Day Trips from Bern
Beautiful Interlaken is world-famous. About 60 kilometers from Bern in the Bernese-Oberland section of the Alps, the town and region is the gateway to a land of mountains, lakes, and rushing rivers. Found between Lake Thun and Lake Brienz, the town sits on the river that links the two bodies of water.
For centuries, Interlaken was known for its watchmaking and printing expertise, while today it is popular for its outdoor recreation. Visitors come around for mountain paragliding, canyon jumping, and hiking, as well as for Interlaken's many spas and wellness centers.
Perhaps the most charming town in the country, Thun sits where the Aar River flows from Lake Thun–just 30 kilometers south of Bern. A castle dominates the town, while its flower-lined pedestrian walkways make the town stand out. This is a gateway to outdoor recreation in the mountains beyond, but be sure not to miss the castle, the old town hall, a walk along the lake, the Panzer Museum, and the Wocher Panorama - the oldest surviving panorama in the world.
At the foot of the Jura Mountains on the eastern end of long Lake Biel lies the center of Swiss watchmaking. The little town of Biel maintains its historic center and has a charming bilingual tradition. With excellent museums, restaurants, and cafés, Biel is delightful in and of itself, but also be sure to explore the surrounding lake region.
On the southeast shore of Lake Murten, the tiny medieval town of Murten sits on the ridge of hills that mark the linguistic boundary between German and French-speaking Switzerland. First mentioned in 515, Murten town is well preserved and picturesque. In fact, it is arguably the best-preserved medieval town in Europe, even retaining the medieval circuit of walls.
The town is known for water sports and cultural activities (surprisingly numerous for such a small town), but it's also a great place to take a peaceful stroll along the lake for a stunning view and a moment of quiet.
About 35 kilometers from Bern, Fribourg (in German Freiburg) is one of the finest medieval towns in Switzerland. It lies on the River Sarine (German Saane), which flows in a deep valley through the Mittelland and straddles the cultural border between German and French Switzerland. As a result, it offers a fascinating blend of cultures.
The Auge and Bourg quarters leading to the upper town perch in a picturesque location above the rocky banks of a bend in the river; in the lower town are the districts of Neuveville, on the left bank, and Planche, on the right bank.
Highlights here are the well-maintained old town with the Gothic Cathedral of St. Nicholas built from the 14th to the 15th centuries on the former site of a Romanesque building and renowned for its modern stained glass by Joseph de Mehoffer, as well as gold and ivory treasures from the 15th to 20th centuries. Fribourg is also home to an impressive clutch of museums, including the Natural History Museum, Musee Gutenberg, the Art and History Museum, and even a sewing machine museum.
About 90 minutes away by train and surrounded by snow-capped peaks is Lucerne. A town with stunning medieval architecture where time doesn't seem to move quite as fast as everywhere else, Lucerne is well-known for its wooden Chapel Bridge, originally built in the 14th century.
Visitors can catch a paddle steamer cruise on Lake Lucerne or get on the "Dragon Ride" aerial cableway to reach the top of Mount Pilatus. Lucerne's historic core, Old Town, is car-free and a great place to explore on foot while admiring the stunning 17th-century architecture.