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The Best Of Beautiful Bern, Switzerland—including That Bear Pit!


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Shandie Tarrant



Welcome to Bern, the captivating capital city of Switzerland. Nestled along the banks of the Aare River, this picturesque city seamlessly combines old-world charm with modern sophistication. As you wander through its cobblestone streets, you will be entranced by historic landmarks, stunning architecture, and a vibrant cultural scene. Bern offers a wealth of attractions and activities that cater to all interests, showcasing the best of what Switzerland has to offer.


Founded in 1191, Bern is steeped in history and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1983. Its well-preserved medieval old town, known as Altstadt, is a treasure trove of architectural wonders, including towering clock towers, charming arcades, and beautiful fountains. The city is also known for its commitment to sustainability and being pedestrian-friendly, making it a delight to explore on foot.


The heart of Bern beats in its old town, where you can get lost in its narrow streets and soak up the ambiance of centuries past. Immerse yourself in the rich history as you explore the iconic landmarks, including the Zytglogge clock tower, the Federal Palace, and the majestic Bern Cathedral. The old town is also home to a plethora of boutiques, cafés, and restaurants, offering a perfect blend of shopping and dining experiences.


Another famous highlight of Bern is the Bear Park, located just outside the old town. This unique sanctuary is home to several brown bears and provides an opportunity to observe these iconic creatures up close. The history of bears in Bern dates back to the 16th century when they were kept in a bear pit as a symbol of the city. Today, the Bear Park stands as a testament to Bern’s love and respect for nature.


Old Town

The Old Town of Bern is a captivating maze of alleys, squares, and medieval buildings that will transport you back in time. As you stroll through its streets, you’ll be immersed in the charm and history of this UNESCO World Heritage site.


One of the defining features of Bern’s old town is its arcades, known as “Lauben” in Swiss German. These covered walkways have protected pedestrians from the weather for centuries and are lined with a variety of shops, boutiques, and cafés. Take a leisurely stroll along the arcades, explore the unique offerings, and soak in the ambiance of this exceptional place.


One of the highlights of the old town is the Zytglogge clock tower, a symbol of Bern. Dating back to the 13th century, this impressive astronomical clock not only tells the time but also features an intricate mechanism that performs a charming mechanical show every hour. Make sure to be there on the hour to witness this delightful spectacle.


As you continue your exploration, you’ll encounter numerous fountains adorned with intricate sculptures. The fountains not only serve as decorative elements but also provide fresh drinking water, a testament to Bern’s commitment to the well-being of its citizens even in ancient times. The most famous fountain is the Kindlifresserbrunnen, or Child Eater Fountain, with its eerie sculpture depicting a man devouring a child.


Wandering through the old town, you’ll also come across the Kramgasse, one of the oldest streets in Bern. This vibrant avenue is lined with charming buildings that house a mix of shops, cafés, and restaurants. It’s the perfect place to indulge in some retail therapy or savor mouthwatering Swiss delicacies.


Don’t miss the opportunity to explore the diverse museums scattered throughout the old town. From the Bern Historical Museum, which offers a comprehensive review of Bern’s history, to the Bern Museum of Art, where you can admire an extensive collection of contemporary and modern art, there is something to pique every interest.


Whether you’re admiring the architectural marvels, exploring the arcades, or simply enjoying the atmosphere, the old town of Bern is a treasure trove of history and culture just waiting to be discovered.


Bear Pit

No visit to Bern is complete without a visit to the famous Bear Park. Located just outside the old town, the Bear Park is a unique sanctuary that pays homage to Bern’s long-standing association with bears.


The history of bears in Bern can be traced back to the 16th century, when they were kept in a bear pit as a symbol of the city. Today, the tradition continues, but with a more compassionate approach. The Bear Park, opened in 2009, provides a natural and spacious habitat for several brown bears, allowing them to roam and play in a setting that closely resembles their natural environment.


As you enter the Bear Park, you’ll immediately feel a sense of tranquility and wonder. The lush vegetation, cascading waterfalls, and rocky terrain create an idyllic backdrop for the bears to thrive. Observing these majestic creatures up close is a truly humbling experience.


The Bear Park offers multiple viewing platforms and walkways that allow visitors to have a closer look at the bears in a safe and respectful manner. You can watch them as they forage for food, climb trees, or playfully interact with each other. There are also information boards that provide insights into the behavior and habits of these magnificent animals.


