How to Spend One Day in Thun (an Easy Day Trip Itinerary)

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Thun is among the places in Central Switzerland that I find so wander-worthy. The picture-perfect scenes I discovered in Thun are sure to inspire every wanderer to include Thun in their Switzerland trip. A quick look at Thun’s map and one can easily understand that this cute little city is a beautiful place to explore.

After thoroughly exploring Thun, I can say that a visit to Thun is about a blend of nature, history, and surprisingly, architecture — thanks to the castles! If you have been to the beautiful city of Lucerne before, you might feel a familiar vibe.

Anyhow, if an affordable trip that focuses on beautiful sightseeing experiences is what you aim to have during your time in Switzerland, Thun won’t let you down. This is why I recommend including this town in your plans whether you are planning an extended weekend Switzerland trip or a week-long Switzerland getaway.

In fact, if Bern is your home base for exploring central Switzerland (you’re staying in Bern for a few days), Thun is undoubtedly one of the easiest day trips that you can do. This is also the case if you are staying in Interlaken to explore the Jungfrau Region and Bernese Oberland in a few days. Thun is within an hour away from these towns. That said, booking a hotel in Thun for a one-day visit may not be necessary. However, it is an option if you also want to spend one day in Lake Thun, which is located just beside the town.

In this one-day Thun itinerary, you can expect to experience all the beautiful experiences in this town. From viewpoints, charming streets, castles, picturesque parks, even the town’s little gems — they are all here. Excited? Don’t forget to wear comfortable walking shoes. There will be a lot of walking and you can expect some stairs, too. Let’s go!

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Skyline of Thun (notice the elevated location of Thun Castle & Stadtkirche Thun), Switzerland
Skyline of Thun (notice the elevated location of Thun Castle & Stadtkirche Thun)
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Author’s note for this itinerary

The post you’re reading now is best suited for non-winter months. I’ve added timestamps to each item on the itinerary as a guide, but remember, they’re just estimates. You have complete control over your time.

Here’s good news: spending one day in Thun is straightforward. Most of the town’s attractions are accessible on foot. Others, including the nearby castles at Lake Thun, can be easily reached quickly with just one bus ride.

If you are arriving at Thun using the train, Thun’s treat is just a few steps from the train station. From the station, you can already find a lovely view of Lake Thun and the Bernese Alps after a three-to-five-minute walk to a bridge called Göttibachsteg. There, I realized how lucky the residents of Thun are. With that view, they can boost their mood and have a greater sense of peace anytime they want!

Göttibachsteg and the view of Lake Thun and Bernese Alps in Thun, Switzerland
Göttibachsteg and the view of Lake Thun and Bernese Alps

9:00 am — Arrival in Thun

First things first! How can you get to Thun? Well, there are several ways you can get to Thun. You can reach the city by public transportation, private car, or boat. For this trip, it’s all up to you. But I would always prefer public transit, it’s more convenient in Switzerland!

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Location of train station and parking lots in Thun, Switzerland
Location of train station and parking lots in Thun
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If you have a car, the best parking lot I know is the Schlossberg parking lot, located under the hill where Thun Castle stands.

You can find the car entrance along Burgstrasse. It has modern facilities (like electric car charging stations), more than 300 car capacity, and accepts credit cards. The best feature of this parking lot is it has a pedestrian exit that goes straight to the castle grounds of Thun Castle. The parking lot has an elevator, so you don’t have to worry about climbing stairs.

Another parking lot is beside Thun Ship Terminal, a few steps from the train station. It is an open-air parking space with a few cafés nearby where you can quickly fill up your tumors before you start your journey in Thun. 

The main sights in the city open at 10:00 am (i.e., Thun Castle), so you might want to arrive in Thun earlier than that to maximize your day in the city. For me, the best perk of going to Thun early is that you’ll have the opportunity to see the city with fewer other tourists. That means better pictures, too!

9:30 am — Thun Old Town Walking Tour & Visit Thun Castle

What’s so great about some cities in Switzerland, like Thun? Their central public transportation hub is located, if not adjacent, within walking distance to the city centers. It’s the same for parking lots. Although they were designed to serve the city’s residents, as a traveler, this always comes into my mind: it’s the government’s way of bringing their old towns to us “on a silver platter.

