A Guide in Visiting Oberhofen Castle (Expectations + Tips)

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Among the many attractions I discovered in Lake Thun, Oberhofen Castle is one I will not forget. The first time I saw it, I was speechless.

Standing on the shore of Lake Thun, Oberhofen Castle is a dreamy sight that screams ‘take pictures of me… many times!’. Surely, you’ll sense it once you see Oberhofen Castle’s tower, dipping into the surface of Lake Thun with the peaks of the Jungfrau Region as a backdrop. For wanderers like me, Oberhofen Castle surely brings a part of our favorite fantasy movie to life.

If you’re visiting Thun for a day, adding Oberhofen Castle to your itinerary is something to really consider. For example, after exploring Old Town Thun on foot and going to the town’s picturesque spots, go to Oberhofen Castle next. Oberhofen Castle is a must if you want to explore Lake Thun in one day.

The thing is, the picture-perfect appearance of Oberhofen Castle is only one part of the overall beautiful experience that you can have here. When I explored Oberhofen Castle, I was surprised by what I found. Let me share these discoveries with you in Oberhofen Castle and everything that you need to know about Oberhofen Castle, should you decide to visit this wonderful place.

If you’re not yet familiar with Oberhofen Castle, read this…
Oberhofen Castle in front of Bernese Oberland in Thun, Switzerland
Oberhofen Castle in front of Bernese Oberland

One of the things so notable about Oberhofen Castle is its age. Did you know this castle dates back as far as the 13th century? It was constructed by the Eschenbach family. However, the castle changed hands multiple times, passing through several Bernese patrician families.

The most notable family that owned Oberhofen Castle was the Pourtáles family. They lived in Oberhofen Castle in the mid-19th century. It also was during this time that Oberhofen Castle was renovated to its current appearance. The Pourtáles family added neo-Gothic elements, which are mostly visible in the interiors.

Interestingly, it has become a blend of multiple architectural styles throughout the ages. Now, Oberhofen Castle is a blend of Gothic, Renaissance, French, and even Eastern styles. If you visit Oberhofen today, you’ll see it serving as a historical landmark and museum, and a unique architectural attraction in the Bernese Oberland.

What to Expect? (The Reasons to Visit)

One of the things to keep in mind before visiting Oberhofen Castle is that it isn’t the only picture-perfect castle in Switzerland. There’s the Gruyeres Castle in the canton of Fribourg, Chillon Castle in the canton of Vaud, and a few more. If you simply want to see a beautiful castle during your trip to Switzerland, you have a choice, not only Oberhofen Castle.

In fact, Chillon Castle is as pretty as Oberhofen Castle. Particularly when it comes to the location, these two castles similarly sit along an alpine lake shore. Both are amazing destinations, particularly for wanderers and travelers seeking idyllic and nostalgic beauty. Despite the similarities, though, Oberhofen still stands out in a way. The first is its location, which is very close to the Jungfrau Region.

For me, Oberhofen Castle is one of the must-see places during a multi-day visit to the Jungfrau Region. Anyone who wants to experience the best of the Swiss Alps can easily include Oberhofen Castle in their itinerary. Have this 6-day Switzerland itinerary as an example. You can check Oberhofen Castle’s exact location in my Map of Thun.

Other reasons are as follows. They’re the things you can expect at Oberhofen Castle, which I believe make Oberhofen Castle a compelling destination.

The snowy peaks of Bernese Oberland behind Oberhofen Castle in Thun, Switzerland
The snowy peaks of Bernese Oberland behind Oberhofen Castle

1. Picture-Perfect Views

Let’s admit it… we travel because we want to see awe-inspiring places. Oberhofen Castle? It is undoubtedly one of them!

The moment you set your eyes on the castle, you’ll be struck by its picture-perfect beauty. That’s really the case when the clouds are away, the sun is shining, and you arrive at the castle by boat. The view of Oberhofen Castle from the lake is magical. Immediately, you will be inspired to take photos, especially at the dock, where you can see the most iconic views of Oberhofen Castle. 

