Author: Ipsita Barua, Travel Editor
When it comes to museums, people are always divided into lovers and haters. I particularly (and politely putting) am not a big fan of reading small print under fluorescent spotlights and gaping in awe at skeletons and spearheads in a cold, confined and silent gallery. If probably we had better teachers guiding us during our school trips to the museum, I would have been a bit more at ease in these places of great learning.
It therefore came as a surprise to my other half when Ballenberg Museum featured in our itinerary on our first trip to Switzerland as visitors. Somehow the words ‘open-air museum’ made me more receptive towards it and I thought museums certainly deserved a second chance in my good books. So after ticking off all the Interlaken top-rated attractions, we reserved a day for the Ballenberg Swiss Open-air Museum.
Switzerland in a nutshell
The Ballenberg Museum is Switzerland recreated in 66 hectares of land overlooking the Bernese Alps where the cantons and regions are represented with rural houses, farm buildings and domestic animals specific to each, giving you a glimpse into the everyday life and rural culture of the past. Besides farmhouses, there are craftsmens’ houses, day labourers’ houses and numerous outbuildings, such as barns, granaries, earth cellars, bakehouses and drying kilns. Buildings are classified according to the region of origin and grouped into typical regional building groups.
The museum also offers an immersive experience with many fascinating demonstrations. Go back in time as you watch the staff show what life was once like for the farmers’ wives, and how they had to manage without running water in the kitchen, without electricity and very little light.
With working craftsmen, daily events, exhibitions, activities, forest trails, petting enclosures, playgrounds and more, Ballenberg has it all to keep the entire family engaged and happy.
These are some of the 30+ live demonstrations and activities that take place throughout the day:
- Baking bread
- Cheese making
- Brick making
- Hat making
This is clearly the family favourite at Ballenberg. Hunt the fox, solve funny puzzles, decipher secret messages and find the correct tracks in possibly the most exciting treasure hunt in Switzerland through enchanted forests and beautiful landscapes.
Food and drinks
There are numerous picnic areas with fire pits and wood, four restaurants with both indoor and outdoor seating and food trucks that offer light refreshments, home-style dishes and traditional Swiss specialities.
How to reach
By car: Follow the signs from Brienz, Meiringen or the Brünig Pass to «Ballenberg West» (3858 Hofstetten) or «Ballenberg Ost» (3856 Brienzwiler). There are car parks at both entrances (West and East).
By public transport: Zentralbahn railway either from Interlaken or Lucerne straight to Brienz or to Brünig. There is a regular bus from the railway stations at Brienz and Brünig to Ballenberg West or Ballenberg East.
Keep in mind:
- Ballenberg involves a lot of walking and is best covered over 2 days if you have very young children because it can be quite exhausting
- Make sure to check out the timings and schedules of the daily activities of your choice to avoid missing any
- It’s best if you start your tour in the morning so that you can cover more for your time
- The museum is open from 10 April to 31 October 2021, 10 am to 5 pm daily
- You can buy 2-day individual and family passes at reduced prices. Tickets can also be bought online to avoid peak-season and weekend queues.
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