Thun is a special place for me; it’s a city that gives travelers an experience with blends of history and natural beauty—the things I’m so passionate about. This city, perched on the shore of Lake Thun, has a long history dating back to the Romans, lending it a nostalgic and idyllic charm.
Compared to Switzerland’s primary cities, Thun has a cute size and fewer tourist spots. You can easily see the main sights of the city in one day. Exploring the places beyond the city center is a must for a worthwhile Thun trip.
In this blog post, I share a one-day Thun itinerary to give you an idea about how you can enjoy Thun. Aside from the main tourist spots in the city, I also included the little gems that I discovered in Thun, which I think you will also love to see.
One of the best things I like about Thun is that it’s a city with a beautiful location. Thun’s residents are so lucky to have a picturesque backdrop to their daily lives. Anytime, they can boost their mood and have a greater sense of peace and tranquility.
Not to mention the turquoise blue water of the Aare River, flowing right to the heart of the Thun Old City.
The beautiful panorama isn’t visible in all parts of the town, but the vantage points can be easily accessed only after a few minute stroll or a short bus ride. Like, let’s say you arrive by train in Thun. 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.
The tourist attractions within the city are also only a short stroll away from each other, especially the ones in Thun Old Town.
You can utilize the buses that run around the city, but you may not need them anymore as the streets of the city are nice and worth a stroll. The scenes from the quays and bridges along the Aare River are so photogenic. You can read my post, Thun Old Town: 5 Most Picturesque Places Worth Seeing, to check where they are.
Alternatively, you can read my article, Thun Switzerland Map: 15 Best Things To Do, to see all of Thun’s tourist attractions on a map. This post will help you create your Thun itinerary if you want your own.
That said, you’ll only need to ride public transportation if you are visiting the tourist attractions outside the Old Town and around Lake Thun, like Schadau Castle and Oberhofen Castle.
One important thing, make sure you’re visiting Thun with comfortable footwear. There will be a lot of walking. You can expect to climb stairs, too.
Thun’s primary landmarks are situated on a hilltop (Schlossberg) overlooking the Old Town. Although you can access them through an elevator from the parking lot under the hill, the best way to reach them is through a quaint staircase from the Old Town’s Upper Main Street or Obere Hauptgasse.
Lastly, you don’t need to have a hotel booked in Thun before this trip.
That is unless you are planning to see the city and also have an excursion to the natural attractions in Lake Thun, all in one day. If that is the case, you will probably need to start your day in Thun, and that would be more convenient if you have a hotel in Thun.
Remember that you can already see the main sights in Thun in a day, even if you don’t wake up very early to have more time.
You can check my Lake Thun One Day Itinerary to see how you can visit the bests of Thun and Lake Thun only in one day.
IMPORTANT: please refer to my Lake Thun One Day Itinerary if you plan to travel during the winter months. This itinerary/post you are currently reading is optimized for non-winter months.
Anyhow, notice that I put timestamps for each item on the itinerary. Remember that they are only guides and estimates; you are totally in control of your time.
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So, without any further ado!
9:00 am — Arrival in Thun
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!
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.
Moreover, the best reason to visit Thun Old Town is simply that it’s like a living time capsule, preserving the traditions and architecture of the past—an authentic experience!
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. As mentioned earlier, they are Thun Castle and Stadtkirche Thun, perched on Schlossberg 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.
Learn more about Thun Castle from my article, Thun Castle: View Points, What To Expect & How To Visit.
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.
You can check my Thun Old Town DIY walking tour to get an idea of how you can explore the city on foot.
In that walking tour, I included the places where to take pictures and where to go to see the excellent views of Bernese Oberland without climbing the tower in Thun Castle.
11:30 am — Balliz (Souvenirs and Lunch)
As you may have known, 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.
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, we’ll 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. Basically, it is a three-in-one not-so-ordinary destination. So you better not miss it on your Thun day tour.
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.
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. If you are interested in what Thun Panorama looks like, please check my blog post, Thun Panorama: Why You Must See It & How To Visit.
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 Castle—a 13th-century castle in Oberhofen in the district of Thun, a 20-minute bus (#21) ride from Thun train station.
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.
I have a lot more to share about Oberhofen Castle. You can read my article, Oberhofen Castle: Why You Should Visit & How To Visit, to discover more of what awaits you in this beautiful destination. (You’ll also find tips in it)
Resources: One Day In Thun Switzerland
So, that’s it! That’s the best way you can spend a day in Thun. If you need more information about some of the places I mentioned in this article, you may check the following links:
- More information about Schadau Castle (official website)
- Alternative to Schadau Castle: Kunstmuseum Thun (official website)
- Oberhofen Castle visiting information (official website)
Before you go, I want you to know that Thun is a fantastic day trip from Switzerland’s capital, Bern. If you are staying in Bern, make sure you don’t miss any beautiful things/experiences awaiting you in the city:
- 7 Most Beautiful Views In Bern
- 10 Fascinating Fountains In Bern
- 10 Awe-Inspiring Architectural Attractions & Landmarks In Bern
If you are visiting Bernese Oberland and you don’t have a place to stay yet, you can find the best hotel deals in Bernese Oberland here. Lastly, are you looking for more things to do in Bernese Oberland? Check this list of things to do in Bernese Oberland.
Looking for different ways to travel in Switzerland? Check my itineraries below.
I hope you enjoy your one-day trip to Thun! Live life.
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