Below are the photos of the scene that you can see arriving at Oberhofen Castle by ferry. (Swipe or press the arrows to see more photos)

More pictures of Oberhofen Castle + photography tips

How Oberhofen looks—it’s almost picture-perfect for me! I just wish the owner would replace the cafeteria’s glass windows with rustic ones. It totally ruined the quaintness of the castle. 

But suppose you want a close-up view of the Oberhofen Castle’s water tower. In that case, you can go to the alfresco seating area of the cafeteria. It’s a fantastic spot for another photo opportunity, with the blooming flowers decorating the surroundings. Look:

View of the water tower from the cafeteria in Oberhofen Castle, Thun, Switzerland
View of the water tower from the cafeteria in Oberhofen Castle

As you may see, the crenellations partially block you from seeing the entire tower. To have a full close-up view of the Oberhofen Castle’s water tower, go within the castle’s inner yard through the second gate. The rightmost part of the inner front yard (overlooking Lake Thun) is the best vantage point for appreciating the tower’s architecture.

Architecture of Oberhofen Castle in Thun, Switzerland
Architecture of Oberhofen Castle

These picturesque scenes I just showed are only the start of the list of the beautiful things you can find in Oberhofen Castle. You’ll discover more as we go along…

2. A Beautiful Park

Another reason why Oberhofen Castle is a fantastic destination is that it has a beautiful park. What’s even better? You can enter, stroll, and relax in the park for free, as long as you want!

In the park of Oberhofen Castles you can expect that you can have one of the loveliest and most memorable strolls of your life! The landscaping is superb, from the lawns to plants forming geometric shapes and to century-old trees. 

Take a look at this green leafy tunnel!

Green tunnel inside Oberhofen Castle’s Park in Thun, Switzerland
Green tunnel inside Oberhofen Castle’s Park
See more beautiful things in Oberhofen Castle’s Park

If you’re a dendrophile who loves trees, wandering in Oberhofen Castle’s Park will be fun! Why? Besides that, it is full of giant old trees; you can also learn something about these trees as you walk around the park. 

Trees have their panel boards. By reading the panel boards, you’ll learn their name, what they symbolize, and other special features like healing properties and so on. For example, I found a tree in Oberhofen Castle’s Park called Giant Sequoia. I learned that it symbolizes strength and balance, and they were used by Native Americans to treat jaundice and blood poisoning.

Tall trees and the colorful plants inside Oberhofen Castle’s Park in Thun, Switzerland
Tall trees and the colorful plants inside Oberhofen Castle’s Park

Aside from the beautiful scenery of the garden and castle’s keep shown above, Oberhofen Castle Park has stunning views of Lake Thun, too. The panorama of Lake Thun from the park includes the simply spectacular pyramid mountain of Switzerland—Mount Niesen.

One of the remarkable things you can find in Oberhofen Castle’s Park is the Swiss Cross. It’s a giant garden plant art that depicts the Swiss flag’s cross, consisting of rare plants like Alternanthera, Helichrysum, and Begonia. The Swiss Cross is located at the edge of the Oberhofen Castle’s Garden, Lake Thun side. 26 square meters wide, it is another noticeable part of the castle grounds.

Oberhofen Castle’s Swiss Cross and views of Lake Thun, Switzerland
Oberhofen Castle’s Swiss Cross and views of Lake Thun

If you have your kids with you when you visit Oberhofen Castle, you can take them to the playground. You can also take them to the children’s chalet. It contains drawers containing materials about fairytales, legends, and poems. 

3. The Medieval Museum

The highlight of a visit to Oberhofen Castle is the castle museum. It is packed with things to marvel at! I believe, you will likely be surprised or amazed as well when you visit. Some of the exhibits in the castle museum were modernized, but their rustic appearances were kept. 

Digital projections were installed and integrated into objects in the castle. The shape and overall appearance of the exhibits aren’t altered. Still, they show different images like magic, letting you imagine life in the castle in the past. The last time I checked, the objects exhibited showed vivid animation about the lives of the servants in Oberhofen Castle in the 20th century. It’s just so cool to see an interactive castle.

