably by train to Thun.

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