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Discover the real Switzerland at Ballenberg Swiss Open-Air Museum
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Discover the real Switzerland at Ballenberg Swiss Open-Air Museum

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The Ballenberg Swiss Open-Air Museum is not exactly what you have in mind when you think of museums. It's a living, breathing place where Swiss traditions are very much alive, where you can actually see the butcher, the baker and the candle-stick maker and even learn some traditional crafts. If you're looking for the true soul of Switzerland, this is where you'll find it. 

Tell me more about Ballenberg

How to plan your trip to Ballenberg

Before we tell you about Ballenberg - you'll absolutely love it, you can take our word for it - this is what you need to know: it's a massive place, there are 109 traditional houses from all corners of Switzerland and 66 hectares of cultivated farmland. A day will not be enough, so our advice is to plan for two days if you can. 

In addition to being amazing all by itself, Ballenberg is also located next to one of the most gorgeous lakes in Switzerland, Lake Brienz - the scenery is impressive and there is no shortage of hikes and other activities in the area. 

Good to know

The Swiss Open-Air Museum Ballenberg is open every day from mid April to the end of October from 10am to 5pm. There are two access ways you can use: either the Hofstetten entrance (West) or Brienzwiler (East). 

What makes Ballenberg so special 

We love Ballenberg because It's so much more than a museum and because it's such a complete picture of what traditional Switzerland is. It's a place where you can relax and have fun, where you can learn something new, but most of all - a place where you can truly understand Swiss history and culture. 

The traditional houses are impressive

The 109 traditional houses are from every corner of Switzerland: from modest peasant homes to impressive farms, you'll see kitchens, dining rooms or bedrooms and imagine the daily life of their former dwellers. From the Jura to Central Switzerland, from Ticino to high up in the Alps – you'll see and feel what their life was like in the olden days.

All traditional houses on display could not be kept in their original locations and were therefore carefully taken down and rebuilt on the generous museum grounds. In addition to the actual houses, you'll also see stables, barns, storehouses, wash-houses or drying ovens. 

 

There are live demonstrations for over 30 traditional crafts

In the bakery belonging to the Stöckli family from Detligen/Radelfingen BE, fresh Ballenberg bread is baked every day. Watch the bakers as they carry out their work or pay a visit to the alpine dairy from Kandersteg BE to discover how tasty Ballenberg mutschli cheese is made.

Many of the products made here can be purchased directly on site in the craft-houses and Ballenberg shops. 

Other than baking and cheese making, there are over 30 traditional crafts, skills and professions which are actively demonstrated in the workshops at Ballenberg. From traditional rope-making, to pottery, forging, and even alpine cattle herding - you can either watch the demonstrations or practice any given craft in the Kurzentrum next to Ballenberg. Please check beforehand if courses are available in English.

 

There are more than 200 farm animals to observe and pet

The numerous farm animals bring life to the Open-Air Museum. You can admire oxen and horses grazing, goats, piglets and all number of fowl birds. There's always something going on in the pastures and stables at Ballenberg.

 

There are 66 hectares of cultivated landscape 

The houses at Ballenberg Swiss Open-Air Museum are all situated in well-tended cultivated land. Here, the land is traditionally cultivated with old tools and equipment. Seeds are still sown in the fields using horses, a team of oxen ploughs furrows in the field.

Farmers’ gardens are laid out according to historical patterns and almost forgotten varieties of vegetables and fruit are often grown. In Switzerland, gardening and care of the countryside were essential for survival: over centuries people have studied the climate, the soil, the flora and fauna – this ancient knowledge is actively fostered, maintained and passed on at Ballenberg.

Discover the varieties that grow and flourish in the Ballenberg gardens and see all the care and maintenance work that's needed to cultivate the lands in the same manner as in the old days. Watch how the seeds are sowed and harvested, learn how vegetables and fruit were preserved in the past and take home fresh produce from Ballenberg's very own gardens and fields.

Events at Ballenberg

There are so many things happening at Ballenberg, you're bound to find something interesting. Have a look at the calendar of events here. 

Another interesting thing at Ballenberg is the annual theme. This year it's Fire: from tile burning, to baking and cooking on an open fire, from burning lime to forging, fire will at the center of it all in Ballenberg. 

 

Ready to plan your trip to Ballenberg?

Yes, let's go!