Discover Thun: Gateway to the Alps

posted on | updated on | by Zuri Girl

A medieval castle dating back to the 12th century, Napoleon’s private wine cellar, and breathtaking views…we have  your Girlfriend Guide to Thun for your next weekend getaway.

The Gateway to the Alps

Surfers riding the waves under old wooden bridges and the Mediterranean flair are just a few of the surprises that will greet you during your next visit to the heart of Thun. While many just marvel at the lake while enroute to Interlaken, this city is more than charming, it is rich in history with modern highlights that are not to be missed.

To begin your journey, enjoy a Thunersee boat cruise to soak in the iconic peaks that form the Bernese Oberland just beyond the local mountains of Thun: the Stockhorn, Niesen and Niederhorn. Here you also have the chance to discover the medieval and Baroque architecture, including Lake Thun’s five castles, numerous churches, fortresses and farmhouses.

There are some cities that you can explore on your own, but Thun is so rich with history and culture that we recommend you take the guided tour for all the historical details, including facts about their two great floods and unique water planning system. If you can request Elisabeth Mettler, she was a wealth of information with an upbeat local perspective…keep an eye out for her special “cupcake mountain: the Stockhorn” while there!

Zuri Girl Tip: In Thun, some streets are paved in gold…well, in front of the AEK Bank, the president inserted CHF 1826 in coins in the bank’s parking lot to celebrate the date they were founded.

The Shops & Restaurants

Mühleplatz is a popular gathering spot to enjoy a cocktail and enjoy watching the local surfers ride the waves for hours.

The Vinothek Ristorante is housed in a special location…the private wine cellar of Napoleon III while he was in Switzerland for his military training! Just next door, enjoy a delicious artisanal gelato at Intrigo Gelateria.

For an exquisitely prepared meal with famous local chef, we chose to have lunch at Restaurant Spedition, also an ideal destination for dinner. The dining room is modern and chic with an open show kitchen. The dry aged beef was incredibly tender and deliciously presented. We also received a tour of the property which includes an award winning hotel design and inviting wine cellar, a nice idea for private events.

Ristorante Beau Rivage Domenico has the best Italian cuisine in the city in a fine atmosphere. Whether you choose to sit in the garden terrace for a perfect Italian espresso as we did during our tour, or dine in the restaurant…the carpaccio was recommended as a delicious starter! Just nearby, Enoteca Italia is one of Switzerland’s top 10 wine shops and an excellent choice for wine tasting or a pre-dinner apéro.

Simplyfine is just that…a simply fine gourmet delicatessen filled with regional meats, cheeses, wines and friendly service. This is a perfect spot to explore your appetite and create a local gift basket to take home.

The traditional Walliser Kanne has recently rebranded as Casa Iberica and offers a nice selection of traditional Swiss dishes (perfect for fondue!) as well as delicious Spanish and Portuguese specialities.

Food Trail is an engaging way to explore and consume your way through Thun! This 3-hour walking tour of the city that includes insightful knowledge about the city’s history, along with 6 local specialities.

Boutique Madeline has lovely seasonal styles from different labels that are light, colorful and cheerful.

For a local gift (or to get your knives sharpened by a professional) the Schoder Messerschmiede is a family business with incredible international reputation. If looking for something unique, the bekannte hacki is a beautiful kitchen gadget ideal for mincing everything from garlic to herbs and is made to last a lifetime.

Zuri Girl Tip: While visiting, enjoy a local wine such as the Oberhofner Riesling Sylvaner, Spiezer, or Grand Noir. 

Family Friendly Thun

From the cellar to the turrets, you will discover 800 years of history beginning from the Zähringers during your tour of the city’s majestic castle museum, Schloss Thun. For little family members, there are 14 little “Minatte Wurmli” hiden throughout the castle to keep them entertained while you soak in the medieval stories that occurred right there at your footsteps.

Before locals could travel frequently, they relied on talented artists to invoke their imagination and Basel artist, Marquard Wocher, was captivated by the Bernese Oberland and created a 38m Thun Panorama in 1814 that was restored in 2014, and is beautifully on display in it’s own rotunda at Schadaupark.

