Biel city lays right in the border of german speaking and french speaking areas in Switzerland, so let us explore top things to do in this unique place.
If you ever see that Biel is named Bienne, do not worry, it is the same place, just Bienne is the french name of the city and since 2005 the city has two names.
Biel is right at the foot of the second biggest mountain range in Switzerland – Jura mountains.
Lake Biel is in the area of Biel city and is just minutes away from the old town, so it offers quite many water activities as well.
Let us explore top things to do in Biel, how to get to Biel and some facts about Biel city.
How to get to Biel
Biel is just 119 kilometers from Zürich and you can reach it by car just in 1h 20 minutes. I recommend parking in Seefelsweg parking place as it is very close to the lake and on another direction close to the old town. Have some cash, as parking fees only acceptable that way, no credit cards.
If you want to come to Biel by train, it would take you around 1h 20 minutes from Zürich. There is a direct connection, so no need to change trains. Please check all the latest time schedules and ticket prices right here: Swiss trains.
As mentioned before, the city is right on the border of two different languages speaking areas: french and german, so you can get around there using both languages. As I was there, I actually heard much more french speaking people, but maybe that is just coincidence. In the city as well you will notice many bilingual streets signs.
Biel is in the canton of Bern and has population of over 55 000 people.
In the times of Napoleon Biel belonged to French Republic, but that didn’t last long and back in 1815 Biel joined the canton of Bern.
These days Biel city is a proud place of watch producing as they have Rolex, Swatch, Omega and Glycine watch manufacturing or administration.
Top things to do in Biel
As Biel/Bienne is a city right next to the lake Biel, Jura mountains and at the same time has a rich history, it provides activities to wide variety of people with different interests.
In Biel you can find museums, zoo, funicolare, hiking trails, small port and many other places where you can have great time.
I have prepared a list of activities I hope you can enjoy and you will have a great time for one day or the whole weekend.
Let’s dive in.
Biel lake is the biggest water object next to Biel city and you can have a very nice long walk by it. Usually it is full of birds, especially swans and ducks.
If you want to have a nice long walk, head to Nidau direction and keep going by the lake. Do not go to on the other side, as it is right next to the road and it is quite noisy, although Capriccio restaurant on that side reminds me a bit of Norwegian architecture.
Biel lake has a small port and you can take a boat tour to other settlements by the lake. The one direction I would like to offer is St. Peterinsel – it is a peninsula on the other side of the lake with swamps and only reachable for tourists by boat or foot. Only locals can drive there. I will write a bit more about St. Peterinsel as it is in my top things to do in Biel list. You can check boat rides right here: Biel lake boats.
By the lake you will find as well restaurants, huge meadows to read a book or play frisbee, small parks, fishing places (just be sure to have a permit to fish) or you can even swim there in summer time.
As mentioned before, Biel is a proud manufacturer of great watches.
One of the most famous watch brands in the world is Omega and they have their own museum in Biel.
Did you know that one of Omega watches landed on the Moon? Isn’t that fascinating? You will find that piece of history in Omega museum.
As well they exhibit many great watches who can dive hundreds of meters below water, who were used in many Olympic games and so on.
If you are a fan of Swiss watches, it is a place to visit.
If you want to have a great family time, why not to visit a charming Biel zoo.
In the zoo you will mostly find the local fauna: deer, wild bores, owls, fox, goats and many other animals.
In the zoo territory you will as well find a fireplace which you can use, so it is a perfect place to have your lunch during your visit.
You can find the museum in this address:
As I mentioned before, you can take a boat from the city to St. Peterinsel which is a very well protected nature area in a peninsula right on the other side of the lake Biel.
If you want, you can as well reach St. Peterinsel with a car from the other side (you will have to drive around the lake), you will have to park your car and then walk 4.5 kilometers till you reach the restaurants, hotels and resting areas.
The path which leads to the resting area in the end of peninsula is a gravel and better not to leave it as all around is swampy land. From time to time you will see some wooden paths above the swamp, so you can use it to explore the nature. While you walk you will as well get good views to Jura mountains.
Once you get to the end, you will reach a very nice hotel and restaurant, small port, some boats and a very peaceful nature.
I would say that St. Peterinsel is an exceptional place in Switzerland as not so many swampy uninhabited places you can find in all the Alps country.
Biel old town
You can find a charming old town in the city where you can wander around, have a cup of coffee or do some shopping in local boutiques.
Once you are in old town, do not forget to check out these buildings and places:
Alte Krone, The former Rockhall Manor building, Jordi-Kocher House, Catholic parish church of St. Maria Immaculata, Museum Schwab and many other historical sites.
The overall tour of Biel old town should take you up to 1 hour.
There are two ways how you can get up the mountain and check out the lake from the top: you can hike up there or take a funicolare from Biel.
Switzerland is famous for many different mountain cable cars, gondolas, trains, but you will not find that many funicolares in Switzerland.
The track is 1693 meters long and in 9 minutes you will get to Magglingen/Macolin village.
From there you will get perfect views to the surroundings, find some restaurants and can have a nice walk or hike to even higher areas.
There is a huge Bar und Cafétéria Grand Hotel which you can see even from Biel sitting on the mountain, so it is a perfect place for a cup of coffee. If you wish, you can spend a night right there as well. The lake Biel and all cities and villages around it lights up really beautifully at night.
If you are looking for more art experience, you can visit the art museum in the city.
It is called Kunsthaus Pasquart.
During the year they have a lot of different exhibitions and of course the permanent one.
In this museum you will find the contemporary art not only from Switzerland, but from all around the world.
I really recommend visiting their website and check out their latest information as they have very interesting art works coming up all the time: Biel Kunsthaus Pasquart.
Things to do in Biel sum up
If I were you, I would really take advantage of Biel lake, watch museum and funicolare in this Swiss city.
Switzerland is really famous of their watches, so to visit the Omega museum is a really unique experience.
As well, why not to get fast to the mountains and use a local funicolare? That doesn’t happen to often.
The lake is huge and you will love the boat ride to the peninsula and its unique nature.
And I have one more tip: if you come by car, go a bit around the lake Biel and you will find many charming villages on the right with many vineyards – it looks amazing in summer. There you can do some really great hiking or slow strolling in the fields of grapes.
You can easily spend whole day or weekend in Biel and have a great and full of activities time.
If you have any questions about Biel, please let me know, I will do my best to help you.
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