That is why Thun Old Town is the first on the list on this Thun one-day itinerary. And here’s what I recommend you do: explore Thun’s Old Town on foot to see its unique charming landmarks and visit Thun Castle to take in the breathtaking scenery of the Bernese Oberland from the castle’s tower.

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Old Town Thun Visual Summary

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Summary: what to expect in Old Town Thun + Tips in Exploring

To me, the best reason to visit Thun Old Town is to experience its time-transporting vibes. The Old Town is like a living time capsule, preserving the traditions and architecture of the past—an authentic experience indeed! It’s a magical experience even just to see Thun’s cobblestone Rathausplatz, flanked by centuries-old buildings and with Thun Castle dominating the view of the sky. 

The unique characteristics of Thun are also found in its old town. Three of them are its raised pavements along Obere Hauptgasse, and two covered wooden lock bridges called Obere Schleuse Brücke and Untere Schleuse Brücke. They are the little gems you can pick up as you wander in the city and Thun’s most picturesque landmarks.

Of course, you would not like to miss the main sights in Thun, which are also in Thun Old Town. They are Thun Castle and Stadtkirche Thun, perched on Schlossberg hill overlooking the city. If you’re from Obere Hauptgasse, use Kirchtreppe to get to Thun Castle or Stadtkirche. It’s a historic and photogenic covered wooden staircase already a few hundred years old.  With its towering height, Thun Castle will immediately catch your sight as you arrive in Schlossberg.

Visitors are allowed to enter the castle (it opens at 10:00 am from April to October) and see exhibits that give insights into the history of Thun and the surrounding region.  You can climb to the top of Thun Castle’s tower and be at the most breathtaking vantage point in the city. Through the tower’s windows, you get a rewarding view of the city, Lake Thun, and the Bernese Alps. 

Thun Old Town is pedestrianized, and walking is the only way you can get to its places of interest. Overall, it can take you an hour or two (or longer if you also want to have a quick visit to Thun Castle) to see every unmissable part of the Old Town Thun. 

11:30 am — Balliz (Souvenirs and Lunch)

As you may already know, River Aare flows right into the heart of Thun. It’s what makes the city even more picturesque and interesting. The calm water on the upper part of the river reflects the buildings along the quays. Together, they make picture-perfect scenes you’ll encounter as you explore the city.

On the flip side of the lock bridges, you can find locals surfing on the current released by the locks. If you are lucky, you can see them performing tricks. But did you know that Thun has a small island in the middle of the Aare River? That island is called Balliz. And it is also a shopping district with a range of shops, cafes, fast food, and restaurants where you can rejuvenate after hours of walking and wandering in Thun Old Town.

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Exploring Bälliz tips (where to eat with a beautiful view of Old Town Thun)

There are other places where you can eat in Thun. But I recommend Balliz because often, the restaurants here have a nice view of the Aare River. Tummies and eyes are satisfied!  If you are also not a fancy diner like me, you can check out Mcdonald’s in the northern part of the island. The view from the windows overlooks the river, which looks like Gatorade blue-green on a sunny day.

However, if you really want to have a memorable lunch in Thun, I suggest Restaurant Waisenhaus. It is an Italian restaurant with alfresco seating on the mid-south part of Balliz or Waisenhausplatz. From the alfresco seating of Restaurant Waisenhaus, you get a nice view of Thun Old Town. Thun Castle, Stadtkirche Thun, Untere Scheluse Brucke, and River Aare are all yours to see from there. 

There are a few more alternatives in the Waisenhausplatz area for alfresco dining, though. You can also try Cafebar Alte Oele or Tifo Café Bistro, which is a Moroccan Restaurant.

With all that said, Waisenhausplatz is undoubtedly the best place to eat lunch with a view of Thun. Then, after your lunch and you already want to buy souvenirs, you can go to the supermarkets and souvenir shops that are just around the corner.

1:30 pm — Explore Schadau Castle Park and Thun Panorama

After your lunch, go to Schadau Park. It is the most beautiful place in Thun, outside Thun Old Town. Schadau Park is worth visiting because it is a scenic park with an awe-inspiring castle, and beside the castle is a remarkable artwork, considered the world’s oldest circular painting: Thun Panorama. Basically, it is a three-in-one not-so-ordinary destination. So you better not miss it on your Thun day tour.

