EuropeTravel Guide

BERN TRAVEL GUIDE

I love the city of Bern in Switzerland. The Swiss capital lies roughly in the geographic centre of Europe; it is compact, with narrow streets and old buildings; it also boasts a picturesque river and proximity to towering mountains. Spend several days here and you could think you’ve stepped back in time to the 1600s (but with more sanitary conditions).(bern’s river)

Bern’s Old Town, which was rebuilt following a devastating fire, is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is home to many stunning sandstone structures. An majestic Parliament Building, the Clock Tower (Zytglogge), the Prison Tower (Käfigturm), and the Christoffel Tower (Christoffelturm) may all be found in the Old Town, along with covered shopping arcades.

Bern is tiny enough that a weekend getaway is plenty, but don’t leave without sampling the city’s growing number of craft brewers, diverse cuisines, and local cheeses and chocolates (Toblerone was invented in Bern)!

Bern is the picturesque capital of Switzerland, and this travel guide will help you make the most of your visit by helping you plan activities, finding the best deals, and lodging, and more.(bern’s river)

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1 List of the Five Best Attractions in Bern

List of the Five Best Attractions in Bern

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1. Visiting the Bern Cathedral is a must.

As Switzerland’s highest religious structure, this Swiss Reformed cathedral from the 15th century stands out among its contemporaries. Look up at the ceiling’s flying buttresses and the tall stained-glass windows and wonder at the attention to detail in the building’s architecture. The tower is accessible for 5 Swiss Francs. It costs 5 CHF for an audio guide as well.

2. The Gurten Trail

The Gurten, a mountain to the south of the city, is a favourite destination for city dwellers looking to get some fresh air and exercise in the great outdoors. You can see the Bernese Alps to one side and the city to the other from this park. To ride the funicular to the peak will cost you 6 Swiss Francs.

3. check out the Bern Historical Museum

The second largest cultural history museum in Switzerland is housed in this castle-like structure. The museum’s ten permanent displays include a wide range of disciplines, from history and archaeology to ethnography. Admission costs 13 Swiss Francs (CHF).

4. View the Swiss Parliament Building

The Swiss Parliament building, which was finished in 1902, can be found in the town square. The striking Domed Hall is designed in the form of a Swiss cross and features ornately carved columns, doors, a domed ceiling, stained-glass windows, and red accent walls. In the times when the legislature is not in session, tours can be taken for free.(bern’s river)

5. Explore the Historic District.

This historic district, designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, was established at the close of the 12th century. Beautiful Renaissance fountains, the Käfigturm Prison Tower, the Christoffelturm (Christoffel), and the Zytglogge Clock Tower await your exploration. Wander the Lauben arcades and shops along the cobblestone streets.

Additional Bern Attractions

1. stroll about Bern with no charge.

When I arrive in a new city, one of my first actions is to sign up for a free walking tour. It’s the most efficient method to get to know the area and meet a knowledgeable native guide. The historic centre of Bern may be explored for free with Freewalk. It’s about two hours long and takes in the highlights of the city. The tour is without charge, although a gratuity is appreciated.

2. Go to Einstein’s house

Einstein and his new wife, Mileva, settled into a Bern flat that year. The second and third floors of Einsteinhaus now serve as a visitor centre. The second-floor apartment has been meticulously recreated to reflect how it would have appeared during Einstein’s time as a resident. The upstairs third room is now a tiny museum dedicated to Albert Einstein, his scientific achievements, and his personal life. It costs 5 Swiss francs to get in.

3. View the Art Museum on a Tour

The Museum of Fine Arts in Bern is one of Switzerland’s earliest such institutions. It spans eight hundred years of art history and features works by such luminaries as Pablo Picasso, Paul Klee, Alfred Oppenheim, and many more. It houses almost three thousand works of art, including sculptures and paintings. Admission for the permanent collection is free, while admission for the temporary exhibitions is 24 Swiss francs.

