11 Things You Need To Do In Bern, Switzerland

Switzerland

I have been to Bern several times and know the city very well.

You will learn the best sites to see, museums to visit and the ideal places to view the city in this post.

You are going to love visiting these locations if you are visiting Bern.

Let’s get right into my top 11 things to do in Bern!

Where is Bern Located?

Thủ đô Bern - điểm nhấn cổ kính giữa lòng Thụy Sĩ | ELLE

View of Bern and the Aare River from the Gurten.

Bern is the picturesque capital city of Switzerland and of the Bern canton (think of a canton like a state).

It was made the Federal City (basically the capital) of Switzerland in 1848.

Bern has a population of around 140,000, which is the fifth largest city in Switzerland in terms of population.

The official language of Bern is German, however the most-spoken language is Swiss German.

A large portion of the population also speaks English, so it is easy to communicate with everyone there.

Inside Switzerland, Bern is referred to as the “federal city,” and also as the slow city.

However, don’t let that fool you, there is quite a lot to do there. They are just more methodical and take a little more time to get from place to place.

Being from California, that’s perfect for me.

Places like the East Coast of the US and Western Europe are a little too fast-paced for me. Getting around feels like a sprint, whereas I prefer a stroll.

That being said, Bern has so many wonderful things to do and see.

The landscape around the city is stunning, and how the Aare River shapes the city is really cool.

Bern is one of my favorite cities in Europe, and my favorite city to visit in Switzerland.

The Best Things to Do in Bern

Table Of Contents

1. Visit Old Town (Altstadt)

2. Discover Something New and Amazing at a Museum

3. Visit the Gurten (Park)

4. Visit the old Bear Pit and new Bear Park (Bärengraben and BärenPark)

5. Go to the Rosengarten (Rose Garden)

6. See and Swim in the Aare River

7. Drink from the City Fountains

8. Check Out the Botanical Garden

9. Take a Bern City Tour

10. Go Hiking

11. Check Out a BSC Young Boys Soccer Match

1. Visit Old Town (Altstadt)

Bern Water Fountain Monument - Pfeiferbrunnen

The Old Town area, known as Alstadt, became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983.

Alstadt is a really rad area to explore. You can really feel the history and heritage as you walk down the streets.

There are amazing sites you can see like the Zytglogge, Berner Münster, Einsteinhaus and museum, Bundeshaus (Federal Palace) and the Kunstmuseum (Museum of Fine Arts).

My favorite part of Old Town Bern is the intricate water fountain statues they have placed throughout.

Each fountain has a different statue design depicting a historical or cultural reference.

2. Discover Something New and Amazing at a Museum

Bern has some fabulous museums that are totally worth visiting.

I recommend checking out the Einsteinhaus, Bern Historical Museum and Einstein Museum, Museum of Fine Arts, Zentrum Paul Klee and Museum of Communication for sure.

Einstein Statue in Front of Bernisches Historisches Museum - Bern History Museum

3. Visit the Gurten (Park)

Going to see the Gurten is a must for everyone visiting Bern. This is one of the best places to visit in Bern.

The Gurten is the tallest mountain in Bern, with an elevation of 858 meters (2,815 feet).

There are lots of things to see and do at the Gurten for all ages.

Kids Riding the Train at the Gurten Park in Bern Switzerland

They have a playground, miniature railway train ride and toboggan run for children, as well as a nice garden.

The big open field has an 18-hole frisbee golf course, which is awesome. Throwing disc with the amazing views is something every frisbee golf lover has to do. This course is also the site of the Swiss Championships for disc golf.

There are several trails for hiking and long walks with awesome views.

There are BBQ pits and 2 restaurants at the Gurten with seating that has incredible views of Bern and the Aare River.

One restaurant is self-service and called Tapis Rouge. The other is an a la carte restaurant called Gurtners.

You can purchase beer or wine at both and walk around the park with them or sit at a table outside to enjoy the view.

View of the Swiss Alps from one of the viewing towers at the Gurten in Bern, Switzerland.

They have a playground, miniature railway train ride and toboggan run for children, as well as a nice garden.

The big open field has an 18-hole frisbee golf course, which is awesome. Throwing disc with the amazing views is something every frisbee golf lover has to do. This course is also the site of the Swiss Championships for disc golf.

There are several trails for hiking and long walks with awesome views.

There are BBQ pits and 2 restaurants at the Gurten with seating that has incredible views of Bern and the Aare River.

One restaurant is self-service and called Tapis Rouge. The other is an a la carte restaurant called Gurtners.

You can purchase beer or wine at both and walk around the park with them or sit at a table outside to enjoy the view.

There is a 25 meter (82 feet) viewing tower you can climb to get an amazing panoramic view of Bern and the Alps.

Just be forewarned that it can get windy up there and it is pretty cold up there during late fall and winter.

Each July they put on a multi-day music festival in the park called Gurtenfestival. Top musical acts from around the world and Switzerland perform for around 80,000 attendees each year.

How to get to the Gurten

To reach the Gurten you can either walk/hike up or take the Gurtenbahn funicular (cable tram).

A roundtrip ticket on the Gurtenbahn is CHF 10.50 ($10.57) for adults and CHF 5.50 ($5.54) for children.

