11 Winter Adventures for Families
No matter if it’s cold and rainy or sunny outside – there are all kinds of winter activities for families in and around Bern. From the skiing slope only a few minutes from the city centre to the fairytale world made out of snow and ice: these are our eleven fun recommendations for adventurers of all ages.
Skiing in the Gantrisch Region
The charming ski resort for families: SchneeSelital in the Gantrisch Nature Park has been a little winter paradise since 1956, perfect for skiing and sledding and spending a day in the snow with your family. The different slopes are suitable for every age and level. Children can run around and have fun on the snow playground, the bird seesaw and the jungle gym at the Selibär winter park, and the spaghetti party at lunch makes sure that every member of the family is full of energy for all the winter action. Now all we need is a soft blanket of snow covering everything, and the day in the Gantrisch region is perfect.
Discovering Bern’s Museums
Interactive, exciting and full of things to discover: there are countless museums in Bern, just waiting to be explored. At the Swiss Alpine Museum, you’ll be surrounded by wood shavings, hissing, pounding and whirring: the exhibition “Werkstatt Alpen” (“Alpine Workshop”) shows visitors how much manual labor still goes into making skis and skiing boots today. In the shingle workshop, everyone can lend a hand and help shingle a part of the museum. Not far from the Alpine Museum, there’s an impressive life-sized Tyrannosaurus rex: the special exhibition “T.rex – Kennen wir uns?” (“T.rex – Do we know each other?”) in the Natural History Museum takes us back in time to the Mesozoic era, the age of dinosaurs. If you prefer (even more) interactive activities, head to the Museum of Communication, which was awarded the 2019 Council of Europe Museum Prize, and visit the exhibition “Schweinehunde und Spielverderber” (“Killjoys and weaker selves”) on inhibitions. Nobody will be bored on this trip to the museum, we promise!
Our museum recommendations
Creating Your Own Art
Speaking of museums: if you think the Zentrum Paul Klee isn’t suitable for families, 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 activities for children. In workshops or during private events, amateur artists of all ages (starting at the age of 4) learn to look at Klee’s art in a different light and are encouraged to find their very own creative way of expressing themselves. Looking for even more creativity? If you want to create 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.
Visit the Creaviva Childern’s Museum
Ice Palaces Schwarzsee
A fairytale world made of light and ice: every winter, a colourful, sparkling wonderland with caves, igloos and ice sculptures of up to 15 metres appears in a small forest near Schwarzsee. The beautiful ice palaces never cease to amaze and enchant the visitors. If you get a bit chilly from all the snow and ice, you can head over to Eispalaststübli (“ice palace” – it’s warmer than the name might suggest!) and enjoy a nice cup of hot chocolate or grill a Cervelat sausage over the open fire – your cold fingers will be nice and warm in no time.
Discover the Fairytale World
The Sensorium at Rüttihubelbad
An amusement park for the senses, just 30 minutes from Bern: the Sensorium at Rüttihubelbad is a fun sensory experience for all ages (and all seasons). On cold, grey winter days, it is a perfect escape. It shows us, in an exciting and innovative permanent exhibition, just how much we rely on our eyes in everyday life, and what intricate miracles our senses actually are. The Sensorium is wheelchair accessible and can be reached by public transport, taking the train via Burgdorf – Thun and bus to “Walkringen, Rüttihubelbad” or the suburban train Bern – Worb and then the bus. And if you prefer bringing your own lunch: there are plenty of cosy picnic spots inside.
Use all your senses
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), you can put on some warm clothes and follow the 3.5-kilometre 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’ll be filled to the brim with cookies, so you definitely won’t have to worry about dinner.
Off to the Gurten
As soon as the first snowflakes hit the rooftops of Bern’s Old City, the locals get ready for a trip to the Gurten. The local mountain is only a 15-minute streetcar ride from the main station and offers everything families need for a winter adventure: be it the six-kilometre sledding slope that takes you through the forest and all the way down to the halfway station of the funicular, the little skiing slope that’s especially suited for children and beginners, or the family-friendly self-service restaurant Tapis Rouge with its delicious buffets. If you need a quick break from all the outdoor activities, bring the kids to the playroom, have a cup of coffee at the restaurant and enjoy the beautiful view of the capital.
Up, up and away
Emmentaler 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 only watch the cheese-makers at work – a one-hour demonstration will also teach them how to make cottage cheese at home. For some fresh air after all that cheese, pay a visit to the goats and chickens at the petting zoo next door. The show dairy is one hour from Bern by public transport, through the beautiful (and hopefully snowy) hills of the Emmental region.
Animal Park Bern, Dählhölzli
Animal Park Bern, Dählhölzli has plenty of fun activities to offer in the wintertime. Good to know: about half of the compounds can be visited for free. Highlights for children include the feeding of the seals (twice a day, make sure to check the schedule on the park’s website), the petting zoo, and winter events such as “Märli im Iglu” (“igloo fairytales”) on 15 January 2020. On cold, wet winter days, go and spend a few hours discovering the vivarium with its different reptiles, insects, fish and monkeys. If you get hungry from all the exploring, head to the first floor of the Dählhölzli restaurant, complete with a fun kids’ corner, where the all-you-can-eat “Sunntigszmorge” (“Sunday breakfast”) is not only opulent and delicious, but also free for children under the age of five.
Discover the animal kingdom
Pirouettes on Parliament Square
From 18 December 2019 to 16 February 2020, current and aspiring ice princesses and princes meet in front of the majestic Parliament Building for some “Schlöfle” (ice skating). Everyone enjoys a bit of fun on the ice, so a trip to the rink is a great way to spend the afternoon with the family. If you get cold, you can go and warm your feet at the adjacent restaurant while enjoying a hot chocolate, a steaming mug of mulled wine or a creamy cheese fondue. By the way: there are free ice-skating classes for children every Thursday afternoon from 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. starting on 9 January 2020. There’s no need to register for a spot, but the children do have to bring their own skates or rent a pair at the rink.
Ice Skating in Bern’s City Centre
Bernaqua is a water wonderland at Westside shopping mall not far from the city centre. It offers aquatic fun for all ages, be it on the various slides or in the paddling pool, where there’s a pirate ship with water jets for exciting water battles – ahoy! Or you can head to the river bath, where everyone can let go and float along while massage nozzles do their relaxing job – perfect for when it’s wet and cold outside. After the (unfortunately) obligatory showering, dressing and blow-drying drama in the evening, everyone will definitely be knackered.