What to visit in Bern?
The iconic Fountain City. Bern, Switzerland's capital city, has become the focal point of the country's culture, education, history, and tourism. The town teems with preserved medieval structures and museums showcasing the country's spectacularly rich history. Furthermore, because of the city's unrivaled aesthetic vibe, Bern is one of those destinations where you'll always have a scenic backdrop wherever you go.
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What not to miss?
Bern's Old Town
Bern's medieval center (also known as the Old Town, Old City, and Altstadt) was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983, surrounded on three sides by the turquoise waters of the River Aare. The three main streets of Bern's Old Town run east from the Clock Tower. The wide, cobbled central street that runs downhill to the Nydegg Church is surrounded by four-story arcaded limestone buildings with scores of independent shops selling everything from high-end coffee to antiques, books, and couture (described by the tourist information center as the longest covered shopping promenade in the world).
The imposing Federal Palace, built between 1894 and 1902 under the supervision of architect Hans Wilhelm Auer, serves as Switzerland's national parliament. The imposing 64-meter-high green dome is crowned by stained glass windows depicting the coats of arms of Switzerland's cantons and a central mosaic of the Federal coat of arms with the motto 'One for all and all for one.'
Bern's Bear Park (Barenpark)
Since the 1500s, bears have lived in the beautiful city of Bern. That is why they are always welcome in town and are carefully guarded by the government as part of the country's natural treasures. This is why the famous Bear Park, a 6,000-square-meter bear sanctuary, was built. Aside from providing a haven for the lovely bears, tourists can also book a guided tour to meet, interact with, and admire the adorable bears of Bear Park Bern.
Albert Einstein's discovery of the Theory of Relativity, which ultimately changed our perception of the world, is one of the most important discoveries in human history. Einstein made that famous discovery when he was living in Bern, Switzerland. All the more reason for a grand museum in his honor to be built in this city! The Einstein Museum of Bern, which spans 1000 square meters, houses an extensive collection of authentic Albert Einstein memorabilia, including objects, replicas, and films depicting the famous physicist's life.
The Kunstmuseum (Museum of Fine Arts)
The Kunstmuseum, or Museum of Fine Arts Bern, is a haven for artists and art lovers because it houses some of the most important works by artists such as Pablo Picasso, Paul Klee, and Méret Oppenheim. Visitors can freely admire and appreciate over 48,000 drawings and 3,000 paintings.
What else to visit?
Bern Cathedral (Bern Münster)
One of Switzerland's most important religious structures is the iconic Bern Cathedral. Built over six centuries ago, this 100-meter structure is still the largest cathedral in the country. Admiring Bern Cathedral's breathtaking architecture is one thing, but experiencing its magical combination with the snow-covered Bernese Overland mountains and medieval buildings of the Old City Bern is truly extraordinary!
Rosengarten (Rose Garden)
Bern is an extraordinary place to visit when you can freely stroll around the Rose Garden, a breathtaking flower park. Thousands of flower species, including roses, irises, and tulips, can be found at this fantastic attraction. The Rose Garden is an Instagrammable and romantic spot to unwind! After you've finished exploring the enchanting beauty of this flower garden, a delicious brunch at Rosengarten Restaurant will undoubtedly brighten your day. Indulging in a Swiss gastronomic feast while admiring Bern's panoramic view will be one of the most magical experiences of your life.
Paul Klee Centre
Aside from its outstanding commitment to science, education, and nature, Bern is also known for the exceptional care of its rich art culture. The Zentrum Paul Klee, also known as the Paul Klee Centre, is a museum that houses nearly all of the great works of the famous artist Paul Klee. Over 4,000 beautiful masterpieces are on display at the Zentrum, which everyone is welcome to visit and explore.
The Natural History Museum
The Naturhistorisches Museum Bern, also known as the Bern Natural History Museum, is one of Switzerland's most important and oldest nature museums. This museum has over 220 sets of life-sized dioramas depicting Switzerland's insanely rich natural wonders, such as animals, minerals, flora, fauna, and many more. Over 131,000 people visit this beautiful museum every year, and you should definitely be one of them!
Bern isn't just about medieval architecture and historical museums. This city is also endowed with numerous natural wonders, increasing your appreciation for nature's beauty. Hiking to the top of the famous Gurten mountain is one of the best things in Bern. This green-meadowed paradise has captured the hearts of many visitors. It is ideal for family getaways, sightseeing, and outdoor adventures. Aside from the breathtaking scenery, the Gurten offers many exciting activities such as stargazing, gourmet cook-offs, yoga classes, and even iconic music festivals!
How to travel there?
Bern is easily accessible worldwide due to its central location in the heart of Europe and excellent national and international connections. The extensive public transportation network connects all parts of the city, and Bern's manageable size allows you to walk almost anywhere.
Direct train connections depart regularly for all significant Swiss and European cities, ensuring a comfortable journey. For example, Zurich, Basel, Interlaken, and Lucerne are all only a one-hour train ride away from Bern. Passengers can get to their destinations quickly, easily, and on time thanks to the public transportation system's punctuality and dependability.
Bern is also easily accessible by car. Travelers can reach the federal city quickly thanks to direct highway access from Geneva/Valais (A12), Zurich/Basel (A1), and the Bernese Oberland (A6).
