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215 215 9814

Explore Bern with Our Ultimate Travel Guide

July 01, 2024 9 min read.

Bern, the charming capital of Switzerland, is known for its well-preserved medieval architecture, picturesque landscapes, and vibrant cultural scene. This city, nestled along the Aare River, offers a blend of historical charm and modern sophistication.

Our guide provides in-depth information on Bern's attractions, cultural practices, travel tips, and a three-day itinerary to help you make the most of your visit to this delightful destination. Start planning your dream trip to Bern today with our comprehensive guide.

General Information about Bern

Bern, located in the heart of Switzerland, is a city that captivates visitors with its medieval architecture, cobblestone streets, and stunning natural scenery. With a population of around 133,000 people, Bern is the fifth-largest city in Switzerland and serves as the country's capital.

Currency, Language, and Cultural Customs

The official currency in Bern is the Swiss Franc (CHF), used throughout Switzerland.

German is the official language spoken in Bern, although many locals also speak English, making it easy for tourists to communicate.

Bern has a rich cultural heritage that reflects its Swiss identity. The city celebrates numerous festivals, including the Bern Carnival and the Bernese Jazz Festival. The locals are known for their friendliness and hospitality, and you'll find a strong emphasis on quality of life, food, and outdoor activities.

Top Attractions in Bern

Bern offers a variety of attractions to satisfy diverse interests. Here are some must-visit places:

Zytglogge (Clock Tower)

The Zytglogge, a medieval clock tower, is one of Bern's most famous landmarks. It features an astronomical clock and offers guided tours that provide insights into its history and mechanics. Be sure to book a tour to fully appreciate this iconic attraction.

The clock tower dates back to the early 13th century and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Don't miss the hourly show when the clock’s mechanical figures come to life.

Bear Park (BärenPark)

The Bear Park, located at the foot of the Old Town, is home to several bears, which are a symbol of Bern. The park offers a natural habitat for the bears and beautiful views of the city and the Aare River. Visit the park to enjoy a unique and memorable experience.

Visitors can watch the bears in their spacious enclosures and learn about the history of bears in Bern at the park's information center.

Bern Cathedral (Berner Münster)

The Bern Cathedral is the tallest cathedral in Switzerland and a stunning example of Gothic architecture. Visitors can climb the tower for panoramic views of the city and the surrounding Alps. Purchase your ticket in advance to skip the lines.

The cathedral's interior is equally impressive, with beautiful stained glass windows and intricate carvings.

Einstein House

The Einstein House is the former residence of Albert Einstein and has been converted into a museum dedicated to his life and work. The museum provides insights into Einstein's time in Bern and his groundbreaking scientific achievements. Book your tickets online for a seamless visit.

Explore the exhibits and learn about Einstein’s theory of relativity and his contributions to modern physics.

Rosengarten (Rose Garden)

The Rose Garden is a large park offering breathtaking views of Bern's Old Town and the surrounding area. It is home to over 200 varieties of roses, as well as a restaurant and picnic areas. Make a reservation at the restaurant to enjoy a meal with a view.

The Rose Garden is an ideal spot for a relaxing stroll or a leisurely picnic.

Top Activities in Bern

Bern offers a variety of activities that allow visitors to experience the city's culture, nature, and cuisine:

Walking Tours of the Old Town

Bern's Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, known for its well-preserved medieval architecture. Join a walking tour to explore the narrow streets, historical buildings, and hidden courtyards. Book a guided tour for a more enriching experience.

Highlights include the Federal Palace, the Zytglogge, and the Käfigturm.

Aare River Swimming

The Aare River offers a unique opportunity for a refreshing swim in the summer months. The crystal-clear water and scenic views make it a popular activity among locals and tourists alike. Ensure your safety by swimming in designated areas.

There are several entry points and designated swimming areas along the river.

Cycling and Hiking

Bern is surrounded by beautiful landscapes, perfect for cycling and hiking. Some numerous trails and paths offer stunning views of the city and the Alps. Rent a bike or join a guided hiking tour to explore the natural beauty around Bern.

Rent a bike or join a guided hiking tour to explore the natural beauty around Bern.

Visiting Museums and Art Galleries

Bern is home to several museums and art galleries that cater to diverse interests. Key highlights include the Bern Historical Museum, the Kunstmuseum (Museum of Fine Arts), and the Zentrum Paul Klee. Purchase museum passes to save on entry fees.

Each museum offers a unique perspective on Bern's cultural and artistic heritage.

Food and Drink Tours

Bern's culinary scene is a delightful mix of traditional Swiss cuisine and international flavors. Join a food tour to sample local specialties and learn about the city's culinary traditions. Book a food tour in advance to secure your spot.

Popular stops include local markets, bakeries, and chocolate shops.

What to Eat and Drink

Bern's cuisine is a blend of traditional Swiss flavors and modern culinary innovation. Here are some must-try dishes and recommended places to experience them:

Traditional Dishes

Bern has a variety of traditional dishes that are a must-try for any visitor.