4. Visit the old Bear Pit and new Bear Park (Bärengraben and BärenPark)

Bern Brown Bears at BarenPark in Bern Switzerland - Bear Park BearPark

No trip to Bern would be complete without visiting the famous brown bears at BearPark (BärenPark).

The bears used to live in the Bärengraben (Bear Pit) until 2009 when the much larger BearPark was opened up.

Visitors can still view Bärengraben where the bears were held for over 100 years.

Bern gets its name from the brown bears that used to roam the area.

Legend has it that Duke Berthold V of Zähringen named the city Bern in 1191 because that was the first animal he caught on a hunt in the wooded area that would become Bern. The first animal he caught was a bear.

BearPark is home to Finn, Björk and their daughter Ursina.

They roam the 6,000 square meters of woods, bushes and a giant pool next to the Aare river.

It is free to see the bears and visitors can get to the lower viewing area by the stairs by the bridge or by taking an elevator down.

5. Go to the Rosengarten (Rose Garden)

Tulips in bloom at the Rosengarten in Bern Switzerland - Rose Garden

One of the best things to see in Bern is the Rosengarten.

You get one of the best views of Old Town Bern from the Rosengarten. It is simply breathtaking.

Once you hike up to the top (it’s a quick 7-minute trek) you are blessed with incredible views of the Aare River and the city.

There is a restaurant at the Rosengarten so you can have a snack or meal with a view.

They have cherry blossoms in the spring, around 250 types of roses blooming in summer, tulips, irises and more, a water lily pond, fountains and more!

This is definitely one of the best places to take pictures in Bern. You will get incredible Instagram-worthy photos at Rosengarten.

6. See and Swim in the Aare River

View of the Aare River and Kornhausbrücke in Bern Switzerland

At 288 kilometers (179 miles), the Aare River is the longest flowing river entirely within Switzerland.

The Aare River has clear turquoise water and flows around 3 sides of the city of Bern. The natural shape of the Aare protected Bern from foreign armies during the Middle Ages.

The water temperatures of the river range from 59º-72º Fahrenheit (15º-22º Celsius) during the year.

During summer, the water temperatures are perfect around 70º F (21º C) and the locals take advantage of that.

You will find lots of people swimming and rafting down the river during the summer.

It’s a really fun thing to do when you visit Bern, and seen as a rite of passage for visitors.

There are pathways along the Aare that are breathtaking.

I highly recommend taking a stroll down the river paths to see the city and gorgeous scenery.

7. Drink from the City Fountains

Filling up a Water Bottle at Water Fountain in Bern SwitzerlandFree and delicious water at the Bern water fountains.

Every public fountain in Bern (and Switzerland for that matter) produces crisp, cool drinking water.

There is absolutely no need to purchase water ever.

Just bring your refillable water bottle (I recommend this water bottle from Avex) and fill it up at the several fountains all throughout the city.

In Old Town the Fountains all have intricate statues above them and are really cool to check out.

8. Check Out the Botanical Garden

Botanical Garden of the University of Bern - Switzerland

The Bern Botanical Garden is on the campus of the University of Bern.

There is a wide variety of plants from all over the world. Visitors will find over 5,500 plants from the tropics, central Asia, Mediterranean and Asian jungles.

However, the main focus of the botanical garden is on Alpine plants found around the world. The Alpinium has plants from the Pyrenees, Alps, Rocky Mountains, Balkans, Caucasus and Himalayas.

There is also a vast array of native Swiss plants on display at the botanical garden.

The Bern Botanical Garden is open daily from 8am-5:30pm.

9. Take a Bern City Tour

Me in Old Town Bern Taking iPod Walking Tour - Bern Switzerland

There are several tours to pick from when you visit Bern.

My favorite was the iPod AudioGuide Tour of Old Town Bern.

The tour consists of 2 parts, each with 18 stops and lasts about 4 hours total.

I highly recommend taking the iPod AudioGuide Tour if you want to learn about the history of Bern.

There are also awesome guided tours available in Bern if you prefer having someone walk you through the city.

This 1-hour private walking tour hits all of the important historical sites in addition to captivating narration on the history and culture of Bern. Plus you get insider tips on the best places for eating and going out from a local tour guide all for under $30/person.

10. Go Hiking

Hiking Trail by The Aare River in Bern Switzerland

Bern is full of stunning landscapes and natural beauty, and the best way to see it all is going on a hike.

The Swiss love the outdoors and Bern has several amazing hikes to choose from, or you can create your own path!

Each hike will get you closer to nature and help you fall more in love with the natural beauty of Bern and Switzerland.

11. Check Out a BSC Young Boys Soccer Match

BSC Young Boys Team Photo

The BSC Young Boys are the local football club in Bern.

They have won back-to-back Swiss Super League championships and are a big deal in Bern.

On game days you can find many local residents dressed in the team’s gold and black colors, and their games are often sold out.

The BSC Young Boys play at Stade de Suisse, a 32,000-seat stadium that opened in 2005.

You should definitely go see the BSC Young Boys in action if you are a fan of soccer.

Final Thoughts

Bern is my favorite city in Switzerland and provides visitors with so many wonderful activities to do on your stay.

Definite musts are to tour Old Town Bern and get out into nature either on a hike, swimming in the Aare River or going up to the Gurten.

There is plenty to do in Bern for all ages and the city will leave you in awe of the beauty of Switzerland.

Source: scottstreks.com

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