Encircled by a gentle, hilly landscape and imposing cliffs, this town east of Berne in the Swiss Mittelland is dominated by its castle: the 800-year-old bricks in its walls would have had many stories to recount: such as how this town grew around the largest and best-maintained Zähringen castle in Switzerland. The museum in the castle presents the history of Burgdorf and the Emmental. Visitors can enjoy magnificent views of the city and the Bernese Alps from the donjon, which was built at the end of the 12th century.
The Burgdorf old town, comprising an upper town and lower town, is regarded as a jewel of urban architecture. The mediaeval urban architecture has to be admired as being virtually perfect: the upper town between the castle and church mound as a feudal residential town with patrician houses in the Bernese late-baroque style and neo-classical buildings, and the granary quarter at the foot of the castle cliff, the lower town linked to the upper town by stairs, which housed the businesses and trades.
Today, the alleyways of the old town, with their pleasant street cafés and snug small squares are a popular meeting place for shopping, entertainment and culinary enjoyment in a historic setting.
In the Helvetian Gold Museum in Burgdorf Castle, visitors will gain an oversight of gold panning and gold mining in Switzerland. At 97%, the gold from the Emme creek has a higher millesimal fineness than that from the ‘El Dorado’ of the American West! In remembrance of the Swiss gold rush in the Emmental, gold panning experience days can still be booked today.
Burgdorf gives sportspersons the opportunity to discover the Emmental and the Mittelland on bicycle. Golfers, on the other hand, will find their pleasure in an attractive 18-hole golf course in the neighbouring town of Oberburg.
- Old Burgdorf Abattoir – Bernhard Luginbühl (*1929), an important Swiss wood and iron sculptor has lived and worked in Mötschwil near Burgdorf since 1965. His works are exhibited in the old abattoir in Burgdorf and in the sculpture park in Mötschwil.
- Burgdorf Franz Gertsch Museum – monumental, life-like wood carvings are a hallmark of the artist Gertsch (*1930). Changing exhibitions with contemporary art.
- Burgdorf Castle – Switzerland’s largest and best-maintained Zähringen castle with a historic museum.
- Lueg – Vantage point (888 m) near Burgdorf with panoramic views across the hilly landscape of the Emmental, as well as the Jura and the Alps.
- Lyssach shopping mile – continually growing zone with home improvement centres like IKEA, Media Markt etc. situated directly at the Kirchberg/Burgdorf autobahn exit.
- Emmental – thanks to the cheese made here, this is a well-known hilly landscape with spacious farmhouses and reminders of the poet Jeremias Gotthelf.
- Demonstration cheese dairy in Affoltern in the Emmental – experience how Emmental cheese is made: cheese making is the oldest method of preserving milk.
- Sensorium – a zone of experiences for the senses with around 40 “experimentation stations”, integrated at Rüttihubelbad, an anthroposophical social, cultural and convention centre.
- Rohrbachgraben – rural community in the Langetental with a nature and medicinal herb garden containing over 1000 plants as well as an ostrich farm.
- Solennität in Burgdorf – highly traditional school festival (since 1729) with school girls in white skirts and floral wreaths and boys in black and white suits, afternoon procession with festival (June).
- Lüderenchilbi in the Emmental – the oldest ‘Älplerchilbi’ (Alpine farmer’s fair) in Switzerland (over 600 years). The ‘Schwingfest’ or traditional Swiss wrestling contest forms its highlight. With folk music and folk dance groups (August).
- SlowUp Emmental – a car-free experience day for and celebrating muscle-driven means of propulsion (cyclists, inline skaters etc.) (September).
- Burgdorf Crime Days – a Mecca for murder mystery fans and amateur sleuths. During the 10-day festival, attendees indulge in the murder mystery in all its forms at 50 events (every two years, e.g. October 2006).