Thun Old Town DIY Walking Tour (with a Map, Route, and Tips)

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Even though Thun’s Old Town might not match the architectural splendor of Bern or the picturesque charm of Lucerne, it remains a place that’s truly worthy of a wander. You have to see the beautiful viewpoints in Thun that I discovered. I bet they will inspire you to press your camera’s shutter button more than a dozen times!

Most importantly, Thun Old Town is home to quaint landmarks, as you can see from Thun’s Map. Aside from Thun Castle, which is the city’s primary landmark, there are flower-embellished covered wooden bridges, medieval towers, and cobblestone streets of unique architecture. Wanderers will surely like it! So, whether you’re spending an entire day in Thun or simply making a quick stop during your Lake Thun adventure, I highly recommend setting aside some time to discover the charm of Thun’s Old Town.

Allow me to guide you on how to navigate through the Old Town of Thun efficiently on your own. I’ve got everything ready for you: a map complete with a route and all the tips you’ll need to make your journey even more rewarding. Let’s get started!

Walking Tour Map

Thun Walking Tour map with tourist attractions and route - Thun, Switzerland
Thun Walking Tour map with tourist attractions and route

In summary, this walking tour covers three parts of Old Town Thun: the town’s small island in the middle of the Aare River known as Bälliz, the central area of Old Town Thun, and Schlossberg. Schlossberg is the hill where you can find Thun Castle and Stadtkirche Thun. A walking tour could last nearly 2 hours but should not exceed 4 hours. The duration will depend on how quickly you sightsee and whether you plan to enter the landmarks included in the itinerary.

Here’s a tip when exploring Old Town Thun: wear comfortable walking shoes and prepare your knees for climbing a hill equivalent to a 7-floor high building. There are plenty of stairs, particularly in Schlossberg.

Walking Tour Itinerary

Since most travelers visiting Switzerland tour the country by train, I’ve chosen to start the walking tour from Thun Train Station. However, if you’re considering starting your Thun Walking Tour in a different part of Thun Old Town, you have options. Upon stepping out of the train station, you’ll find buses ready to transport you to various parts of the city. So don’t worry; you can still maximize your visit.

Also, as you may have noticed from the map, this walking tour follows a roundtrip path. You can start at any point and end the walking tour at the same place where you began. The tour is designed to go counterclockwise, but you can also follow it clockwise. Tip: If you’re arriving in Thun by car, you can park in the parking lot beneath Thun Castle. This makes Thun Castle your first destination instead of Obere Schleuse.

1st Destination: Obere Schleuse

Kicking off the Thun Walking Tour at the train station, the first place you must see is a landmark that can immediately tell you that you’re visiting a Swiss town beside an alpine lake. It’s no other than Obere Schleuse Brücke or Scherzlig lock. It is one of the wooden covered bridges connecting the tiny island of Thun called Bälliz, separated by the Aare River, to the rest of the city. 

Tips for visiting Obere Schleuse Brücke

Obere Schleuse Brücke is the closest landmark to the train station, so it’s reasonable for you to make it your first destination in your Thun Walking Tour.

If you walk around Bälliz, you will find 12 bridges. Among the 12, it’s Obere Schleuse Brücke which you’ll find one of the most beautiful. The bridge’s rustic brown color and red roof tiles eye-pleasingly contrast with the turquoise water of the Aare River. It’ll automatically inspire you to pull the camera out of your pockets and shoot the bridge!

During warmer months, and if there is a considerable water flow through the lock, you may find some locals surfing on the current. If they are in the river, stay for a while in the quay. You may see the surfers perform a trick.

You can get to Obere Schleuse Brücke in about 5 minutes from the train station via Aarefeldstrasse. If you want, you can use the alternative way, which is a longer yet more scenic route. From the train station, proceed to Panoramastrasse, then Scherzligweg (a riverside path).

2nd Destination: Göttibachsteg (Photospot)

Although Thun Old Town is tucked further inland from Lake Thun, visitors can still behold wondrous views of Bernese Oberland from it. It’s one of the things which I think it’s nice to wander around in Thun Old Town. Starting your Thun Walking Tour from the train station, Göttibachsteg is the first viewpoint of the Bernese Oberland you can reach. It is literally a few steps from the Obere Schleuse Brücke!

Photography tips for Göttibachsteg

Göttibachsteg is also one of the bridges that link Bälliz to central Thun Old Town, which we can also consider a beautiful vantage point of the elegant Kunstmuseum Thun. From this bridge, you can photograph Kunstmuseum Thun with the snowy peaks of the Bernese Oberland in the background.

