There are so many amazing things to do in Thun, Switzerland. It’s a town in the canton of Bern with a population of about 45,000. While that might seem like a lot of people, Thun definitely has those small town vibes, especially in its quaint Old Town. While more time is always better, it’s easy to spend a day or a half day in Thun for a wonderful travel experience.
Thun is the gateway to the Bernese Oberland, which includes places like Interlaken, the Jungfrau Region, Grindelwald, Brienz, and the Lauterbrunnen Valley. The river Aare flows through the town and into Lake Thun. The first settlement at the site of Thun happened back in 2500 BC, and one of the oldest places to visit is the brilliant Thun Castle, dating back to the 12th century.
Beautiful scenery, a rich history and culture, and a vibrant dining scene…what more could you ask for in an idyllic small town? Let’s take a trip together to Thun Switzerland, and I’ll show you exactly how to have a fun and memorable day there.
Things to Do in Thun: Visit Its Old Town
When we visited Thun, Switzerland, we took the train from Bern using our Swiss Travel Pass. From the train station, it’s a quick walk to Thun’s Old Town. You’ll walk across a couple of bridges and encounter the main shopping street of Old Town, Obere Hauptgasse.
There are pretty cobblestone streets, flags of Switzerland and Bern hanging in the middle of the street, and beautiful flower boxes lining the road. While it’s possible to walk down the street, you can always take a wander on the paved paths on the rooftops of the first floor structures. The shops are all painted different colors, and you’ll find various souvenir shops, bars, coffee shops and restaurants.
Eventually, you’ll reach the Rathausplatz, or Town Hall Square. It’s a central plaza and large pedestrian only zone with old buildings, the Rathaus / Town Hall dating to the 16th century, a fountain in the middle, and fantastic views of Thun Castle. During the holidays, there’s a traditional Christmas tree in the middle of the square.
Dine at a Local Restaurant in Thun
At Rathausplatz, we dined at a local vegan restaurant called V-mOnd. For lunch, they have a buffet featuring Swiss classics made completely plant-based. We ordered a small plate to share so we could try their cashew Camembert, which was super yummy. At the buffet, we enjoyed some marinated tofu, potatoes with a sauce, and a light and refreshing salad.
The restaurant is cozy and decorated in a clean and modern style. The staff is super nice and accommodating, and they even helped translate the menu for us. I’d love to return for dinner to try one of their three or five course vegan meals. The restaurant is also very eco-friendly and does not use palm oil in any of their dishes. We highly recommend that you check it out, whether or not you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet.
Explore Thun Castle (Schloss Thun)
From there, we walked back down Obere Hauptgasse and up to Thun Castle, or Schloss Thun. There is a staircase called Kirchtreppe (Church stairs) with interesting art partway up. Continue up the hill and you’ll eventually reach Thun Castle.
If you have a Swiss Travel Pass, entry to the Thun Castle and museum is free. Otherwise, I suggest picking up a Thun Castle Skip the Line ticket in advance. At Thun Castle, there’s a permanent exhibition spanning five floors and the cellar. You can learn more about the castle and the town itself.
You’ll view artifacts from their town hall collection, learn about 800 years of government at the castle, wander around the Grand Hall, learn about how Thun Castle once functioned as a prison, and view the Bernese hipped roof (a structure with an intriguing history). There’s also the castle tower with amazing views.
The Thun Castle museum owns 15,000 pieces and you’ll only see a small portion of them on display (around 600).
If you’re short on time, you can always admire the stunning views from the castle property. You can witness spectacular scenery of the town and the mountains off in the distance. It started to rain when we visited so some of the mountains are covered by clouds. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to see the snow-capped peaks that make Switzerland famous. On the way back down into Old Town, we caught a glimpse of Stadtkirche Thun (Thun church).
Wander Through the Covered Bridge
This Thun travel guide wouldn’t be complete unless I mentioned its wooden covered bridge, Untere Schleuse. Translated, Untere Schleuse means “upper flood gate” and it regulates the water flow of the River Aare. This wooden covered bridge was built in 1724 and constructed again in 1788.
One of the best things to do in Thun is taking a stroll through the covered bridge and admiring the scenery all around. While we didn’t see any while we were there, river surfers often gather at Untere Schleuse to practice surfing where the water flows from the bridge at an increased intensity.
Marvel at Lake Thun
Lake Thun is another gorgeous spot in Thun, and you can either check it out from the shoreline or aboard a boat cruise. If you have a Swiss Travel Pass, you can board the boat and hop from village to village. Otherwise, you can buy a single tickets or round-trip tickets before you take the cruise.
You can travel to nearby Spiez by boat and spend some time there before returning back to your home base (ours was in Bern). Traveling by boat is one of the best things to do in Thun or throughout the Bernese Oberland. Take a look at the cruise timetable to plan your trip.
Otherwise, you can always go for a walk by Lake Thun to check out the beautiful views. Then, head back to the train station and continue on your way. Although Thun is a small town and you don’t necessarily need to spend the night to make the most of your day, here are some hotels in Thun in case you stay here for longer.
Visit Thun and Spiez in One Day
Why not visit two Swiss towns instead of just one? Thun and Spiez are both near Bern, and you can easily check out both towns in one day. Take the train roundtrip from Bern to Spiez and Thun or you can take a boat cruise between Thun and Spiez.
While there are lots of fun things to do in Thun like wandering around Old Town and the castle, Spiez has its own castle and gardens. The scenery of Lake Thun from Spiez is equally as stunning as from Thun. Spiez is a smaller town and it’s so picturesque.
How to Spend a Week in Switzerland
Justin and I traveled to Switzerland for a week. While you could easily spend weeks seeing the whole country, we had to narrow it down to a few places. Here’s our suggested 1 week Switzerland itinerary.
We recommend spending two nights in Bern, exploring Bern in one day and both Thun & Spiez the second day. Then, we spent there days in the Bernese Alps staying up in the mountains. Spend one day in Wengen, another day in Lauterbrunnen/Murren/Schilthorn, and a third day at Brienz for the Brienzer Rothorn mountain. Next, we spent two nights in Zurich, spending one day in Lucerne from Zurich.
Where to Stay
Justin and I didn’t stay overnight in Thun (or Spiez). Instead, we opted to spend a couple of nights in Bern, using Bern as a home base to explore the region. We suggest getting your hands on a Swiss Travel Pass to travel by train all over Switzerland. The two of us ventured by train to Spiez and Thun from Bern for the day, and we stayed at Hotel Allegro Bern.
The Hotel Allegro Bern is our choice for places to stay in Bern. We stayed in one of their panorama rooms on the fourth floor. I’ll never forget the moment I opened the curtains and discovered the majestic view from our balcony. I was in awe!
Our hotel room was comfortable and luxurious, from the spacious bathroom to the Nespresso machine in the room. There are also restaurants in the hotel, as well as a spacious outdoor patio to enjoy a meal or a drink. We loved every moment of our stay at the Hotel Allegro Bern and felt right at home.