What sets the Bear Park apart is its dedication to the well-being and conservation of the bears. The park actively participates in international breeding programs and educational initiatives to raise awareness about the importance of protecting these endangered species. By visiting the Bear Park, you not only have the opportunity to witness the beauty of bears but also contribute to their conservation efforts.


For an even more immersive experience, you can take part in one of the guided tours offered at the Bear Park. These tours provide in-depth information about the bears, their environment, and the ongoing conservation efforts. It’s a chance to gain a deeper understanding of these incredible animals and the challenges they face in the wild.


Visiting the Bear Park in Bern offers a unique opportunity to witness the harmony between humans and nature. It’s a testament to Bern’s commitment to sustainable tourism and its dedication to preserving the natural world. So, don’t miss the chance to witness these incredible creatures in their natural habitat and be a part of the ongoing efforts to protect them.


Rose Garden

Perched on a hilltop overlooking the city, the Rose Garden in Bern is a true floral paradise. This beautifully landscaped garden is a haven of tranquility and offers breathtaking views of the city’s skyline.


The Rose Garden, or Rosengarten in German, is a favorite spot among locals and visitors alike. As you step into the garden, you’ll be greeted by a myriad of colors and scents from over 200 varieties of roses. Blooming from late spring to autumn, the roses paint the garden in vibrant hues, creating a captivating display of nature’s beauty.


Wander along the winding pathways and explore the various sections of the garden. Admire the perfectly manicured rose beds, each meticulously arranged to showcase different colors and varieties. Take a moment to pause on one of the benches scattered throughout the garden, allowing you to sit back, relax, and revel in the peacefulness of the surroundings.


Aside from the stunning roses, the Rose Garden offers panoramic views that are simply breathtaking. From the garden’s terrace, you can gaze out at the rooftops of Bern, the sparkling Aare River, and the distant Swiss Alps. It’s a picture-perfect spot for capturing unforgettable memories or simply enjoying a serene moment of reflection.


After exploring the garden, you can head to the Rosengarten Restaurant, located at the heart of the Rose Garden. Whether you’re craving a light snack or a full meal, the restaurant serves up a variety of delicious dishes, all while offering a front-row seat to the stunning views. Indulge in some Swiss culinary delights as you bask in the beauty of the surroundings.


Throughout the year, the Rose Garden hosts various cultural events, including concerts and open-air theater performances. This adds an extra layer of enchantment to your visit, allowing you to immerse yourself in the rich artistic scene of Bern while surrounded by the beauty of nature.


Whether you’re a lover of flowers, a seeker of tranquility, or a fan of incredible vistas, a visit to the Rose Garden is a must during your time in Bern. Lose yourself in the fragrant blooms, soak in the awe-inspiring views, and allow yourself to be transported to a world of peace and beauty.


Federal Palace

The Federal Palace, or Bundeshaus in German, is the seat of the Swiss Federal Assembly and the Federal Council. Located in the heart of Bern, this magnificent building holds significant historical and political importance in Switzerland.


The Federal Palace stands as a proud symbol of the country’s democratic values and is a must-visit for history enthusiasts and those interested in Swiss politics. The building, constructed in a neoclassical style, is an architectural masterpiece that reflects the grandeur and stability of the Swiss government.


Guided tours of the Federal Palace offer a fascinating glimpse into the functioning of the Swiss political system. You’ll have the opportunity to explore the historic halls, admire the intricate detailing of the architecture, and gain insight into the decision-making processes of the Swiss government.


One of the highlights of the tour is the Federal Assembly Hall, where the Swiss Parliament convenes. With its grandiose murals and ornate decor, the Assembly Hall exudes a sense of gravitas. Standing in the very place where important debates and discussions take place can be awe-inspiring.


Another notable feature of the Federal Palace is the Federal Council Chamber, where the seven elected members of the Federal Council meet to make decisions that shape the nation. The Council Chamber is adorned with portraits of past and present members, offering a glimpse into the rich political history of Switzerland.


Adjacent to the Federal Palace, you’ll find the beautiful Bundesplatz, a large square where various events and ceremonies take place throughout the year. During your visit, take a moment to appreciate the imposing facade of the Federal Palace from Bundesplatz and soak in the vibrant atmosphere of this gathering place.


