5 Picture-Perfect Spots and Viewpoints of Old Town Thun

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If you’re staying in Bern for a few days (or in any nearby cities) and you’re looking for an easy day trip, Thun and its Old Town are great options!

Wandering in Old Town Thun is like exploring a smaller version of Old Town Lucerne. A few steps from the train station, you’ll immediately spot a covered wooden bridge. Picture-perfect alpine lake scenery awaits at the town’s parks. Preserved medieval landmarks (Thun Castle) dominate the town’s skyline. It’s a simple, yet lovely experience you won’t want to miss on the day you visit Thun or when you have a trip to Lake Thun.

Should you decide to visit Old Town Thun soon, I’ve found 5 spots which I think you’ll love to see. They’re the most beautiful in Old Town Thun, I believe. In summary, they are Obere & Untere Schleuse, Bällizbrücke, Town Hall Square, Thun Castle Tower, and Bächimattpromenade. And I will tell you more about them here now. You can see their exact location in my map of Thun.

If you’re hearing about Thun for the first time, read this… (tips for your visit included!)

Thun is one of the towns in the Canton of Bern, located 30 kilometers south of the country’s capital, Bern. It’s known as the ‘Gateway to the Bernese Oberland’, as the town is situated at the foothills of the upper, mountainous region of the canton. If you look at a map, you’ll find Thun at the northern tip of Lake Thun, where it drains into the Aare River. There it sits as one of the beautiful places to visit in Lake Thun.

By train, you can reach Thun within 20 minutes from Bern. If you’re driving, you can expect a 30-minute journey at a moderate speed.

If you’re planning a trip of a few days in the Jungfrau Region, Thun is one of my top recommendations. Just a boat ride or a bus ride away, it’s one of the beautiful places you can quickly visit from Interlaken (the largest town in the Jungfrau Region.

Tips: Oberhofen Castle, a picturesque and historical castle on Lake Thun, is along the way between Thun and Interlaken. And if you’re looking for a hidden gem in Thun for your visit, the Thun Panorama might be just what you’re looking for.

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Author’s note about sightseeing in Thun: my impressions, discoveries, and more tips.

Growing up in an archipelago, alpine cities like Thun are strangely spectacular to me. Our cities are mainly coastal—totally opposite of what Thun looks like. I marvel at the quaint appearance of the Old Town with the eternally frozen mountaintops nearby.

Exploring the city, I was surprised to see that Thun has a small island in the Aare River that passes right through its center. The islet is called Bälliz, and there you can find a number of stores, restaurants, and cozy cafes where you can hang out if you feel a little tired after exploring the city. We don’t have places like that at home—shopping districts on an island within a river! Cool.

Anyway, speaking of beautiful things to see in Thun Old Town, Bälliz is the part where you can start seeing some really picturesque scenes. The “start”? Well, that’s the case when arriving in Thun by train. It may differ if you are going to Thun by car.

You know, there are a few ways to get to Bälliz from Thun train station. However, you don’t have to ride any bus to get to Bälliz from the train station. On foot, you can reach the islet within five minutes. Note: If you come to Thun by car, you’d probably see Thun Castle first because the closest parking lot is under the hill where Thun Castle was built. The pedestrian exit/walkway goes straight to the castle grounds.

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1. Obere & Untere Schleuse

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Assuming you arrive in Thun by train, I suggest you start your journey in the city by walking along Aarefeldstrasse. This street runs perpendicular to the train station and leads you directly to the first beautiful place in Thun: Obere Schleuse.

I believe you already know that Obere Schleuse is a German term, but what does it specifically mean? Obere Schleuse (Upper Lock) is one of Thun’s 18th-century covered wooden bridges, also designed as locks to prevent flooding in the city. It is located on the southern tip of Bälliz, linking the island to Aarefeld (the area where the train station is located).

The second lock or covered wooden bridge is called Untere Schleuse (Lower Lock). It provides a path to Mühleplatz of the Old Town from the island, and is the third bridge on the northern banks of Bälliz from Obere Schleuse.

What to expect in visiting Obere and Untere Schleuse?

During the warmer months, locals decorate these covered wooden bridges with colorful flowers. Their unique rustic appearance and the turquoise water of the Aare River are simply a spectacle to see in Thun.

There are several bridges connecting different parts of Thun separated by the River Aare. But keep in mind that you can cross the river through these covered wooden bridges. It’s a simple yet rustic experience to try. Walking inside the covered bridge, you’ll not only see thick lumbers forming the gables, but also the mechanical parts of the lock, which can be pretty fascinating when you think about how they move and function.

Lastly, during the summer, you may spot locals surfing in the rapids under the bridges. Watch out, as they might perform some tricks!