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Visual summary of your visit to Schadau Park

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How to get to Schadau Park + what to expect + tips and more!

On a map, you can find Schadau Park beside the point where the water in the northern part of Lake Thun drains into River Aare.

From the train station, it’s a 15-minute walk—a stroll along the banks of Aare River from Thun Ferry Terminal. However, you can conveniently reach Schadau Park by hopping on a bus (#1) (heading to Spiez) and alighting at the park’s bus stop in front of Scherzligen Kirche. The travel time is 5 minutes. There is also a parking lot in front of the church. In case you want to bring your car to the park, you can do so.

Alright! Here’s my first impression: I am pretty impressed by how Schadau Park looks. It’s straight out of a fairy tale! The perfectly lawned grass, colorful flowers on the ground, and of course, the imposing neo-gothic Schadau Castle are a real-life escape from the depressing world of steel and asphalt. Not to mention the stunning views of Lake Thun and the Bernese Alps, which also await you in the park. 

Simply, Schadau park is a paradise. And what’s so nice about visiting Schadau park? There’s no admission fee

As an old-world architecture enthusiast, Schadau Castle really captured my attention. This castle is not only a feast for the eye but a historical and cultural site to transport you back in time. The current appearance of Schadau Castle dates back to the 19th century, but its history goes further down to the mid-14th century when it was still a small manor house.

Today, Schadau Castle functions as a hotel and a restaurant. Sadly, you can only tour the castle to see most of its awe-inspiring interiors if you book a room. But you can still catch a glimpse of its quaint beauty when you dine in their restaurant. Of course, if you like, you can have your lunch in Schadau Castle instead. Just don’t forget to book a table if you plan to have your lunch in Schadau Castle when it is the peak season.

For budget travelers like me you might instead like to buy snacks in Balliz before coming to Schadau Park. The green space between Schadau Castle and the lake is perfect for having a picnic! Filling up your tummies while looking at the breathtaking snow-capped peaks of Bernese Oberland and Lake Thun—can you imagine how special yet simple that moment could be?!

Suppose you already had your lunch in Waisenhausplatz. In that case, you can skip the meal part and go on a hike. Schadau Castle has beautiful short hiking trails, with beautiful flowers decorating the scene. You can scan the QR codes along the path to discover what kinds of flowers are in the park. 

If you are traveling with your kids, you can let them try riding Schadau Park’s mini nostalgic trains. You can also let them play at the playground beside Thun Panorama, which is another place of interest in Schadau Park.

Thun Panorama is a remarkable artwork you can find in Thun, for it is considered the oldest surviving panorama in the world. It depicts the appearance of Thun’s skyline back in the 19th century, when Marquard Wocher, the painter of this panorama, created the artwork. The artwork is located inside a cylindrical brick structure, a few steps from the castle and near the park’s mini forest.

Overall, it might take 2 hours to fully see and enjoy Schadau Park and Thun Panorama. That includes relaxing at the park’s benches, taking pictures, and spending a short time marveling at Thun Panorama.

You can check the official website of Schadau Castle, linked in the resources section of this post, to learn more about the park and the castle. If you want to stay in Schadau Castle for a night and feel like a medieval prince/princess, here’s the link where you can check the prices for a night in Schadau Castle. You can also see what Schadau Castle looks like from that link.

Schadau Park is undoubtedly a beautiful destination when the weather is warm and sunny. But how about when it rains? 

Your alternative is Kunstmuseum Thun (art museum). It is located along Aarequai, which is only a short walk from Thun Old Town or Obere Schleuse Brücke. It’s a modern museum filled with art created by Swiss artists. I linked the official website of Kunstmuseum Thun to the resources section of this post if you want to learn more.

4:00 pm — Wander in Oberhofen Castle

Have I already told you? I call Lake Thun the fairy tale lake of Switzerland because not only it has two castles along its shores, but five! By going to Thun, you give yourself a chance to fully immerse yourself in the magical flair of its lake.