The Federal Palace also houses a visitor center that provides further information on Swiss politics and the Federal Assembly. Here, you can delve deeper into the intricacies of the Swiss political system, gain a better understanding of its democratic principles, and explore multimedia exhibits that shed light on Switzerland’s rich political heritage.


Whether you have a keen interest in politics or simply appreciate stunning architecture, a visit to the Federal Palace is an enlightening experience. It offers a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in Swiss history, witness the democratic processes firsthand, and gain a deeper understanding of the country’s political landscape.



The Zytglogge, meaning “Time Bell” in Swiss German, is one of the most iconic landmarks in Bern. This medieval clock tower, dating back to the early 13th century, stands as a testament to Bern’s rich history and architectural prowess.


Located in the heart of the old town, the Zytglogge is a must-visit for anyone exploring Bern. With its striking facade and intricate astronomical clock, it is a true marvel of engineering and craftsmanship.


The Zytglogge served as a gate tower and timekeeping device, ensuring that the city’s inhabitants were aware of the passing hours. Over the centuries, the tower underwent numerous transformations and expansions, resulting in the fascinating structure we see today.


One of the highlights of the Zytglogge is its astronomical clock, which has been keeping time since the 15th century. Every hour, the clock comes to life, as a parade of mechanical figurines performs a choreographed spectacle. This delightful show never fails to captivate visitors, as the figurines move to the rhythm of the clock’s chimes.


Inside the tower, you can explore the Clock Tower Museum, which provides a deeper understanding of the tower’s history and mechanics. Discover the intricate gears and mechanisms that power the clock, and learn about the skilled artisans who have maintained it over the centuries. The museum also offers breathtaking views of the old town, providing a unique perspective of Bern’s architectural beauty.


As you stand in front of the Zytglogge, take a moment to admire the ornate decorations and symbolic details adorning the tower. Marvel at the intricate Gothic elements, the colorful murals depicting historical events, and the charming architectural features that make the Zytglogge truly unique.


Visiting the Zytglogge is not only a journey into Bern’s past but also a reminder of the city’s vibrant present. The tower is a popular meeting point for locals and visitors alike, with its central location and enchanting presence drawing people together.


Make sure to time your visit to the Zytglogge to coincide with the top of the hour, so you can witness the mechanical show of the astronomical clock in all its glory. It’s an experience that will transport you back in time and leave a lasting impression of Bern’s rich history and cultural heritage.


Einstein House

For those fascinated by the life and achievements of one of the greatest scientists of all time, a visit to the Einstein House in Bern is a must. Located in the heart of the old town, this unassuming apartment holds significant historical importance as the former residence of Albert Einstein.


In 1903, Albert Einstein lived with his wife, Mileva Maric, and their son at the second-floor apartment of the Kramgasse 49 building. It was during this time that Einstein developed his groundbreaking theories, including the Theory of Relativity, which revolutionized our understanding of the universe.


The Einstein House stands as a homage to the time Einstein spent in Bern and offers visitors a glimpse into the personal life and intellectual journey of this remarkable physicist. Stepping into the modestly furnished rooms, you can almost feel the presence of Einstein and immerse yourself in the environment that influenced his groundbreaking ideas.


The apartment showcases a collection of memorabilia, including furniture, photographs, and personal documents, providing insights into Einstein’s personal and professional life. As you explore the various exhibits, you’ll gain a deeper appreciation for his revolutionary ideas and the impact they had on science.


One of the highlights of the Einstein House is the study where Einstein spent countless hours contemplating the mysteries of the universe. The wooden desk, the shelves filled with books, and the artifacts on display create an atmosphere of inspiration, allowing you to envision the brilliant mind at work.


Visiting the Einstein House goes beyond a simple exploration of scientific achievements. It also delves into the personal side of Einstein’s life, shedding light on his struggles, relationships, and the societal pressures he faced. The museum offers a comprehensive portrayal of the man behind the scientific genius.


Aside from the exhibits, the Einstein House also hosts lectures, workshops, and special events that further delve into Einstein’s work and its continuing influence on modern science. Attending one of these programs can provide a deeper understanding of his theories and their lasting impact.


The Einstein House is not just a place for science enthusiasts; it is an homage to human curiosity, intellectual pursuit, and the power of ideas. It’s a reminder that even the most profound discoveries can come from humble beginnings and that anyone, with enough determination, can make a lasting impact on the world.


