Holidays in Bern - Switzerland
Fascinating medieval city
Bern is a truly beautiful city. Its Old Town is filled with medieval architecture and arcades, cobbled streets, Renaissance fountains with colorful figures and distinctive red roofs. Indeed, it is such a special spot that UNESCO have recognised it as a World Heritage Site. Bern is Switzerland's capital but is the antithesis of haughty grandeur. The welcome is warm and thanks to being situated on a small peninsular, everything is close at hand and can be explored on foot. Bern is also gateway to the Alps, so there are stunning views to be had over the city towards the mountains. This really is a wonderful place to spend a few days relaxing and sightseeing.
Hotels in BERN
We have a range of 3, 4 and 5 star hotels in Bern for stays of one night or longer which can be added to any of your arrangements throughout Switzerland. The Hotel Kreuz on this website is just one example.
Please call 0800 619 1200 for details and availability.
the Old Town
The cobbled streets, covered arcades and distinctive red roofs of the Old Town are crammed into a small peninsular of land, surrounded by the river Aare. The focal point of this atmospheric area is the Zytglogge (clock tower). Erected in 1530, modern-day visitors gather underneath the ornate astrological clock to watch the revolving figurines before it chimes the hour. The clock is even said to have played a part in Einstein's musings for the Theory of Relativity. The Old Town also features several original fountains dating from the 16th century. These beautiful creations each boast colourful statues commemorating bygone Swiss heroes and historical events.
The Parliament Building dates from 1852 and is the seat of the Swiss government. The central dome is a city landmark and there is a water display in front of the building, with 26 fountains representing the Swiss cantons. Parliament Square is a vibrant space, the site of cultural and sporting events as well as Bern's much-loved traditional fruit, vegetable and flower market. The Cathedral (Berner Münster) is Switzerland's largest church. Visit for the architectural styles spanning the centuries, the remarkable Last Judgment portal and the breathtaking views from the spire. This is Switzerland's highest church tower and affords views across the city, the surrounding valleys and and the snow-capped mountains of the Bernese Oberland.
Bern's famous sons
The Einstein House is located in the centre of the Old Town just 200 metres from the Clock Tower. Albert Einstein was living here with his family, working in the patent office by day and developing the Theory of Relativity in his spare time. The museum features furnishings and fascinating photos and texts from the time. Paul Klee is also inextricably linked with the city. The Swiss artist had his first solo exhibition in Bern and today the world's most important Klee collection with 40% of his oeuvre is to be found here. The Zentrum Paul Klee is an amazing building designed by Renzo Piano and features changing exhibits organised around different themes. Music and interactive displays make for a wonderful experience.
The Bern BEARS and Gardens
Bern's bears are perhaps its most famous icon. Brown bears have been an attraction in the city for centuries. Today, they live in the Bear Park - a beautiful slope next to the Aare river where visitors can watch them fish and play. Climb the hill from the Bear Park to the Rose Garden - a large park with a wonderful view of the Old Town and river. The park is home to hundreds of varieties of roses, irises and rhododendrons. There is a reading garden, and the Rosengarten restaurant with views of the rows of houses in the Old Town. The Botanic Gardens contain a big selection of Swiss alpine plants. By contrast, its Palm House is home to tropical agricultural plants such as bananas, sugar cane and coffee beans.
SHOPPING, EATING AND DRINKING
The 'Lauben' are traditional covered shopping arcades found all over the Old Town. Their history stretches back to the 12th century when market stalls set up under cover for trade in all weathers. Kramgasse runs through the centre of the Old Town and has many interesting boutiques. Try Beck Glatz confiserie on Weyermanstrasse for Mandelbärli (almond bears) - a typical souvenir of Bern. On Spitalgasse you will find the Loeb department store, founded in 1881 and a Bern landmark. Bern offers good food in many international restaurants, but nothing beats trying the local specialities. Try a fondue in the long-established Restaurant Harmonie, or Öpfuchüechli - a traditional apple tart ring - at the Bärenhöfli restaurant. Enjoy an evening drink in one of the Old Town's many vaulted cellars.
guRTEN and gantrisch - nature beside the city
Gurten is Bern's local mountain. A recreation park opened on Gurten in 1999, offering a lush green setting with an extensive children's play area, miniature railway, restaurant, barbecue area and an observation tower. On clear days the view of the Alps is simply breathtaking. Travel on the Gurtenbahn funicular is free with your Bern Ticket. Gantrisch Nature Park is less than a hour from Bern and is a wonderful place for enjoying walks through peaceful countryside, woodlands and little villages. More adventurous types can hire bikes, try their hand at sailing or brave the high ropes park.
The green pastures and meadows of the Emmental countryside create a very pretty patchwork landscape. Just a short train ride from the bustle of Bern you can visit the the Emmental Show Dairy. This little village demonstrates both traditional and modern production techniques for its world-famous Emmental cheese. There are two restaurants serving delicious regional specialties, with terraces that invite you to linger over coffee. Many cheese specialities, souvenirs and sweet treats can be purchased in the local shops. The Kambly Experience is home to the delicious Swiss biscuits and is well worth a tour to learn abut the 100 year tradition and to try a few samples.
Excursions to the bernese oberland
From your base in Bern the glorious sights of the Bernese Oberland are within easy reach. From Bern, you can reach the top of the snow-covered Jungfraujoch in around 3 hours via exciting mountain railways, for unbeatable views across the Alps. Or how about a cable car ride to a revolving mountain restaurant at 3,000m - Schilthorn-Piz Gloria is around 2½ hours away. In addition to the stunning mountains, there are waterfalls, traffic-free villages and cruises on lakes Thun and Brienz to enjoy, all accessible in less than 2 hours from Bern. Click through to our range of wonderful excursions in this beautiful region.
Two and multi centre holidays
Why not consider a two centre holiday, combining the history of Bern with a stay in a picturesque lakes and mountains resort such as Weggis or Brunnen. Or try a multi centre holiday by following Bern with a few days in Lucerne, then enjoying a special journey on the scenic Gotthard Panorama Express to Lugano for a stay near the Italian border.
Please call us on 0800 619 1200 to arrange an itinerary tailor made to your requirements.
The Bern Ticket
FREE city travel with the Bern Ticket
All visitors staying in a Bern hotel are issued with the fantastic Bern Ticket, which lets you travel for free on local public transport as well as the Gurten funicular, the Marzilibahn funicular and the lift to the Cathedral spire's viewing platform.
You will receive your Bern Ticket when you check in to your accommodation. It should be completed in full to benefit from the free travel.