The municipality of Koeniz sits adjacent to the Swiss capital Bern on the country’s southern border with Italy. Home to just under 40,000 inhabitants, the area enjoys relative tranquility whilst still maintaining excellent transportation links to Bern and other major Swiss cities. The region has traditionally stood as a mainly agricultural area and is well known to tourists for being home to numerous scenic villages and hamlets tailor-made for photography and hiking.
The history of settlement in Koeniz stretches as far back as the Iron and Bronze Ages. Evidence of Roman villas and Roman settlements were also discovered within the municipality. Well recorded history of the area dates from the early Middle Ages. Koeniz’s main church dates from 1100 and is one of the oldest known buildings in the area. Though there is no solid evidence of it, the church once oversaw a large region which included Bern according to local legend.
Regardless of the legend, what is known is that the church stood as a pillar in the community for hundreds of years and played a major part in getting Koeniz recognized as its own region. After a series of reformations, Koeniz became the municipality it is known as today in the mid 1800s. Nearly 1000 years after it was first mentioned in written records, evidence of Koeniz’s past can still be seen in a number of historic buildings scattered throughout the municipality.
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The Best Time to Go
Koeniz is a year-round destination and the best time for visitors depends on whether you’re looking for a place to enjoy Switzerland in the snow or the sunshine. Koeniz is not a major winter sports resort but they are close enough for it to be a base for making the best of the country’s magnificent snow fields. Temperatures in winter can drop to below 0°C (32°F) while in summer they peak pleasantly at around 23°C (73°F), ideal for hiking and cycling.
Getting Around in Koeniz
Throughout most of Switzerland, the train network provides a cost efficient and timely method of transport. Koeniz is no different. Commuter trains leave the Koeniz Bahnhof several times and hour, with direct connections to Bern. From Bern, every other major city in Switzerland is accessible via a high speed rail network. There is a major train line that bisects the municipality, connecting smaller villages such as Moos, Gasel, Niederscherli and Butze to Bern.
The entire municipality is also serviced by a series of buses and trams that criss-cross the region, making it easy to get around without a vehicle. Passes for the local transport system can be purchased at train stations throughout Koeniz. The entire public transport network in Switzerland is easy to understand and most train station attendants are able to provide help and advice in English.
Visitors to Koeniz may choose to drive as their form of transportation and there are several car hire companies based in Bern. The region is home to well-maintained roads and travelling from Bern to Koeniz is a fairly straightforward affair. Several major roads and highways run south from the capital city and enter Koeniz. To reach Koeniz, simply follow Schwarzenburgstrasse south from Bern. This road runs parallel to the municipality’s main train line and offers scenic views of the surrounding rolling hills, while providing access to a number of other villages further south from Koeniz.
Though taxis are readily available throughout Bern and Koeniz, the convenience and low cost of public transportation make taxis a less attractive option. However, unlike public transportation, taxis are available at all hours of the day and can provide visitors with direct access to their destinations. Taxis can either be reserved ahead of time, or found near train stations and other transportation hubs.
Main Attractions, Sights and Things to do
Schloss Koeniz (Koeniz Castle)– In addition to its obvious historic appeal, Schloss Koeniz a cultural hub for the entire municipality. After extensive renovations performed by the city, it now acts as a venue for a variety of music, theatre and other cultural acts from around the country and the world.
Schulmuseum Bern (Bern School Museum) – Despite its name, this museum is actually located in central Koeniz. Housed within the historic Haberhuus, the museum’s collection includes over 30,000 artifacts from Swiss schools throughout the centuries. Among the museum’s highlights is an impressive exhibition on school wall paintings. The Schulmuseum Bern leads 90-minute tours through its main exhibitions and there’s also a museum shop.
Gurten – Standing at 864 metres above Koeniz, Gurten is a local mountain home to a number of restaurants, guest houses and plenty of other facilities. The mountain can be reached through a designated Gurten train. Highlights of the area include a lookout tower, which offers panoramic views of the Bernese Alps and surrounding villages. In the winter, Gurten’s gentle slopes offer the perfect place to learn how to ski or snowboard and is also home to a ski-jumping venue. During other times of the year, leisure walking, hiking and biking are also popular.
Badeanlage Weiermatt – This extensive water park is generally open from May to September of each year. The park features 5.6 million liters of water and has attractions suitable for people of all ages including a water slide, traditional swimming pool and children’s play area. It is easily accessible through both public transport and car and the entrance fee for adults is just 5 CHF.
Hamlets of Gurtendorfli, Herzwil, Liebewil and Mengestorf – Switzerland is famous for its small villages, lush pastures, valleys and idyllic Alpine scenery. In order to preserve the distinct architecture and aesthetic that is so much a part of the nation’s heritage, the government designates historic buildings and towns and heritage sites. Koeniz is home to several small hamlets given such designations. Herzwil, Liebewil, Mengestorf and Gurtendorfli all offer visitors an opportunity to transport themselves back in time. These picture perfect villages display excellent examples of classic Swiss farmhouses (Bauernhaus), many of which have stood for several hundred years.
Lotschental – This valley in the Bernese Alps lies just to the south of Koeniz and is one of the closest skiing destinations to Bern. Those staying in Koeniz can enjoy easy public transport access to all the sights and activities of Lotschental. The valley is popular in the spring and summer for hiking and sightseeing, while the area becomes a major winter sports destination come winter.
