Route 8 (Aare Route): Section 3 – cycling Spiez to Bern, Switzerland

Highlights: Spiez (& Castle), Thun (& Castle), Bern

 

Route 8: Section 3 (Spiez 621m–Bern 543m)

Stats from SwitzerlandMobility.ch (veloland.ch/en/routes/etappe-0913.html): Length 47km, height difference Spiez–Bern 110m (180m in opposite direction). Their site has the full profile.

April 2017 

This was an amazing day, full of sunshine and great sceneries. It was also an ideal section for this chilly weather, being at low altitude and basically flat.

Arriving by train in Spiez (myswitzerland.com/en-ch/spiez.html) (also in Route 9:03), we made a small detour to see the manicured and beautiful medieval Spiez Castle on Lake Thun. From here, one has an enchanted panorama of the lake, the surrounding alpine peaks, and the little harbour, dominated by the pyramid-shaped Niesen mountain.
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Spiez
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The Castle (of Bernese heritage) (schloss-spiez.ch/en/aktuell/) is a must-see landmark in Spiez. It is immediately apparent how its architecture has been modified through the centuries, from the tower, built in the 12th century, to the remaining part of the castle, expanded up to the 17th and 18th centuries. Several rooms of the castle can be visited (but we didn’t) and house a museum on its history and other exhibitions.

Another striking site on the castle property is the Romanesque church built around the 10th century (sacred-destinations.com/switzerland/spiez-castle-church).

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Spiez Castle
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Romanesque Church (Castle)

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Leaving Spiez, we went through a fabulous stretch of unpaved trails in the wood along streams, right up to Thun.
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Thun (myswitzerland.com/en-ch/thun.html) (also in Route 99:03) sits on the western shores of the homonymous Lake, with amazing views of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau snowy peaks. The medieval town is once again dominated by an impressive white tower-castle at one end, and the old church at the opposite end.
This striking 12th century Castle (schlossthun.ch/en/), with a large residential tower and its four angle towers, houses mostly a museum and exhibitions. We had already visited the Castle in another occasion and enjoyed the panoramic views from its highest level on the tower.
The town medieval square just below the castle is definitely worth seeing and is kept picture-perfect. Almost next to it runs the Aare river with a string of restaurants and cafés for a bite and refreshments.
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After Thun, we continued through open fields, surrounded by the picturesque snowcapped Alps of the Bernese Oberland. Approaching Bern, we also passed the minuscule Bern Airport in the middle of nowhere.

In Bern (bern.com/en/city-of-bern/attractions) (myswitzerland.com/en-ch/bern.html), we strolled through the city to see the various landmarks, ending up to the Rose Garden for a great panoramic view of the city below, though the Garden had no roses in bloom this time of the year.

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BERN from the Rose Garden
Although Bern is the capital of Switzerland (since 1848), it does not have the feeling of a metropolis, but more of a majestic, unspoiled medieval town, and this is probably why it is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The old town, up on a hill, is encircled by the Aare river far below. Its historic center is characterized by kilometers of homogeneous buildings with arcades for shops and shade, as well as by colorful renaissance fountains in the middle of the main road.
We also saw the Parliament complex (19th century) and the famous Clock Tower. The

Clock Tower (Zytglogge) was built in the 16th century and has a beautiful astronomical clock with figures that move on the hour. In the old times, it served as the city’s reference clock.

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Typical tourist spot in Bern is the famous bear pit (the bear is the city’s symbol) on the river, between the Old town and the Rose Garden. It has real bear but we could not see any.

A site that we missed was the Cathedral, which is one of Switzerland’s largest churches.

Finally, we ended the day at the Pizzeria Santa Lucia, in the square near the Parliament, where I had one of the best pizzas outside Italy!

Links to Introduction & other Bike Routes/Sections:

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