2. View of Thun Castle from Bällizbrücke

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Picturesque views of Thun Castle from Bällizbrücke and Rathausquai in Thun, Switzerland
Picturesque views of Thun Castle from Bällizbrücke and Rathausquai
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As you may already know, Thun Castle is the primary landmark of Thun. There’s no doubt about that as it’s the tallest building in Thun Old Town, visible from Lake Thun and some highways leading to the city. Perched on a hilltop overlooking Thun Old Town, Thun Castle can be seen from most parts of the Old Town.

You can go to the town’s squares or parks and see the castle peeking above the roofs of the old houses and buildings. But, would you believe me if I told you that one of the most picturesque vantage points of Thun Castle is not in a park or square? It’s on a bridge called Bällizbrücke. Bällizbrücke is the footbridge that connects the central part of Bälliz to Rathausquai in Thun Old Town.

What to expect in Bällizbrücke?

The length of the footbridge points straight toward the castle, and its railings create leading lines that emphasize the giant landmark. It’s a simple view of the castle, yet a picture-perfect spot, right? I like how the two trees welcome you to the central part of Old Town Thun at the end of the bridge!

For me, Bällizbrücke is a hidden gem in Thun. Not only because very few tourists come to this spot and know that this bridge offers a nice view, but also because the way to this bridge is somewhat hidden in Bälliz. If you’re in Bälliz, the path to Bällizbrücke is an alley opposite Kaffeemühle (a coffee shop).

3. Town Hall Square (and Obere Hauptgasse)

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Townhall Square with views of the castle in Thun, Switzerland
Townhall Square with views of the castle
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Have you ever wandered around your country and stumbled upon an old, quaint, and elaborate house? I often have, and each time I think, “I can’t imagine how beautiful this town would be if all the buildings were built this way!

I just love old-world architecture. It brings me a sense of wonder every time my eyes land on them. Unlike Modern architecture, these ancient-looking buildings have more than just style. They showcase humanistic creativity—promoting human values and well-being, rather than solely focusing on commercial (“making money”) or technological advancements.

Built during the Middle Ages, you can expect Thun Old Town to have such beautiful houses. You can find the most charming ones in Town Hall Square. This is where you can also find the oldest structures in town and another picturesque spot for Thun Castle.

Learn more about Town Hall Square and Obere Hauptgasse beside it.

There are three notable buildings in Town Hall Square.

  1. Hotel Rathaus — it is the oldest brick house in Thun, dating back to the 14th century.
  2. Town Hall — a 15th-century building with eye-catching historic charm.
  3. Burgerhaus Thun — an 18th-century late-baroque building with notable elegance.

Let’s say you’re in Town Hall Square and you are currently looking at Thun Castle. If you look to your right, you’ll see Obere Hauptgasse—the main and longest street in Thun Old Town.

If you begin strolling down Obere Hauptgasse, you’ll realize that this city is even more unique! Obere Hauptgasse is the street in Old Town Thun with raised pavements. The pavements on both sides of the main street are above the shops whose entrances are on the main street. It’s one of the unique street architectures I discovered in Switzerland. Take a look:

Pastel-colored houses in Obere Hauptgasse in Thun, Switzerland
Pastel-colored houses in Obere Hauptgasse
The houses, raised pavement, and a mural holding the coat of arms of Thun in Obere Hauptgasse in Thun, Switzerland
The houses, raised pavement, and a mural holding the coat of arms of Thun in Obere Hauptgasse

During the flower blooming season or summer months, the locals decorate the railings of the raised pavement with colorful flowers. During these times, Obere Hauptgasse becomes an exceptionally charming street. However, even without the flower decorations, you can find Obere Hauptgasse to be beautiful. The quaint pastel-colored facades of the buildings flanking Obere Hauptgasse already fill the street scene with a charming old-world flair.

4. View from Thun Castle’s Tower

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Thun is known as the Gateway to the Bernese Oberland. It’s the part of the canton of Bern where you can start seeing some of the most impressive views of the Bernese Alps. Although you can already spot the Jungfrau massif from Bern (specifically, from the promenade behind the Bundeshaus or on top of Bern Cathedral), the views from Thun are undeniably more stunning than what you can see from Bern.

For instance, you can just go to Schadau Park (a 15-minute walk from the train station), and you’ll immediately see an idyllic panorama of Lake Thun and the snow-capped mountains. However, if it’s a truly breathtaking view you want to see, Thun Castle is just the place to be. The towering Thun Castle, perched on a hill as high as a 10-floor building, has towers you can climb for the highest vantage point in the town.

In case you missed it, here is my guide to making the most of your visit to Thun Castle.