Stadttheater (City Theatre) – In 2007 the Bern City Theatre opened its second location in Koeniz. Consisting of two stages, the theatre plays host to over 130 performances each year. Performances range from traditional theatre shows to musicals and musical acts. Tickets to performances at the city theatre in Koeniz cost considerably less than tickets to the same performance at the city theatre in Bern.
Shopping in Koeniz
Local and independent shops can be found throughout Koeniz, though most of the area’s main shopping facilities are located in nearby Bern. Just a few miles north of Koeniz, Bern is home to an extensive list of specialty markets and miles of shopping arcades.
Artisan Market – Held on the first Saturday of each month at the foot of the Bernese Munster, the city’s artisan market is an excellent place to find fine handcrafted items from throughout Switzerland. Visitors will encounter everything from hand woven textiles to custom ceramic and art pieces. It’s the perfect place to pick up a souvenir of Switzerland.
Globus – Located right next to Bern’s main train station, Globus is a popular shopping centre of visitors in search of premium and high quality goods. The department store has a wide range of fine jewelry, watches, home goods as well as gourmet foods and wine to choose from. The store also its visitors a tax-free form, which allows for a customs reimbursements of value-added tax with any purchase above 300 CHF.
Wankdorf Center – The Wankdorf Center is one of the region’s premier shopping destinations and appeals to fashionistas and foodies alike. There are over 20 specialty fashion outlets as well as a large food centre offering a selection of around 900 different types of wines from around the world. In addition, the shopping centre has a supervised children’s play area which allows parents to shop whilst their kids are being watched.
Loeb – Founded in 1881, Loeb is a classic Kaufhaus located in the centre of Bern. Still run by the Loeb family after 5 generations, the 8-floor shopping facility offers an extensive selection of goods ranging from cosmetics to household goods and clothing. The department store is also well known for its creative marketing campaigns and store displays.
Eating Out in Koeniz
Steinholzli – Steinholzli is located in Liebefeld and specializes in local Swiss dishes. Its specials include duck breast, pork filet and beef stroganoff. Main dishes are accented with traditional Swiss sauces and vegetables to create hearty meals that have been enjoyed in this region for centuries. The restaurant also offers an extensive wine menu and can cater to larger parties on request.
Haberbuni – Serving both international and local cuisine, Haberbuni is open for both lunch and dinner. Utilizing a number of locally-sourced ingredients, it features an ever-changing menu of specialties within a warm and cozy historic building. In the warmer months, diners can choose to eat al fresco in the restaurant’s inviting green garden which comes complete with a soothing water feature.
Schichtwechsel – Housed within a former industrial building, Schichtwechsel offers its guests a modern atmosphere and equally modern cuisine. Taking flavors from around the world, the restaurant serves up tapas and an ever-revolving lunch menu including everything from Swiss-German Spatzli to Thai chicken curry. Inventive cocktails and a laid-back atmosphere contribute to the Schichtwechsel’s popularity with working professionals.
Nightlife in Koeniz
As with shopping facilities, most of the area’s major nightlife spots are located within the Bern metropolitan area. While Koeniz offers a small selection of traditional Kneipen (pubs), dancing, live music and modern nightclub venues are all located a few kilometers north of the municipality.
Wankdorf Club – This is Bern’s largest nightclub and offers something for everyone. The spacious dance floor and modern facilities make it one of the region’s hottest nightspots. The club is open on Fridays and Saturdays until 3:30 in the morning and plays host to DJs from around the world.
Club Bonsoir – More of a lounge than a nightclub, Club Bonsoir offers a trendy atmosphere that attracts visiting guests from around the world. On the first Wednesday of each month, the venue transforms itself into a table tennis club and also has a stage for live music. On normal weeks, Club Bonsoir is open on Fridays and Saturdays from 11 pm.
Mahogany Hall – A throwback to the jazz era, Mahogany Hall is a popular live music venue and club specializes mostly in blues, jazz and folk music. A welcome departure from a traditional modern nightclub, it is the oldest live music venue of its kind in the city. Mahogany Halls features high quality live music from local and international groups almost every night of the week.
Grand Casino Bern – Gambling was just recently legalized in Switzerland and the Grand Casino Bern offers Koeniz visitors with a chance to partake in a number of different table games. The casino offers the highest payout of any casino in Switzerland and supports American roulette, blackjack and poker. There are also approximately 300 video gaming machines as well as a bar and a restaurant to keep visitors entertained throughout the night.
Of local interest
Konitz is well known for its annual open-air music festival known as Gurtenfestival. The event is held in the summer of each year and attracts tens of thousands of visitors. Currently celebrating its 30 year anniversary, the Gurtenfestival runs for 3 days and hosts numerous musical acts from Switzerland, Germany and beyond. In addition to established artists, the festival also promotes emerging artists across all major music genres.
Buskers Bern Street Festival
Swiss cities have enjoyed a long history of playing host to street performers. This tradition is now celebrated in Bern every year with the Buskers Bern Street Festival. Held each year, the three day festival features street performers and musicians offering up all kinds of music of entertainment. While many local acts participate, the festival also attracts musicians from as far away as Niger, Israel and the UK.
Royal Thai Embassy Thai Festival 2019
The next Thai Festival is scheduled from the 6th to the 7th of July 2019and open from 10:00 to 18:00.