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Exploring the Ballenberg Swiss Open Air Museum: A Family Guide

Updated: May 20

Large interactive and immersive open air museum dedicated to Swiss culture. Ballenberg, Near Interlaken (Canton Bern, Switzerland).

The "it" factor


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What makes it special:



What needs to be considered:


  • The museum's large area (66 hectares) may require more than a day to fully explore. Plan your visit strategically to cover the areas most interesting to you.


Tip:  Workshops and some hands-on activities have specific times; check the schedule before visiting.


Don't feel like reading? Watch a video instead!



The fun factor


Ballenberg Swiss Open-Air Museum offers a unique journey into Swiss history and culture. Spread over 66 hectares, the museum features over 100 authentic buildings from across Switzerland. Each building has been relocated and meticulously rebuilt to showcase the architectural styles and daily life of different regions.


We love Ballenberg not just because it is a great window into the past; it's very interactive and packed with tons of fun activities for kids, making it one of our favorite destinations.


The interactive map on the Ballenberg Museum's website is an excellent tool to plan your visit.  It lets you explore each house, find restaurants, playgrounds, and animals with ease. Since fun activities are scattered throughout the museum, our Family Fun Factor map highlights our favorites to help you navigate and find them all.



Here’s a tip to make your visit smoother: To help the little ones keep up without getting tired, you can grab a pull carriage at the entrance (free of charge). Just note that there is limited availability, so if you are coming on busy days, consider arriving early to ensure you get one. This makes it easier to explore the various sections of the museum comfortably.


Here are our top 8 Fun Factors of Ballenberg Swiss Open-Air Museum


1. Uncover the historical villages


The Ballenberg Open-Air Museum is divided into several sections, each representing different geographical and cultural regions of Switzerland and marked with a different color on the map. These are East Switzerland, Central Switzerland, Bernese Oberland, Northwest Switzerland, Mittelland, Western Switzerland, Ticino, Graubünden.


Just walking around the impressive 66 hectares of the museum grounds is an adventure, filled with a sense of exploration where every turn reveals new surprises and hidden gems from Switzerland's past. For parents, the diverse architecture and picturesque views are a real treat.



2. Explore the houses and pretend play


Ballenberg Swiss Open-Air Museum is a perfect place for pretend play. It allows kids to step back in time and immerse themselves in the everyday lives of people from different regions and eras of Switzerland. As they wander into historical houses, kids can engage with the past in a hands-on way. They can pretend to cook in old-fashioned kitchens, act out roles as farmers or shopkeepers, milk cows, go to school, or even try out clothes from centuries ago. Each house is richly furnished and decorated to provide an authentic and interactive backdrop.



In several houses, kids can dive into interactive exhibits to explore tools, utensils, clothes, and music from the past. Though some exhibits are less hands-on, they're still captivating. Our favorite? The old-school hair salon (house 611), complete with funky vintage perm machines! Our 4-year-old was fascinated — who would have thought?



We've marked the main houses with fun activities on our map, but most houses have something to explore


3. Play with vintage toys


House 622 is a real gem for kids. It's set up like a traditional living space from the past, complete with the kind of toys that children in Switzerland used to play with centuries ago.

Here, kids can play with wooden toys, dolls, games, and puzzles that have been beloved by Swiss children for generations. This hands-on experience lets them see what playtime was like before the digital age (oh, how we sometimes miss those days...). It's a great way to help kids connect with Switzerland's history and culture.




4. Participate in Hands-On Activities


Throughout the museum, many spots offer hands-on activities and workshops. Be sure to check the official list and our map to find your favourites! These include covering the roof with tiles, trying on traditional clothes, rearranging the Swiss Open-Air Museum with the magnetic pieces, Hands on house exploration, and more!


Important tip: Some of these activities happen at specific times, so be sure to pay attention to the schedule to catch them when they are taking place.


A favorites were carpentry where kids can build their masterpieces from everyday things and simple materials and the firefighter experience, where kids use a hose to spray water at fire cutouts. Who would have thought such a simple activity could be so much fun?



