The Best Day Trips from Bern by Train

Enchanting Bern, Switzerland’s understated capital city, is a perfect base for exploring more of the country. Its central location and excellent railway links mean that visiting the surrounding area is a breeze, with the bonus of travelling through some of the most stunning scenery to be found anywhere.

I know because I have done it.

To help you make the most of your time there, here are the very best day trips from Bern by train.


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How I Did Visited These Places Near Bern by Train

self portrait of blond woman known as the flashpacker by alpine valley in switzerland

Thanks to Switzerland’s efficient and integrated public transport network, I didn’t need a car to visit these wonderful places as day trips from Bern:

  • Vevey
  • Montreux and Château de Chillon
  • Fribourg
  • Thun
  • Grindelwald & Bernese Oberland
  • Lake Brienz

They are all within a 1hr 40min train journey from Bern; some are half an hour (or less) away.

Although you can visit each of these places individually, it is more time-efficient to group them. I explored these destinations on two day trips from Bern:

  • DAY ONE: Bern -> Vevey -> Montreux (Château de Chillon) -> Fribourg -> Bern
  • DAY TWO: Bern -> Thun -> Grindelwald -> Lake Brienz -> Bern
Map of day trips from Bern
Map of Day trips from Bern. Map Data @ 2024 Google

Day Trip #1: Vevey, Montreux and Château de Chillon & Fribourg


Vevey is … Paradise, and I don’t see how people there … can have the impudence to suppose that they can then go to Heaven.

Edward Lear

Vevey’s literary and artistic associations don’t end with Edward Lear. Its location on the shores of Lake Geneva and Alpine views have attracted W M Thackeray, Graham Greene and Charlie Chaplin to name but a few.

Nowadays, Vevey is more well-known as the headquarters for Nestlé, which has been in town since 1814. Don’t miss the gigantic fork poking out of the water in front of its museum, the Alimentarium.

the fork vevey
The Fork, Vevey

I thought that Vevey was special. It’s a small, friendly, laid-back town which also has a great local lakeside market.

My motivation for visiting the town was Images Vevey, an outdoor photography festival. Every other year, Vevey becomes an outdoor art gallery with works showcasing national and international artists, displayed throughout the town.

The next festival take place in 2024.

painting of flames on edge of alpine lake
Images Vevey 2018

The train journey from Bern to Vevey takes 1 hr and 30 minutes with a change of train at Lausanne.

On the journey to Lausanne sit on the left-hand side of the train for views of the vineyards tumbling down to the shores of Lake Geneva, bursting with plump grapes, ripe for harvest.

Vevey train station is an easy ten-minute walk to the lakeshore.

Montreux and ChÂteau de Chillon

Bigger and brasher than Vevey, Montreux is best known for its annual music festival. Held between June and July, the Montreux Jazz Festival attracts the good and the great from the world of jazz.

But, for me, Montreux’s main attractions were the Château de Chillon and the flower-lined footpath that winds its way south along the lakeside to the castle.

The Château de Chillon is straight out of central casting for a fairy-tale castle. Although it has undergone several centuries of adaptations, restorations and renovations, the castle’s original structure dates from the House of Savoy in the 12th Century.

Château de Chillon

It is striking for its position on a small rock island jutting out from the banks of Lake Geneva and for its state of preservation (probably due to those centuries of tinkering). Little wonder that it is the most visited historic building in Switzerland.

To get to Château de Chillon from Montreux, take to the water. The dock at Montreux is five minutes on foot from the railway station.

In peak season, an elegant, wood-panelled boat will bring you from Montreux to Chillon in 15 minutes. There are also sailings from Vevey, Villeneuve and Lausanne. There is a 50% reduction on fares for Interrail pass holders.

Alternatively, bus #201 will take you there.

Leaving the castle, take a gentle walk back to Montreux along the Chemin Fleuri, Montreux’s lakeside promenade, which is framed by flowerbeds exploding with colour.

yellow flowers at side of lake
Chemin Fleuri, Montreux

Don’t miss the 3m-tall statue of Freddy Mercury in front of the covered market on the shoreline. Queen’s charismatic frontman was a frequent visitor to Montreux, recording many of the band’s hits at the Mountain Studios in Montreux Casino and owning an apartment in town.

freddy-mercury-statue-in montreux
Freddy in Montreux

Montreux is less than ten minutes by train from Vevey. Montreux train station is one block from the lakeshore.

If you are arriving directly from Bern, the quickest train journey takes around 1 hr and 40 minutes, with a change of train at Lausanne. As before, sit on the left-hand side of the train for those lake and vineyard views.

Fribourg (Freibourg)

Located just over 30 km south-west of the Swiss capital, Fribourg is a very easy day trip from Bern.