I suggest spending a few moments on the Göttibachsteg bridge. Take time to feel nature; hear the flowing Aare River; breathe the fresh air from the Alps. 

You may also want to go to Aarequai (at the north end of the Göttihacksteg bridge) towards the Kunstmuseum Thun. You can view a better angle of Obere Schleuse Brücke from there. I recommend it if you want to photograph the wooden bridge when it is decorated with flowers.

3rd Destination: Kirchtreppe

Looking around on Göttibachsteg bridge, you can see more landmarks in Thun apart from Kunstmuseum Thun. They are Thun Castle and Stadtkirche Thun (look northwest of Göttibachsteg). They are the two most recognizable landmarks in Thun, which you’ll also visit during this Thun Walking Tour. There are a few ways to get to Schlossberg (Thun Castle or Stadtkirche Thun) from Göttibachsteg. However, the best I can recommend is Kirchtreppe or the “Church Stairs.” 

More info about Kirchtreppe + what to expect here

Kirchtreppe is a 19th-century stairway that links Thun Old Town’s main street (Obere Hauptgasse) and Schlossberg. Its wooden roof makes a repetitive pattern irresistible to photograph—a little hidden gem in Thun Old Town! 

And as its name suggests, it was the path that churchgoers used to take to Stadtkirche Thun quickly from Obere Hauptgasse. You can imagine you are back in the 19th century, mixed with other churchgoers heading to Stadtkirche to pray.

A pavilion awaits you at the top of Kirchtreppe, welcoming you to Schlossberg. The pavilion has modern artwork on its ceiling. I think it depicts the history and religious culture of the people of Thun. And yes, it is another little hidden gem in the city.

Going to Kirchtreppe from Göttibachsteg takes about 5 minutes on foot. I recommend taking a scenic walking route along Aarequai. Then, turn right in Freienhofgasse, and turn left in Obere Hauptgasse. The first small path you can find to your right is Kirchtreppe.

4th Destination: Stadtkirche Thun

I admire cities that have preserved their culture and heritage throughout the ages. They make the world a better place to travel to. As you might have also thought, Thun is one of them. What’s the most obvious proof? The skyline of Thun—you can immediately see it from the first two parts of this Thun Walking Tour. Thun still has 14th-century landmarks that dominate Thun’s skyline. One of these landmarks is Stadtkirche Thun.

Tips in visiting Stadtkirche Thun

Let’s say you are now in Kirchtreppe’s pavilion. Then, you are literally a few steps and one more staircase away from Stadtkirche Thun.  Reaching Stadtkirche Thun’s churchyard, you’ll immediately see its octagonal clock tower overlooking you. Believe it or not, this tower dates back as early as 1330! The faded murals under the arched openings of the church are proof.

Exploring Schlossberg, I learned that Stadtkirche is on the side of the hill facing the Bernese Alps. Near the back of the Stadtkirche Thun, you can find more pavilions and benches where you can rest with relaxing views of the Swiss Alps—the perfect thing to do after climbing Kirchtreppe from Obere Hauptgasse.

If you look at the route, you can see the path from Kirchtreppe to Stadtkirche Thun. I also highlighted the way to the benches and pavilion. 

5th Destination: Thun Castle 

Northwest of Stadtkirche lies Thun Castle, the primary landmark of Thun. It is a very old building, dating back as far as the 12th century. Now, it is a Swiss heritage site of national significance that immortalizes the presence in the region of the Zähringens, Kyburgs, and Habsburg—the builder and once owner of Thun Castle. Here’s everything you need to know before you visit (or enter) Thun Castle.

Tips and suggestions in visiting Thun Castle for this walking tour

I only suggest checking the castle grounds and appreciating its military architecture on this Thun Walking Tour. You can take photographs of the rustic parts of Thun Castle, like the observation tower behind it.

Actually, a part of the castle may surprise you as it was transformed into a Modern design. One wall of the castle’s courtyard can be interesting for minimalist photographers. It has rectangular glass windows, which I think are a part of the castle’s hotel.

Thun Castle has a cafeteria and a museum that you can explore if you have extra time. But here’s why I think you should come to Thun Castle and visit its museum: the view from its towers is the best in town.

Getting to Thun Castle from Stadtkirche Thun is straightforward. Thun Castle and Stadtkirche are linked by the Schlossberg cobblestone path, which is only a 3-minute walk short. Along this path, you can also find the entrance to the under-the-hill parking lot of Thun Castle.

