Fall Fun for Families
Autumn is the perfect time for family adventures. In the Bern region, there’s a lot you can do and explore as a family – even if it’s rainy. Eleven recommendations for little explorers and kids with a big sweet tooth, from a child-friendly hike to a treetop adventure.
#1 Discover the Gurten, Bern’s Local Mountain
On the Gurten, families will find everything they need for a little adventure in the city: a spectacular ride on the funicular, a large playground, meadows, water and a family-friendly restaurant with a playroom. Before boarding the "Nüünitram" (tram no. 9), however, we recommend you visit the website to see if the miniature train runs on that day – otherwise, disappointment is inevitable. But even if doesn’t: thanks to the ball path and the playground, the shallow pool and the small cars ("Kids Cars"), the toboggan run and the observation tower, there’s a lot to see and experience on Bern’s local mountain – most of the activities are free. If you feel like a refreshment, you can head over to the self-service restaurant Tapis Rouge, which has a whole range of Tripptrapps (highchairs). There is also a playroom for the children, so exhausted parents can enjoy a relaxing coffee break on the terrace.
Onward and upward
#2 Bern Animal Park, Dählhölzli
“More space for fewer animals” is the slogan of Bern Animal Park, Dählhölzli. And they stick to it. That’s the reason why this Bernese institution is not a sad zoo, but a large compound that reaches through the forest all the way down to the Aare river. About half of it can be visited freely. Highlights for children are the feeding of the seals, which happens twice a day (look up the schedule on the website!), the petting zoo and the two large playgrounds. On rainy days, you can spend at least half a day the Vivarium with its reptiles, insects, fish and monkeys. The rich all-you-can-eat Sunday breakfast on the first floor of Restaurant Dählhölzli is free for children under the age of five – and there’s obviously a kids’ corner.
Visit the animal kingdom
#3 Emmental Cheese Show Dairy
“Mom, where do the holes in the cheese come from?” Even stubborn, “I only eat pasta” kids will feel like trying something new after they’ve seen up close how cheese is made. At the Emmental cheese show dairy in Affoltern, visitors will not just watch the cheese-makers work – a one-hour demonstration will also teach them how to make cottage cheese at home. Afterwards, the best medicine for a cheese-filled belly is a visit to the jungle gym or to the goats and chickens at the petting zoo. The show dairy is one hour from Bern by public transport – or you can go by bike, there are several wonderful biking routes.
Dive into the world of Emmental cheese
#4 Gantrisch Rope Park
"Let’s go outside!" – this is often the best option for families. The rope park is not only a challenge for children – after all, it has the highest rope park platforms in all of Switzerland. You will find many ways to have fun balancing your way through the forest, even if you’re an amateur climber or afraid of heights. There are routes for children aged five and up and climbing opportunities for the littlest ones. There’s also a fun playground open to everyone. A visit to the rope park can easily be combined with a hike or a bicycle tour. If you get hungry, you can stop by one of the many barbecuing pits (there’s firewood), and there’s even a small creek in the forest for playing and cooling down.
#5 Schwarzsee Witch’s Trail (Häxewääg)
Dragons, witches, a spectacular waterfall: the Witch path at lake Schwarzsee captivates and excites even the laziest little hikers. There are seven witches along the way, and you can stop and listen to the fairytales and legends they tell. The witches may be a bit scary, but that makes this themed hike even more exciting. And thanks to the goosebumps, the children will not have to be asked twice to continue the hike – the stories and riddles will push them on. And there’s a surprise waiting for them at the end: a flying dragon and a 30-meter secret waterfall in the middle of the forest – a magical place. The hike around pretty lake Schwarzsee is suited for families and children of all ages.
On your brooms, get set, go!
#6 Kambly Experience
Eating as many “Güezi” (cookies) as you possibly can – this (children’s) dream comes true in the Emmental. At the Kambly Experience in Trubschachen, about 35 minutes by train from Bern, the store has bags upon bags of cookies on display – and you can try each and every one of them. Families should go to the store at the very end of their visit, or stomach aches from all the taste-testing could prevent them from participating in one of the baking classes, where children from the age of six can bake cookies and decorate their own biscuit tins. If you want to earn your visit to the land of milk and honey (and butter and chocolate), you can follow the 3.5-kilometer adventure trail through Trubschachen and solve little riddles and puzzles along the way. If you get them right, you will be rewarded at the end of the trail. And the best thing about visiting Kambly: you definitely won’t have to worry about dinner.
A trip to cookie heaven
Water is a pretty safe bet with children. Bernaqua at Westside shopping mall is fun for young and old water rats alike: be it on the slides (for the older children) or in the area for the little ones, where there’s a pirate ship for exciting water battles. The river bath, where you can just let go and float along, is fun for everyone, be it small children or grown-ups, and massage nozzles do their relaxing job. After the (unfortunately) obligatory showering, dressing and blow-drying drama, everyone will definitely be knackered in the evening.
#8 The Sensorium at Rüttihubelbad
Just 30 minutes from Bern lies an amusement park for the senses: the Sensorium at Rüttihubelbad is suited for all ages and all weather conditions. Rainy days can seem to last forever, especially if you have children – unless you have a plan up your sleeve. At Rüttihubelbad, a sensory experience awaits, fun for children and adults alike. The Sensorium playfully shows how strongly we rely on our eyes in everyday life – and how ingenious our senses actually are. It can easily be reached by public transport. Great for contrary weather: there are picnic spots inside as well as outside, and when the rain stops, the children can run around on the large playground. Or they can learn more about their senses on the Sensory Path in the garden.
#9 Visit Laupen
You don’t have to go far to see a castle: there’s a magnificent one on the sandstone rock above the town of Laupen, half an hour by train from Bern. In sunny weather, you can walk the short distance to the medieval weir from the 12th century and be rewarded with a wonderful view of the Alps. If you have children, you should visit the charming town and participate in the “Krimispass”: on a two-hour scavenger hunt, big and small detectives use only a smartphone and their wits to solve a mysterious murder. An adventure you won’t forget!
Where history comes to life
#10 Forest Adventure Trail in Roggwil
There are few things that children love more than exploring the forest. A particularly great way to do so can be found in Roggwil in the Oberaargau region, where the Burgergemeinde (Citizen's Community) has set up a one-kilometer loop road for children to discover the local flora and fauna in a fun and exciting way rather than in a dry and didactical one. Old and young nature lovers will have fun exploring the wild bee hotel, the little cable car, the ball bath, the forest xylophone and the barefoot path. It will take about 45 minutes by train from Bern to Roggwil, Schmitten to get to the starting point on Jungfernplatz. Admission to the trail is free – the experience priceless.
Into the forest
#11 Wool: From Sheep to Textile in Huttwil
Feeling sheep’s wool is an early memory for children – the temperature-regulating thread is perfect for baby blankets, onesies and little cardigans. But where does wool come from? And doesn’t it hurt sheep when they’re “shaved”? At Spycher-Handwerk in Huttwil, all of the visitors’ questions will be answered and they can explore the entire process that wool goes through. Touching and feeling is allowed – the place is one great adventure playground. There is a petting zoo with goats, llamas and alpacas, and even camel trekking is on the menu. Some of the machines that are still being used daily at the show carding room are over 100 years old. The interesting and informative experience is rounded off by a visit to the shop and the bistro. The only risk: children will fall in love with “Spychi”, the mascot, and will want to take the fluffy lamb home …
From sheep’s wool to textile