Bern City Switzerland
Bern is the capital city of Switzerland which is going to surprise most of us who have heard so much about Geneva and Zurich. It is natural to expect one of these financial and industrial hubs to be the capital of Switzerland. However, Switzerland keeps amazing us with a non-traditional small and compact city of Bern as its capital. Bern City Switzerland is picture-perfect with cobblestone streets along the beautiful River Aare. Most of the streets are pedestrian friendly and the environment is very romantic for walking as all major attractions are located within the short distance of each other.
Bern is a wonderful city and based on the experience of tourists, it is always recommended to include this destination in your Switzerland travel plans. Unlike Zurich and Geneva, this city has a very laid-back charm and a history dating back to the 12th century. The city center of Bern is a protected area and has been declared as UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. The historical architecture is surrounded by beautiful green spaces and lovely views of River Aare.
The city has a very friendly atmosphere and the population is mostly German-Speaking. The city keeps surprising as it is totally different than maximum capital cities of the world. You will not see many high-rise buildings, huge crowds, financial centers, and busy lifestyle. Instead, the city offers everyone a dive into culture, traditions, history, and friendly environment which are the main roots of civilizations. That is why Bern city is an amazing tourist destination for travelers.
10 Things to do in Bern City Switzerland
Old Town of Bern City Switzerland
The visit to the Old Town of Bern is a must in the pedestrian friendly city. It is also a great way to start your sightseeing tour in Bern on the cobblestone streets. The squares in the old town are lined with beautiful red-roofed sandstone buildings. The medieval old wooden homes were destroyed in the city when a fire broke out in 1405. Those wooden houses were than replaced with the Sandstone buildings which are well preserved since then.
There are many covered arcades in the old town which are full of cafes, and shops that attract visitors with their beautiful settings. There are many souvenir shops, jewelry shops, galleries, boutiques, and chocolatiers in these covered arcades. For more shopping, you can go to the large shopping complex inside the main Bern station.
Another beauty of the old town is the presence of more than 100 fountains all across the old town. There are around 11 of them which are from the 16th century which portray a well-known character from the history of Bern from real and fictional stories.
Zytglogge Clock Tower
While visiting the old town, you will find this 12th century clock tower that stands tall in Marktgasse at the Western gate of the city. The beautiful astronomical clock is a wonderful attraction which was built in 1530. This clock is considered as one of the oldest clocks of Switzerland and has the largest clock face in the country.
When the clock strikes the hour, the lovely mechanical figures pop out with the sound and mark the time. This clock event is cheered by the crowd who are visiting the Zytglogge Clock Tower. You can also book a private tour to understand the mechanics of the clock.
Cathedral in Bern City Switzerland
The Bern Munster was built during the 15th and 16th century and is one of the top attractions of the city. The beautiful structure is a delight with its Gothic architecture and 12-meters high majestic stained-glass windows. The Cathedral’s spire is 100 meters high and was added in the structure in the 1893 and made this cathedral the tallest church in Switzerland. You can climb up this tower by the 400 steps which will need some effort, but the hard work will be paid off with wonderful views of the city and river from the top.
Einstein House in Bern City Switzerland
Einstein and his family lived in Bern at Kramgasse 49 and the house has been restored in its original state. “E=mc2”, the theory of relativity was developed by Einstein while he was living in the city of Bern in 1905. The house of Einstein has become a famous attraction for the tourists who want to understand the lifestyle of the famous genius.
Bundeshaus - Federal Place
Bundeshaus is the Swiss Federal Assembly which was built in the 19th century and is an interesting place to visit if you want to learn about the political structure of Switzerland. The Neo-Renaissance structure attracts from a distance with its green Domed Roof and a wide 300-meter long façade.
Bundeshaus is also called the Federal Palace and has 26 fountains on the Bundesplatz (parliament square). These 26 fountains represent the 26 cantons of Switzerland. You can book a tour to learn more about the building and to get inside the building where you can see more details, Paintings and sculptures of the founding fathers of Switzerland. This is a great place to visit if you are interested to know the political history of Switzerland in detail.
River Aare is the longest river in Switzerland with the length of 288 kilometers and also covers the Old Town of Bern from three sides. The beautiful turquoise water of the sea adds to the beauty of the city and makes the stroll a wonderful experience for the visitors. Swimming and bathing are as important as other traditions in the city of Bern and tourists also follow the steps of the locals by enjoying the dives in the beautiful river in summer.
You can also enjoy some water sports activities in the River Aare such as rafting and boating. The river has many beautiful bridges that provide different vantage points for the visitors.
Bear Park in Bern City Switzerland
The brown bear is the emblem of the city of Bern and is even featured on the coats of the arms found on the city flag and the canton flag. It is known that the Bern city was named after the brown bear which was seen by the first persons who discovered this city. That is why Bear is a very important part of the Bern’s tradition.
There is a Bear Park near the Old Town across the River Aare, which houses brown bears. The Bear Park is a great family venue and children love to see these sweet bears playing in the park. The park has amazingly comfortable environment and has spacious forest-like enclosures for the bears. You will feel peace while watching these bears roaming around happily and dipping themselves in the water ponds created for them. The Bear Park is open daily at 9.30 am and the entrée is free.
The Rose Garden in Bern City Switzerland
The Rose Garden is located near the Bear Park and you can easily visit both in one go. The garden is set near the River Aare and provides amazing scenic atmosphere of flowers and the reflections from the river. The views from the garden towards the Old Town are fantastic because of the view of flowers, river, and the old structures in the backdrop.
The Rose Garden is at its best in the springs when the flowers bloom and it becomes a marvelous site for the visitors. The garden has more than 200 species of roses as well as cherry blossom trees which provide a wonderful contrast in the colors. There is also a beautiful water pond in the garden filled with beautiful reflections of the surroundings.
Gurten Park and Mountain
Gurten is the wonderful mountain in Bern which also has a beautiful park in its slopes. You can visit the park and mountain for an amazing experience and wonderful views of the city and surroundings. You can reach to the summit of the mountain by a funicular that takes you 858 meters up to the top. From top of the mountain you will be stunned by the beautiful views of Bern, the River Aare, and the Swiss Alps.
The Gurten Park is a famous visitor spot for both locals and tourist. The park is equally busy in summer and winters due to the variety of attractions in it. During summer, people love to come here for hiking, picnic, mountain biking and toboggan run. There is a huge playground and a mini train for kids in the Gurten Park. In winters, the popular activities include skating and skiing on the slops of the Gurten Mountain. There are also a couple of nice restaurants in the Gurten Park where you can have lunch or snacks during your visit.
Zentrum Paul Klee
Zentrum Paul Klee is a modern museum dedicated to Paul Klee, who is considered as one of the most influential artists of the 20th century. Klee’s daughter donated all of her inheritance to the city in 1997 and the city hired Renzi Piano to design the museum to display these amazing works.
The museum opened in 2005 and looks like an oscillating wave and has a huge collection of art produced by Klee. The artwork and paintings are displayed in the temporary shows with different set of themes which means you will always encounter a different experience in this museum.