Its position, straddling the French-German language border, is reflected in its linguistic divide. Residents on the west bank of the Sarine River, which divides the city into two, speak French. Those on its east bank speak German.

dramatic river gorge lined with buildings including a church
Fribourg, View from Pont Mileu

Although it is a dramatically handsome, historic city with a lively student buzz, it did leave me a little cold.

But it’s hard not to appreciate the medieval architecture rising out of the gorge carved by the Sarine River. Wander through the 12th Century Old Town and then head to Pont du Mileu for great views.

Also, stop by the 13th Century Gothic Cathedral of St Nicolas. A day trip to Fribourg is worth it for the cathedral’s exceptional sculpture depicting Christ’s burial.

sculptural group representing christs burial in fribourg cathedral

Frequent trains from Montreux make the journey to Fribourg in as little as 75 minutes. Fribourg train station is on the western edge of the old town

If you are travelling directly from Bern, the train journey takes around 20 minutes.

Day Trip #2: Thun, Grindelwald & the Bernese Oberland and Lake Brienz


Encircled by mountains and with the turquoise vein of the Aare River running its historic centre, the city of Thun is a delight.

Oberhofen castle dominates the city. It was built by the Dukes of Zähringen around the turn of the 12th and 13th Centuries and houses a museum celebrating the history of the region.

If time is limited you can do worse than wander Thun’s old town or stroll along its riverside promenade, perhaps stopping at one of the cafes. If you’re lucky, you may catch surfers valiantly attempting to keep upright in the fast-flowing waters by the Untere Schleusenbrucke, Thun’s 300-year-old covered, wooden bridge.

Thun. wooden bridge

If you are travelling around Switzerland armed with the Lonely Planet guide, it urges you to walk up the 400+ steps to Jakobshubeli viewpoint for “a magical 360-degree view.”

I say don’t bother. When I visited in September, any view was blocked by trees. However, it did seem to be a popular spot for kissing couples.

And did I mention that there are over 400 steps?

It will take you 20 – 30 minutes to get to Thun from Bern. If possible, sit on the right-hand side of the train carriage for the best views.

The Aare River and the historic centre of Thun are within easy walking distance of its train station.

Grindelwald & the Bernese Oberland

Grindelwald and the Bernese Oberland is the best day trip from Bern for some mountain magic.

sculpture of man playing an accordion on a bench

Grindelwald is in a swoon-worthy setting. Nestled in a valley between the peaks of the mighty Eiger, the sparkling slithers of the Oberer and Unterer Glaciers and the Wetterhorn, and studded with Alpine chalets and pastures, Grindelwald is like a film set.

wooden sculpture of a moose

However, its real treasures lie in the surrounding peaks and hiking trails. Therefore, resist the urge to linger in Grindelwald and take the cable car to First, a minor summit at an altitude of 2167m.

This is prime hiking territory. Pick up a map at Grindelwald’s friendly tourist information office en route to the cable car station.

Stroll around the summit, take some photos and, if you have a head for heights, do the cliff walk. This is a platform that dangles precariously over the valley below. And the summit’s restaurant is a perfect stop for a cup of coffee, or a glass of something stronger, whilst taking in the 360-degree panorama.

first switzerland
Cliff Walk, First, Bernese Oberland

First, catch a train to Interlaken Ost. This is a continuation of the line from Thun; from Bern, the journey takes one hour.

If possible, sit on the right-hand side of the train carriage for the best views until Thun. After Thun, switch sides for lakeside views all the way to Interlaken.

At Interlaken, catch a train to Grindelwald. If you are travelling on an Interrail / Eurail ticket, this 30-minute train journey is not included in the pass, although you will get 25% off the ticket price.

To reach the cable car station for First, turn right out of Grindelwald’s train station and walk for 15 minutes along the town’s main street.

Lake Brienz boat trip

A list of day trips from Bern wouldn’t be complete without including a leisurely boat trip on a Swiss lake.

As Interlaken straddles Lake Thun and Lake Brienz, you have a choice. I opted for Lake Brienz as I had travelled alongside Lake Thun on the journey from Bern. But whichever lake you pick, you will not be disappointed.

pea green water of lake brienz with buildings on shoreline

You will need to retrace your steps to Interlaken Ost to board the boat for Lake Brienz. One of the many things I love about the Swiss transport system is how integrated it is. Ten minutes after getting off the train from Grindelwald, I was embarking on a leisurely cruise on Lake Brienz.

If you are lucky, your boat will be an old paddle steamer. This is the epitome of understated elegance with wooden panelling and theatrical bursts on the whistle as it approaches its stops.

modern wooden sculpture of a woman by the side of lake brienz in switzerland
Lake Brienz

Lake Brienz is reached from Interlaken Ost train station. The boat terminal is adjacent to Interlaken train station and boat departures are timed to coincide with the trains’ scheduled arrival times.

The boat ticket from Interlaken to Lake Brienz is free with Interrail / Eurail pass.

You can catch a train back from Bern from Brienz station.