Anyhow, if you are a fan of architecture and rustic places, you’ll not regret seeing the castle museum. But whether you’re a fan or not, they are still a reason you should visit Oberhofen Castle. Elegance overflows from Oberhofen Castle’s interiors. Some of its rooms possess an overwhelming level of elaboration. And the objects, paintings, and simple little things—they’re straight out of medieval movies (which I am a super fan of).

Below is the gallery (visual summary) of the things you can see inside Oberhofen Castle.

Descriptions of what you can expect inside Oberhofen Castle + tips for your visit

Oberhofen Castle has several rooms, but for me, the two unmissable rooms are the dining room and the Oriental Smoking Room at the top of the castle’s keep.

I love the cozy atmosphere in the dining room—thanks to the stucco elaboration on the ceiling. The boards on the walls of the room look very colorful and interesting. Its letterings are superb, but I wish I could understand what’s written.

The real spectacle of Oberhofen Castle lies in the Oriental Smoking Room. It is the “smoking room” of Count Albert de Pourtalès, the owner of Oberhofen Castle in the mid-19th century, the commissioner of the Oriental Smoking Room, and the Prussian ambassador in Istanbul during that time.

Influenced by the culture in the east, he brought Oriental architecture to Oberhofen Castle, his castle during that time. Today, we consider it a unique travel “gem” in Switzerland—an architectural spectacle you should see.

As you may notice, Oriental Smoking Room has impressive woodcraft. But they aren’t only in this spectacular room. They are almost everywhere in the castle!

In fact, there is more to see, as I have mentioned previously. Aside from the woodwork, you can find armor, portraits of the previous owners of Oberhofen Castle, dolls & doll houses, and paintings of the castle from centuries ago.

Did you see on the old painting of Oberhofen Castle how Oberhofen Castle would look better without the huge glass windows of the castle’s cafeteria?

Last time I checked, some artworks only had descriptions in German. Although it doesn’t matter if you have Google Translate installed on your smartphone, I still think it would be more enjoyable to learn/discover details about Oberhofen Castle if these descriptions were already printed in English. Nevertheless, still, it’s magnificent inside the castle, isn’t it?

4. Restaurant Spectacular Views

Although I believe that the cafeteria or restaurant at Oberhofen Castle detracts from the overall appearance of the castle (this is just my opinion), I still consider it a reason why it’s nice to visit Oberhofen Castle…

Typically, visitors spend two to three hours exploring everything Oberhofen Castle has to offer. If you’re planning to spend that long in the castle, too, I’m sure you’ll need some refreshments afterward. That’s when the restaurant of Oberhofen Castle comes to the rescue.

According to Google Maps reviews, many visitors enjoyed the food, atmosphere, and service at the restaurant. I think you’d enjoy dining there too. Particularly because it’s not just about the food.

The large glass windows of the restaurant allow you to enjoy the scenery of Lake Thun as you dine—a heavenly satisfaction for both your eyes and stomach! If the weather is fine, you can enhance your dining experience with the fresh air from the Alps caressing your skin while you’re seated at the alfresco area.

If you want to see the menu of the restaurant, I’ve included a link to the official website of Oberhofen Castle’s restaurant in the resources section of this post.

5. A Part of Romantic Getaway

With Oberhofen Castle’s appearance, it’s not hard to understand why it serves as a venue for different events such as weddings. The quaintness of the castle and the idyllic scenery surrounding it make it a perfect place to celebrate memorable events.

Those are the same reasons why I think Oberhofen Castle is also a fabulous place for a romantic trip. Can you imagine you and your partner immersed in the castle’s medieval flair, toasting a wine in front of the glittering water of Lake Thun? Isn’t that beautiful? 😀

If you’re a man like me, in addition to dining at Oberhofen Castle’s restaurant, consider bringing your girl to the castle grounds and gardens. Take a stroll and share your dreams with her while soaking in the beautiful views of the lake and the mountains. She’s sure to love it!