  1. Fondue: A classic Swiss dish made with melted cheese and served with bread for dipping. Try it at Restaurant Harmonie, known for its authentic Swiss cuisine.
  2. Rösti: A traditional Swiss potato dish often served with eggs and bacon. Sample it at Altes Tramdepot, a restaurant and brewery with great views of the city.
  3. Berner Platte: A hearty dish of various meats and sausages served with sauerkraut and potatoes. Enjoy this dish at Zum Zähringer, a local favorite.


Traditional drinks in Bern are an essential part of the culinary experience.

  1. Swiss Wine: Switzerland produces excellent wines, particularly from the nearby Bernese Oberland. Visit a local wine bar like Wein&Sein for a tasting.
  2. Swiss Beer: Sample local brews at Altes Tramdepot, which offers a variety of craft beers brewed on-site.
  3. Hot Chocolate: Swiss chocolate is renowned worldwide, and a hot chocolate is a must-try. Enjoy a cup at Confiserie Tschirren, a beloved local confectioner.

Notable Establishments

Bern has several renowned restaurants where you can enjoy the local cuisine.

  1. Kornhauskeller: A stunning restaurant housed in a historic granary, offering traditional Swiss dishes in an elegant setting.
  2. Rosengarten Restaurant: Located in the Rose Garden, this restaurant offers beautiful views and a delightful menu of Swiss and international cuisine.
  3. Meridiano: A Michelin-starred restaurant offering gourmet dining with a focus on seasonal and local ingredients.

Travel Tips

Here are some practical tips to make your trip to Bern more enjoyable and hassle-free:

Best Time to Visit

Bern has a temperate climate, with warm summers and cold winters. The best time to visit is during the spring (April to June) and autumn (September to October), when the weather is pleasant, and the city is less crowded. Plan your trip during these seasons to enjoy the best of Bern.

Appropriate Clothing

Due to the variable weather, it’s advisable to pack layers. Comfortable walking shoes are essential, especially if you plan to explore the city’s many streets and parks. Be prepared for changing weather conditions.

Local Transportation

Bern has an extensive public transportation system, including trams, buses, and trains. The Bern City Card offers unlimited travel on public transport and free entry to many museums.

Public Transport

The city’s public transport is efficient and convenient, with regular services connecting major attractions and neighborhoods. The tram and bus networks are particularly useful for getting around quickly.

Taxis and Ride Services

Taxis are widely available in Bern and can be hailed on the street or booked via phone. Ride-sharing services like Uber also operate in the city.

Regional Travel

For trips beyond Bern, the city is well-connected by train and bus to other parts of Switzerland. The Swiss Travel Pass offers unlimited travel on the Swiss Travel System network, including trains, buses, and boats.

Three-Day Itinerary

To make the most of your visit, here is a suggested three-day itinerary:

Day 1: Iconic Landmarks

This day focuses on exploring Bern's most iconic landmarks.

  1. Morning: Start your day with a visit to the Zytglogge. Book a guided tour to learn about its history and mechanics.
  2. Afternoon: Head to the Bern Cathedral and climb the tower for panoramic views. Don't forget to purchase your tickets in advance.
  3. Evening: End your day with a walk along the Aare River and a visit to the Bear Park.

Day 2: Art and Culture

This day is dedicated to Bern’s rich artistic and cultural heritage.

  1. Morning: Visit the Einstein House and explore the House where Albert Einstein lived and discover his groundbreaking work.
  2. Afternoon: Explore the Kunstmuseum (Museum of Fine Arts) and admire its impressive collection of Swiss and international art.
  3. Evening: Enjoy a leisurely dinner at a local restaurant, such as Kornhauskeller, known for its historic ambiance and traditional Swiss cuisine.

Day 3: Outdoor Exploration and Relaxation

This day focuses on enjoying Bern’s natural beauty and leisure activities.

  1. Morning: Take a leisurely stroll through the Rosengarten and enjoy panoramic views of Bern's Old Town and the Alps.
  2. Afternoon: Rent a bike and cycle along the Aare River or hike one of the nearby trails for stunning views of the city and surrounding landscapes.
  3. Evening: End your trip with a visit to a local brewery or wine bar, such as Altes Tramdepot, to sample Swiss beers or wines.

Check out our travel guides section if you want more information about another Swiss destination!

Check Out Our Custom Travel Packages for Bern

Bern offers a unique blend of history, art, and nature, making it a perfect destination for all types of travelers. From its medieval architecture to its vibrant cultural scene, there’s something for everyone in this captivating city.

Explore the various travel packages available on our website and start planning your Bern adventure today.

Enjoy your trip to Switzerland and discover all the wonders this country has to offer!

When is the best time to visit Bern?

The best time to visit Bern is during the spring (April to June) and autumn (September to October), when the weather is pleasant and the city is less crowded.

How do I get from Zurich to Bern?

Bern is easily accessible from Zurich by train, with frequent services connecting the two cities. The journey takes approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes.

What are Bern’s culinary specialties?

Bern is known for its traditional Swiss dishes, such as fondue, rösti, and Berner Platte. Don't miss the opportunity to sample these delicious dishes during your visit.

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