Located on the border between the French and German-speaking parts of Switzerland, Biel/Bienne is a fascinating place to visit. As the northernmost city in canton Bern, Biel might not seem like the first place you would think of visiting in Switzerland. Even so, you can certainly spend a day in this city – one of Switzerland’s most famous watchmaking cities. Here’s how you can spend one day in Biel, Switzerland.
Biel/Bienne is located in Canton Bern, Switzerland on the northern edge of Lake Biel near the Jura mountains. German and French signs are legally required and displayed throughout this bilingual city; announcements are given in both languages. Additionally, it serves as a hub for trains connecting Zurich, Olten, Bern, Solothurn, Neuchâtel, and Geneva.
The Watchmaking City of Biel
Biel/Bienne is one of the watchmaking centers of Switzerland along with La Chaux-de-Fonds and Le Locle. While Biel didn’t begin watchmaking as early as Geneva, its tax advantages for watch companies and the surplus of available workers after the decline of the textile industry attracted watch companies from the Jura region to the area.
Nowadays, Biel/Bienne is home to watch companies like Swatch, Alpina, and Horage. And despite having its headquarters in Geneva, Rolex’s largest production facility is located in Biel/Bienne.
Biel is worth visiting both any time of the year. In order to get the most out of Lake Biel, however, you should visit it during the summertime.
Whether you’re looking for a 1-day itinerary or a list of things to do in Biel, Switzerland this article is for you. Here are a few ideas for how you can spend one day in Biel, Switzerland.
Biel One Day Itinerary: What can you do?
Let’s discuss it!
1. Enjoy a cozy breakfast as you begin your day
In case your hotel doesn’t offer a breakfast option, you can walk around Biel to find a café. It is important to find a warm, cozy place to eat breakfast before heading out to the city.
You don’t have to go far in Biel: there are plenty of cafes and restaurants that serve up hot coffee with delicious pastries. Some options are the following:
- Café Centaure (General-Dufour-Strasse 12) – Great coffee, fruit tarts, croissants, and friendly service make this a great place to get breakfast. Aside from that, they have ample space.
- Farel Bistro & Take Away (Oberer Quai 12) – Aside from awesome coffee, they also serve matcha. There are vegan options as well as focaccia and pies if you are looking for a snack. You can also get fast WiFi here. Whenever the weather is nice and sunny, you can sit on the terrace.
- Café Santos (General-Dufour-Strasse 4) – A cozy and small coffee shop for dates or meeting up with your friends.
2. Head over to the Medieval Village of La Neuveville
It is true that Biel has its own old town. My recommendation, however, is to head over to La Neuveville after breakfast instead. Compared to Biel, I find this village more charming and beautiful, and it is only a short train ride away.
There are still city walls and defense towers in the medieval town of La Neuveville. Originally a part of Napoleonic France, it’s now part of the French-speaking Bernese Jura.
Among La Neuveville’s highlights is its white church, or Blanche Église Réformée. There are Gothic frescoes and wooden ceilings in this church built back in 1345. Furthermore, a 14th-century tower lies at the end of the main street, Rue du Marché.
La Neuveville also has other historic sites like Cour Gléresse (also known as Hof Ligerz), Fontaines Des Bannerets, Maison de Berne, and Maison des Dragons. Located at the Neuveville Town Hall (Hôtel de Ville), is the historical museum known as Musée d’Histoire La Neuveville.
The Witches Trail is a three-hour hike that may be worth checking out if you have enough time. The path leads through vineyards and along picturesque paths to a romantic pavilion with mesmerizing views. Taking a leisurely descent through vineyards, you see fantastic views of Lake Biel along the way.
How to Get to La Neuveville
Trains depart Biel/Bienne for La Neuveville 50 minutes after the full hour on an hourly schedule. The trip takes only 13 minutes.
If you would like to learn more about beautiful medieval towns in Switzerland, you can check out our article: 10 Beautiful Medieval Towns in Switzerland.
3. Enjoy a Cruise on Lake Biel
Once you have explored the medieval town of La Neuveville and the surrounding vineyards, you can board the next ship back to Biel. A cruise from La Neuveville to Biel/Bienne by boat takes about an hour, and is much quieter than other cruises on other lakes in Switzerland.
