On the tail end of my visit to Switzerland, Aunt M. and I went to Biel/Bienne, a French-speaking city on the Swiss northwest. Aunt N. bought Aunt M. and I municipal 1-day-travelpasses (tageskarte gemeinde), and I picked Biel/Bienne as our main destination for one day, since it was only less than two hours away by public transport from Aunt N.’s house. I also wanted to go somewhere less touristy (most visitors bypass Biel/Bienne for nearby Bern and Solothurn).
Below is a half-day itinerary of Biel/Bienne based on our own sojourn there. Click here for a printable tourist map of Biel/Bienne to help you plan your outing.
1. Tourism Biel Seeland Info-Centre
A good place to start your tour of Biel/Bienne is at the tourist information center, which is conveniently located right outside the entrance to the train station. Here you can get free maps, ask for recommendations on where to eat lunch, etc. More importantly, it’s one place where you’re sure to speak to someone in English, so ask to your heart’s content here before venturing out to the city, where almost all of the locals we asked for directions couldn’t speak English.
Monday to Friday: 8 am to 12:30 pm and 1:30 pm to 6 pm
Thursday: 8 am to 12:30 pm and 1:30 pm to 8 pm
Saturday: 9 am to 3 pm
2. Tierpark Biel/Parc Zoologique Bienne (Biel Zoo)
This is a unique, intimate zoo in the Bözingen/Boujean district of Biel/Bienne. Unlike most zoos, which bring animals into the city in an artificial setting, Biel Zoo is actually located out in the open woods, in something akin to the animals’ natural habitat. The animals aren’t caged, and they’re free to roam around their respective fenced areas, which are quite expansive. Here you can see some Swiss animals, including the Alpine ibex, red deer, and mouflon. It’s a relaxing place to hang out, with just the trees, the breeze, and the animals.
None. It’s free. Just enter the woods and follow the cleared paths.
Since the zoo isn’t walled, I guess anyone can enter anytime, but it would probably be too eerie to visit at night.
How to get there
Ride the bus and get off at either Taubenloch, Bözingen/Boujean, or Zollhaus/Octroi stops. For bus numbers and timetables, check the SBB official website. The bus stops are quite a ways from the zoo — you have to walk uphill through a residential area for about 15 minutes.
3. Omega Museum
Obviously, this is a museum which showcases the history and grandeur of Omega watches. It is located at the light-colored building (no sign) right across the Omega factory. One can avail of the free self-guided audio tour, which is very informative and takes around an hour to finish.
None. It’s free. Just press the buzzer by the door, and the museum personnel will let you in.
Tuesday to Friday: 10 am to 6 pm
Saturday: 11 am to 5 pm
How to get there
Ride the bus and get off at Omega stop.
Drop by here for lunch. There are many food choices along this road and nearby, from Coop to McDonald’s.
How to get there
Ride the bus and get off at either Orange or Zentralplatz stop.
5. Old Town
The Old Town is a short hike from Nidaugasse (just head towards the vintage-looking spires). Have a leisurely stroll on the cobblestone streets and admire the picturesque buildings and fountains.
Sadly we had to end our tour of Biel/Bienne here as we had to catch a train to Basel. There are many other things to see and do in Biel/Bienne, but all in all, it was a very satisfying half-day excursion off the beaten path.