ONE DAY IN BERN – PLACES TO SEE & THINGS TO DO
Are you planning a trip to Bern and wondering about what to do in Bern in one day? Well, then this post is perfect for you. I am happy to introduce you to my favorite activities and the top places to visit in Bern.
Switzerland has so many stunning places that Bern often gets overlooked. However, Switzerland´s capital is a beauty. Capitals tend to have the reputation of being crowded, busy, and hectic. But I promise Bern is different. And I do believe visiting Bern is worth it.
Welcome to Bern! This beautiful, quaint Swiss city is the perfect place for a day trip. Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway or an adventure in the Alps, Bern has something for everyone. From its picturesque old town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, to its breathtaking mountain views, there’s a lot to do and see!
But with this one-day in Bern itinerary, you can see the main sights and attractions and fall in love with the Swiss capital.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. This means I might earn a small commission when you buy a product (at no extra cost to you) after clicking on my link. More about it here.
PLACES IN BERN IN 1 DAY TO VISIT
Okay, let’s start with the best places to visit for your Bern itinerary. One of the first things I do, when I travel, is to find great spots that offer the best panoramas of a city/place.
The Rosengarten (Rose Garden) is one of the most beautiful parks in the city with stunning views over the rooftops of the historic Old Town and the river.
Welcome to the gorgeous Rosengarten! Nestled at the heart of Bern’s charming old town and conveniently located nearby the famous Bear Park, this stunning garden boasts over 200 varieties of roses and irises, as well as 28 different types of rhododendrons in the enchanting moor beds.
Stroll through this floral paradise and immerse yourself in the vibrant colors and fragrant scents that make Rosengarten a true sensory delight.
As I strolled through the park, I couldn’t help but notice the cheery sight of friends and families gathered on blankets, chatting and munching away on delicious treats. Even though I prefer solo expeditions, I have to admit that this seems like the perfect place to lay out a picnic and soak up some sunshine.
Did you know that you can take a selfie with the great Albert Einstein in Bern? That’s right, there’s a statue of him sitting on a bench just waiting for you to strike a pose. But why is he in Bern, you ask?
Well, Einstein was actually living in the city when he came up with the revolutionary formula E=mc² back in 1905. If you’re a true Einstein fan, you can even visit his former residence at the Einsteinhaus Museum in the old town (more on that later). Go ahead and pay homage to one of the greatest minds in history during your visit to Bern.
TIPS FOR VISITING ROSENGARTEN:
- It is about 1,4 miles (2,2 km) from the train station.
- You can also take a bus from the city center (no. 10) that brings you up all the way. You get out at the “backdoor” of the park and then no more uphill walking is included.
- There is no entrance fee.
- It takes 5-10 minutes on foot to get to Bären Park, the next stop on this itinerary.
Looking for a unique and exciting experience in the heart of the city? Look no further than the amazing Bären Park, conveniently located just a hop, skip, and a jump away from the Rosengarten. You won’t believe your eyes when you see these majestic bears, living and thriving in their natural habitat.
These bears are living right in the heart of Bern’s city center! Crazy, right? According to some myths, the city’s name (Bern in German) actually translates to “bear” – so maybe it’s not so surprising after all!
A friend told me about these urban bears a few years ago, and I was absolutely fascinated. I just had to learn more. And now, I’m happy to pass along the knowledge to you. Who knows what other secrets this beautiful city is hiding?
Say hello to Finn, Björk, and Ursina! Their cozy home is situated right by the river with a private “pool” on the Aarenhang spanning an area of 6,000 square meters. It’s like they have their own little spa retreat! Go ahead and pay them a visit, they are sure to steal your heart with their adorable antics.
You can see real bears living freely with the safety of fences to protect both them and human visitors. While you’re here, don’t miss the informative display featuring fake bears and facts about the real bear family you’ll see. And for those looking for a guilt-free animal experience, this attraction definitely has a unique appeal worth exploring.
Avoid loud screaming and definitely do not throw something at them
TIPS FOR VISITING BÄRENPARK
- Bears do hibernate (between October/November for a couple of months), then you will not see them.
- There is no entrance fee but donations are welcome.
- It is open 24/7 but there is no guarantee you will see them.
If you’re heading to Switzerland and only have one day in Bern, don’t worry – you can still marvel at the beauty of the Aare River! Personally, I think it’s the most stunning river in the country, and it’s definitely worth taking a stroll along its banks.
Although the river spans almost 300 km, you’ll still catch a glimpse of its breathtaking waters during your visit. Lucky for you, many of the city’s top attractions are situated close to the river, so you’ll have plenty of chances to admire it.