And for this Thun trip, we are taking that opportunity! So, the next destination is Oberhofen Castlea 13th-century castle in Oberhofen in the district of Thun, a 20-minute bus (#21) ride from Thun train station. This castle silently screams: “pull out your camera and take pictures of me!” LOL. Here’s everything you need to know before you visit Oberhofen Castle.

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Visual summary of your visit to Oberhofen Castle

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How to visit Oberhofen Castle + Summary of the things you can experience there

So, what is Oberhofen Castle? Oberhofen Castle is one of the most beautiful castles in Switzerland, famous for its water tower that dips into the water of the lake. It is also one of the most photogenic castles in the country for its iconic water tower that can be photographed with the Swiss Alps in the backdrop.

For travelers like me, also looking for new architecture to marvel at, Oberhofen Castle is definitely a gem that you can find. Oberhofen Castle’s Bernese-Baroque-Romantic style is a unique find! But, aside from its appearance, the real reason you’d like to come to Oberhofen Castle is simply that you can enter and see what’s inside the castle (castle museum).

So, yeah, if you are disappointed that you can’t appreciate the interiors of Schadau Castle, don’t worry because Oberhofen Castle got your back! Inside Oberhofen Castle’s castle museum, you can find so many quaint exhibits, from plate armor to paintings of the previous owners of the castle. The rooms are well-preserved, and they’ll make you forget that you’re in the 21st century.

The most impressive part of Oberhofen Castle is the Oriental Smoking Room. It has a style inspired by Ottoman culture.  The patterns on the fabric covering the room furniture, the woodwork ornamenting the ceiling and walls, and the colorful stained glass windows are an outstanding masterpiece… For me, it’s a big surprise as I didn’t expect that there would be such a place, right in the mountainous heart of Switzerland.

(Perhaps it will surprise you, too, if I didn’t mention it. I’m sorry if I spoiled it!) 

Note that you can enter the castle museum only during non-winter months, Tuesday to Sunday. You may check the visiting information linked in the resources section of this post

What if you come to Oberhofen Castle with the castle museum closed? Well, you can still enjoy your visit by wandering in its beautiful castle park and having dinner in its cozy and scenic restaurant.

First, the castle park. The castle park of Oberhofen Castle must be one of the well-polished gardens in the Bernese Oberland region. If you are looking for a place to relax, the tranquility in the park will definitely let you!

The park is huge and verdant, and all that you can hear is the sound of the footsteps, chirping birds, and the splash of the gentle waves of Lake Thun. Yes, you are thinking right, the castle has a panoramic view of Lake Thun, adding to the remarkable impression the castle park can leave in your mind.

You can also find rare trees from different parts of the world here and learn about them from the panel boards beside them. Don’t forget to take a stroll on the lakeside path of the castle park. There, you can find a huge floral design of the Swiss Cross, which has been a tradition of the castle’s keepers for decades already.

Watching the sunset while having dinner in Oberhofen Castle’s restaurant is the second way you can enjoy your visit to the castle. 

The restaurant in Oberhofen Castle features big glass windows, allowing visitors to eat with a lovely lake ambiance. The sunset view of Lake Thun while in the restaurant may only apply some of the time (weather permitting), but definitely, it is an opportunity, especially for traveling couples, to make the ending of their journey to Thun very memorable.

Resources

So, that’s it! That’s the best way to spend a day in Thun. Which part did you like the most? If you need more information about some of the places I mentioned in this article, you can check the following links:

Did you find my itinerary helpful? If so, and you haven’t yet secured any accommodation for your Switzerland trip, please consider using my partner’s hotel search and booking site. It has some amazing hotel deals (free cancellation and membership programs) that I’m sure you’ll find handy! The link is an affiliate link, though. If you book through it, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Consider it as your donation to WanderInEurope so I can write more content like this. Thank you for your support!

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There are more stunning destinations that await you in Bernese Oberland. They’re specifically located in the Jungfrau Region, which is less than an hour away from Thun. My favorites are Lauterbrunnen, which is called “Heaven on Earth,” Wengen for an epic overlooking view of the Lauterbrunnen Valley, Männlichen for a 360-degree view of the Jungfrau Region, and Harder Kulm, which is located above Interlaken. For more ideas, check my list of beautiful destinations around Interlaken. Happy traveling! 🙂

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