5. Dive into crafting


In some of the houses, you can witness skilled artisans in action, delving into the craftsmanship of sawing, weaving, and carpentry, as well as the creation of cheese, bread, butter, hats, and much more! Exploring the houses and discovering the artisans at work is a great experience. These demonstrations are scheduled at specific times, so make sure to check the schedule if you don’t want to miss the opportunity to observe — and occasionally participate in — these traditional crafts.



Check the the official list to find your favourites. We've marked on our map which activities are just for observation and which ones are hands-on, making it easy to find the experiences you are interested in.



6. Hit the playgrounds


There are two playground areas at the Ballenberg Open-Air Museum.


The first one is located in the center of the museum grounds and features fun climbing and playing structures, a giant bowling lane, and an authentic carousel (always a hit with our 4 year old!) that operates at an extra charge. This carousel, dating back to the early 20th century, showcases hand-painted horses and a classic design, offering visitors an authentic experience. It provides a unique way to connect with the past while enjoying a leisurely break during the visit.



The second playground is tucked away in the woods and has a short adventure trail and a house where kids can play inside and out. It's surrounded by trees. Our four year old espeically liked the Enchanted Forest - small house for playing and exploring. Plus, there are shovels and sand for digging, which are always a big hit with the kids. Check our map for details.



7. Say hello to the animals


At the Ballenberg Open-Air Museum, animals are a fantastic addition, adding to the authenticity of the experience. As you wander through the grounds, you'll meet a variety of animals like goats, sheep, cows, chickens, and even oxen, each living in their dedicated enclosure and some, mostly chicken and ducks, even wodnering around feely. These animals help show what traditional Swiss farming was like, offering a peek into rural life. Plus there is also a petting enclosure, next to the main playground, where kids can interact with the goats.



8. And more!


All the activities mentioned will easily fill your day, but there is more! Foxtails (extra fee - and when we enquired, we were advised they are currently targeting corporates rather than families), theme trails, fairy tale readings every Sunday, exhibitions, horse carriage rides around the museum. You can also have fun discovering cut-outs of figures scattered throughout the grounds and more! I believe this is the largest and most activity-packed museum we've ever experienced that will keep you busy for more than a day.


The food factor


Select your favorite from four authentic restaurants


There are four restaurants around the museum grounds:


  • Alter Bären Restaurant: Focus on traditional Bernese specialties including a delightful homemade fruit flan.

  • Degen Restaurant: Serves dishes from central Switzerland, like the beloved Luzerner Chügelipastetli.

  • Wilerhorn Restaurant: Perfect for larger groups, also offers special brunch menu

  • Osteria Novazzano: Outdoor venue that brings a taste of Ticino, featuring dishes like polenta and risotto.


Just next to the main playground, you can find a circus wagon that offers a variety of snacks and drinks, providing a convenient spot to grab a quick bite or refreshment while the kids play. Check the interactive map for details.



Pack your basket and picnic away


There are also many picturesque picnic spots throughout the park, so you can easily choose one spot if you opt for a relaxing picnic.



There's also a local shop for snacks, ice cream, and drinks to replenish your supplies!


The fitness factor


The Ballenberg Open-Air Museum, spread across 66 hectares, offers an extensive network of paths for walking, making it a place where you can easily spend 3-6 hours just exploring. While the terrain is mostly flat, it includes occasional short uphill and downhill sections, with a total elevation difference of around 60 meters. This could be somewhat challenging for young children or those who find long walks more strenuous.


The majority of the paths are stroller-friendly, allowing families with young children to navigate the museum comfortably. For paths that are not suitable for strollers, alternative routes are usually available, ensuring that you don’t miss out on the experience.

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For an additional bit of fun and convenience, you can grab a pull carriage (free of charge). This not only gives the kids a break from walking but also provides a bit of a workout for the parents.





The value factor



In 2024 prices were as follows:


  • Adults: 32.00 CHF

  • Children (6-16 years old): 16.00 CHF

  • Children under 6 year olds: Free

  • Family ticket : 72 CHF


Other various discounts available: Bernese Oberland Pass, Camping Card Berner Oberland, Guest Card, KulturLegi

Museums-PASS-Musées, Raiffeisen Member Plus, Swiss Museum Pass

Swiss Travel Pass






Ballenberg Swiss Open Air Museum - practical info





 

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