A full day activity, Ballenberg is a unique outdoor museum with over 100 historic houses from all over the country that have been carefully disassembled, moved, and reinstalled as a series of regional “villages”. Ballenberg also offers daily demonstrations of local crafts such as watch-making, cheese-making, needlework, woodcarving, charcoal burning, and dozens more.
A lot of Swiss villages have little local museums that offer a peek into traditional life… old tools, handcrafts, and farming equipment. But they’re almost always pretty limited. If you love traditional crafts and architecture, you will fall in love with the Ballenberg Outdoor Museum. It’s extensive and fabulous, with live demonstrations that you’ll rarely find elsewhere. This is perhaps the best place in Switzerland learn about Swiss traditional crafts and culture.
The Ballenberg Outdoor Museum is near Brienz, between Interlaken and Meiringen in the Bernese Oberland. It’s a bit off the beaten path, and takes a bit of getting to if you don’t have a car (there are buses), but it’s well worth a visit.
This is likely to be a full-day activity, so plan plenty of time if you’re going to see it. It’s a pretty good bad-weather activity, since many of the sights are indoors, but be aware that there is a fair amount of walking to get from house to house (it covers 163 acres). You’ll be outside plenty. Ballenberg has restaurants, playgrounds (and a carousel), even firepits where you will see Swiss families roasting sausages for lunch. With their commitment to tradition, this is a good place to buy souvenirs, such as pottery, lace, cheese or chocolate.
Ballenberg is open from mid-April until the end of October, from 8:00 to 5:30 pm, and costs CHF 24/person. You get free entrance if you are traveling on a free day with a Swiss Travel pass, so be sure to bring that along if you have one. There are two entrances, on the east and west.
See the Ballenberg website for more information.
Grindelwald has long been known as the ‘glacier village’ thanks to the nearby glaciers that extend almost into the town. The glaciers may be receding, but the views are still out of this world.