13 Rainy-Day Activities for Families
When you have children, rainy days can be a drag. So here are recommendations for fun, family-friendly indoor activities in Bern. Be it trampoline heaven, an exotic jungle, an indoor playground or a water park – these adventures are fun for children and parents alike and will make you forget all about the weather.
A ball pit. Two slides. Half a circus tent for climbing and sliding. A climbing wall. Countless curious carts. A baby and toddler playground. A reading nook. The design of the indoor playground is creative and colourful, with a lot of wood and paintings. Exploring Bimano is a great way for little children (and their parents) to spend a rainy day. And there’s a good restaurant on the playground, so you won’t have to run around on an empty stomach. Our recommendation: an early dinner at Zent, where even parents of toddlers will be able to relax. Later in the evening, the indoor playground turns into a skatepark (fascinating to watch, and there are children’s classes), and Bern’s climbing scene meets up to go bouldering.
Let’s have some fun!
It doesn’t have to be a quintuple flip (the Skills Park record) – at the trampoline park near Guisanplatz (Guisan Square), even beginners will manage to do some impressive jumps. There are all kinds of trampolines: some sets have mobile landing mats so you can practice your tricks safely, and everything’s possible on the 5-by-5-metre freestyle trampoline. Even small children can hop and jump around to their heart’s content (and without ruining their parents’ sofa). Every Sunday morning, the trampolines are reserved for the “MiniSkills” session for children aged 3 to 5. Visitors who are a bit older than that and want to try out their Pogo dance skills should head over to the “Dodgeball Arena” with its bouncy walls.
You’re walking through a tropical jungle landscape, and suddenly, a large, colourful butterfly lands on your arm – what sounds like a dream is actually just what will happen at Papiliorama in Kerzers near Bern. Along with the butterflies, after which the Papiliorama is named, you will see many exotic animals during your visit, such as freshwater stingrays, toucans and armadillos. Then, go from daytime to nighttime at the Nocturama, where bats fly free and you might be able to spot a sloth chilling in the trees. If the weather allows it, you should also visit the outside area with its petting zoo and super popular water playground. Getting to the Papiliorama by public transport is very easy – it even has its own train station.
Where “The Jungle Book” comes to life
If you think of dusty paintings on white walls when you hear the word “museum”, you’ve clearly never been to a Bernese museum. Yes, Bern is home to Switzerland’s oldest art museum – but there’s nothing outdated about it. Bern’s museums are interactive, diverse and exciting: from the Alpine Museum, where mountain life becomes visible and tangible, to the interactive Museum of Communication, to the Museum of Natural History, where children are allowed to climb and touch. Several of Bern’s museums are located just a few steps apart in the Kirchenfeld neighbourhood, and they’re all perfect rainy-day destinations for families. Our tip: ask the museum staff what they can recommend for children and go see that first. Almost every museum has something that kids love – at the Swiss Shooting Museum, it’s the air rifle shooting range, open for children from the age of seven.
To our museum recommendations
The Sensorium at Rüttihubelbad
An amusement park for the senses: the Sensorium at Rüttihubelbad is a sensory experience for all ages (and all seasons) and just half an hour away from Bern. The expansive exhibition shows us just how much we rely on our eyes in everyday life and what intricate, ingenious miracles our senses actually are. From the gigantic gong to the perfect, meditative sand circles – explore the exhibition and discover with all your senses. The Sensorium is wheelchair accessible and can be reached by public transport, taking the train via Burgdorf – Thun and bus to “Walkringen, Rüttihubelbad”. If you prefer bringing your own lunch: there are plenty of picnic spots. And if the sun does decide to come out, there’s a large outdoor playground for the kids.
A “sense”-ational experience
Bern’s Indoor Swimming Pools
The city of Bern has three public indoor swimming pools – and the locals are so water crazy that, in 2019, they agreed to have the city build a facility big enough for a 50-metre swimming pool. Bernese children learn how to swim at a young age – after all, they need to prepare for their first swim in the wonderful Aare river, so they better start training! But in a fun and relaxed way, of course. And that’s where Bern’s indoor pools come into play. The learning pools at Wylerbad and Weyermannshaus, for example, are constantly kept at 30-32 degrees Celsius. And the pool at Hirschengraben is conveniently located in the city centre. Every Sunday afternoon in winter, Wylerbad and Weyermannshaus are reserved exclusively for families and equipped with inflatable toys. Our tip: bring a little snack for afterwards, you’ll be hungry!