By the way, don’t forget to look back at Stadtkirche Thun midway to the Thun Castle or before you enter the castle’s courtyard from Schlossberg. I think the view of Stadtkirche Thun with the cobblestone pathway in front of the KITA Gampiross daycare center is a picturesque scene.

6th Destination: Rathausplatz

Like almost all European towns established in the Middle Ages, Thun also has town squares which were the center of political and social life back in the day. The most famous square in Thun is Rathausplatz, and it’s the next place to visit in this Thun Walking Tour. Built to impress and manifest the city’s affluence, you must see Rathausplatz during the Thun Walking Tour. The square has cobblestone flooring and is surrounded by the city’s notable buildings. You can expect nostalgic scenes anywhere you look.

What to expect in Rathausplatz + how to go there from Thun Castle

It is in Rathausplatz that you can also see some of the oldest structures in the city, like the 15th-century town hall, 14th-century Hotel Rathaus, and the 18th-century Burgerhaus Thun.  You can sit on the beside the fountain in the middle of the square if you like. There, you can have a tranquil moment while appreciating the architecture of the buildings surrounding the square.

Also, in the middle of the square, you shall see Thun Castle overlooking Thun Old Town. When you see it, I bet you’ll also think it is a scene straight out of a movie set in the Middle Ages. It’ll spark your imagination to picture the rulers of the Thun, watching over the heart of the city from the castle’s breathtaking towers.

To go down from Thun Castle and visit Rathausplatz, use other staircases that link Schlossberg and Thun Old Town (not Kirchtreppe). If you’re in Schlossberg, you can find the entrance to these staircases along the Holi Maz pathway.

Where’s the Holi Maz pathway? Let’s say you just stepped out of the castle’s courtyard through its main entrance, turn right, and the footpath you’ll see perpendicular to you is Holi Maz. When you reach the junction, turn right again. After a few steps, you shall see two staircase entrances to your left. You can choose either of them; they’ll lead you to Rathausplatz.

7th Destination: Obere Hauptgasse

After seeing the most notable square in Thun, we proceed to Obere Hauptgasse (Upper Main Street), the pedestrianized street famous for its raised pavement. Its unique street architecture is like no other in Switzerland (as far as I know) and is a must-visit for a unique wandering experience. Obere Hauptgasse starts at one corner of Rathausplatz. Let’s say you’re currently in Rathausplatz. If you are facing Thun Castle, Obere Hauptgasse is the street you’ll find to your right. 

What to expect when visiting Obere Hauptgasse + tips for exploring

And, of course, Obere Hauptgasse is worth wondering about not only because of its raised pavements. This cobblestone street is flanked by rows of quaint pastel townhouses reminiscent of Bern. Have your camera prepared to capture quaint little details of the city!

Strolling along Obere Hauptgasse, you can find many restaurants, boutiques, and stores. Yes, shopping opportunity! If you like, you can go to the balconies of the raised pavement. There, you get to observe how daily life in Thun happens. Indeed, you’ll love hanging out there, especially during warmer months when the railings of the raised pavements are decorated with colorful flowers. 

While strolling along Obere Hauptgasse away from Rathausplatz, watch out for a pedestrian underpass to Untere Schleuse Brücke or Mühle Lock on the right side of the street. You can use it as a shortcut to the places of interest along the Aare River, like Mühleplatz, Aarequai, and Bälliz from Obere Hauptgasse.

8th Destination: Bällizbrücke (Photospot)

Throughout this Thun Walking Tour, you’ll encounter several picturesque scenes that will inspire you to take pictures. However, if you are looking for a fantastic place to capture an Instagrammable shot of yourself in Thun, one of the best I can recommend is Bällizbrücke.

If you stand in the middle of the bridge, you can see and take a photo of the beautiful buildings beside the River with Thun Castle on the center top. You’ll also see Bällizbrücke’s railings acting like leading lines to Thun Castle. Leading lines—a compositional technique used to make a beautiful photo.

What to expect in Bällizbrucke? + tips on how to get there

So, what and where is Bällizbrücke? Bällizbrücke is a pedestrian bridge that links Rathausquai and Bälliz. Among the 12 bridges, it’s the one that has a length that perfectly aligns and points to Thun Castle.

There are a few ways to get to Bällizbrücke from Obere Hauptgasse. The first one is going back to Rathausplatz and walking towards Bälliz (southwest). Another is using the underpass to Mühle Lock to get to Mühleplatz, then to Rathausquai, and finally to Bällizbrücke.

