Best Day Trips From Bern: Nature Spots, Big Cities & More

day trips from bern

Staying in Bern for a while and want to do some exploring while you’re in the city? Then you’ve come to the right place because this detailed guide features all the best cities you can visit on day trips from Bern!

Zurich, Interlaken, Lucerne, and Gruyeres are just some of the most famous places you can easily visit on day trips from Bern. Whether you prefer to spend your time exploring the big cities or you thrive when you’re out in the great outdoors, you’ll find several great options in this guide to all the best day trips from Bern!

Thun

thun castle
Thun Castle

Accessible by a 15-minute train ride from the main station in Bern, Thun is a beautiful city worth visiting on a day trip. It’s best known for the namesake Thun Castle and the stunning views of Lake Thun that can be observed from most areas in the city.

Schadau Park is also pretty popular in Thun. It boasts beautiful landscaping, interesting statues, and gorgeous lake views, and it’s the perfect place in the city to chill for a little while on a sunny day. Thun also has a couple of interesting museums that are worth exploring if that’s something you usually enjoy.

The Panzer Museum boasts exhibits on the tanks and military equipment of the Swiss army, while the Kunstmuseum Thun has an excellent collection of Swiss modern art. There’s also a museum inside Thun Castle, which offers insight into the history and development of the region. The castle museum is open daily between February and October but only on Sundays for the rest of the year, so keep that in mind when you’re planning the day trip.

Montreux

Lake Geneva
Lake Geneva

Montreux is a beautiful city on the shore of Lake Geneva with quite a few famous landmarks. One of the most famous facts about this town is that Freddie Mercury lived here for a while, and it’s even possible to stay at the apartment that was once owned by the famous singer. There’s also a statue erected in his honor directly on the lake shore.

In addition to the various Queen easter eggs that can be found throughout the town, Montreux is also known for panoramic views, beautiful parks and gardens, and excellent wine. If you’re in Bern and you’re thinking you want to take a chill day that includes some walking, relaxing, and wine tasting, Montreux is the perfect destination.

The city is easily accessible by train ride from Bern. It takes about an hour and a half to reach Montreux, including a train change in Lausanne.

Lucerne

Chapel Bridge over the Reusse in Lucerne
Chapel Bridge over the Reusse in Lucerne

Lucerne is a stunning city you should definitely visit during your stay in Bern. It’s only an hour away by train from Bern, and it’s got plenty of attractions to keep you busy for the day, so get there as early as you can.

The wonderful Chapel Bridge, the historical Zytturm tower, the iconic Lion Monument, and the imposing churches are just some of Lucerne’s most famous attractions. The city is also home to quite a few interesting museums, including the Swiss Museum of Transport, the Lucerne Glacier Garden, the Historical Museum of Lucerne, and the Diorama of the Alps.

There’s also the Bourbaki Panorama Lucerne, which is perhaps the most famous museum in the city. It’s where you can see Edouard Castres’ iconic cylindrical painting, which depicts images from the Franco-Prussian war.

Additionally, Lucerne is also popular for boat rides on Lake Lucerne, which is another touristy thing you should absolutely do if you have the time. Take a boat trip to one of the nearby towns, or just cruise around the lake. The views are magical, and it’s truly a wonderful experience.

Lake Brienz

lake brienz guide
Lake Brienz

Lake Brienz is famous for its surreal blue color, and it’s often called Switzerland’s turquoise gem. The lake is fed by glacial waters from the Swiss Alps, and those are the main reason for its incredible color.

You can be in Interlaken, on the southwestern shore of Lake Brienz in under an hour if you take a train from Bern. If you have the entire day, I would recommend visiting one of the other towns that are nestled on the shore of this lake.

Iseltwald is a lovely little place with great hiking trails and gorgeous views, and it’s only about 20-30 minutes outside Interlaken. Brienz is also a beautiful town worth exploring, but it will take a bit longer to reach it because you can only get there by bus from Interlaken. Sit on the right side of the bus, to enjoy scenic views of the lake during the 30-minute ride.

Lausanne

Lausanne Old Town
Lausanne Old Town

Lausanne is one of the bigger cities on the shore of Lake Geneva and definitely worth visiting if you have enough time. You can reach it in as little as an hour and ten minutes from the main train station in Bern, and I would recommend getting there as early as possible because there’s a lot to explore in the city.

The city is best known for its many interesting museums, picturesque parks, botanical gardens, and scenic lake views. The many museums in the city offer plenty of information on the rich history and culture of the town, while the lakeshore parks present the perfect opportunity to relax and enjoy the views. Visit the Sauvabelin Tower for epic panoramic views of the city and the lakeshore.

Also, if you have an extra couple of hours, take the train to Morges. It’s only a 15-minute train ride to the charming town, which boasts the prettiest historic center I’ve ever seen.

Zurich

Zurich
Zurich

It takes a little under an hour to reach Zurich from Bern by train, so don’t miss out on an opportunity to visit the largest city in Switzerland. Zurich is famous for many reasons, and it’s undoubtedly one of the best day trips from Bern you can do.

Walk along Bahnhofstrasse, see the Grossmunster and Fraumunster churches, admire the views from the Lindenhof Hill, see the famous Opera House, St. Peter’s Church, and enjoy the views of Lake Zurich.

If you enjoy touring museums, Kunsthaus Zurich and the Swiss National Museum are the top options in the city. On the other hand, if you prefer to spend your time in the ground outdoors, you can ride the train to Uetliberg. It’s the perfect destination for nature lovers in Zurich, plus it offers gorgeous panoramic views of the Swiss city.

