One of the most beautiful cities in Switzerland the Swiss Capital Bern offers its visitors with a myriad of attractions. It has a rich history, plenty of shopping opportunities, beautiful gardens and parks, museums and lots more. You will never fall short of things to do in Bern. Usually, people visiting Switzerland choose Bern as their base as there are so many places around Bern which are top Switzerland tourist attractions. Zurich is also a popular base which is around an hour from Bern so again you can base yourself in Zurich too.
Top Things to do in Bern
Bern Historical Museum
The Bern Historical Museum is one of the largest historical museums in Switzerland. The permanent exhibitions of the museum display artifacts related to history, culture, archeology, and ethnography. Part of the museum is the Einstein Museum which displays collection related to the life and work of the famous physicist. https://www.bern.com/en/detail/bern-historical-museum
Rose Garden (Rosengarten)
The Rose Garden is home to over 200 different types of roses and other flowers like irises and rhododendrons. The garden was once a cemetery today overflows with bright flowers. There is a restaurant Rosengarten in the garden where you can spend some time and enjoy the views.
Shop at the Produce Market
On most of the days, you will for sure come across this wonderful market on the way to the Old Town. The market takes place in Waisenplatz and Barenplatz around 5 minutes walk from the train station. The colorful market sells a myriad of items antiques, clothes and a wide variety of fresh produce like fruits, vegetables, flowers, cheese, bread and more. Read More about the market and its open times here.
Shopaholics can shop for a variety of clothes, antiques, clothes, bags, shoes, vintage items, decorative pieces and more in the numerous flea markets of Bern. The flea market held in the main hall in Reitschule is one of the largest flea markets in Switzerland.
The cobblestone streets of the old town are also popular draws for shopping opportunities. The arcades also known as the “Lauben” have an all kind of shops from brands, boutiques, antiques and more.
Bern Botanical Garden
The Botanical Garden of Bern is located on the slopes bordering the River Aare in a peaceful setting. The garden is home to a wide species of flower plants, herbs, and trees from all around the world. The garden is also a popular venue for art exhibitions and events. Visitors can take a guided tour of the garden and explore its greenhouses and palm house.
Bern Old Town
Amongst the must-visit places in Bern is the Old Town Bern which is close to the train station at a walkable distance. It is easy to explore on foot. If you have only one day in Bern we suggest you start with the charming medieval Old Town of Bern, then visit a couple of museums and spend the evening in the Bear Park along the Aare River. There is so much to see here that you can easily spend a day.
The Prison Tower (Kafigturm)
When you are busy shopping at the flea markets at Barenplatz who cannot miss the stunning medieval tower which has been standing tall for 400 years now. The tower was once a watchtower and signal tower. Today the tower hosts exhibitions and discussions on political history.
Watch a Show at Zytglogge
Zytglogge, the clock tower is no doubt the most remarkable landmark attraction in Bern. The 13th-century clock is one of the oldest clocks in Switzerland. and dates back to the 13th century. The medieval figurines in the clock of the tower put up a show four minutes before the hour which something not to miss.
Explore the Fountains
Continue onto the same street along leading to the clock tower for gorgeous fountains all along the street. The elaborate fountains with intriguing and vividly colored figures and columns lining up the street depict the historical events from the Middle Ages. Bern has over 100 fountains, eleven of which are of great historical importance and date back to the mid-16th century. And all of them have potable water reserves.
Visit the Einstein House (Einsteinhaus)
Einstein house is one of the best fun and educational museum for the kids. It is located close to the Zytglogge Clock Tower a few hundred meters away. The museum displays items, photos, and artifacts from the time Einstein stayed here with his family.
The gothic style building is located in the Old Town. It is the seat of the cantonal government and is not open to the public.
You can just walk around and explore the architecture.
Visit the Bern Cathedral (Berner Munster)
Bern Cathedral or Berner Munster is a beautiful gothic cathedral dating back to the medieval times. The main door portal has elegant carvings depicting the Last Judgment.
Visitors can climb the cathedral tower for majestic views of the city and the surrounding snow-capped mountains.
The Parliament Building is the seat of the Swiss government. Visitors can take a tour of the parliament and learn about its working and history when the sessions are not taking place.
During the winters there is an ice rink opposite to the parliament where kids can have some fun.