Summary of what you can expect in visiting Thun Castle (read for tips!)

It’s quite a bit of legwork to reach the top, but the views are so rewarding and not to be missed. From the castle tower’s windows, your eyes will be treated to a heaven-on-earth scenery, including the city, lake, and mountains. The most iconic part of the panorama is definitely Thun Central Church, with the rest of the Bernese Oberland in the backdrop.

There are several ways you can reach the castle. But if you are in Thun Old Town, the most beautiful way up is through Kirchtreppe. Kirchtreppe is the beautiful historical wooden staircase in Old Town Thun that links Obere Hauptgasse to Thun Castle and Thun Central Church. It has mesmerizing gables to inspire you to take photos as you climb to the castle grounds.

Visiting the castle and climbing the tower requires a small admission fee (free if you have a Swiss Travel Pass).

Kirchtreppe and the art pavilion near Thun Castle in Thun, Switzerland
Kirchtreppe and the art pavilion near Thun Castle

5. Skyline of Thun from Bächimattpromenade (View From Lake Thun/Aare River)

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The view of Thun Castle from Bächimattpromenade in Thun, Switzerland
The view of Thun Castle from Bächimattpromenade or Aare River
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Today, Thun Old Town is now only a small part of the modern town of Thun. But, even so, it’s still Thun Old Town that you can quickly spot even from a distance (thanks to Thun Castle, which is in the Old Town). When I first saw Thun’s skyline, the scene of the Disney Castle (at the start of every Disney Movie) came to mind. Thun Castle, dominating the panorama, and the River Aare below it somewhat resemble the scene. I think it’s one of the most magical sceneries in the Bernese Oberland, which everyone must see.

There are two ways you can view Thun’s skyline: by taking a boat ride on Lake Thun and by taking a short hike to Bächimattpromenade.

Read: More information, photography tips, and instructions to see Thun’s skyline view

Boat ride: From Thun, hop on a boat to go to other tourist destinations in Lake Thun, like Oberhofen Castle, Spiez, or Interlaken. Important: find a spot on the boat (on the left side) with views of Thun Castle. As the boat moves away from the city, you’ll see the panorama of Thun like in the photo.

You can find the Lake Thun boat tickets here. You do not need to buy separate boat tickets if you have a Swiss Travel Pass. It already includes unlimited boat, bus, and train rides (best to have if you are traveling in Switzerland for a week or more).

Hike to Bächimattpromenade: The second way to see the beautiful Thun skyline is by hiking in a scenic lakeside promenade called Bächimattpromenade. It’s a pathway that stretches from the eastern banks of the River Aare near Thun Old Town to the Hünibach ferry terminal.

To get to Bächimattpromenade from Old Town Thun, you can walk for 15 minutes along the eastern banks of the River Aare towards the lake or take a bus ride (#21) to the Thun Freienhof bus stop. If you travel by car, there is a parking space beside the bus stop. The boats docked beside the riverbank indicate the start of Bächimattpromenade. It’s also the spot where you can see/photograph Thun Old Town’s skyline with Thun Castle and Thun Central Church. Magical, isn’t it?

Tip: If you have spare time, I encourage you to continue hiking in Bächimattpromenade. Fairytale scenes await you there. After walking in Bächimattpromenade towards Lake Thun for another 15 minutes, you’ll see Schadau Castle on the other side of the River Aare. Here is the view:

Schadau Castle seen from Bächimattpromenade in Thun, Switzerland
Schadau Castle seen from Bächimattpromenade

When you reach the end of Bächimattpromenade in Hünibach ferry terminal, and you have a powerful camera, here’s a shot of Schadau Castle you can also create:

Zoomed in shot of Schadau Castle from Hünibach ferry terminal in Thun, Switzerland
Zoomed in shot of Schadau Castle from Hünibach ferry terminal
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So, those are the five beautiful spots I recommend you see in Old Town Thun! I hope you find this helpful. If you need a free guide for visiting Old Town Thun (a free DIY walking tour) which includes the picturesque spots in Thun, be sure to check out my Old Town Thun Walking Tour! For more similar experiences in Switzerland, check out the best views in Bern or the beautiful things I found in Lucerne. Enjoy your wandering!

Hi there, I can sense you’re planning a visit to Switzerland 😀 If you don’t have a place to stay yet, please consider using my partner’s hotel search and booking platform to find accommodation. I love its great accommodation deals (from free cancellation to perk points), which is why I’m recommending it. Please note, the link is an affiliate link. I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you when you book through it. Consider the commission I’ll receive as your donation to WanderInEurope. It’ll help me write more helpful content like this. Thank you for your support!

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