Make the most of your travel experience by reading this article that details the top 10 best attractions in Bern.
Bern is located on the Swiss plateau, about 20 kilometers north of the Bernese Alps and slightly west of the center of Switzerland. The city was founded on a hilly peninsula surrounded by the Aare River and several bridges have been constructed to allow the city to expand beyond the Aare river.
The thriving Swiss capital of Bern, a powerful force since medieval times, is an attractive city of many museums and collections. The Historical Museum and the Collection of the Bern Museum of Fine Arts house exhibit old art and architecture. World famous the Einstein House and the Paul Klee Center exhibit their own works.
Many visitors are taken aback by the beauty of Bern’s surroundings the first time they see it. The Swiss capital is built on a sandstone ridge, surrounded on three sides by the Aare, which flows through a valley. Bernmobil is the capital’s public transportation system and a BernCard is valid on all city trams and buses. A free bike service is also available to help you get around.
Houses and shops with roadside arcades and projecting roofs reflect Bern’s prosperity in ancient times. The charming, well-preserved old town is integrated into the city’s daily life, earning it UNESCO World Heritage status.
Are you planning to visit Bern?
If you are planning to visit Bern, you need to know what are the important places to visit. Read on to find out about Bern’s many intriguing museums, beautiful ecological parks, world-famous streets and eye-catching attractions.
01) Attractive Old Town
Because of its preserved medieval city center, Bern’s Old Town was designated a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site in 1983. The old town has retained much of its medieval character despite its location on a cliff encircled on three sides by the beautiful aquamarine waters of the Aare River. The streets are cobblestone and lined with covered arcade sidewalks that stretch for miles. The buildings’ lower levels house shops, cafés, bookstores, and restaurants, and the upper floors house apartments.
It also has the world’s first Lindt chocolate factory, bear legends (and real bears), and Einstein’s most famous published work. When visiting Bern, you can also step up a notch by partaking in some more daring activities, such as following the local citizens who have made urban swimming a UNESCO-listed Swiss tradition.
Obviously, each and every visitor will begin their explorations in the historic heart of Bern. Its island-like layout is linked by the Aare River and is best explored on foot.
02) The Clock Tower (The Zytglogge)
The Zytglogge (Bell Tower) is the city’s darling, a historical landmark and among the most popular meeting places. Tours are given inside the clock, where you can learn about its history and see its mechanical workings. Bern’s old clock tower is otherworldly in its old, hidden loft-like dwelling, with large windows that open out onto the city for a closer, more exclusive view.
One of Bern’s greatest famous landmarks, the 800-year-old Clock Tower, is well worth seeing (the clock dates to 1530). This 23-meter tower, located above the western gate tower in the old part of town, is adorned with a massive astronomical clock.
A circus show of mechanical creatures (The Fool, The Knight, The Rooster, The Piper, and others) appear three minutes before each hour to put on a show. The 130 worn stone steps inside bear witness to the fame of this ancient structure. Visitors can climb to the observation deck, which offers spectacular views.
03) The Rosengarten (The Rose Garden Park)
This park is one of Bern’s most serene and picturesque spots, with stunning views of the city. The Rose Garden Park (Rosengarten) is indeed a large open space on a hillside just across the river from the town center. The area was originally a cemetery (between 1765-1877), but it became a public park in 1913.
It was redesigned in the late 1950s and now features over 200 different types of roses as well as 200 different species of irises, azaleas, and rhododendrons. There is also a beautiful pond, a pavilion, a restaurant, and picnic areas. The Rose Garden offers one of the best elevated views of the old city. It is a green oasis up high, filled with over 200 types of roses.
04) The Paul Klee Center
Paul Klee’s work is among the most recognizable and popular of all paintings from the beginning of the twentieth century. Klee’s works frequently combined various media, transcending the zeitgeist of his time (surrealism, cubism, abstraction). Writings on Form and Design Theory is widely regarded as one of the most influential theoretical works on art ever written.
The center houses approximately 4,000 works by Klee, including the well-known arts like Dame mit Sonnenschirm (Woman with Parasol), In den Häusern von St. Germain (Houses of St. Germain), and Tod und Feuer (Death and Fire) (Death and Fire). The structure of this center is designed by architect Renzo Piano in the shape of a rolling, hilly landscape.
05) The Botanical Garden
This lovely botanical garden is divided into sections. The Alpinum focuses on montane ecosystems that host mountain plants from Europe, Asia, & North America, with a particular emphasis on Swiss flora. There’s also an intriguing exhibit on endangered species.
In this botanical garden area, on the slopes beside the Aare river near Altenberg, more than 5,500 different plant species from around the world are on display. Over 1,500 plant species can be found while walking through the garden’s centerpiece, the Alpinum, which covers the Pyrenees, Alps, Balkans, Caucasus, Himalayas, and the Rocky Mountains.
Bern’s Botanical Garden is a must-see for all plant lovers and those aspiring to be one, as well as a great destination for family members, romantic couples, and wanderlust-stricken souls.
- Address : Altenbergrain 21, 3013 Bern
- Website : Botanischer Garten
06) The Gurten Peak
The Gurten is a mountain located just south of Bern, Switzerland’s capital city. The summit is 858 meters high and offers views of Bern, the Jura mountains, and the Alps. The Gurten has a hotel, restaurants, a 25-meter-high viewing tower, and a children’s playground.
