City guide Bern
The medieval air of this city with its many fountains, sandstone facades, narrow streets and historic towers is unique. The elevated Rose Garden above the Bear Park and the platform of the 101-metre-high cathedral tower offer the best views of the old town round which the River Aare flows. The former entrenchments and bastions drop down steeply to the river. The boutiques, bars and cabaret stages of the old town, some of which are located in vaulted cellars, and the small street cafes attract locals as well as a lot of tourists. Although Bern has a very good public transport network it is best to explore the city centre on foot.
The Zentrum Paul Klee situated on the outskirts of the city houses the most comprehensive collection of works by the artist Paul Klee. The Albert Einstein House bears testimony to the physics genius' stay in Bern at the start of the 20th century and may ideally be combined with a visit to the Einstein Museum. With the History Museum, Art Museum, Swiss Alpine Museum and Communication Museum Bern offers a very varied range of exhibitions.
Bern is the seat of Switzerland's government. The Houses of Parliament (Bundeshaus) rise above the city just a stone's throw away from the railway station. The doors to the Houses of Parliament are open to visitors most of the time, and if you're lucky you might even bump into a member of parliament in the streets of the city.
In summer the River Aare provides an opportunity for the ultimate bathing experience; very good, experienced swimmers allow themselves to drift along in the clean Aare while enjoying a view of the Houses of Parliament. The Botanical Gardens are also located along the river, as is the Dählhölzli Zoo and the old Matte district. Bern and bears, the cities heraldic beast, are inseparable. A visit to the Bear Park, habitat of a family of bears, is a must-do.
In the squares of the city centre colourful weekly markets present their wares. The Onion Market (Zibelemärit) which takes place on the fourth Monday in November is particularly worth visiting: visitors to the traditional market dedicated to onions start pouring into the city in the early hours.
Set in the heart of Switzerland, Bern is the gateway to the Alps. The capital city may easily be reached by car or by air via the Bern-Belp Airport and bus links to the city centre. Visitors who prefer to travel by train may take advantage of the dense rail network with its direct connections to the major European cities. Bern’s central location makes it the perfect base for overnight accommodation and for excursions throughout Switzerland.
The Old Town, built in a loop of the river Aare, is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Enjoy strolling through this architectural gem in the shelter of the medieval arcades and past a host of historic treasures.
- UNESCO - sandstone houses, narrow streets, fountains and the medieval air make this city unique.
- Arcades - thanks to the arcades which extend throughout the town shopping is a delight whatever the weather.
- Zentrum Paul Klee - worldwide biggest collection of works by the artist Paul Klee; the cultural centre designed by the Italian architect Renzo Piano consists of three wave-shaped building sections.
- Watch the famous family of bears frolicking at the Bear Park.
- Seat of Government - the Houses of Parliament are one of Bern's landmarks as well as being the seat of the government.
- (Onion Market) Zibelemärit - on the 4th Monday in November Bern's streets are covered in confetti. Onions woven into plaits and onion tarts are among the things available from the many stalls. (November).
- Gurten Festival - every summer tens of thousands of people traipse up Bern's 'house mountain' which hosts the several-day-long Gurten Festival featuring artists from the international music scene (July).
- Bern Jazz Festival - the jazz festival attracts visitors from all over Switzerland and abroad to the federal capital; it has established itself as one of the most important traditional jazz events (March - May).
- Bern Dance Festival (Berner Tanztage) - with performances, workshops, discussions and exhibitions this event is devoted completely to dance (June).
- Buskers Bern Street Festival - cabaret is at the heart of the Buskers Bern event. Artists perform in about 20 places in accordance to a fixed programme and based on a rotation principle (August).
- Museums Night – each year, Museums Night ushers in the Swiss capital’s cultural spring. Bern’s museums open their doors until the early hours of the morning and are a drawcard for thousands of night owls (March).
- Grand Prix – Switzerland’s biggest racing event is a top-notch spectacle taking place against the unique backdrop of this UNESCO World Heritage Site (May).
SBB RailAway leisure shop
Combined offer: journey using public transport and leisure offer (also for existing tickets) to Bern