To the Gurten Summit
The Gurten is a mountain in Bern. One can get to the summit of the mountain at 2,815 ft for amazing views of the city of Bern and the Alps. There is a hotel, restaurants, various fun activities and a play area for the kids on the summit. One can hike all the way to the summit or ride a funicular. The funicular station is located in Wabern which is a 15 minutes ride by a tram or train from Bern train station. More here.
Watch the Bears Frolic at the Bern Bear Park (Barengraben)
The Bern bear park is one of the popular things to do in Bern especially with the kids. You can watch the bears frolicking along the Aare Riverside and bathe in the water which is fun to watch.
Bern Animal Park
Another popular attraction to visit for kids is the Bern Animal Park. The park is home to over 200 species of animals. The section of the park which is not part of the vivarium is accessible free of charge. It is home to ibex, beaver, wild boar and other animals. There is an admission fee to enter the vivarium which is home to animals and birds like monkeys, puffins, snowy owls, and many other species. The park is open 365 days a year, more details here.
Top Day Trips from Bern
If you have based in Bern there are many amazing places to visit in the Bernese Oberland region. You can easily plan a day trip to one of the beautiful romantic places in Switzerland. Below are a few places which should be on top of your list.
The most beautiful resort town in Switzerland, Interlaken is around an hour’s train ride from Bern. One of the top things to do in Interlaken is the Interlaken Old Town. The old town of Interlaken is located in a picturesque location along the Aare River with a backdrop of the mountain. There are pretty chalets adorned with flowers and cowbells. Harder Kulm is a mountain summit overlooking Interlaken town, Lakes Thun and Brienz and views of the Eiger, Monch, and Jungfrau. It is one of the best mountain rides in Switzerland. The funicular station is located close to the Interlaken Ost Station.
The town of Interlaken is located between two beautiful lakes Thun and Brienz. Both the lakes are surrounded by some of the beautiful villages in Switzerland and top tourist attractions which can be visited on astounding day trips from Interlaken.
Zurich is one of the top cities to visit in Switzerland, one of the largest and expensive cities too. But Zurich is a popular base due to the easy day trips from Zurich to top places in Switzerland and the international airport that connects the important cities all over the world. The Old Town of Zurich draws tourists for the charming riverside cafes and restaurants, magnificent churches Grossmunster and Fraumunster and the beautiful Squares and Fountains.
The global city Geneva is a couple of hours train ride from Bern. The city is home to several international organizations, over 30 museums, an amazing Geneva Old Town with 2000 years of history and numerous parks and gardens. There is no dearth of things to do in Geneva. On the way from Bern to Geneva, you will come across many other Switzerland tourist attractions which are also popular day trips from Geneva.
So you can either continue all the way to Geneva and explore its wonderful landmarks and attractions or make a detour and visit other places like Montreux, Lavaux Vineyards or Lausanne. The French Towns of Annecy and Yvoire are just an hour away from Geneva.
Also Read: Free Things to do in Geneva, Switzerland
Lucerne is another beautiful Swiss city just an hour train ride from Bern. The Chapel Bridge is one of the top things to do in Lucerne. The wooden bridge adorned with overflowing colorful flowers and the swans gliding past the bridge on the emerald waters of the River Reuss. looks surreal. Along the river is the medieval Old town with buildings decorated with stunning murals. Some 10 minutes walk from the Old Town is another important Lucerne landmark, the Lion Monument. There are numerous day trips from Lucerne which also a major draw for the tourists to this charming city.
Gruyeres is one of the charming Swiss villages and a top tourist destination in Switzerland. One of the major attractions in Gruyeres is the Gruyeres Cheese Factory where you can take a tour and learn about the cheese processing. Visit the medieval Gruyeres Castle with 800 years of history and also explore the beautiful medieval village of Gruyeres.
There are also a few unique museums in the village which you can visit. And the other most popular Gruyeres attraction is the Cailler Chocolate Factory. The tour walks through the history of chocolate and offers unlimited chocolate tasting at the end of the tour.
Where to Stay in Bern?
The Swiss capital has a plenitude of accommodation options from hostels, luxury hotels to apartments located around the city center.
Hotel Glocke located in a historic building is close to the popular Bern attraction Zytglogge Tower. The hotel comes with a fully equipped kitchen.
Best Western Hotel a 5-minute walk from Bern Train Station
Belle Epoque Boutique Hotel occupies a historic 500-year-old building in the Bern Old Town close to the Bear Park (Barengraben).
Hotel Bellevue Palace Bern occupies a traditional Art Nouveau building and is located close to the Swiss Parliament and about 5-minutes from the Bern Cathedral.