Experience the serene beauty of Bern and take a leisurely stroll by the river. The city’s relaxed pace will invite you to join in and unwind. The river’s unique hue adds to the charm, making it a picturesque setting for relaxation.
In the summer, the locals even take a dip in the refreshing waters to beat the heat. Don’t miss out on this idyllic experience – pack your bathing clothes and towels and merge into Bern’s peaceful way of living.
On your way to the next stop, cross this bridge – the Nydeggbrücke. Why? This bridge offers stunning views in every direction – you wouldn’t want to miss it! Make sure to add it to your itinerary and snap some memorable photos along the way.
Crossing the bridge will just take a few minutes. It is “just a bridge” and yet one of my favorite places to visit in Bern because of the great views!
Looking for a picturesque spot with endless possibilities? Look no further than the Münster Platform! With stunning panoramas of both the Alps and the Aare River, the terrace guarantees a feast for the eyes.
But it’s not just the view that makes this spot so special. Whether you’re looking to dine, picnic, or take a leisurely stroll through the park area, this location caters to all with its array of fun activities. And of course, in the summer months, countless trees provide shady relief from the sun. Head to the Münster Platform today and let the good times roll!
TIPS FOR VISITING MÜNSTER PLATTFORM
- It is free to visit.
- Open 24/7 but the best time is to visit on warm and sunny days.
- It is easily accessible (despite its elevation, there is not much uphill walking required).
Cathedral of Bern (Berner Münster)
The stunning Berner Münster is a Swiss Reformed cathedral and a true Gothic masterpiece, with construction dating all the way back to the 15th century. Don’t miss the chance to marvel at its intricate architecture and rich cultural history.
A visit to the Berner Münster is a must for any traveler seeking a glimpse into Switzerland’s fascinating past.
Did you know that the tower of this beautiful cathedral stands tall at around 100 meters? While it wasn’t completed until the 19th century, it is still an impressive site to behold. If you’re lucky enough to visit, you can even climb to the top and take in the breathtaking views.
However, if you’re traveling alone, you may need to buddy up with someone else to make the ascension. Though it may seem like an inconvenience, this safety measure ensures that everyone can enjoy the stunning panorama without any mishaps. While you might not have the chance to go up alone, you can still admire the tower’s impressive architecture and stunning surroundings.
TIPS FOR VISITING THE CATHEDRAL OF BERN
- The Cathedral is free to visit
- You can climb the tower (not to the very top though) – 344 stairs. There is an entrance fee of about CHF 5 for the tower.
Welcome to the charming old town of Bern, where history comes to life. Be sure to visit the breathtaking Cathedral, a true gem in the heart of this ancient city. And don’t stop there – exploring the old town is an absolute must! There are so many hidden treasures to discover around every corner. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
The entire old town of Bern has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1983. This charming area is conveniently located near other top attractions, making it a must-see on your Bern itinerary. Get ready to take a step back in time and soak up the historic beauty of this incredible destination. Trust us, you won’t be disappointed!
If you’re looking for a charming and picturesque stroll, I highly suggest taking a leisurely walk through the streets. You won’t be disappointed by the stunning array of colorful and historic houses, adorned with lovely flower pots.
Keep an eye out for hidden gems, such as tiny cafes and shops nestled in the attic. Don’t let them go unnoticed, because if you stick around long enough, you just might get the chance to explore one for yourself. Happy exploring!
In the old town, you will find several of the main attractions including
- Clock Tower (Zytglogge)
- Town Hall
- Muenster Cathedral
TIP: If you like discovering Bern via a tour, you can book your tours vis GetYourGuide. I mainly use Viator or GetYourGuide and like both, though I nowadays book tours more often via GetYourGuide. I have picked a few tours that might help you explore the Old Town of Bern. Find out more about a guided tour of the Old Town.
Clock Tower (Zytglogge)
Be sure to check out the historic Clock Tower. This impressive structure has been standing tall since the 13th century and has served many purposes over the years, including that of a guard tower, prison, clock tower, and even a center for urban life and civic events.
With such a rich history, it’s no wonder that the Clock Tower is a must-see destination for tourists of all ages. Every hour, on the hour, medieval figures (dancing bears, the cheeky fool, and the crowing rooster) appear from the Clock Tower.
Tours are available and allow you to look behind the clock and learn about the history and the view from the top of the tower.
- 01.04. – 31.10. daily
01.11 – 31.03 every Saturday
26.12. – 31.12. daily
- at 2.30 pm (reservations in advance are recommended)
- Prices for a tour are CHF20 for adults.
