Bern and Thun: fairy tale places, curious legends and tasty traditional dishes

Wonderful places to visit and dishes to taste around the Swiss capital

Bern is a beautiful Swiss city, built on a human scale. It is surrounded by a wonderful river, the Aare, with light blue waters that looks like something out of storybook pictures. The city center is easy to visit, strolling among medieval buildings, curious fountains and historic towers.

Not far from the Swiss capital is another quaint town: Thun. Its setting is the Bernese Alps and the lake. Above the hill rises the white castle and lower down the town is crossed by the Aare River. Nearby are the St. Beatus Caves, a cave system traversed by underground waterfalls.

View – Berna

What to visit in Bern

  • Federal Building (Bundeshaus)
  • Bundesplatz
  • Prison Tower (Kafigturm)
  • Clock Tower – Zytglogge
  • Child Eater Fountain (Kindlifresserbrunnen)
  • Einstein House (Einsteinhaus)
  • Cathedral at Munsterplatz / St. Vincent (Munster Kirche)
  • Rathaus Bern
  • Matte
  • Barenpark
  • Rose Garden (Rosengarten)
  • Gurten
  • Zentrum Paul Klee (Paul Klee Center)

Federal Building (Bundeshaus) and Bundesplatz

The Bundeshaus or Federal Building is the seat of the Swiss government. The square in front of the building is one of the population’s meeting centers. Many events take place here throughout the year. They range from water games during the summer season to the ice rink in winter. The characteristic Zibelemarit, the onion market, takes place here.

Federal Building – Bern

Prison Tower, Clock Tower, Child Eater Fountain

Bern’s Old Town features several historic towers. These include the Kafigturm, which was a prison tower, and the Zytglogge, the clock tower.

The Kindlifresserbrunnen is one of Bern’s curious fountains. It depicts an ogre eating children. There are several interpretations related to 16th-century tales of the area.

Zytglogge – Berna

Einstein House, St. Vincent Cathedral and Rathaus Bern

Bern is rich in museums. Among them is the Einstein House. Here the famous physicist lived for a few years in the early 1900s and developed the theory of relativity.

Not far away is the Cathedral of Bern, St. Vincent. Its 100-meter-high tower shapes the city skyline. Depictions of the Last Judgment can be seen on the main portal. Nearby is the Bern City Hall where, under the roof, the cantons are represented.

Matte, Barenpark, Rosengarten

In the lower part of the Old Town, there is a quaint neighborhood on the banks of the Aare River. Strolling around you have many different views of the City. If you visit Bern, a stop at the bear pit is a must. Bears, the symbol of the City, are bred here.

Walking up the hill, you reach a beautiful natural terrace over Bern that offers a unique view of the city and the river, framed by the mountains. The Bern Rose Garden is also located here. The best time to visit is May, the month of roses.

Gurten and Zentrum Paul Klee

Just outside the city is the Gurten, Bern’s hill. From here it is possible to get a view of the city of Bern and go trekking.

Bern is a city rich in museums and certainly the Paul Klee Center is one of the most important. Many works by the artist who lived half his life in Bern are preserved here. The architectural structure of the building designed by Renzo Piano is also very interesting.

What to visit in Thun

  • Schloss Thun
  • Obere Hauptgasse
  • Vieille Ville de Thoune
  • Kunstmuseum Thun
  • Kirche Scherzligen
  • Schadau Park
  • Spiez Castle
  • St. Beatus Caves
  • Panorama bridge Sigriswil

Schloss Thun, Obere Hauptgasse and Vieille Ville de Thoune

Thun Castle is the unmistakable symbol of the city of Thun. It dates back to the 12th century and is home to the City’s historical museum. From here it is possible to appreciate the view of the city of Thun, the blue lake and the alpine setting.

Obere Hauptgasse is a street in Thun’s Old Town made very special by its two raised sides. Here you can find several small stores and places to drink and have an aperitif. Not far away is a characteristic system of river locks and a wooden bridge, colored by flowers.

View – Thun

Kunstmuseum Thun , Kirche Scherzligen and Schadau Park

On the banks of the Aare stands an imposing building, once a hotel, the Kunstmuseum, Thun’s art museum.  Follow the river to a very old church dating back to the eighth century, Kirche Scherzligen. It is located in a particularly charming spot.

Not far from here you reach Schadau Park and its castle. The view of the lake and the backdrop of the Swiss Alps is wonderful from here.

Spiez Castle, Panorama bridge Sigriswil and St. Beatus Caves and

Moving outside Thun by car, one encounters three very special places. Spiez Castle sits in a bay and is surrounded by vineyards. Beautiful views of the lake and the alpine setting. From the 340-meter Sigriswil suspension bridge, you can have a beautiful view of the valley, hanging 200 meters above the ground.

The St. Beatus Caves are a complex of caves and tunnels, in which underground waterfalls flow. Inside it is possible to find small underground pools of water, so transparent as to fool the human eye. It is not immediately clear whether these are stalactites and stalagmites or stalactites reflected in the water.

 Legend has it that a dragon that terrorized the city of Thun lived in these caves. The City called an Irish monk to the rescue, Saint Beatus. The saint turned the crucifix toward the dragon, who threw itself into the lake, causing its waters to boil over. From that time on, this place became the hermitage of St. Beatus.

The flavors of the Bernese tradition

Speaking of the cuisine of the Bernese tradition, one must necessarily start with the Berner Platte. This is a rich one-pot dish consisting of ham, bacon, ribs, legs, marrow with sauerkraut, beans and potatoes. The dish was created to celebrate the city of Bern’s victory over the French in 1798.

Älplermagronen is a traditional pasta dish with potatoes, cream, cheese and onions. The name is derived from Älpler to mean the cheesemakers of the Alps and Magronen, a slight distortion of the Italian word macaroni.

Rösti are a tasty potato dish popular in German-speaking Switzerland. In Bern they are preferred crispy and with lots of butter.

Blue rivers and lakes, tasty dishes and unique places

In Bern, it is possible to find oneself in truly unique places. The rivers and lakes have distinctive light blue colors and the Alps frame a fairy-tale landscape. The cities are on a human scale and have so much to offer, especially with their typical dishes. They may not be light dishes to digest, but they certainly give great satisfaction to the palate!

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