Hop in the water!
If you think the Zentrum Paul Klee is just another museum, you’ve clearly never heard of Creaviva. Drawing, folding, gluing, learning, letting your imagination run wild – the studio in the museum’s basement offers a whole bunch of fun activities for children. From the interactive exhibition (entry is free!) to the different workshops – art lovers and amateur artists of all ages have the opportunity to look at Klee’s art from a different angle and are encouraged to express themselves creatively. Looking for even more creativity? If you want to make your own little personal work of art together with your daughter, godchild, nephew or grandchild, you can do so from Tuesday to Sunday (also open during school holidays) at the “Fünfliber-Werkstatt” (five-franc workshop). When it comes to creativity, one thing is for sure: at Creaviva, the sky’s the limit.
The Kambly Experience
Eating as many “Güezi” (cookies) as you possibly can – this (children’s) dream can come true in the Emmental. The store at the Kambly Experience in Trubschachen, about 35 minutes by train from Bern, has over 100 different cookies and biscuits on display for you to try. And baking with the Kambly Maîtres Confiseurs is the perfect experience for anyone with a sweet tooth, no matter the age. Children from the age of six can bake cookies and decorate their own biscuit tins or create a yummy seasonal treat using chocolate, biscuits and marzipan (reservations required). If you want to earn your visit to the land of milk and honey (and butter and chocolate), put on your raincoat and follow the 3.5-kilometre adventure trail through Trubschachen, solving little riddles and puzzles along the way. If you get them right, you will be rewarded at the end of the trail. A practical side effect of a visit to Kambly: you definitely won’t have to worry about dinner.
Off to the land of milk and honey
The Botanical Garden (BoGa) is located right by the Lorrainebrücke (Lorraine Bridge) and just a short walk from the main station. But as soon as you leave the main road, you’ll feel like you’ve entered a completely different world. The chirping of the birds and the rustling of the leaves will accompany you on your expedition to different continents and their flora. There are two small and three large greenhouses where you can find shelter from the rain in a tropical or desert climate. Children love the Garden’s nooks and crannies and the sometimes bizarre plants: Buddha’s hand, the squirting cucumber or the poisonous plants in the medicinal garden are always popular with the young visitors. And the friendly staff is happy to help with any botanical questions you might have.
Explore the Botanical Garden
Emmental Cheese Show Dairy
“Mom, where do the holes in the cheese come from?” Even stubborn and picky little eaters 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 can not only watch the cheesemakers at work – a one-hour demonstration will also teach them how to make cottage cheese at home. After the show, 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 a one-hour trip from Bern through the picturesque hills of the Emmental region.
Tierpark Bern, Dählhölzli
There’s loads to do and discover at Animal Park Bern, Dählhölzli. Good to know: about half of the compounds can be visited for free, including the petting zoo with the fun jungle gym. On cold, wet days, go and spend a few hours discovering the vivarium with its different reptiles, insects, fish and monkeys. Highlights for children include the feeding of the seals (twice a day), the covered puffin compound or the maze-like building made for watching the bears. If you get hungry from all the exploring, head to the first floor of the Dählhölzli restaurant, where the all-you-can-eat “Sunntigszmorge” (“Sunday breakfast”) is not only delicious, but also free for children under the age of five – and there’s obviously a kids’ corner.
Bernaqua is a water wonderland at Westside shopping mall not far from the city centre and can easily be reached by train or streetcar. It offers aquatic fun for all ages, be it in the river bath, on one of Switzerland’s longest covered slides or in the paddling pool, where there’s a pirate ship with water jets for exciting water battles – ahoy! Or relax in the heated outdoor pool and enjoy the warm water and the fresh, cooling air – perfect for when it’s wet and cold outside. The only problem is: you’ll have a hard time convincing your kids that it’s time to go home …
Haute cuisine and children are not necessarily mutually exclusive, as shown by the GaultMillau Restaurant Tropengarten at theTropenhaus Frutigen: the children’s menu is varied and well assorted, and the staff is extremely friendly and patient. The restaurant is set in the beautiful tropical ambiance of the Tropenhaus, where children and their parents can explore and find out how our beloved exotic foods, like bananas and coffee, grow. Lili the Marmot takes the visitors on an adventurous, fun and informative expedition along the children’s trail. Who will be the first to spot the yellow-footed tortoises and silkies that live in the tropical paradise?
Off to the tropical garden
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