Travelling in Switzerland by Train

grey seats with red headrests inside a train carriage in switzerland

Thanks to Switzerland’s efficient and highly integrated transport system, doing these day trips by train is easy. However, as Swiss rail travel does not come cheap, a Europe rail pass may be worth considering.

I travelled around Switzerland by rail on a Global Interrail Pass. For those living outside Europe, the Eurail pass is available.

However, if most of your travelling is within Switzerland it is worth considering a Swiss Travel Pass, which comes with extra benefits, or even a regional pass. Just do your homework before you travel.

Considering the high cost of rail travel in Switzerland, an Interrail / Eurail Pass or a Swiss Pass (or regional travel pass) is the gift that keeps on giving.

I can recommend this excellent Bradt guide which I used when I was visiting Switzerland. This is easily the best guide to exploring Switzerland by public transport on the market.

Bern’s railway station has to rank as one of the grimmest in Europe. At the platform level, it resembles an oppressive concrete bunker. Outside the station in the evening, at times it felt slightly threatening.

Although I think that any personal risk is minimal – on the whole, Switzerland is a relatively safe country – I advise that solo female travellers remain vigilant.

Where to Stay in Bern

The prime location for accommodation is Bern’s Aldstatdt, for which you will pay a premium. Cheaper alternatives can be found a little further out on the banks of the River Aare.

SplurgeThe Bristol

I stayed at this 4-star hotel in the Old City, a few minutes stroll from the railway station, perfect for those day trips. It had efficient staff, a comfortable bed and a great location.


Mid-rangeHabsburg B&B 

A short walk from the Old City, this bed & breakfast has excellent reviews.


Budget Bern Youth Hostel 

Budget options are thin on the ground in Bern. This is a centrally located option at a bargain price by Swiss standards.


panoramic view of the city of bern with pea green river buildings and rolling hills
Lovely Bern

Solo Travel in Switzerland

Switzerland is one of the best solo destinations in the world, especially for mature solo travellers or if you are taking your first solo trip.

It is one of the most dramatically beautiful countries in Europe and is home to some of the most scenic train rides on the planet, including the famous Glacier Express

Each of the country’s regions has its distinct identity and language, so much so that you feel that you are visiting there or more countries for the price of one. From the Italian character of the Ticino region to the elegant lakeside towns of the French region, there’s something for everyone.

Female solo travel safety is a prime concern of women travelling alone, and Switzerland is the second safest country in the world.

Public transport in Switzerland is world-renowned for its cleanliness, efficiency and punctuality. However, trains and cable cars in Switzerland aren’t cheap. To reduce costs look into buying a Swiss Travel Pass or Interrail / Eurail Pass.

And if that’s not enough, there are multiple opportunities to gorge on excellent Swiss chocolate, cheese and fondues. This is not a place to diet.

Ready to Take These Day Trips from Bern?

Taking these day trips from Bern by train is easy. The hard bit is narrowing down the choices available to you.

If I had limited time and had to pick one of these day trips, it would be Grindelwald, First and Lake Brienz (or Lake Thun) in the Bernese Oberland. This region is nature at its biggest and best. Picture soaring mountains, vast glacier fields, turquoise lakes, cascading waterfalls and verdant valleys dotted with Alpine resorts.

But what if you are lucky enough to have more time in Bern?

Taking a peek at the Aletsch Glacier from Europe’s highest train station, Jungfraujoch, is an obvious contender. However, this is a long day trip from Bern and it is eye-wateringly expensive, even by Swiss standards (it is not included in the Interrail / Eurail pass). Also, as you are at the mercy of the elements, making this journey is only worthwhile on a clear day.

Whatever you choose, I hope that you have a fantastic time and come back with stunning photographs.

Happy travels!

bridget coleman the flashpacker 2

About Bridget

Bridget Coleman has been a passionate traveller for more than 30 years. She has visited 70+ countries, most as a solo traveller.

Articles on this site reflect her first-hand experiences.

To get in touch, email her at or follow her on social media.

6 thoughts on “The Best Day Trips from Bern by Train

  1. Charmaine says:

    This is such a useful information. We actually have booked the Bristol and plan on visiting Grindelwald. Thank you for posting this!

    • Bridget says:

      Thanks for stopping by and am glad that the information was of value to you.
      Hope that your trip goes well (I’d love to go back!)

  2. Lihui kuo says:

    Thank you very much for such clear illustration. It is so well written. I am staying in Bern for 4nights in September, and planning to do exactly what you suggested.

    • Bridget says:

      Glad that you like it. Hope it helps
      Thanks for stopping by.
      Bridget 🙂

  3. Smita says:

    This was very useful for me with 4 days in Bern. I am going to do exactly what you did. Vevey – had never even heard of it!

    • Bridget says:

      Hi Smita!

      I’m so pleased that you found this post useful. I hope that you have a great time … I’d love to do it all over again!


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