So, take a step back in time and immerse yourself in the world of Albert Einstein at the Einstein House in Bern. Experience the spirit of innovation, marvel at his brilliance, and leave inspired by the incredible legacy he has left behind.


Bern Cathedral

Bern Cathedral, also known as Berner Münster, is a magnificent Gothic-style cathedral that dominates the skyline of Bern’s old town. Built between the 15th and 16th centuries, this iconic landmark is not only a place of worship but also a testament to the architectural prowess and cultural heritage of the city.


As you approach the cathedral, you’ll be captivated by its imposing facade and intricate details. The exterior features ornate sculptures, including depictions of saints, biblical figures, and intricate stone carvings that tell stories from the Bible. Marvel at the grandeur of the pinnacle of the tower as it pierces the sky.


Stepping inside the cathedral, you’ll be greeted by a sense of awe-inspiring serenity. The vast interior showcases Gothic architecture at its finest, with high ceilings, stained-glass windows that filter colorful light, and elegant stone columns that seem to reach for the heavens. Allow yourself to be enveloped by the ethereal atmosphere as you explore the nave and admire the beautiful altars.


One of the notable features of Bern Cathedral is its stunning stained-glass windows. These intricate works of art depict scenes from biblical stories and saints, casting a mesmerizing kaleidoscope of colors across the interior. Take a moment to study the details of these exquisite windows and appreciate the craftsmanship and storytelling they represent.


The cathedral also houses a small chapel known as the Chapel of St. Nicholas. This intimate space is a peaceful retreat within the grandeur of the cathedral. Adorned with beautiful frescoes and religious artifacts, it provides a place for quiet reflection and contemplation.


If you’re feeling adventurous, climb the 344 steps to the top of the cathedral’s bell tower. The effort is rewarded with breathtaking panoramic views of Bern and its surroundings. From this vantage point, you can see the red rooftops of the old town, the meandering Aare River, and the distant Swiss Alps. It’s a view that will leave you in awe of the beauty and charm of the city.


Bern Cathedral is not just a historic and architectural masterpiece; it is also an active place of worship. Visitors are welcome to attend religious services and experience the spirituality that continues to resonate within these sacred walls.


Whether you’re a history buff, an architecture enthusiast, or simply seeking a moment of tranquility, a visit to Bern Cathedral is a must. Immerse yourself in the rich cultural heritage of Bern, appreciate the architectural marvels, and allow yourself to be inspired by the timeless beauty of this religious landmark.


Museum of Communication

The Museum of Communication in Bern is a captivating institution that explores the fascinating world of human communication. Situated in a historic building in the heart of the city, this museum offers a unique and interactive experience for visitors of all ages.


As you step into the Museum of Communication, you’ll embark on a journey through time, delving into the evolution and significance of communication throughout history. The exhibits showcase a wide range of artifacts and displays, demonstrating the various methods and technologies humans have used to connect and convey messages.


One of the highlights of the museum is its collection of historical postal services. Discover the origins of mail delivery, marvel at antique postage stamps, and learn about the systems that were put in place to ensure efficient communication across long distances.


The Museum of Communication also explores the development of telecommunications, from the invention of the telephone to the advent of the internet. Engage with interactive displays that allow you to experience the evolution of communication firsthand and gain a deeper understanding of the technological advancements that have shaped our lives.


A particularly intriguing section of the museum is dedicated to the impact of mass media on society. Explore the role of newspapers, radio, television, and social media in shaping public opinion, and reflect on the power and responsibility that comes with being connected to a global network of information.


The museum goes beyond the historical aspects of communication. It also presents thought-provoking exhibits that address the social and cultural implications of our digital age. Through artistic installations and interactive displays, you can explore the effects of social media, privacy concerns, and the challenges of navigating a world where communication is instantaneous and ubiquitous.


The Museum of Communication is not only informative but also engaging. Throughout the exhibits, you’ll find multimedia presentations, hands-on activities, and engaging displays that cater to both children and adults. Soak up the knowledge, participate in interactive experiments, and expand your understanding of the complexities of human communication.


After your visit, take some time to relax at the museum’s café, which offers a welcoming atmosphere and a chance to reflect on the wealth of information you’ve encountered. Additionally, the museum shop provides an array of books, souvenirs, and unique communication-related items for you to take home.


