Green Aare Walk
Going for a stroll along the Aare river is the perfect celebration of the characteristic laid-back Bernese joie de vivre. The 6.3-kilometre walk takes you from the Botanical Garden to the protected meadows of Elfenau park. Did you know that the Botanical Garden of the University of Bern is home to over 5,500 different plant species? Another highlight for old and young is the Bern AnimalPark, BearPark which is on the way. Further upstream, you’ll reach Elfenau park, where we recommend having a relaxed picnic under the trees and enjoying the wonderful view of the serene Aare river and the Gurten.
Bern Animal Park, Dählhölzli
“More space for fewer animals” is the slogan of Bern Animal Park, Dählhölzli. And they mean it. Bern’s beloved animal park is very spacious, and about half of it can be visited freely. The feeding of the seals the petting zoo, and the two large playgrounds are some of the most popular features. Even on rainy days, the park is well worth a visit: the vivarium with its reptiles, insects, fish, and monkeys offers plenty to discover. Our tip: the Dählhölzli restaurant serves a hearty Sunday breakfast, which is free for children under the age of five – and there’s obviously a fun kids’ corner, too.
Lots to see
Discovering Bern’s local mountain
On the Gurten, families can find everything they need for a little outdoor adventure not far from the city: a spectacular ride on the funicular, a large outdoor playground (with a train!), and a family-friendly restaurant. Before heading up, however, we recommend you visit the Gurten website to see if the hugely popular miniature train runs on that day. But even if it doesn’t: thanks to the ball path, the playground, little “Lake Gurten”, the "Kids Cars", the toboggan run and the observation tower, there’s plenty to see and experience on Bern’s local mountain. And if you get hungry from all the playing and running around, just head over to the family-friendly self-service restaurant.
Onward and upward
Ludotrail: Spiel dich durch Burgdorf (Play your way through Burgdorf)
What’s the best way to explore a town? By playing! The Ludotrail “Spiel dich durch Burgdorf” is a fun visitor’s experience in the pretty town in the Emmental valley. Pick up a backpack with games and a map at the tourist office or at the Berchtold Hotel, and you’re ready to go: The map takes the players to over 20 stations that require skills, tactics, stamina, and fairness. Play on a barrel, arrange pizza toppings, and make music with marbles – “Spiel dich durch Burgdorf” is the perfect family activity. And if one isn’t enough: “Spiel dich durch” is also available in Langnau!
Comicweg Langnau (Langnau Comic Book Trail)
Langnau in the Emmental valley is known for three very different things: its ice hockey team, its cheese, and the International Cartoon Festival. Two of them are combined in the Comicweg, a live crime story in which families with children aged nine and over can go hunting for clues in the village. Who will solve the case of the “fake Emmental cheese”? On the exciting scavenger hunt, children, teenagers, and adults learn (more) about the unique history of the village with its long-standing cheese tradition and famous cheese. The comic book can be purchased for 20 francs at the BLS Travel Centre at the train station, which is also where the trail starts.
Pick up the scent
Entdecker:innen-Pfad Trubschachen (Trubschachen Discovery Trail)
It is common knowledge that Trubschachen lies in the land of milk and honey – after all, the village is home to Kambly, one of the most famous biscuit factories in all of Switzerland. And to the Entdecker:innen-Pfad Trubschachen (Trubschachen Discovery Trail): Equipped with an explorer booklet and pencil and accompanied by three fun squirrels, the adventure on the 3.5-kilometre, free trail begins. In a playful way, the three squirrels teach children all kinds of different facts about the quaint Emmental village and its inhabitants. If you figure out the secret code along the way, use it to crack the explorer box at the Kambly Experience and you’ll receive a surprise reward.
Discover Trubschachen with children
There’s more fun adventure trails to discover in the Emmental!
How about one of these:
- Detektivtrail Burgdorf (Burgdorf Detective trail)
- Cartoon-Weg Langnau (Cartoon trail in Langnau)
- Detektivweg Schaukäserei Affoltern (Detective Trail at the Affoltern Show Dairy)
- Erlebnispfad “Das Kemmeriboden Bankgeheimnis” (Adventure Trail “Kemmeriboden Banking Secrecy”)
- KrimiSpass im Schloss Landshut (KrimiSpass at Landshut Castle)
- Tagebuchweg Kemmeriboden-Bad (Kemmeriboden-Bad Diary Trail)
The name says it all: The trail “Hansjoggelis Spüuwäute” (Hansjoggeli’s Playgrounds) in Bern makes children’s dreams come true. It begins and ends in Riffenmatt and has six stations with jungle gyms, fairy caves and more that invite little adventurers to climb, explore, and play to their heart’s content. If the kids get tired after the first few stations, you can round off the family outing with a barbecue at one of the fire pits and come back to discover the other fun stations another time. By the way: the family trail is part of the popular “Vrenelidorf” (Vreneli’s village) in the municipality of Guggisberg.
