Thun and Lake Cruise

Thun is a cute little lakeside town with a rushing river, a quiet old town, a little castle, and fantastic views of the alps. We went at the end of April and the town was full of beautiful flowers. It’s nice just to stroll along the river and window shop. There are lots of restaurants along the river as well, with sun-soaked patios. You can also catch a ferry from Thun and cruise along the lake toward Interlaken.

Consider also visiting the nearby St. Beatus Caves or taking in panorama views on Niederhorn or Niesen, both of which border the lake.

Location:   Berner Oberland
Address: Seestrasse 2, Thun, Bern, Switzerland
GPS: 46.754661, 7.630411
Car: ~1hr30 from Zurich
Train: ~1hr20 from Zurich
More info: www.thunersee.ch

Overview

Thun is northwest of Interlaken on the shores of Lake Thun (aka Thunersee). Thun has a small old town near the river, with the castle and some pedestrian-only shopping areas. Lake cruises leave from Thun, doing circular tours or one way transport to other towns. More about lake cruises below.

The city of Thun provides a free walking tour app with audio guide on your phone. Here’s the map with the highlights you’ll see on your phone.

Getting There

By car: Drive to Thun and follow signs to the train station and ferry. There is metered parking next to the train station. If that is full, there is a parking garage.

By transit: Take a train to Thun. The train station is close to the old town and ferry dock.

 

Thun Castle

A bright white castle is one of the dominating features of Thun. You can reach it from the center of town (shown below) via lots of stairs (the dark park in the middle).

Or you can circle around the backside for a stroller-friendly sidewalk that winds it’s slow way up through a cute neighborhood. Here’s the road up to the castle:

We didn’t tour the castle (too many stairs for our little one) so we enjoyed the view and this irresistible photo opp:

This lovely chapel is on your way up to the castle, with grassy areas for running around and lots of mountain views.

There are some lovely buildings near the chapel.

And here is the view from the front of the chapel:

On the way back into town, we heard something whizzing just above our heads. We looked up to a small building (shown in below pic) to see people aiming crossbows out the windows. They looked at our surprised faces, laughed and shot again. The target? Across the street are four targets as shown in the pic below (the four boxes above the lawn).

Two teenage girls were hidden in the booths on either side of the targets and came out occasionally to remove the arrows. So in case I wasn’t clear enough, arrows are literally whizzing from the shooting house across two lanes of traffic, a park bench and small lawn to manned targets. This is definitely something you will not see in the USA.

The lake front is a 1km walk from the old town. The is a grassy park below overlooks the lake and mountains in the distance.

Lake Cruise & Spiez

Lake cruises leave from Thun, see the schedule. I searched for 30 mins to find a map of the ferry stops and could only find this winter map in one brochure. Aaahhh! Why do they make it so difficult? I’ve linked to that brochure but I suspect this link won’t be good for long.

The boats run rather infrequently, especially outside summer. So check the schedule before heading out. Since the boat wasn’t coming for awhile, we chose to take the train to Spiez (about 10 mins), partway down the west side of the lake, then take the boat back. I wouldn’t particularly recommend that as it was a 1.4 km walk from the train station to the boat dock. The lake area is nice but there wasn’t much to do in the town.

Here’s a view of Spiez and the Niederhorn mountain from the train station:

The ferry schedule was very confusing, with lots of special codes meaning that posted boat times didn’t run on certain days. So it turned out that we had an extra hour to while away in Spiez. Luckily, there was a mini-golf course near the ferry dock. We also admired the Spiez castle from afar.

The Spiez lakefront.

Then we took the ferry back to Thun (about 50mins).

We paid a little extra for first class and it was totally worth it. Instead of sucking fumes on the first level, we could sit on top of the boat, in lounge chairs and our kids could safely run and crawl around on the carpeted floor. Here we all are lounging on the upper deck. Treats were consumed and views were enjoyed.

On the way back to Thun, we passed by this darling castle.

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Cute old town with a castle on the shores of Lake Thun Switzerland with views of the Bernese Alps. Fun to combine with a cruise on the lake.

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