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Huddled above and around a small bay 11km south of Thun, SPIEZ is a gentle little resort village, dominated by its medieval waterside castle and stunning views over the lake to the high mountains all around.

The train station is in a modern shopping area high above the Old Town, or Städtli – find your way down on stairs and the descending main Seestrasse. Boats from Thun and Interlaken dock right beside the Old Town. The castle, Schloss Spiez (April–Oct Mon 2–5pm, Tues–Sun 10am–5pm; Fr.4), dating from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries but with earlier foundations, was the residence of the Stretlingen family before passing to the Bernese noble dynasties of Von Bubenberg and, from 1516 to 1875, Von Erlach. You can visit several of the grand halls within, including the Baroque Banqueting Hall of 1614. The Romanesque church adjacent, with its seventeenth-century spire, has original frescoes in the apse and the crypt. Wandering through the tiny lanes around the castle, and around the bay filled with yachts (Spiez is home to a renowned sailing school) is a good way to get a feel for the town.

Spiez’s friendly tourist office is on platform 1 of the station (May–Sept Mon–Fri 8am–6.30pm, Sat 9am–noon & 2–4pm; Oct–April Mon–Fri 8am–noon & 2–6pm; 033/654 21 38). There’s a computer for Internet access in the office (Fr.12/hr), and bike hire facilities in the station.

The town’s popularity with holidaying German and Swiss-German families means that there are plenty of hotels, but conservatism is the watchword. Krone, on Seestrasse (033/654 41 31, fax 654 94 31; a) is an old, lived-in place with shared bathrooms near the station with parking. Down a bit further on the same street, past the junction, is Bellevue (033/654 84 64, fax 654 84 48; b), a slightly cosier place with more modern rooms. Beside the bay is Aqua Welle (033/654 40 44, fax 654 76 75; c) with more material comforts, better views, but less character. The nearest HI hostel is a few kilometres south, at Leissingen: La Nichée (033/847 12 14, fax 847 14 97; a; May–Oct) is a pleasant, peaceful place with only a few dorm places (Fr.30).

Next to Spiez station is a self-service Migros restaurant, with views over the castle and the lake, while Seestrasse holds a clutch of inexpensive tearooms and pizzerias, including the popular Brasserie 66 up near the station.

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