4. Read the Zytglogge

Located in the centre of the historic district, this landmark dates back to the early 13th century. The Zytglogge has been a watchtower for the city’s western defences, a prison for women (allegedly those who committed sexual transgressions with the clergy), and a clocktower throughout the course of its history. The tower’s outward appearance has undergone numerous transformations over the years. The tower was renovated in the Baroque style in the 18th century after originally being ornamented in the Burgundian Romantic style in the 15th century. Rococo was the new style in the early 20th century. Additionally to the time, the clock displays the date, the zodiac sign, and the current moon phase. The tower’s history is discussed in detail during a 60-minute guided tour for 20 CHF (keep in mind that tours do not operate daily and their schedule varies with the seasons).(bern’s river)

5. Take a relaxing Turkish bath

The Hammam & Spa Oktogon, located in a former gas-fired boiler and billiards factory, is one of the greatest in the city, despite its unassuming exterior. Octagonal rooms are provided, and all residents are issued linen uniforms (instead of walking around nude). Tea in the cafe and a traditional linen towel and peeling glove are included in the day pass that costs 45 CHF.

6. take a moment to appreciate the Rosegarten.

This area, which has been a park since 1913 but previously housed the lower Old Town cemetery from 1765 to 1877, was originally used for burials. Now it is a beautiful rose garden with more than 240 different types of roses. Not only do the cherry blossoms in the springtime seem beautiful, but so do the sights of Old Town, Bern Münster (Cathedral), and the Aare river loop.

7. Go for a swim in the river

During the warm summer months, many people enjoy taking a dip in the Aare River. Other watersports including stand-up paddleboarding, rafting, tubing, and river surfing are also available. Between Marzili pool and Camping Eichholz, the river is at its busiest and most beautiful. People often dive into the river from the Schönausteg pedestrian bridge. A rental of a stand-up paddleboard will run you roughly 80 CHF, while a tube big enough to fit 8-10 people would run you around 210 CHF.

9. Go to the city’s tiniest bar

Visit the city’s smallest pub, the ZAR café bar, located in the heart of Bern. Tables and chairs, under its red-and-white striped awning, make the sidewalk just as crowded in the summer as the pub itself. Spend some time here sampling the meat and cheese dish and drinking some Swiss beer.

10. Visit a flea market to pick up some unique mementos.

Visiting a flea market is a great opportunity to find unique items and experience the local culture. Once a month, on the last Saturday, from March through October, the historic tram depot that now serves as the flea market known as Tramdepot Areal is open to the public. The Marzili neighborhood’s Dampfzentrale is open on the last Sunday of every month from May to September. On the third Saturday of every month between May and October, the Mühlenplatz market in the Matte neighbourhood hosts a modest flea market. Colorful and kooky, it’s teeming with works by regional artists. However, one of Switzerland’s largest marketplaces is located in Reitschule and should not be missed. Once a month, on the first Sunday, it’s available to the public.(bern’s river)

Costs of a Trip to Bern

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Price of a hostel bed

Not many hostels exist in the city, and the ones that do tend to charge steep rates. Private rooms start at 115 CHF per night while a private dorm room with 6-8 beds will set you back roughly 40 CHF. Most hostels also include a free breakfast or at least the option to cook for yourself, and free Wi-Fi is a given.(bern’s river)

On the other hand, if you’re prepared to pitch a tent, you may spend as low as 15 CHF per night in a campground outside of Bern. If you’re looking for a good place to stay near the Aare River, consider Eichholz.

Pricing at the lower end of the hotel

spectrum begins at roughly 90 Swiss francs per night, with most rooms averaging around 120 Swiss francs per night. You can count on the very minimum, such as free Internet access, cable TV, and a complimentary breakfast.

Private rooms on Airbnb cost between 50 and 80 Swiss francs per night. The going rate for a whole house or apartment rental is roughly 70 CHF per night (though double that price is more common).

Cost of food on average

Swiss cuisine has heavy French, German, and Italian influences and consists primarily of meat and potato-based dishes accompanied by an abundance of local cheeses. Veal and mushrooms, fondue (served with bread or potatoes), rösti (fried grated potatoes), and quiche are all popular options. Swiss chocolate and cheese are other essential staples. Muesli is a popular and healthful option for breakfast.(bern’s river)

Cheapest meals can be found at bars and cafes, where a lunch special will run you between 9 and 15 Swiss Francs. A lunch at a cheap restaurant will run you about 25 CHF, while a mid-range restaurant’s 3-course meal would set you back about 50 CHF.

