WHAT TO DO IN BERN
- 1 WHAT TO DO IN BERN
- 1.1 Travel Tips for Bern
- 1.2 Top Things to Do in Bern
- 1.2.1 Rosengarten
- 1.2.2 Gurten
- 1.2.3 Münster Plattform
- 1.2.4 Bären Park
- 1.2.5 Aare River
- 1.2.6 Old Town
- 1.2.7 Lido
- 1.2.8 Night Watchman
- 1.2.9 Spooky Side of Bern
- 1.2.10 Scooter Sightseeing
- 1.2.11 Day Trip to Lucerne
- 1.2.12 Zurich Day Tour
- 1.2.13 Interlaken Day Trip
Are you planning a trip to Switzerland´s capital and wondering about the best things to do in Bern? Well, then this post is perfect for you as I am happy to introduce you to my favorite activities and best places to visit in Bern in one day (or longer),
Switzerland is so pretty that some other areas might look more attractive – however, the city is a beauty and you´ll find out about best places to visit and the best things to do in Bern in this post.
Capitals tend to have the reputation of being crowded, busy, and hectic. But promise, Switzerland´s capital is different.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links which mean 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.
Travel Tips for Bern
Find the most important travel information for Bern before we discuss the best things to do and see in Bern.
Where to Stay in Bern
Mid-Range Hotel: I stayed at the 3-star hotel Goldener Schlüssel for 1 night which is located in the city center/old town.
The old town is also my tip to stay in Bern. Though my hotel room was pretty small though, 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). There are bigger rooms available though – check out rates here.
Luxury Hotel: If you are looking for a 5-star luxury place to stay, Bellevue Palace is probably the best place to stay for your Bern trip. It is centrally located and is great for those who like to indulge in luxury. To check out rates click here.
Budget Hotel: Switzerland is no budget-friendly place and Bern is no exception. B&B im Klee is not directly located in the city center but probably a good place if you have to watch your budget more closely. Check out rates here.
How to Get Around in Bern
Bern, as basically all of Switzerland, has a pretty great public transportation system and getting around by bus and tram would be the best option. You can get anywhere easily. If you book a hotel you will get a card that allows you to use public transportation for free.
If you get around by car you should know that parking in the old town is difficult and pricey.
Security Tips for Solo Female Travelers
I visited Bern with my dog – Puppygak. I had a great time, and though, I did a 1-hour guided tour, I did most activities as a solo female traveler (with a small dog, nobody is scared of).
Switzerland in general, and Bern, in particular, are pretty safe places and I can only recommend traveling to Switzerland as a female traveler.
Budget Tips for Switzerland
TIP: As probably everyone knows, Switzerland is sooooo expensive, and so I put all my favorite saving money tips in Switzerland in one post.
Top Things to Do in Bern
Okay, let’s start with the best things to do and see – one of the first things I do when I travel is to find great spots which offer the best views over a city/place.
Bern has quite some places that give you stunning views and here are my favorite places for the best views.
One of the best places to visit in Bern is definitely the Rosengarten (Rose Garden and the name does not promise too much) which is at the end (or beginning?) of the old town in Bern and close to the Bear Park (more on that later).
There are about 250 varieties of roses, but I admit I am all about the view.
I saw many people reading or chilling with friends and families and I think, a good place to visit in Bern with families. When I travel solo, I don’t really do the “picnic” thing, but I guess, this is a great spot to enjoy your outdoor picnics.
Getting up there (probably 5 minutes walk) rewarded me with beautiful views over Bern and I also got the chance to rest in the park.
There are some great spots to get good views on Bern. A view from Rosengarten, the Gurten – the house mountain of Bern – or from the Münster Cathedral are probably the best locations to overlook Bern.
Tip: Look out for Albert Einstein – you’ll find a statue of him, sitting on a bench and waiting for people taking selfies with him.
The Gurten (above 860 meters above sea level) another great place to visit in Bern. It is a bit offsite the city center so I would actually recommend starting or ending a Bern trip visiting the Gurten.
Good news, 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 include 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 run up there. In the summer months you can bring your own food and 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). Hiking up or riding your bicycle is also possible.
Another top thing to do in Bern is to visit the Münster Platform.
The views from the Münster Platform are great, and it is also worth to check out the Cathedral (since I was with a dog I had to skip that part and could not enter), but it is probably one of the best places to see in Bern.
It is not only about the view though (though, who would not enjoy the views of the Aare River or the Alps?) – you have the option to dine, picnic, relax, stroll the park area or or or.
This place is in particular popular in the summer months as there are many trees offering shady places to you.
The Bären Park in Bern (Bear Park) is just a few minutes walk from the Rosengarten and a definitely one of the best places to see in Bern – and surely a surprising sight.
Though there are many more great Bern points of interest, this Bern attraction is surely unique – and since it does not feel like visiting a zoo it is also a good place to visit for those hesitating visiting zoos.
A friend told me a couple of years ago about some bears living in the city center of Bern (that is where according to some myths Bern, German=Bär, has got its name from).
I could not believe it and was very curious about finding out. It is one of the best places to visit in Bern with kids.
The bears “moved“ a couple of years and they do not live where they used to live anymore – now they live next to the river with their own “pool” (located on the Aarenhang).
There is also a little place with information about the bears and fake bears are displayed (but the bear family is seriously real).
Best Things to Do in Bern 1 Day
Personally, I think the Aare river is the most beautiful river in Switzerland.
