What to see in Switzerland
Tourist attractions Bern
The political centre of Switzerland, Bern is the de facto capital city, known for its historic Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With the atmosphere of a small town, rather than a capital, Bern sits on the meandering River Aare in the Canton of Bern, Central Switzerland. Bernese German and Standard German are the main languages here, although French and English are also widely spoken.
One of the most architecturally charming cities in Switzerland, travel to Bern to reveal a city of fairytale spires, elaborate bridges and beautiful green spaces. The gateway to the Alps, Bern beautifully combines its urban centre with the scenic natural surroundings. Countless museums and art galleries make a trip to Bern perfect for a long weekend of sightseeing, whilst the numerous public parks and historic water fountains set a tranquil backdrop for a relaxing getaway.
The nearby Emmental Valley is a popular day-trip destination, where you can discover the verdant hills of the birthplace of Switzerland’s most famous cheese. With plenty of festivals and bustling markets, you’ll find Bern to be a cosmopolitan city, full of life and with a youthful atmosphere, owing to its prestigious University of Bern. Furthermore, vast shopping arcades make a holiday to Bern a paradise for those looking for a dose of retail therapy.
Things to do in Bern
As a capital city, you’ll find a great number of things to do in Bern. The Old Town, known locally as the Aldstadt, is home to the most iconic landmarks including the Zytglogge Clocktower. This 12th-century clock town is the icon of the city, although the astronomical clock was not added until 1530. Make sure you visit the Zytglogge on the hour to enjoy the mechanical figure show or book a behind the scenes tour to see the inner workings of Bern’s best-loved landmark.
Another highlight of the Aldstadt is Bern Cathedral, officially the Cathedral of St. Vincent. Dominating the city’s skylining, it is the tallest cathedral in Switzerland. Constructed during the 15th and 16th-centuries, climb the 400-odd steps to the top of the tower for amazing views all the way to the snow-capped Alps. Inside the cathedral, you can admire the intricate stained glass windows.
Sat on Bundesplatz Square is another of the best things to see in Bern. The Bundeshaus is the home of the Swiss Federal Assembly, a grand, cupola-topped building in the heart of the city. Whether you’re interested in politics or not, this is a must-see as, after all, Switzerland is one of the world’s oldest democracies. Guided tours are available for an added insight into the workings of the Swiss government.
To discover the history of the country, the Bern Historical Museum is one of the best places to visit in Bern. Within this castle-like building, you can explore an array of remarkable items and artefacts. Home to collections dating back to the Stone Age, this brilliant museum also houses fascinating the Einstein Museum.
If you’re an art-lover, be sure to explore Zentrum Paul Klee, situated on the outskirts of the city. This ultra-modern gallery is housed within a space-age building and displays the extensive works of Swiss-German artist Paul Kell, a master of expressionism, cubism, and surrealism.
Finally, Bern is known for its beautiful green spaces, and the Rose Garden is perhaps the most beautiful. Horticulturalists can admire more than 200 rose species and just as many varieties of irises in this well-kept garden. On the other hand, the Bear Garden offers visitors the chance to meet Bern’s family of bears! Bern and bears are strongly linked, and the city’s emblem displays an image of a bear. In fact, bears have been kept in the city since the end of the 16th-century and at the Bear Garden, you can view these huge animals for yourself.