Lauterbrunnen Valley

Staubbach Falls
Staubbach Falls

The Lauterbrunnen Valley is best known for its numerous waterfalls and a plethora of hiking trails that are waiting to be discovered. You can get there from Bern if you take the train to Lauterbrunnen – there’s just one train change in Interlaken, and you should be in the lovely village in about an hour and a half.

Walk around Lauterbrunnen and see the beautiful waterfalls, hike to Trümmelbachfälle, and ride at least one cable car to explore the nearby mountains. Wengen, Kleine Scheidegg, and Murren are all accessible by public transport from Lauterbrunnen and are well worth your time if you enjoy being in the great outdoors.

Schilthorn

Piz Gloria
Piz Gloria

Schilthorn is a mountain peak accessible only by hiking trails and cable cars. It’s best known for Piz Gloria, the revolving restaurant that was featured for the first time in the James Bond movie On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

The peak can only be accessed by a cable car, and it’s a wonderfully scenic ride. The views from the revolving restaurant are out of this world, and there’s even a museum with interactive exhibits dedicated to James Bond on the site. Whether or not you’re a fan of the franchise, this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that’s very easy to enjoy.

Gruyères

Gruyères
Gruyères

Gruyères is a medieval town surrounded by mountains, and it’s one of the best places to visit from Bern if you need a break from bigger cities. The town is best known for the namesake cheese, which happens to be extremely popular for the Swiss fondue, and also for H. R. Giger.

Giger is most famous for his work in the Alien movie franchise, and the town of Gruyeres has a bar and museum dedicated to the works of the famous artist. Even if you’re not a huge fan of the movies, a trip to the museum will be an amazing experience you can easily enjoy.

There’s also the Gruyeres fortress with beautiful gardens, period furnishings, and interesting exhibits on the history of the region. You can also enjoy incredible panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and villages from the castle walls, making this a day trip you’re unlikely to forget for a while.

Grindelwald

Grindelwald village
Grindelwald Village

Grindelwald is a beautiful village in the Alps that you should visit if you enjoy spending time in nature. It will take you approximately an hour and a half to reach the village from Bern by train, with one change at Interlaken.

This is the perfect destination for adventurers and nature lovers in Switzerland. There are many hiking trails to be discovered in the area, as well as a plethora of exciting adventurous activities. Paragliding, glacier hiking, and even skydiving are just some of the most popular warm-weather activities in the village.

Grindelwald is particularly popular in the winter months, thanks to a variety of excellent skiing opportunities in its immediate surroundings.

Jungfraujoch

Jungfrau
Jungfrau

Jungfraujoch is a mountain saddle that connects two of Switzerland’s peaks higher than 4,000 meters, and it’s a special place for several reasons. For one, the mountain saddle is home to the highest train station and post office in Europe, which are locally known as Top of Europe. There’s also a restaurant here, where you can enjoy delicious local cuisine and the best views of the glaciers below.

Top of Europe features an observation deck, an Ice Palace, a Lindt shop, and a few other attractions that will keep you busy during your visit. It’s a special place worth visiting if you get an opportunity, even if it’s only for a few hours.

The only downside is that it will take you quite a while to reach it from Bern, so I would recommend visiting Jungfraujoch on the same day you go to Grindelwald. From the Alpine village, you need to take a cable car to Eigergletscher where you can get on the inclined railway to Jungfraujoch, and it takes about an hour and 10 minutes total.

Interlaken

Interlaken from above
Interlaken from above

Interlaken is a wonderful city nestled between the lakes of Thun and Brienz and one of the best places in Switzerland for outdoor adventurers. If you enjoy hiking, rafting, paragliding, sky diving, bungee jumping, or mountain biking, you’ll have something to do in this lovely town.

Harder Kulm is one of the best-known attractions in Interlaken. The local mountain offers gorgeous panoramic views of the town, the mountains, and the lakes that surround it, and it’s easily accessible by hiking trails and funicular rides.

Interlaken is also known for its namesake castle, beautiful parks, and historic ruins. The town is accessible by train ride from Bern which can take between 50 and 60 minutes.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many days do you need to visit Bern?

You can thoroughly explore the city and all of its best tourist attractions in 2-3 days. See the most important landmarks, tour the best museums, walk around Bern’s historic old town that was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and explore a little bit outside of the city limits.

On the other hand, you could also stay in Bern for a week or even two, and still have plenty of things to do to stay entertained. Many cities and towns are less than an hour away by train from Bern, and if you’re fine with a two-hour train ride, you can practically explore more than half the country.

So, the number of days you need in the city depends on what you want to do while you’re there. If you just want to see the top sights in Bern, two or three days should be plenty of time. But if you want to explore more of Switzerland, you can go on amazing day trips every day and stay in the city as much as you like.

What cities are near Bern by train?

Bern is well connected to all major Swiss cities by train. Interlaken, Lausanne, Lucerne, Basel, and even Zurich are approximately an hour away by train, so you can do quite a bit of exploring in Switzerland if you base yourself in Bern. Many smaller towns are also easily accessible by train, and the train rides often offer scenic views of stunning Alpine scenery.

Is there a direct train from Bern to Grindelwald?

There’s no direct train from Bern to Grindelwald, but you can still reach the scenic village in less than two hours with a train change in Interlaken. There’s usually a train from Interlaken to Grindelwald every half an hour, so you shouldn’t have to wait too long for the connection.

Is the train from Bern to Interlaken scenic?

The train from Bern to Interlaken runs along the southern shore of lake Brienz, so it’s definitely a scenic ride. Sit next to the window on the left side of the train, to enjoy the best panoramic views during the train journey.

Written by Ashley Faulkes
As a twenty-year resident of Switzerland, I am passionate about exploring every nook and cranny of this beautiful country, I spend my days deep in the great Swiss outdoors, and love to share these experiences and insights with fellow travel enthusiasts.

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