Pittaria, Rice Up (Bern railway station), ss-Bar, and Restaurant Grosse Schanze are some inexpensive dining options. Lötschberg, Harmonie, and Della Casa are all great places to have authentic Swiss cuisine.

An average combo meal at a fast food restaurant (like McDonald’s) will set you back about 15 Swiss francs. The going rate for a sizable pizza in Switzerland is between 15 and 21 Swiss Francs.

It costs about 7 Swiss francs for a beer, and 5.5 francs for a latte or cappuccino.

Your weekly food budget should be around 100-110 CHF if you plan on preparing your meals at home. Essentials like pasta, vegetables, chicken, and other pantry staples are within your price range with this. Migros, COOP, and Spar are the three largest grocery chains. In terms of cost, COOP is tops.

Bern Budget Recommendations for Backpackers

In Bern, I would recommend setting up 95 CHF each day for your travel budget. This includes reserving a bed in a hostel’s shared dorm, purchasing all of your own food, consuming no more than two drinks per day, getting around town using public transit, and filling your time with primarily free pursuits like swimming, hiking, and free tours.(bern’s river)

The average tourist may stay comfortably in a private Airbnb, eat out many times, drink a few beers, use the occasional taxi, and do a few paid activities and tours like riding the funicular and checking out a few museums on a daily budget of roughly 200 CHF.

A “luxury” travel budget of 400 Swiss francs a day or more will allow you to stay in a hotel, eat out for every meal, drink more, rent a car or take more taxis, and participate in a wide variety of tours and activities. But this is only the first level of opulence. Nothing can stop you now!

Use the following table to estimate your daily budget. In any given day, your spending could be higher or lower than the average (you might spend less every day). Our goal here is just to help you get started on a rough budget. All of the prices are listed in Swiss Francs.(bern’s river)

Backpacker
Accommodation.    40
Food.     25
Transportation.    15
Attractions.     15
Average Daily Cost.    95
Mid-Range
Accommodation.    85
Food.     60
Transportation.     25
Attractions.     25
Average Daily Cost.   195
Luxury
Accommodation.     210
Food.     110
Transportation.     40
Attractions.      40
Average Daily Cost.    400

Discounts and Savings in Bern: a Travel Guide

Bern, like the rest of Switzerland, is not an inexpensive vacation destination. Eating out frequently or drinking frequently can make it difficult to stick to a strict budget. In any case, there are a few methods available for cutting costs:

1. The Bern Ticket gives you free rides

on Bern’s public transit system and is included with your stay at any hotel, youth hostel, or campground in Bern. With this, you can ride LIBERO Association’s public transportation system free of charge inside zones 100 and 101. Transportation to and from Bern Airport, as well as rides on the Gurten and Marzilibahn funiculars, the Minter terrace lift, and public transportation, are all included. Your ticket will be good for the entirety of your stay.

2. Avoid becoming drunk

alcoholic beverages are quite pricey in this area. Avoid alcohol if you must adhere to a strict budget. However, if you feel the need to imbibe, do so only during happy hours and at budget hostel bars.

3. Indulge in the half-price lunch offers if you must dine out.

In this area, you can get a decent meal for only 10 to 19 Swiss francs per person at most restaurants during lunchtime. In addition, if you’re looking for cheap prices and large portions, your best bet is to stick to Chinese, Middle Eastern, Indian, or Thai eateries.

4. Water from the tap is safe to drink

so pack a water bottle to help you save money and limit your plastic waste. Since the LifeStraw brand’s water bottles include built-in filters, I always use one of those.

5. Get your bearings with a free walking tour

it’s the best way to see the sights and hear interesting tales about the city’s past without spending a dime. When you really want to get to know a city and its history and architecture, nothing beats setting out on foot and discovering it all on your own. You should definitely leave some sort of gratuity for your guide.

6. Stay with a local

Couchsurfing is a programme that helps travellers find free lodging with locals all around the world. To put it simply, it was a godsend that really aided me in minimising my expenses. Due to the high demand for this service, it is recommended that host requests be made well in advance of the trip.