To the playgrounds
The Gäggersteg, a walkway made of wood, takes visitors through the trees of the forest reserve by the Pfyffe, a local mountain in the Gantrisch Nature Park. The walkway is made from local wood and stands at up to eight metres above the ground, leading visitors through the forest that was almost completely destroyed by storm Lothar in 1999. Learn how nature has been recovering on the two-hour loop hike with its eight themed stations on the topics of forest, wind, and roots, and play the game about "Wild Türst" and his goats: collect runes and find the codeword in order to receive a reward at the end.
Wowed by the walkway
Elfen- und Wichtelweg Wolfwil (Wolfwil Elves and Gnomes Trail)
A farm that has a camel? Yup, it exists in the small Oberaargau town of Wolfwil. The Schlatthof, an organic farm, is also the starting point for the lovingly designed Elves and Gnomes Trail – an adventure for the entire family: the trail has several stations that are just as interesting, tricky, and fun for adults as they are for children. This path lets you play, solve riddles and puzzles, and experience nature. There are two barbecuing pits and three picnic spots along the way. If you’re up for it, you can take the longer route (3.5 kilometres), for shorter legs it might be enough to take the shorter one (2.5 kilometres). Both trails end back at the Schlatthof, where there’s an inviting bistro and farm shop.
Searching for gnomes
Walderlebnispfad Roggwil (Forest Adventure Trail, Roggwil)
There are very few things that are cooler for children (and grown-ups!) than exploring the forest. A particularly great way to do so, especially for small children, can be found in Roggwil in the Oberaargau region, where the Burgergemeinde (Citizen’s Community) has set up a one-kilometre loop road so children can experience the local flora and fauna in a fun and playful way. Nature lovers of all ages will have fun discovering 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.
Off to the forest
Burgäschisee (Lake Burgäschi)
Lake Burgäschi on the border to the canton of Solothurn is perfect for a family outing: It lies in an enchanted nature reserve and a leisurely hike around the water takes only about half an hour – theoretically. It will probably be more as there is so much to discover along the way! Or why not rent a little rowboat and go for a spin on the lake? Fishing is allowed as well; licenses can be purchased at the Volg store in Aeschi. If you’re successful, you can prepare your catch (European perch, pike, whitefish) at the barbecuing pit. Our recommendation: Since the lake is so small, you can often go for a dip as early as May without getting cold!
Expedition to the nature reserve
You don’t have to go far to see a real castle: There’s an especially impressive one sitting on a sandstone cliff above the town of Laupen. When the weather is nice, visitors who make the short ascent to the medieval fortification from the 12th century are rewarded a beautiful view of the Alps. On the other side of the castle, a special apparatus awaits: a medieval trebuchet (catapult) with which the town was bombarded non-stop for 11 days and nights in 1339. The castle is accessible at any time, and on the first and third Sunday of each month from April to October, it is also possible to go inside.
Back to the Middle Ages
A highlight for older children and teenagers when visiting the town of Laupen is the "KrimiSpass": on the two-hour scavenger hunt, amateur detectives go on an exciting adventure to solve a mysterious murder case – “armed” with nothing but a smartphone and their wits. In their roles as inspectors of the Bern Cantonal Police, they have to find clues related to the disappearance of Professor Braun. The renowned scientist was working on a revolutionary invention in Laupen but has recently disappeared without a trace. The “KrimiSpass” is free, so all you need to do is charge your phone and request the e-mail with the instructions for the game, and you’re good to go!
Solve the tricky case
Schienenvelo Laupen (Rail Bike Ride in Laupen)
Want to race along the railway tracks on a bike powered by you and your family? The rail bike adventure in Laupen makes it happen! The 4.5-kilometre track takes you to the Witteberg recreation area with its nice playground and barbecue area: tables, a fire pit with firewood, boccia balls, garden chess and nine men’s morris await. The break will be very welcome, because this activity requires stamina and power: four people (or five if there are children aged ten or under) can pedal along the disused railroad line with a speed of up to 15 kilometres per hour! But be careful: the braking distance is longer on the tracks than on the road – a little physics lesson is basically included in the experience.