Bern, the capital of Switzerland, is an ideal destination to enjoy the Swiss charm, the calm and even a good dose of nature thanks to the Aare, the river that surrounds the city! In this city guide you will find some useful tips to prepare your trip to Bern and the must-see visits to enjoy your stay.
How do I get to Bern?
Bern is easily accessible by train. If you wish to discover several cities in Switzerland you can opt for the Swiss Travel Pass, an extremely practical ticket that gives you access to the entire Swiss network: buses, trains and even boats! The Swiss Family Card allows children under the age of 16 to travel free of charge with their parents. Tickets can be purchased online or in the international shops and ticket offices of the major railway stations.
The historic centre of Bern is relatively small and can be easily reached on foot. It is even the most pleasant because there are almost no cars. Buses and bicycles are the most common means of transport.
If you stay in a hotel you will be given a free ticket and will be able to use public transport freely.
On the language side, Switzerland has several official languages: French, German, Italian and Romansh. Bern is located in the German-speaking part of Switzerland, so German is the predominant language but tourism professionals (hotels, restaurants) are fluent in english.
Best things to do in Bern
Take time to stroll through the streets
Goethe called Bern “the most beautiful city we have ever seen” and it must be said that it is not lacking in charm especially with the Aare, the river that surrounds it. Take the time to stroll through the historic centre, let yourself be carried along the streets to get to know the Swiss capital it’s a very pleasant stroll. After all it’s not for nothing that it has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1983!
Go to Bear Park, the Bern Zoo
Not far from the centre on the banks of the River Aare the Bern Zoo, Bear Park, is as unusual as it is unmissable. Here bears roam free in a 6,000 m² area. Accessible free of charge to all this park is great for young and old alike.
Just next door the rose garden offers a superb view of Bern and allows you to admire 220 varieties of roses!
Visit the Zentrum Paul Klee
The Zentrum Paul Klee can be reached in just 15 minutes via line 12. Dedicated – as its name suggests – to the artist Paul Klee (1879-1940) a local child who lived in Bern for a long time. This cultural centre was built in 2005 thanks to the donation of 4,000 artworks by Paul Klee’s niece and the financing of the building by Professor Maurice E. Muller.
The architecture of the centre is fascinating, the building designed by architect Renzo Piano has the shape of three hills perfectly integrated into nature.
The Zentrum Paul Klee has the world’s largest collection of artworks by Paul Klee but as most of them are made on paper, they are very fragile. For reasons of conservation only a few hundred of them are exhibited in rotation. There are therefore no permanent exhibitions but only thematic temporary exhibitions that combine Klee’s works with those of other artists.
In addition to the exhibitions, the Zentrum Paul Klee is above all a great place to live. I sometimes reproach museums for not being pleasant places where you can come just to have a good time. Here everything is done to make you want to (re)come and stay: light and airy spaces, a charming cafeteria, an auditorium with a rich programme of concerts and even a creative centre, the “creativa”, where you can let your imagination run wild.
Entering the collegiate church
On the heritage side the Collegiate Church of Bern built in Gothic style is worth seeing. Admission is free. The bell tower can be visited for 5 Swiss francs. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to climb up to the top of the basilica but the view must be superb, it is indeed the highest bell tower in the country!
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