Discover the heart of Bern’s political scene at the Town Hall, where important decisions are made for both the city and canton. As the proud capital of the stunning Bernese Oberland, Bern boasts breathtaking landscapes that include charming towns like Grindelwald, Interlaken, and the tranquil lakes of Lake Thun and Lake Brienz. Come explore the best of Switzerland in this picturesque region!
The town hall is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site and a Swiss heritage site of national significance.
According to my research, you can do a tour of the Town Hall which was built at the beginning of the 15th century. There are different town hall tours available:
- There are free Town Hall tours, but there are only a few every year
- You can also do paid tours at other times
- You can check out the official website (information about tours is not available in English at the moment).
Parliament Building (Bundeshaus) + Parliament Square
Did you know that Bern holds the title of both the capital of its canton, “Berner Oberland,” and the capital of all of Switzerland? One of its most notable landmarks is the Parliament Building, where you can witness the Swiss Parliament in session under its magnificent dome.
But the building isn’t only reserved for political gatherings, as parts of the Swiss federal government and administration also reside in its wings. It’s the perfect place to witness Switzerland’s culture, past, and present all in one building.
In front of the Parliament building in Switzerland, there are 26 amazing fountains- Each one symbolizes one of the country’s cantons, making it a truly unique sight. But, they’re not just there for show!
When the hot summer days roll in, these fountains become a fun way for visitors to cool off. Who wouldn’t want to run through the water and feel refreshed on a sweltering day? It’s especially fun for kids who can splash around and have a blast. So, next time you’re in Switzerland, be sure to check out these awesome fountains and stay cool in style!
On Tuesdays and Saturdays, you can find a veggie/fruit and flower market on Parliament Square.
If you get the chance to do a tour, make sure to take it.
TIPS FOR VISITING THE PARLIAMENT
- Tours only take place where there are no sessions.
- The tours are free and last about 60 minutes.
- You can find out more about the tours on the official website of the Parliament.
Welcome to a more or less hidden gem tucked behind the Parliament building! Stroll down the charming promenade and take in breathtaking views of the majestic snow-capped Alps, the serene Aare River, and stunning parts of Bern.
Even more impressive on clear days, this promenade offers a unique opportunity to soak in the beauty of nature in a bustling European capital – a feeling unlike any other city experience.
I know you’re excited to explore Bern, but wow, that’s quite a packed itinerary for just one day! Don’t worry though, it’s definitely possible to see all those amazing sights in 24 hours.
But hear me out – why not treat yourself to an extra day or two in this charming city? If you do, here are even more fantastic things to add to your agenda. Trust me, you won’t run out of things to do in Bern!
MORE PLACES TO VISIT IN BERN IN 1 DAY +
Do you have more than 1 day in Bern and would like to do more?
The Gurten (above 860 meters above sea level) is another great place to visit. It is a bit offsite in the city center, so I would recommend starting or ending your second day in Bern by visiting the Gurten.
The good news is if you stay at an official hotel, Airbnb, B&B, etc., you will get a Bern ticket which allows you to use public transport for free, which includes the cable funicular ride up to the Gurten. If you are a hiker, this is one of the smaller popular mountain peaks you can hike up to. There is also a viewing tower for even better views.
If you are with kids, they most likely will enjoy the playground area or the toboggan runs up there. In the summer months, you can bring your own food, make your BBQ – or have lunch/dinner in one of the restaurants.
Tip: Do not try to go there by car. I did, and it was a bad choice because I could not find any parking space close by (at least not on a sunny day). So, take public transportation to get there. Hiking up or riding your bicycle is also possible.
Since I mention Albert Einstein before, I want to mention the museum you can visit to learn more about him and his life in Bern. The Einsteinhaus is the flat where he used to live with his wife and their son for 2 years. It has been restored in the style of that period to reflect Einstein’s crucial years here – the time he developed his theory of relativity.
- The Einsteinhaus is located on Kramgasse No. 49.
- Opening hours in 2023: 1 February – 20 December 2023
- Monday – Sunday from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
- Entrance fee: CHF 7 for adults, a reduced price for Swiss Travel Pass holders and children or pensionaries.
Relax at Hamman / Spa Oktogon
After all the sightseeing you might be interested to spend some time indoors and to relax. If so, then the Hamman & Spa Oktogon might be the perfect choice.
For a day of relaxation, indulgence, and pampering, Hamman and Spa Oktogon is a treat well worth experiencing. The Bernese Hammam was constructed inside an old octagonal building that housed the first gas boilers in Switzerland during the 19th century.
