A city steeped in history and legend, Bern is a beautiful time capsule dating back to the late 12th century. Flags adorned with the city’s iconic bear fly from the great stone walls and buildings, and stories tell how the city’s founder, the Duke of Zähringen, named the city after the first animal he met on one of his hunts.
Filled with sweeping squares and bustling arcades, Bern manages to capture the beauty of its past and blend it seamlessly with modern style and glamour. Cafes, restaurants, shops and delis adorn the narrow streets that wind themselves through a maze of medieval avenues. The old town is resplendent and elegant with its sandstone structures wrapped snuggly along the meandering waters of the Aare River.
One of the most distinct components of the city are the fountains that can be found in the middle of its streets. Built around 1550, they feature ornate designs and playful statues, based on allegorical Renaissance figures. If the fountains dominate the ground, then the Münster of Bern dominates the sky. Its cathedral spire is an incredible 101 metres high, observing the people from its seat in the heavens.
Soak up the city’s dignified and tranquil atmosphere by taking a trip through the Rosengarten, take a seat at one of its traditional taverns or lose yourself in the labyrinthine shopping arcades that tunnel their way through the city.
Laying just south of Bern is the Bernese Oberland, a region characterised by snow-capped mountains, glistening lakes, mountain villages and hiking trails. The contrast of jagged peaks and lush green valleys makes it one of Switzerland’s most beautiful areas and the crisp Alpine air makes it a great place for enjoying the great outdoors.
When to go
Bern is a year-round city. The surrounding Bernese Oberland is particularly good from January to March for wonderful snowy hikes and again from June to August for beautiful views and walking.
What to do
- Explore the city's quaint cobbled streets
- Visit its museums and galleries
- Hike through the beautiful valleys of the Bernese Oberland