If you wish to have a fun experience in Bern, take a tram ride outside of the city center to Gurten Peak. A toboggan, especially one high above Bern, is a good idea. This mountain toboggan has been open for nearly two years and whirls for 500m down a 55m drop on one side of Gurten peak.
Not only do you get to bring out your inner child, but on a clear day, you can see an incredible panoramic view of Bern in all its glory. The valley station of the Gurtenbahn (funicular) can be reached in about 15 minutes by streetcar no. 9 from Bern’s main station.
The upper section can be arrived on foot, by bike, or by the red funicular from there. Hiking to the top takes about an hour, and biking takes about 30 minutes. The Gurten funicular, the “Gurtenbähnli,” departs every 15 minutes beginning in the early morning.
07) The Natural History Museum (The Naturhistorisches Museum )
The Natural History Museum, which is part of the University of Bern, was founded in 1832 and houses over 200 dioramas, along with a 200-year-old maintained St. Bernard rescue dog named Barry. The museum has 5100 square meters of gallery space. The dioramas are impressive, even if they are somewhat outdated.
It’s interesting to see how museums were built in the mid-nineteenth century. The museum uses around 220 artistically designed showcases to display a thrilling collection of mammals and birds in their natural habitats.
Some of the protected big game is impressive, as are The Big Bone Show’s skeletons. Don’t miss the Stones of the Earth exhibit, which features Alpine gold, meteorites, and massive crystals. The beetle and transformation exhibits are also educational for people of all ages.
- Address : Bernastrasse 15, Bern
- Website : The Natural History Museum
08) The Aare River
Bern is inextricably linked to the Aare River, a beautiful mass of crystal-clear blue water that has shaped the city’s daily lives and landscape. While the river is beautiful all year and a great place to walk next to as a fresh layer of snow falls on the city, it becomes the hub of activity during the summer.
The locals will be swimming in the Aare as soon as the temperatures rise. On the river’s banks, a number of outdoor swimming pools, including the famous Marzili pool complex, that has many pools and great scenery of the Parliament Building.
Rafting & canoeing are both popular activities in the Aare, and there’s a lot to see from the water. If you’re looking for a real challenge, try the Uttiger Schwelle; otherwise, take the train to Thun and then drift down the river until you reach Bern.
The Nydeggbrücke bridge, Bern’s most famous and beloved bridge that connects the old and new parts of town and offers fairy-tale views over red rooftops, provides the best views of the Aare.
Aare River Swimming
The Aare River is a U-shaped playground and a central water point for fun seekers that float over the historical center. Bern’s river is so unique that the treasured activity of ‘urban swimming’ has been added to the UNESCO list of Swiss traditions. While you can slowly stroll through the UNESCO World Heritage Old City, you will not be fully immersed in Bernese culture until you have taken a float down the fast-flowing aqua beauty of the River Aare that runs through it.
09) The Bear Park
Given that the bear is the city’s symbol, it’s perhaps not surprising that the city has maintained bears in a large complex for many years. An array of walking paths surround the bears’ compound, lead down to the river, and an inclined elevator now attaches the lower area by the river to the upper edge of the enclosure.
Bern Bear-Park is a one-of-a-kind recreation area located on the outskirts of Bern’s old town. It is open 24 hours a day and is free to all visitors. Since 2009, brown bears have been housed in this spacious enclosure on the banks of the Aare River.
The bears’ habitat was updated in 2009 connected to the original via a tunnel. The second enclosure includes an area of the river where the bears can cool off when the temperature rises.
Note : The bears will not be viewable on the webcams in their winter dens this year due to a technical restoration and related adjustments.
- Address : Tierparkweg 1, 3005 Bern, Switzerland
- Website : TIERPARK BERN
10) The Emmental Valley
The Emmental is a valley that is part of the Bern canton. It is a hilly landscape formed by the Emme and Ilfis river basins. The region is primarily devoted to agriculture, particularly dairy farming. The towns of Burgdorf and Langnau are the most important settlements.
Look for a train to Burgdorf at Bern’s train station. When you arrive, you can rent an e-bike and spend the day riding through the Emmental Valley, which is famous for its cheese with holes.
The Emmental Valley is located between Bern and Luzern, but Burgdorf (which was once part of Bern) is where the cycling trails begin. This is not only a gentle cycle with panoramic views and curving paths through valleys, but it is also an opportunity to sample part of the Herzroute, which runs across the country.
11) The Albert Einstein’s City
Bern was once an inspiration to Albert Einstein, who established his famous Theory of Relativity there. The Einstein House and Museum provide interesting information about the brilliant physicist’s life and work.
While living in Bern between 1902 and 1909, he published 32 scientific papers, one of which was the Theory of Relativity and the other for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
Einsteinhaus, (known in German), is located at Kramgasse No. 49, where the Aare River twists into the famous “Aare loop” around Bern’s Old City. Einstein rented this flat on the second floor from 1903 to 1905, which are considered his “crucial years,” with 1905 being his “annus mirabilis” (miracle year).
The interactive Einstein Museum is also a popular attraction in Bern, but if you just have time for a house visit, check out the Einstein Café underneath. You can order an Einstein beer at this coffee shop, cigar lounge, and modern hangout.
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