I recommend the latter so you can have a chance to explore the beautiful Mühleplatz. This park sits by the river, and you can expect beautiful views and lively scenes in many directions. You can already check and visit Untere Schleuse Brücke from Mühleplatz, but I suggest doing it later.

Since you’ll be passing by Rathausquai, take the opportunity to capture beautiful scenes there, too!

9th Destination: Bälliz (shopping)

Of course, the Thun Walking Tour isn’t complete without checking for local merchandise, shopping for souvenirs, and rejuvenating meals. Where to go? Well, there’s no better place to find a wide range of options other than Bälliz—the island in the middle of the Aare River.

Bällizbrücke to Bälliz (yellow = path if you are not interested in shopping; red = “let’s explore and buy souvenir path”)
Bällizbrücke to Bälliz (yellow = path if you are not interested in shopping; red = “let’s explore and buy souvenir path”)

Bälliz is a 500-meter-long shopping district packed with different establishments. From supermarkets to department stores, fast food to high-end restaurants, boutiques to jewelry stores, and more! Heads up, using Bällizbrücke to get to Bälliz from Rathausquai, you’ll arrive at the middle of the island.

10th Destination: Untere Schleuse

Last but definitely not the least for this Thun Walking Tour is Untere Schleuse Brücke, also known as Mühle Lock. It is another wooden covered bridge in Thun that connects Mühleplatz and Waisenhausplatz across the Aare River.

Together with Obere Schleuse Brücke, they regulate the flow of water downstream in the Aare River. Untere Schleuse Brücke is pretty much the same, quaint as its counterpart on the other side of Bälliz. But unlike the latter, this bridge bends sharply across the River. 

Visiting and photography tips for visiting Untere Schleuse Brücke

You can go behind Restaurant Waisenhaus for lovely views of Thun Old Town with Untere Schleuse Brücke included in the picture.If you like, you can dine at the alfresco seating and pick the seats at the back of the restaurant. It can be a romantic spot where you and your partner (if you travel with him or her) can satisfy both your tummies and eyes for a memorable moment in Thun. 

You might also want to see the other side of Untere Schleuse Brücke along Aarequai. The water there is calmer compared to the opposite side of the bridge. Often, you can see the reflection of the bridge from there, and it’s an opportunity for you to take another beautiful photo in Thun. 

Where To Go Next?

That wraps up my walking tour of Old Town Thun! Should you have more time after the walking tour during your trip to Thun, the beautiful tourist attractions around Lake Thun are worth considering. The two nearest and most easily accessible from Old Town Thun are Oberhofen Castle and Schadau Park, where you can find another castle and Thun Panorama.

Thun Panorama is a unique attraction in Thun, a hidden gem, in my opinion. Oberhofen Castle, on the other hand, is a romantic destination that will surely be liked by wanderers. I love its architecture and picture-perfect appearance! Oberhofen Castle’s tower that stands on Lake Thun is silently screaming: “Take a photo of me many times!” Travel time to each of these two would not be longer than 30 minutes if you’ll be using the bus.

Here’s everything you need to know about Oberhofen Castle, and here’s what you can expect when visiting Thun Panorama.

An alternative to these two is a half-day visit to Bern, which is just 20 minutes away from Thun by train. Within a few hours, you can already see the city’s highlights like Bern Cathedral, Bundeshaus, Zytglogge, and Rose Garden. As you explore Bern Old City, you’ll also encounter its cute fountains that are indeed artistic!

More Information

If you want to see more places in Thun Old Town, check the Thun City Guide brochure linked below. It has a list of hotels, camping sites, museums, historic sites, parks, and public spaces you can add to the itinerary of this walking tour.

Hi, wanderer! I can sense you’re planning a trip to Bernese Oberland soon. If you’ll be looking for a place to stay, please consider using my partner’s hotel search and booking platform. It offers amazing hotel deals, including free cancellations and a loyalty program, which I think you’ll find handy. Please note that this is an affiliate link. I may earn a small commission when you book through it, but at no extra cost to you. Your support greatly helps me to write more content like this. Thank you for your support!

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Thun may be a small destination in Switzerland, but I believe it’s an unmissable place, especially if you’re seeking experiences that satisfy a wanderer! If you’re interested in a sample itinerary that includes Thun, check out my extended weekend (4-day) Switzerland itinerary or my week-long (6-day) Switzerland itinerary. They focus on exploring central Switzerland, with Lucerne, Bern, and the Jungfrau Region included in both.

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