Switzerland trip is incomplete without visiting its capital city of Bern. It is all one can expect from vintage Swiss town. With its cobbled stones of Old Town, Medieval styled buildings along a calmly flowing river, amazing views of the city from the Rose Garden and its bears (yes!), it is a perfect day trip destination for travelers. We visited Switzerland this spring in June 2016 and stayed in Interlaken by the mountains. But, we made day trips to two of its most beautiful cities – Lucerne and Bern. And we were completely mesmerized by Bern’s unique attractions. Here’s our guide to top places in Bern to visit in a day based on our experience!
Time spent (including all attractions): 3 hours
The Old Town of Bern is just 10 minutes walk from the central station. We arrived to Bern on a rainy morning but within a few minutes, sky was clear. The Old Town of Bern is situated on a cliff and it surrounded by river Aare on three sides. With beautiful medieval buildings along its cobbled stone, the Old Town of Bern lives up to its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The town area is full of antique shops, variety of bars, taverns and vintage Swiss-styled restaurants. We had an early lunch and munched on our favorite Rosti – Switzerland’s national dish.
The Old Town houses the best attractions of the city which includes hundreds of 16th century ancient public fountains, bridges across river Aare, old towers, Einstein House and the famous Clock Tower.
Time spent: 1 hour
It’s very easy to miss this special house since all the buildings in Old Town have typical 15th century architecture. The Einsteinhaus (Einstein House) is located on Kramgasse No. 49 on the second floor of the building. Einstein lived with his family from 1903 to 1905 while he worked on the Theory of Relativity. As science and engineering students, E= mc2 had been the most pervasive mathematical formula of our academic lives. We did not miss the chance to visit his apartment and we were quite impressed to know that he living conditions of Einstein and his family are preserved accurately with furniture from that time. There is also a museum dedicated to Einstein’s life and his works on the third floor.
Zytlogge – Clock Tower
Time spent: 1 hour
The clock tower in the center of the Old Town is one of the most famous attractions of Bern. Switzerland is land known for its time-pieces and visit to this 800-year old Clock Tower (Zytglogge) is worth every traveler’s time. Just three minutes before every hour, there is an entertaining performance of mechanical creatures which include dancing jester, parading bears and a gilded figure named Chronos who flips an hourglass and opens his mouth with each strike of the bell. There are guided tours inside the tower that will let you have a look at the clockwork at 2:30 pm daily. And every moment of those 50 minutes is worth your time. The tour not only allows us to observe how this gigantic mechanical clock works but also offers some breath-taking views of the Old Town from the top.
For others, you can just gather around the clock just any hour and get amazed at its rhythmic performance!
Time spent: 1 hour
It is the most iconic building of the city, the Berner Münster is also known as the Bern Cathedral and the Cathedral of St. Vincent. Built in Gothic style, it is Switzerland’s largest church from the Middle Ages and the tallest cathedral. It has these beautiful stained glasses and intricately carved main door with scenes depicting the Last Judgment. One can climb 344 steps up to the cathedral tower for magnificent views of the city roofs and the snow-capped mountains. We spent our time strolling around the park adjacent to the church admiring Aare river. On our way to Bear Park, we came across a street clarinet musician playing a melodious tune.
Time spent: 15 minutes
Bern’s name has been historically linked to “bears.” And just as you cross Aare river bridge, there is a huge inclined enclosure for few bears flanked by river on one end. It’s very relaxing to just watch bears playing and relaxing. We wish we had more time to walk along the path along the enclosure which gets you down to the river.
Time spent: 45 minutes
Next, we took a steep walk to one of the most beautiful spots of the city. Rosengarten is perched on a slanting hill and houses about 200 varieties of rose plants.
Moreover, it offers most stunning view of Old Town and Aare river. It was truly the ‘high point’ of our day trip!
We recommend visiting Bern while in Switzerland to every Ghumr!