Ah! In fact, Oberhofen Castle houses a chapel. It’s an old chapel adorned with ancient-looking murals. You might want to visit there and spend some quiet moments together. As you sit in the chairs, you can pray and whisper loud enough for her to hear, ‘God, please make this girl beside me my wife!’ She’ll be romantically thrilled!

How to Get There

If I’ve piqued your interest in visiting Oberhofen Castle, allow me to guide you on how to get there.

First and foremost, where exactly is Oberhofen Castle? It’s nestled along the northern shores of Lake Thun in Central Switzerland, specifically in the municipality of Oberhofen am Thunersee (district of Thun), nestled between the towns of Thun and Interlaken.

Reaching Oberhofen Castle is straightforward, whether you plan to travel by car, bus, or boat. It’s an excellent destination if you’re visiting from Thun, Interlaken, or Spiez. From these towns, you can easily hop on the ferries that connect them and the various tourist attractions around Lake Thun. Conveniently, Oberhofen Castle has its own dock situated right next to its entrance.

You can get your ferry tickets here. The tickets include unlimited boat rides in Lake Thun and Lake Brienz (non-winter months). You don’t need a ferry ticket if you already have a Swiss Travel Pass.

Alternatively, suppose you’re currently in Thun or Interlaken. In that case, you can take the bus (#21 – Thun/Interlaken; #25 – Thun) and get off at Oberhofen Dorf. The bus stop is just a short walk from the castle.

If you’re traveling in Switzerland by private vehicle, there’s parking available directly in front of the castle. If that parking area is full, there’s an additional parking lot in front of the Museum of Clocks and Mechanical Musical Instruments, which is just a 5-minute walk from Oberhofen Castle’s main entrance.

Best Time to Visit

The optimal time to visit Oberhofen Castle is from mid-May to October, during which you can explore every part of the castle, including the castle museum. Remember: the museum is the highlight of the castle, offering a unique experience for travelers in the Bernese Oberland.

Don’t forget to schedule your visit to Oberhofen Castle from Tuesday to Sunday, between 11:00 am and 5:00 pm, which are the opening days and hours of the castle museum.

You can arrive at Oberhofen Castle earlier than the museum’s opening hour, as the castle’s park opens at 9:00 am. Arriving early at the park allows you to enjoy the tranquility as if you own the entire place!

Before heading to Oberhofen Castle or planning a Switzerland trip itinerary, ensure to check the latest announcements and opening hours of Oberhofen Castle on their official website. The link to the castle’s website can be found in the resources section at the bottom of this post.

How Long To Spend

Allocating two to three hours should suffice to explore both the museum and the park of Oberhofen Castle. However, this may vary depending on the season of your visit. If you plan your trip during the colder months when the museum is closed, your visit will likely be shorter.

Ideally, a three-hour visit would be perfect if you’re visiting Oberhofen Castle from mid-May to October. Consider this scenario:

  1. Come at 9:00 am, take photos in the dock/pier, and explore the front yard of the castle.
  2. By 9:30 am, proceed to the castle park. Stroll around, sit on the bench, take photos, learn about the trees, watch the children playing, and have a totally refreshing moment with the views of Lake Thun!
  3. At 11:00 am, the castle museum opens. Enter the castle and explore the interior. Marvel at the beautiful architecture.
  4. End the trip by eating lunch at 12:00 pm in the castle’s cafeteria.

Your visit to Oberhofen Castle may take longer if you want to really savor the fancy lunch in the castle’s restaurant. Also, the park has benches with views of Lake Thun and the Bernese Alps. If you need some refreshing peace and quiet, you would like to spend an “eternity” there. 

More Information

For more information about Oberhofen Castle, including the admission fee for the castle museum, announcements, and other details for your visit, please refer to the official website of Oberhofen Castle, which can be found below.

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Did you know that there are more picture-perfect destinations like Oberhofen Castle within an hour’s distance from this castle? Don’t miss the view from Thun Castle, the panoramic mountain scenery from Harder Kulm, and the heavenly spectacle of Lauterbrunnen Valley.

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