Where to Stay in Bern

There are only a couple of hostels in Bern, so consider booking early if you’re visiting during the busy summer months. Here are my suggested places to stay:(bern’s river)

How to Get Around Bern

Around Bern
Visitors staying in Bern hotels are given a free public transportation card to use throughout their stay. You won’t spend much time on the bus or subway because the city is so compact and simple to navigate on foot.

A single metro or bus

ride costs 4.60 Swiss francs (CHF) and is valid for 90 minutes. Your bus or train ticket is good for both modes throughout the specified time period.

Bern’s taxis

have a base rate of 6.90 CHF, plus 3.95 CHF each kilometre. They cost too much money. Ignore them.

Ridesharing

While the public transportation is dependable and the city isn’t very vast, you probably won’t need to use ridesharing services like Uber, even if they are available and are slightly cheaper than taxis.

Bicycles can be rented

from April through October through Publibike for 2.90 CHF for 30 minutes. After the first minute, charges of 0.10 CHF per minute apply, with a daily cap of 20 CHF (e-bikes are more expensive).

Renting a Car

Daily rates for rentals of several days start at roughly 30 CHF. Although a car isn’t necessary to navigate around the city, it can be useful for getting out of town and seeing more of the surrounding area. Drivers must be over the age of 21. Non-European renters are expected to present an International Driving Permit (IDP).

Where and When to Visit Bern

Bern is at its best between April and September, when the temperature is mild enough to enjoy strolling around on foot, patios are ready for dining, open-air markets are bustling, and the Aare is inviting for a dip. The typical high temperature during this time is around 72 degrees Fahrenheit (23 degrees Celsius). Prices in Bern are likely to be slightly higher during this peak season.(bern’s river)

There is no bigger marathon in Switzerland than the Bern Grand Prix, held in the month of May. Every year in July, the town of Gurten hosts the Gurtenfestival, a massive music festival that attracts artists from all over the world. The first of August celebrates Swiss National Day, a time for parades, fireworks, yodelling, alphorn playing, and many traditional Swiss cultural activities. In addition, the month of August is when the Bern Buckers’ Street Music Festival takes place.

The average low for the winter in Bern is around freezing. The pace of celebrations and festivities may calm down, but there is still plenty to do. The Christmas market is open in Switzerland in November and December, and it’s stocked with Swiss delicacies, handicrafts, and mulled beverages. A celebration of onions, Zibelemärit has been held in Bern since the 1850s and occurs at the end of November. The Bern Carnival kicks up in February/March and has been celebrated since the 16th century peasant revolts.(bern’s river)

When in Bern, Here’s How to Avoid Danger

The city of Bern is very secure. Safety-wise, it ranks higher than other big Swiss towns like Geneva and Zurich. Nothing bad is likely to occur in this setting. You won’t have any trouble finding nice locals willing to lend a hand. However, as a precaution, you should always keep your valuables locked up and out of reach.

Women travelling alone need not worry about their safety here; nonetheless, the usual warnings against intoxication and walking home alone at night still apply.

Even though scams are uncommon in this area, you can learn about some of the more prevalent ones to watch out for on your trip here.

Pay close attention to weather forecasts if you intend on going hiking or skiing in the mountains. Pay attention to avalanche alerts and avoid hiking if instructed to do so.

Reach out for help in the event of an urgent situation by calling 117.

If anything feels off, go with your gut. Make duplicates of your passport and other forms of identification. Please share your travel plans with family and friends.

My number one piece of guidance is to make sure you have adequate travel insurance. Illness, injury, theft, and trip cancellations are all things that can be covered by travel insurance. It’s a safety net for the worst case scenario. It’s come in handy on numerous occasions, so I never leave home without it.

Bern Travel Guide: The Best Booking Resources

Skyscanner

is the best travel website I’ve ever used. They look for cheap flights and obscure websites that the major search engines often overlook. Simply put, they are the best starting point available.

If you’re looking for a hostel, look no farther than Hostelworld

they have the largest selection, the easiest search interface, and the most convenient locations.

Booking.com

is the finest website for booking any kind of travel because it always has the lowest prices. They offer the greatest variety of cheap hotels. Every time I’ve compared their prices to those of other booking sites, they’ve come out on top every time.

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