Aside from traveling by train, car, or plane, Bern is also easily accessible by bus, whether on the green FlixBus or the EUROBUS. The bus terminals are close to the city center, so you won't waste time and can begin exploring the city immediately.
If you arrive in Zurich, Geneva, or Basel on an international flight, you have several options for continuing your journey by train. A rail terminal is integrated into the airport in Zurich and Geneva.
When to travel there?
Summer (June to August) is Bern's busiest season. All hiking trails, hotels, museums, art galleries, and outdoor activities are open and operational now. Swimming is a popular local pastime; the riverfront is filled with laughter and joy. This is the hottest and rainiest season of the year. However, the rain will not affect your sightseeing plans. Bern will be crowded this time of year, and hotels and travel will be more expensive than the rest of the year. Make your hotel reservations in advance.
Bern has two shoulder seasons, ideal for visiting if you want to enjoy your holidays away from the crowds. Spring (March to May) and Autumn (September to November) are the in-between seasons for stress-free vacations. March is still cold, but the rest of the spring is mild to pleasant. Autumn begins warmly, but temperatures quickly drop as winter approaches. While September and October are lovely, November can be bitterly cold, with temperatures dropping into the single digits. This is also the best time to take advantage of great deals on travel and lodging.
The low-budget traveler will use 98€ per day. This includes staying in a hostel dorm, cooking all of your meals, limiting your alcohol consumption, taking public transportation, and doing mostly free activities such as swimming, hiking, and free tours.
Standard traveler and his/her daily budget of about 207€ covers staying in a private Airbnb, eating out for a few meals, enjoying a few drinks, taking the occasional taxi to get around, and participating in more paid activities and tours such as riding the funicular and visiting some museums.
Luxury traveler can stay in a hotel, eat out for all meals, drink more, rent a car or take more taxis, and do whatever tours and activities you want on a "luxury" budget of 415€ per day or more. However, this is only the first floor of luxury. The only limit is your imagination!
Where to eat?
Altes Tramdepot is a gastronomic and natural attraction near Bern's BarenPark, Bear Park, which opened in 2009. Visitors love the restaurant's beer garden and front terrace, which offer views of the park, Bern's Old Town, and the beautiful Aare River. The menu is eclectic, with a 'Bernese plate' of sausages, bacon, boiled beef, smoked pork sirloin, potatoes and sauerkraut, spätzli (Swiss pasta) dishes, traditional French cuisine, and Asian plates among the offerings. However, the main draw of Altes Tramdepot is its integrated brewery, which produces the house beer in copper vats in the middle of the restaurant behind the bar.
Kornhauskeller is a restaurant known for its views, though these are interior views. Kornhauskeller, which includes a cafe, bar, lounge, and gallery in addition to its main restaurant, can cater to all diners, whether they are looking for Mediterranean cuisine, a high-end venue for events, or a relaxed meeting place throughout the day. The restaurant's architecture is striking and luxurious, with a painted ceiling and curved wooden staircases. Several types of meat and fish dishes include signature 'Kornhaus' hash browns, veal, and white-wine risotto.
The main restaurant at the Hotel Schweizerhof in Bern, Jack's Brasserie, is notable for its fresh market produce in its changing seasonal menus. Etched glass, wooden paneling, and stark white tablecloths evoke the atmosphere of a French restaurant, and the service and extensive wine list only add to the luxury. The restaurant is a popular lunch destination, serving primarily French cuisine, though a selection of Swiss classics is also available. The 2013 Gault-Millau Guide praises Jack's Brasserie for its high standards, praising the famous (and generous) Jack's Wiener Schnitzel with warm potato salad and other, perhaps more refined, dishes.
The Bern Carnival begins on a Thursday in February or March with the extended release of a bear held in the Prison Tower for 111 days. Human participants dressed as bears are woken up by drummers (Ychueblete) and released into the Old Town during the ceremony. The carnival is held before Lent and dates back to a peasant revolt in the 16th century (having been banned in the 16th century and only reinstated in 1982). Revelers then take to the streets, with bands of musicians (Guggenmusik-Cliques) circling Bern's arcades for a 6-kilometer route.
Bern Grand Prix
The ten-mile main course passes through Bern's Old Town, including the Bear Pit, Nydebbrucke, Clock Tower, City Hall, and the River Aare. Other courses include the Old GP (4.7 miles) for recreational runners and the Bears GP (1.6 miles) for children. Every year, approximately 25,000 runners participate in the event. The event draws the best runners in the world.
The Gurtenfestival, one of Switzerland's most famous music events, attracts bands worldwide. The Gurten Mountain is 864 meters high (about 400 meters higher than Bern's Old Town) and offers spectacular views of Bern, the Alps, and the Jura. It is located 15 minutes south of Bern. Every July, the Gurten also hosts the Gurtenfestival. The Gurtenfestival, held over four days in July, features over 60 international acts and many DJs performing a diverse range of music from pop to funk, country, and blues. On the Waldbuhne stage, Swiss musicians also perform.
We believe you will visit Bern in the future and this article will help you on your travel journey. Let us know how you liked our article and if you decide to go to Bern, share your experiences and photos with us! We also have other places for you to visit, such as Paphos, Lanzarote, or Sevilla. Do not forget to follow us @thewalkingparrot to be always updated on the new releases.