It is just pretty with its unique color, and strolling along and enjoying these views was fun and as mentioned – the people in Ben take it slowly, and so blend in and do the same.
The total length of the Aare river is almost 300 km – so you will only get a glimpse in Bern.
Visiting the old town is one of the best things to do – no question about that.
The old town in Bern is close by other important Bern sights and, interestingly, the whole old town has become a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1983.
It is easy to walk along and I normally know only old towns with small and narrow streets – I was so surprised to see that Bern´s old town is not like this at all.
I recommend strolling through the streets and discover beautiful old and colorful houses (with flower pots everywhere). But not only the amount of flower pots surprised me.
I was also surprised to see little cafes/shops in the basics – so watch out for those shops and if you stay a bit longer you might be able to check one out as well.
Here are many Bern attractions.
Tip: Do not forget to visit the Clock Tower (Zytglogge) – probably the most famous sight in Bern, the Town Hall, the Muenster Cathedral and the Parliament.
Clock Tower (Zytglogge)
One of the main tourist attraction in Bern is the clock tower which is also located in the old town.
Tours are available:
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) and cost around $20 for adults.
Taking the left or right stairs? it says a lot about you – according to a myth the decision tells a lot about your personality. Here at Town Hall is where the cantonal and city parliaments take place.
According to my research, you can do a tour of the Town Hall which was built in the beginning of the 15th century – which is also free but there are only a few every year. You can also do paid tours at other times.
The Bern Münster Cathedral (or Muenster Cathedral) is the largest and the most important late gothic building in Switzerland and attracts a lot of people in Bern – it is open to the public (including the steeple). As I was with my dog, I had to pass going inside.
And I had to pass on climbing the 312 steps to enjoy, as I assume, amazing views over the city.
For a fee of around $5 you can experience the view (and even see the famous Swiss Skyline- meaning the three mountains of Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau)- and the church is free.
Bern is also the capital of Switzerland and so the Parliament Building houses the Swiss Parliament.
While I did not make it inside the building, I think, the parliament is also a must-see in Bern – whether you just look at it from the outside or do a tour. Tours only place where there are no sessions.
TIP: If you like discovering Bern via a tour, you can book your tours here. 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.
Do you have more than 1 day in Bern and would like to do more? Then find out about more Bern activities that are fun.
By the way, this is a lot to put in a one day Bern itinerary. It is doable, but why not extend your stay a little? If you have more time these are things to do in Bern in 2 days actually.
Why not swim in the Aare river?
If you visit Bern in the summer, swimming in the Aare might be the perfect spot to swim. If you take a swim go to Marzili Lido, which is close to the Parliament Building.
Okay, tip number 8,9,10 sound super interesting and these are tips I recommend to you though I have not done them myself (traveling with a dog sometimes limits your availabilities) so I would love to do them, what about you?
You cannot visit Bern and skip the old town – but why not visit at night and do a night watchman tour through the Old Town?
Spooky Side of Bern
If you are into spooky little stories and like to get some goosebumps you can head to listen to some horror stories while doing a scary tour and learn about the spooky side of Bern.
To discover the best places in Bern in a unique view, why not try out a scooter sightseeing tour? whether you walk or do a tour with an electric scooter. But honestly, does not it sound more fun with an electric scooter to discover Bern?
Day Trip to Lucerne
As beautiful as Bern is, it is also a great base from where you can explore more beautiful places close by.
One of the best day trips from Bern is the city of Lucerne – from Bern it takes about an hour (by train or car) and despite its proximity, the cities are completely different.
In Lucerne you have the sunning Lake Lucerne – while you have the beautiful Care River in Bern, Bern surely lacks a lake and so Lucerne is a fun day tour.
Explore the old town, stroll Lake Lucerne and enjoy an afternoon at Mount Rigi (with or without hiking) – for more Lucerne travel tips click here.
Zurich Day Tour
Another fun and easy day trip from Bern is Zurich. Though not the capital, Zurich is the biggest city in the country and is charming and fun.
Comparing it to Bern, Zurich has a lake where a lot is going on (including a lot of street artists on nice days) and there are more shopping opportunities. The Bahnhofsstrasse – one of the most expensive shopping streets in the world – is just one place for shopping opportunities in Zurich.
But in general, Zurich is a bit hipper and if you make Bern your base, make sure to also visit Zurich for a day. Here are more tips for your Zurich trip.
Interlaken Day Trip
Last but not least….Visit Interlaken as a day trip from Bern. Bern is located in the region of Bernese Oberland – as is the stunning area of Interlaken. While the town of Interlaken is lovely- the area around Interlaken is just beyond stunning.
So, if you are tired of city life, head out and explore more of Bernese Oberland. Whether you go hiking, use cables cars to get up mountain peaks, stroll the lakes (Interlaken is home to the most stunning lakes in the county) or explore the little towns like Thun or Spiez in the region, Bernese Oberland is so rich in natural sights you feel speechless.
I am honest: I do believe that Interlaken deserves more of your time, but a day trip to one of its best places will allow you to see more of the stunning nature. Here are some of the best activities in Interlaken.
Have we missed important sights in Bern that should be on everyone´s Bern itinerary? Let us know and share the most beautiful places in Bern with us!
Looking for some fun day trips from Bern? Then check out my post with fun and easy day trip ideas from Bern.
More about travel tips for Switzerland here – you will not find only reviews about vegetarian dining, but also find travel tips for Switzerland and hotels review. Find out more about a business trip to Basel.