Indulge in luxurious treatments, such as warm baths, herbal steam rooms, and full-body exfoliation. The spa also offers a Moroccan clay mask, perfect for pampering your skin. Whether you’re treating yourself to an indulgent spa day or looking for a place to relax after a hectic day, the Hammam & Spa Oktogon Bern is the perfect choice. Check out prices here.
TRAVEL TIPS FOR YOUR BERN ITINERARY
After discussing the places to visit in Bern, here are some quick tips for your one-day trip to Bern.
Where to Stay
If you can, book your hotel in the old town. From there, you can get to all (or most) attractions in Bern within minutes.
Luxury Hotel: If you are looking for a 5-star luxury place to stay, Bellevue Palace is probably the best place choice. It is centrally located and is great for those who like to indulge in luxury. To check out rates, click here.
Mid-Range Hotel: I stayed at the 3-star hotel Goldener Schlüssel for 1 night, located in the city center/old town. Though my hotel room was pretty small though, with no direct (and free) parking options and the breakfast was simple, the location was perfect and made up for it. It was also pet-friendly (I had my dog with me). Check out rates here.
Budget Hotel: Switzerland is no budget-friendly place, and Bern is no exception. Bern Youth Hostel is located in the city center. It offers affordable dorm beds but also private rooms with private bathrooms. Check out rates here.
Check out my guide on the best places to stay in Bern.
How to Get Around in 1 Day in Bern
There are three main ways to get around – public transportation, foot, and car.
Most places mentioned on this Bern itinerary can easily be reached on foot. You do not need to travel long distances and if you are used to walking, then bring comfy shoes and discover Bern on foot.
As basically in all of Switzerland, Bern has a pretty great public transportation system. Getting around by bus and tram would be the best option if you want to visit places further away or if you cannot/do not walk anymore. If you book a hotel, you will get a card that allows you to use public transportation for free (Bern Ticket).
If you travel around Switzerland by public transportation, I highly recommend getting a Swiss Travel Pass. I visit Switzerland often, and most of the time I get one – even if I road trip. It allows you to use trains and buses without any extra costs and you can do day trips without any extra costs (including boat trips on Lake Thun in Interlaken e.g.). Check out prices for a Swiss Travel Pass here.
If you get around by car you should know that parking in the old town is difficult and pricey. Also, the attractions are so close by – with one exception – and there really is no need to get around by car.
Safety Tips For Solo Female Travelers
Switzerland in general, and Bern in particular, is very safe and I had a great time by myself. I did a 1-hour guided tour, but apart from that, I did most activities as a solo female traveler. There are absolutely no concerns I have regarding solo female travel in Bern (or Switzerland).
Exercise common sense and keep your valuables close to you – and you should be fine.
Budget Tips for Switzerland
As probably everyone knows, Switzerland is sooooo expensive, so I put all my favorite saving money tips in Switzerland in one post.
Good news: Many of the attractions in Bern are free – so, you will not have to spend a lot of money on activities.
As in most parts of Switzerland, there are water fountains providing free, clean drinking water. You might be thinking, that water will not save you tons of money. In Switzerland it does. A small bottle of water can cost CHF 2-3. Also, it means less plastic if you bring your own bottle (or cup) that you just refill.
What to Wear in Bern
The most important tip I can give you is: wear comfortable shoes. The old town with the cobbled-stoned streets is not high-heel friendly.
For a summer pack list in Europe, click here.
If you visit Europe in winter, check out my winter packing guide for Europe.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON ONE DAY IN BERN
Bern is a charming and picturesque city that offers a wealth of attractions and activities for visitors. With just one day to explore, it is possible to take in many of the city’s highlights, including the historic Old Town, the famous Zytglogge clock tower, and the stunning views from the Rosengarten. Additionally, the city’s many museums, cafes, and shops provide plenty of opportunities to experience Bern’s unique culture and history. Whether you are interested in history, architecture, or simply enjoying a leisurely day in a beautiful city, Bern is definitely worth a visit.
One day in Bern is surely not enough to explore all the beautiful attractions, but it will give you a good idea, and with this itinerary, you’ll get to see some of the most beautiful places in Bern.
If time is not the biggest issue, I suggest staying 2 days in Bern to see more of its beautiful spots.
- More about travel tips for Switzerland here
- Find out more about a business trip to Basel
- Check out my 10-day Switzerland itinerary
- Here are tips for an epic Switzerland road trip
- Find out more about the most beautiful places in Switzerland
PIN ME FOR LATER – BERN ITINERARY
Save this pin for later!