BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN BERN (1 OR 2 DAYS)

THINGS TO DO IN BERN – ITINERARY FOR 1 OR 2 DAYS

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 2 days).

Switzerland has so many stunning places that Bern often gets overlooked. However, Bern is a beauty, and you´ll find out about the most beautiful places 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 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.

TRAVEL TIPS FOR YOUR BERN ITINERARY 

Find the most important travel information for one day in Bern (or longer) before we discuss the best things to do in Bern.

Where to Stay in Bern

If you can, book your hotel in the old town. From there, you can get to all (or most) attractions in Bern within minutes.

  • 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). 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. 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.

How to Get Around in 1 Day in Bern

  • 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 all of Switzerland, Bern 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. Also, except for one place in Bern all attractions are so close by, there really is no need to get around by car.

Security Tips for Solo Female Travelers

Switzerland in general, and Bern in particular, is pretty safe. I had a great time, and though I did a 1-hour guided tour, 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 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.

Water fountains in Europe - drink fresh water for free
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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 very high-heels friendly. 

For a summer pack list in Europe, click here.

If you visit Europe in winter, check out my winter packing guide for Europe.

PLACES TO VISIT IN BERN IN 1 DAY

Okay, let’s start with the best places to visit in Bern. One of the first things I do when I travel is finding great spots that offer the best views over a city/place.

Rosengarten

One of the best places to visit in Bern is definitely the Rosengarten. It is at the end (or beginning?) of Bern’s old town and close to Bear Park (more on that later) and offers some of the views of Bern

Things to do in Bern in 1 day
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There are about 400 varieties of roses (Rosengarten means Rose garden in English), but I admit I am all about the view.

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.

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.

Things to do in Bern Switzerland
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TIPS FOR VISITING ROSENGARTEN:

  • It takes a 5-minute uphill walk from Bären Park to enjoy the views
  • No entrance fee
  • Bring snacks and a blanket for a nice picnic
  • There is also a restaurant
  • Look out for Albert Einstein – you’ll find a statue of him, sitting on a bench and waiting for people taking selfies with him.

Bären Park

The Bären Park in Bern (Bear Park) is just a few minutes walk from the Rosengarten – and surely a surprising sight. 

Bern sightseeing - Bern Switzerland places to visit - the Bear Park
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A friend told me a couple of years ago about some bears living in Bern’s city center (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 more.

It is a family of three – named Finn, Björk und Ursina. The brown 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) in an area of 6,000 square meters. Though they live kind of freely, there are fences so there is no risk for humans. And we should not be a risk for them either, so avoid loud screaming and definitely do not throw something at them.

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 for ethical reasons.

There is also a little place with information about the bears, and fake bears are displayed (but the bear family is seriously real).

Bern Switzerland attractions - the bear park in Bern Switzerland
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TIPS FOR VISITING BÄRENPARK

  • Bears do hibernate (between October/November for a couple of months)
  • There is no entrance fee but donations are welcome
  • It is open 24/7 but there is no guarantee you will see them

Aare River

Personally, I think the Aare river is the most beautiful in Switzerland – even with only one day in Bern you should be able for nice walks. Most attractions are close to the river, so there are enough possibilities to stroll along the river. 

Bern Switzerland points of interest - Aare river
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It is just pretty with its unique color, and strolling along and enjoying these views was fun, and as mentioned – the people in Bern take it slowly and blend in and do the same. In summer, many people (especially locals) also swim in the river. If you want to do the same, bring towels and your bathing clothes.

The Aare river’s total length is almost 300 km – so you will only get a glimpse of the river in Bern.

Münster Plattform 

Another top thing to do is to visit the Münster Platform (Minster Terrace). The terrace offers lovely views of the Alps and the Aare river. It is not only about the view though – you have the option to dine, picnic, relax, stroll the park area, or or or. 

This place is also popular in the summer months as many trees offer shady places to you.

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)
  • It is a great place to relax 

Cathedral of Bern (Berner Münster)

Also, the Cathedral of Bern (Berner Münster) is probably worth visiting. It is a Swiss Reformed cathedral built in the Gothic style and its construction started in the 15th century. Its tower, with a height of about 100 meters was only completed in the 19th century though. You can visit the cathedral and also climb up the tower. 

Places to Visit in Bern in 1 Day @shutterstock Muenster Cathedral @shutterstock
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@shutterstock Muenster Cathedral

Since I was with a dog, I had to skip that part and could not enter, but I have seen pictures that promise a splendid view.

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

Old Town

Though the Cathedral is located in the old town, it is time to explore the rest of the old town. The old town of Bern is a must-see– no question about that. 

Interestingly, the whole old town has become a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1983 – it is close to the other attractions mentioned above and thus easy to put on your Bern itinerary. 

What to do in Bern Switzerland - Best Places to See in Bern
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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.

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 attic – so watch out for those shops, and if you stay a bit longer, you might be able to check one out as well.

Places to visit in Bern - the old town
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In the old town, you will find several of the main attractions including 

  • Clock Tower (Zytglogge)
  • Town Hall
  • Muenster Cathedral
  • Parliament

Clock Tower (Zytglogge)

One of the main tourist attractions is the Clock Tower which is also located in the old town. It was built in the early 13th century and it has been a guard tower, a prison, a clock tower, and the center of urban life and civic memorial.

Every hour, on the hour, medieval figures (dancing bears, the cheeky fool, and the crowing rooster) appear from the Clock Tower.

What to see in Bern - the famous clock
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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.

Town Hall

The Town Hall is where the cantonal and city parliaments take place. Bern is also the capital of the beautiful canton “Bernese Oberland,” which includes areas like Grindelwald, Interlaken, Lake Thun, and Lake Brienz.

Places to visit in Bern Switzerland - Bern in Switzerland Town Hall in Bern
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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

Bern is the capital of the canton “Berner Oberland” as well as the capital of Switzerland. The Parliament Building houses the Swiss Parliament. The parliament itself meets under its dome, while the west and east wings are home to parts of the Swiss federal government and the federal administration.

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In front of the Parliament, you have 26 fountains – they represent the 26 cantons of Switzerland. You probably guessed it – on hot summer days, their main function is to cool down people (especially children) running through the water fountains.

While I did not make it inside the building, I think the parliament is also a place to visit in Bern – whether you look at it from the outside or do a tour. 

On Tuesdays and Saturdays, you can find a veggie/fruit and flower market on Parliament Square.

TIPS FOR VISITING THE PARLIAMENT

  • Tours only 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

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.

Do you have more than 1 day in Bern and would like to do more?

By the way, this is a lot to put in your 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.

Gurten

The Gurten (above 860 meters above sea level) another great place to visit. It is a bit offsite in the city center, so I would 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 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). Hiking up or riding your bicycle is also possible.

MORE THINGS TO DO IN BERN IN 2 DAYS

If you stay longer than 1 day in Bed, here are a few more tips on this to do and see. I have listed the following tips, 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?

Lido

Why not swim in the Aare river? If you visit Bern in the summer, swimming in the Aare is fun. If you take a swim, go to Marzili Lido, which is close to the Parliament Building. 

Night Watchman

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, which is a popular activity.

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.

Scooter Sightseeing

To discover Bern’s best places 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?

FINAL THOUGHTS ON VISITING BERN IN ONE DAY

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. 

PIN ME FOR LATER – BERN 1-DAY ITINERARY

Bern places to visit in 1 day, Arzo Travels
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