A “must” for any newbie to Switzerland or those of us that have been living here 10 years, yet embarrassingly can’t name all 26 Kantons. Ballenberg is an outdoor museum celebrating the valuable farm life, historical traditions and craftsmanship that makes Switzerland the remarkable country it is.
While us City Slickers most commonly associate Switzerland with UBS and Patek Philippe, here at Ballenberg, you’ll see the other side…the side we whisk away on weekend adventures for…the side we line up at 6.30am at the Burkliplatz market for…the farming & agricultural side.
Put down the history book and step into the stories yourself!
66 acres roaming up and down hilly paths, forest roads, flower-pot lined cabins, and a whole lotta cows, chickens and pigs.
Follow the trails over 100 historical buildings and explore the barns, farmhouses, sawmills, chestnut drying house, cheese storehouse, drying oven and Pig Sty.
Many attractions feature craftsman and farmers working away and some will even allow you to join in!
Divided by region, Ballenberg invites you to discover: Jura, Central Midlands, Bernse Midlands, Western Switzerland, East Midlands, Central Switzerland, Ticino, Eastern Switzerland, Bernese Oberland, Valais, Grisons and the Alpine Economy.
Top 5 Reasons to Visit
1. It’s Rural Life. The museum tells the story of Rural Life in Switzerland on time gone by. You experience how farmers work and farmhouses function. It’s a true depiction of day to day Switzerland.
2. The Animals. Over 250 animals live in Ballenberg and you’re just as likely to be walking alongside a chicken, rabbit, goat, donkey, hen, sheep or goat as you are the man next door. Many roam free or allow you to get super duper up close and touch them in the barn areas.
3. History in Action. Craftsman and Farmers are working throughout the museum. There’s over 30 live demonstrations including Grinding Wheat, Weaving Silk, Chocolate Production, Baking Bread, Knitting Lace and Pottery Making.
4. Join In. From Monday to Friday from 1:30pm to 4.30pm, you can join in with hands-on activities like bundling wood and making butter.
5. Farm to Table Dining. There’s 8 theme sites showcasing the development of grains and breads, farm gardens with fresh herbs and vegetables, a seed garden and a medicinal herb garden.
Top 5 Zuri Girl Tips
1. Be ready to Walk. Like Switzerland, there’s a fair amount of hills & walking so wear comfortable shoes, pack sunscreen, stop for snacks and opt for the Horse & Carriage ride if any family members are elderly or not strong walkers. Check the map for the wheelchair & stroller accessible paths.
2. Keep Kids Amused. Kids will love playing “old” games like hula-hoop, walking on stilts, taking a ride on the merry-go-round and participating in the kids’ activities daily from 10:00am to 5:00pm at the Oberentfelden Farmhouse and WasenCheese Storehouse.
3. Brats & Cheese. Eating & drinking does of course, have a Swiss theme too. Expect Bratwursts and Älplermagrone in one of the three restaurants, an Osteria in Ticino and plenty of picnic spots with fire wood waiting for you.
4. Map it Out. With over 30 live demonstrations, plan ahead. Check the website for live demonstration times & locations and map out an itinerary to ensure you visit the ones you really want to see. There’s a free color-coded map at the entrance (in English on request) that clearly labels restrooms, restaurants and walking paths.
5. Be Franc Savvy. The SBB offers a 10% discounted RailAway Package.
Museumsstrasse 131, CH-3858 Hofstetten bei Brienz (map)
Website . +41 33 952 10 30
Experience sponsored by Switzerland Tourism. Photos courtesy of Ballenberg and Switzerland Tourism.