Whether you’re fascinated by the history of communication, interested in the technological advancements that shape our world, or simply curious about the human experience of connecting and sharing information, a visit to the Museum of Communication in Bern promises an enlightening and enriching experience.


Gurten Park

Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and immerse yourself in nature at Gurten Park, a picturesque oasis located just a short distance from the center of Bern. Perched atop the Gurten Hill, this expansive park offers stunning panoramic views, recreational activities, and a serene atmosphere that will rejuvenate your senses.


Getting to Gurten Park is an adventure in itself. Hop on the Gurtenbahn funicular, a charming red railway that takes you on a scenic ride up to the park. As you ascend, you’ll be treated to breathtaking vistas of Bern and the surrounding landscapes, foreshadowing the beauty that awaits you.


Once you reach the summit, you’ll be greeted by a lush green parkland. Gurten Park offers a wealth of recreational opportunities, whether you’re looking for a leisurely stroll, a peaceful picnic, or adrenaline-pumping adventures.


Take a tranquil walk on one of the numerous trails that wind through the park. As you explore, you’ll encounter colorful wildflowers, fragrant pine forests, and shaded pathways. Nature enthusiasts will appreciate the biodiversity of the area, as different plant species flourish in various pockets of the park.


For those seeking more adventure, Gurten Park offers a range of activities. Test your skills on the ropes course, where you can challenge yourself with various climbing obstacles and zip lines. Alternatively, enjoy a game of mini-golf with family or friends, or make a splash at the outdoor swimming pool during the warmer months.


One of the highlights of Gurten Park is the Gurtenbahn Tower. Climb up this remarkable observation tower to enjoy breathtaking 360-degree views of Bern, the shimmering Aare River, and the majestic Swiss Alps in the distance. It’s a perfect spot to capture stunning photographs or simply revel in the beauty of the panorama.


Gurten Park also hosts a variety of events and concerts throughout the year, offering additional entertainment for visitors. From live music performances to cultural festivals, there’s always something happening in this vibrant park.


When it’s time to refuel, head to one of the park’s restaurants or cafés. Whether you’re craving traditional Swiss cuisine or international dishes, you’ll find a range of dining options to satisfy your taste buds. Take a seat on the sun-drenched terrace and enjoy a meal while taking in the stunning views.


Gurten Park is not just a destination; it’s an experience that rejuvenates the mind, body, and spirit. Whether you’re seeking outdoor adventures, scenic beauty, or simply a peaceful retreat, a visit to Gurten Park promises to be a memorable and rejuvenating getaway.



Bern, Switzerland’s capital, is a city that effortlessly blends history, culture, and natural beauty. As you explore the old town, with its medieval charm and architectural wonders, you’ll be transported back in time. The Zytglogge clock tower, the Bear Park, and the Bern Cathedral are just a few of the iconic landmarks that bring the city’s rich heritage to life.


But Bern is more than just historic buildings and cobblestone streets. Its modern amenities and vibrant cultural scene make it a dynamic and engaging destination. The Museum of Communication showcases the evolution of human interaction, while Gurten Park provides a serene escape into nature.


Whether you’re strolling through the arcades of the old town, marveling at the panoramic views from the Rose Garden, or immersing yourself in the world of Einstein at his former residence, Bern offers a multitude of experiences that cater to every interest.


Throughout your visit to Bern, you’ll also have the opportunity to indulge in the city’s culinary delights. From Swiss chocolate shops to cozy cafés and gourmet restaurants, Bern will tantalize your taste buds and leave you craving more.


Above all, the people of Bern embody the Swiss values of hospitality, efficiency, and respect for nature. The city’s commitment to sustainability and pedestrian-friendly design makes it a pleasure to explore on foot, allowing you to soak in the atmosphere and connect with the locals.


Whether you’re a history enthusiast, an outdoor adventurer, a culture lover, or a foodie, Bern has something to offer everyone. Its unique blend of old-world charm and modern vibrancy creates an unforgettable experience for every visitor.


So, pack your bags, lace up your walking shoes, and embark on a journey to Bern. Explore the medieval old town, witness the majesty of the Bear Park, soak in the beauty of the Rose Garden, and immerse yourself in the cultural wonders that this captivating city has to offer.


Discover the best of beautiful Bern, Switzerland—and create memories that will last a lifetime.