Head to Bern and you will be able to take in all that the fifth largest city in Switzerland has to offer. With views over the Alps, a UNESCO listed old town and the meandering River Aare, this is a city that is underpinned by a history that dates back to the 15th century. A stylish city that mixes modern and traditional design, it covers everything from art to sport and natural beauty.
Attractions include the house of Albert Einstein who lived in Bern for a while. There are several museums which include the Bern Historical museum, the museum of Fine Arts, and the Swiss alpine museum. In the foothills of the Alps it’s also a great base for a tour of Europe’s largest mountain range. There are tours available for hiking in the area. If in the city, be sure to take a few days out and walk among the impressive natural landscape.
This uniformed, UNESCO listed medieval centre is a place to love and cherish. In 1405 it was torn apart by fire but soon it was rebuilt with wooden houses being replaced by sandstone buildings. On the ground floor, many of the buildings have arcades, giving the city a real sense of character and personality. In total, there are six kilometres of arcades where you can find shops, cafes and restaurants. In the centre, there are 11 Renaissance fountains to find, all of which date back to the 16th century.
This was built in the 12th century as the Western city gate, the tower is a real sight to see in the Old Town. Installed in 1530, this is an iconic clock and one of the oldest in Switzerland but in once glance you will see why. This clock measured time in the Canton of Bern but it also has a stunning astronomical clock below it. On the mark of the hour, there is a small show where some of the earliest examples of automata come to life alongside the astrolabe. The same mechanism controls the mechanical figures, the astronomical clock and the clock. Take a daily tour and see how the clock works.
This is the tallest cathedral in Switzerland dating back to the 15th and 16t centuries and with a single spire that rockets skywards for over 100 metres, it is a sight to cherish. There are 400 steps to get to the top but once you get there the views over the Alps is definitely worth it. Upon entering the cathedral, you will be met with the Last Judgement which is the stunning set-piece that can be found on the main portal which is one of the greatest groups of Late Gothic sculpture. When you get into the Tympanum, you will see the Archangel Michael split the wicked from the virtuous a well as Jesus, Mary and the Apostles watching over from the archivolts. The choir stalls were carefully carved during the 16th-century and the Dance of Death stained glass window is every bit impressive.
When you head to Bern, you might not even have sport on your mind but SC Bern is a hockey team that really does mean something to the residents of Bern. Outside of the NHL in America, this is the best-supported team in the world where they have a stadium that has a capacity of 17,000 people. The stadium is often sold out and with a standard as high as this, if you can catch a game you will love the buzz and atmosphere that comes with it. With players from the NHL who have made the move, you will really enjoy the whole experience.
Swimming in the Aare
During the summer months, the Aare might seem like a dangerous place to swim but if you head south of the Altstadt, you can bathe in the river. The best way to do this is to head to the Eichholz where you can enter the water and allow yourself to drift downstream to the Freiban Marzili. There are outdoor pools for kids and women as well as a glorious space covered in grass where you can sunbathe and dry off. Once here, you can then catch one the funicular railways, which is one of the shortest in the world where you can climb the 100 metres to the Bundeshaus.
If you are spending more than a day in Bern then you should consider heading to Gurten. Catch the funicular from the Aare in Waben and take the 858-metre climb with ease. This has been running since 1899 but in five minutes you will reach the top. At the top you during summer you can take a ride on the miniature railway or have a leisurely barbecue and in winter you can take the toboggan run.
Map of Bern
Events In Bern
With the number of theatres, you should always be able to take in a show or concert while in the city. There are also several music festivals that take place through the year. These cater to all tastes, ranging from jazz to local music. For a festival with an atmospheric backdrop, head to the Gurtenfestival. This is held on the top of the tallest mountain near Bern, called, as the name would suggest, the Gurten. In December, you’ll discover Christmas markets, and Bern makes an ideal festive setting.
Pictures of Bern
Hotels In Bern
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