Treasure hunt with Sören Schnürschuh
It can be quite tricky to motivate children to go on a city tour - unless it’s a playful and adventurous discovery tour like the one we have in Bern! The treasure hunt with pirate Sören Schnürschuh, organized by the pros at the Stiftung Jugendförderung foundation, starts at the train station and takes participants through the Old City to Schosshalde and then to the indoor playground Bimano. You discover the city on your own: simply download the treasure map and off you go. But remember: to find the treasure, you will need smarts, skills, and stamina. If you solve all the puzzles and riddles correctly, you will be able to open the combination lock on the treasure chest and receive a prize. Suitable for children aged six years and over, but also stroller-friendly in case younger siblings come along.
Find the treasure
Bern Animal Park, Dählhölzli
“More space for fewer animals” is the slogan of Bern Animal Park, Dählhölzli. And that’s exactly how it works: this Bernese institution is a large compound that stretches all the way through the forest down to the Aare river. About half of it can be visited freely. The feeding of the seals, which takes place twice a day, the petting zoo, and the two large playgrounds are some of its most popular features. This great Animal Park is always worth a visit, even on rainy days: the vivarium with its reptiles, insects, fish, and monkeys offers plenty to discover. Our tip: the hearty all-you-can-eat Sunday breakfast on the first floor of Dählhölzli’s restaurant 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 (or “Güsche”, as the locals call it), families can find everything they need for a little adventure near 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 and the playground, little lake Gurten and the small cars ("Kids Cars"), the toboggan run and the observation tower, there's plenty to see and experience on Bern's local mountain. If you feel like having a snack and refuelling, head over to the self-service restaurant. It has a playroom for the kids, allowing the grown-ups a quick coffee break on the terrace.
Onward and upward
Ludotrail: Spiel dich durch Burgdorf (Play your way through Burgdorf)
What’s the best way to discover a town? We know something better than just plain old walking around: playing as you go! Ludotrail “Spiel dich durch Burgdorf” is a fun visitor’s experience in the pretty town in the Emmental valley. A backpack filled with games and a map can be picked up either at the tourist office or at the hotel Berchtold, and off you go: The map takes the players to 25 stations that require skills, tactics, stamina, and fairness. Playing on a barrel, making music with marbles, or a cake game that will leave your mouth watering – “Spiel dich durch Burgdorf” is the perfect activity on an entertaining outing with your kids, godchild, or grandchildren. 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 “The Fake Emmental Cheese”? This calls for a good nose (quite literally)! 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 about a typical Emmental product, its cheese. The trail is open year-round, and the comic book can be purchased for 20 Swiss francs at the BLS Travel Centre at the train station, which is also where the trail starts.
Pick up the scent
Entdeckerpfad 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 cookie factories in all of Switzerland. And to the Entdeckerpfad Trubschachen (Trubschachen Discovery Trail): Equipped with an explorer booklet and pencil and accompanied by three fun squirrels, visitors embark on an adventurous journey on the educational 3.5-kilometre trail. In a playful way, the three squirrels teach children all kinds of facts about the quaint Emmental village and its inhabitants. The path also leads to the burbling river Ilfis, where there is a fire pit and firewood, and past many other interesting locations. 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 (detective trail), Schaukäserei Affoltern (Affoltern show dairy)
- Erlebnispfad «Das Kemmeriboden Bankgeheimnis» ( “Kemmeriboden banking secret” adventure trail)
- KrimiSpass at Landshut Castle
- Tagebuchweg Kemmeriboden-Bad (Kemmeribodenbad diary trail)
Witch Path in Schwarzsee
Dragons, witches, and a spectacular waterfall: the Häxewääg (Witch Path) by lake Schwarzsee captivates and motivates 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. They may be a bit scary, but that just makes this two-hour themed hike all the more exciting! 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-metre secret waterfall hidden in the forest – a magical place. The hike around pretty lake Schwarzsee is suited for families and children of all ages and stroller friendly.
On your brooms, get set, go!
The newly built Gäggersteg, a walkway made of wood, takes visitors through the trees of the forest reserve by the Pfyffe, a local mountain. The impressions and beautiful landscape will give you the energy boost you need to discover the entire family-friendly, themed path. 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? You’ll find it 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. What sounds like a children’s activity is 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 the kids. The 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 quicker one (2.5 kilometres). They both end at the Schlatthof farm, where a bistro (open daily!) and a shop with farm products await. Maybe the pot-bellied pig will stop by to say hello. Or the two little donkeys. Or – the camel.
Searching for gnomes
Walderlebnispfad Roggwil – Forest Adventure Trail in Roggwil
There are 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 trail so children can experience the local flora and fauna in a fun and playful way rather than a dry, didactic one. Nature lovers of all ages enjoy 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. If the fish gods are not on your side, you can grab a snack at the lido's kiosk or the restaurant. Our tip: 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 take the short walk up to the medieval fortification dating back to the 12th century are rewarded with a beautiful view of the Alps – although children might be more interested in the prison tower with its "murderer boxes" (simple cells) next to the viewing platform. On the other side of the castle stands a very special apparatus, waiting to be admired: a giant medieval trebuchet (catapult) with which the town was bombarded non-stop for 11 days and nights in 1339. The castle grounds are always accessible, and on the first and third Sunday of each month from April to October, it is also possible to visit the inside of the castle.
Back to the Middle Ages
A highlight for older children and teenagers when visiting the charming 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. Mysterious! The “KrimiSpass” is free, so all you need to do is charge your phone’s battery 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
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 – so a little physics lesson is basically included in the experience.