The ship’s schedule can be viewed on the BSG website: https://www.bielersee.ch/fahrplan.
4. Discover the Swatch and Omega Museums
As a city of watchmaking, Biel/Bienne is home to two of the most recognizable watch companies in the world – Swatch and Omega. What’s even more interesting is that both of these museums are free to visit in Biel. I recommend you check them out at Cité du Temps.
Another interesting place to visit is the Neues Museum Biel, which houses an extensive and publicly accessible collection of Rolex watches.
In the world of Swiss watches, Swatch is one of the most well-known brands. Colorful and playful, this brand stands out from other serious brands. It is also commonly given as a gift or bought as a souvenir.
Rather than teaching its visitors about the history of time and timekeeping, the museum Planet Swatch is more about celebrating the cult brand’s history and products. Located on the second floor of the Cité du Temps, these exhibits are dedicated to Swatch.
At Planet Swatch, all the walls are adorned with numerous glass displays. All the colorful watches are arranged according to the year they were released. It is well-organized and interesting.
If you would like to read more about the Planet Swatch Museum, you can check out Discover Planet Swatch Museum in Biel, Switzerland.
After visiting Planet Swatch Museum, you can head over to Omega Museum. With its premium pricing, clever advertising, and revolutionary and professional pieces, Omega is rightfully considered one of the best luxury watch manufacturers in Switzerland.
Upon entering the Omega Museum in Biel, you are welcomed by an exciting film. A 360° show will provide you with a brief history of timekeeping.
As soon as the film show is over, you will be able to visit the Omega Museum. This museum will also highlight Omega’s involvement in Space Exploration and James Bond films.
If you would like to read more about the Omega Museum, you can check out Discover Omega Museum in Biel, Switzerland.
5. Take A Nice Stroll in Biel
Having spent the day in La Neuveville and two watch museums, I recommend wandering around Biel before deciding where to eat. Biel/Bienne also has other interesting sights if you would like to change one of the suggestions above.
Some of the things to do or places to see in Biel/Bienne are:
- Old Town of Biel – A visit to this medieval old town, its well-preserved buildings, and alleys is well worth it if you are in the area.
- Elfenau Park (Unterer Quai 7, Biel) – There are fish, peacocks, and hens in this relaxing park in the heart of the city. Whether you stroll by or take a seat on the bench, it’s a great place to relax.
- Kunsthaus Pasquart (Seevorstadt 71, Biel) -It holds its ground against some of the world’s most well-known contemporary art museums and is definitely worth visiting.
- Taubenloch – A nearby gorge just above the city with a nearby forest zoo at the end of the trail.
Summary: 1 Day in Biel, Switzerland
Before ending your day in Biel, you have several choices for a sumptuous dinner. Restaurants like Restaurant du Bourg, Perroquet Vert, and Repas are just some of the highly-rated choices for you.
As you can see, you will not run out of options on what to do in Biel in one day. In fact, you can stretch the Biel offered here easily to another 1 or 2 more days. And if you would like to find more ideas on what to do in the near Biel, check out our related articles below.
The Three Lakes Region is home to several beautiful places, such as Murten, and Neuchâtel, which I recommend you explore after exploring Biel. Among the other cities you should consider are Burgdorf, Solothurn, and Bern.
- Discover Planet Swatch Museum in Biel, Switzerland
- Discover Omega Museum in Biel, Switzerland
- Zurich to Biel Train: All You Need To Know
- Geneva to Biel Train: All You Need To Know
- Visiting Murten, Switzerland? Here’s What You Need To Know
- 10 Best Things to Do in Lake Murten, Switzerland
- How to Spend 1 Day in Bern, Switzerland
- Solothurn – 9 Best Things to Do in this Beautiful Baroque City
- The Medieval City of Burgdorf, Switzerland
- 10 Beautiful Medieval Towns in Switzerland
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Darla Uhl is the owner of TouringSwitzerland.com. Her home is in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. Having lived almost 20 years in Switzerland, she's traveled extensively all over the country.
Darla's favorite regions to visit in Switzerland include Engadin, Lake Geneva, Bernese Oberland, Ticino, and Valais. She loves spending time with her family, hiking, visiting museums, and reading books.