Since our first experience with the Foxtrail Treasure hunt in Lenzerheide, we highly recommend you follow the secret messages, hidden clues and tricky tasks to explore the city of Thun with your family in this fun and engaging tour.

Just 20 minutes outside the city center, take the family to the Grabenmühle Nature Park in Sigriswil. Here you can enjoy saying hello to the alpaca and deer, pan for gold, fish for trout, visit the Mill Museum and let off steam at the children’s playground. For the little ones, there is a likely chance of finding a few flakes of gold to take home with you!

For those practicing their Swiss German, Mamma Mia will be showing from 11 July – 25 August for the first time in Schweizerdeutsch for all performances. The stage built directly on the lake with fantastic scenery of the iconic mountains Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau in the background! 

Is the weather not on your side? Have no fear, Funland in Thun, or Funpark Spiez offer fun indoor play for small and large kids alike. There is also the Hallenbad Oberhofen for indoor swimming and sports.

Zuri Girl Tip: Looking for a park or playground? The wonderful team behind Thun Tourism created this convenient map of all 14 outdoor playgrounds for your convenience!

The St. Beatus Caves

As legend has it, a dragon took shelter in these caves while hiding from his hunter, the holy monk St. Beatus, in the 6th century. As you enter the mouth of the cave, you are greeted by St. Beatus as it is imagined he once lived. Once you turn the corner, the first waterfall will take your breath away and remind you how incredible Switzerland truly is, below it’s alpine peaks.

The St. Beatus Caves includes a system of well-lit paths approximately 1 kilometer in length. Here you will witness stalacites and stalagmites that have developed over millions of years in dripstone formations. The signage and audio-guide will explain everything about this unique natural cave world.

Located nearby, the St. Beatus panoramic restaurant is a wonderful spot to stop for lunch with your visiting friends and family. In this majestic setting with stunning views, the restaurant sources fresh ingredients from local suppliers in the region.

Zuri Girl Tip: The museum is a wonderful addition to your cave tour, and a thoughtful option for anyone is cannot walk the full cave system but can soak in the experience while the rest of the group are inside the caves. Also, parking can be limited, so it is best to arrive early if traveling by car.

Wellness at The Lake

Established in 1989 as a training retreat for bankers, the Hotel Seepark has evolved through the years into a lovely retreat destination for female travelers. On a clear day, you can secure a chaise lounge in the Garden Terrace to enjoy a refreshing spritzer while soaking in a great book and the inspirational views.

This gem of a location is right on the Thunersee and we are fond of their Wellness on the Lake spa package for the perfect weekend getaway alone or with a friend. Including overnight accommodation, welcome drink, 45-minute massage, full spa access and a light 3-course menu…you will enjoy pure relaxation and inspiration!

Zuri Girl tip: Do you know the Grand Tour Snack Box? For just CHF 25 you can purchase this Swiss souvenir box that can be filled with typical regional specialities at nearly 50 different sales points along the route of the Grand Tour. Each refill is just CHF 20 and in Thun, you can fill it up at the Hotel Seepark.

The Hotels in Thun

We stayed at the Hotel Freienhof, situated in the heart of the city, right on the Aare river. While the rooms are rather simple with no frills, the location is unbeatable and the price is among the most affordable in Thun, complete with delicious breakfast buffet.

For an experience suited for a princess, book yourself the panoramic deluxe room within the Hotel Schlossberg, right there in the castle! If your children are old enough to have a room of their own, just down the hall are cozy rooms that were once actual prison cells! Just have a look at the window sills as you walk down the hallway, you will see carvings from the prisoners waiting for their release. The hotel restaurant is gourmet address for an exquisite meal.

Zuri Girl Tip: The Thunerhof is no longer a hotel, but worth a visit for it’s beautiful interior and rich history. Today it serves as the administrative building of and Art Museum of the city.

Overnight accommodation and organized city tour was generously sponsored by Switzerland Tourism

 

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