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Bern Tourism And Travel Guide
18° C / 64.4° F
May to September
2 to 3 Days
Zurich Airport (125 kms)
Bern Station (0.6 kms)
Bern is Switzerland's de facto capital and also known as the federal city. It has a population of under 1.5 lac people and is the 5th most populous city in Switzerland. Tourism in Bern is thriving because it is filled with culture, history and tradition. It's Old Town area became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. The river Aare adds a beautiful touch of turquoise to the city landscapes. The scenic Alps can also be seen from the city on a clear day. The Bear is the symbol of the city and you will find a lot of bear references throughout the city. Read our travel guide to Bern to know more about this fascinating city!
How To Reach
Bern's airport is not well connected, so the best route from India is to fly to Zurich and then reach Bern either by road or rail. There are many flights on a daily basis to Zurich from Mumbai, Delhi and other major cities of India. Once at Zurich, there is a train that departs every 30 minutes from the airport itself, which takes a little over an hour to reach Bern.
Travelling by train in Switzerland is one of the best ways to commute within the country. The Swiss Rail Network is well-connected with all parts within the country as well as many European destinations. Bern to Zurich is only about 1 hour 15 minutes. To Geneva it is a little under 2 hours.
Swiss highways are well maintained and driving to Bern would definitely be a real pleasure. You can drive from neighbouring European countries like Germany or from other cities like Zurich, Basel or Geneva. The distance between Zurich and Bern is 125 km. You can also take an intercity bus which is quite affordable - especially if booked early.
Bern being the capital city offers plenty of public transport facilities. The buses and trams are a great way of exploring the outskirts of the city. Within the city centre, you can just walk. The Old Town has most of the tourist stops and they are all close to each other. You can bicycle or walk through the narrow streets, as motor vehicles aren't allowed in the Old Town part of the city.
Weather & Best Time To Visit
Spring (March to May):
The fresh season of Spring may be a slow tourist season in Bern, but nobody can stop you from visiting it and still having fun! The reason its slow is due to its cold weather in March and April especially. The average day temperature of the season is 15°C with 6 to 10 days of rain. Highlights of the season include the Cherry Blossoms, open-air fashion show, Easter, Bern Grand Prix, Museum Night, International Jazz Festival and more.
Summer (June to August):
Summer does bring a wild & free spirit with it. It is the most crowded time of the year for Bern. The average temperature is 25° C where the nights go down to 14° C. It can rain for 8-10 days in a month. There are many open-air festivals including the Gurtenfestival and the Bern Buskers’ Street Music Festival for tourists to enjoy.
Autumn (September to November):
When the trees turn orange and the chill in the air is back, you know you are about to fall in love. The average temperature of the season is 14° C, similar to spring. The season is famous for its vegetable markets (especially the Onion Market), outdoor activities like hiking and climbing, the short film festival and more.
Winter (December to February):
If white is your colour, this is the time to visit Bern. While it is a slow season for tourists because the temperatures are freezing, there are a lot of winter sports activities that can be enjoyed during these months including skiing, sledding and snowshoeing. It can rain or snow for 7 to 9 days in the month. You can also experience spending a night in an Igloo! Christmas markets and the Carnival are some of the popular festivals that occur in the winter months.
Things To Do
The Old Town is one of the most beautiful areas of Bern. It is a UNESCO world heritage site with narrow lanes and no motor vehicles allowed inside. The streets are lined with cafes, historical buildings, museums, churches, fountains and shops. There are also unique viewpoints from top of the Cathedral tower, clock tower and others which offer a stunning aerial view of the old town.
Switzerland has some of the best museums in all of Europe, and Bern is home to a few of them. A visit to Bern is incomplete without visiting the Einstein & Historical Museum of Bern. The Swiss Alpine museum, natural history museum, museum of communication are very impressive and interesting with unique exhibits. There are also many art museums like the Paul Klee Centre, museum of fine arts, the contemporary art gallery etc, that display beautiful collections from artists of many generations. Visiting these places is a wonderful way to learn more about Bern's cultural and historical side.
If shopping is your thing, you must visit the weekly markets at Bern. There are flower markets, vegetable markets, flea markets - that happen on different days of the week. All very interesting and lets you have a taste of the local life. In November & December, the Onion Market & Christmas markets are especially popular.
A very unique activity that you can do in Bern is watching an Ice Hockey match. SC Bern is a popular team and during the season, the matches get sold out. The PostFinance Arena is one of the biggest and has a capacity of 17000 people - so the experience is really quite exciting, even if you are not a big sports fan.
Bern isn't marketed as a city for shopaholics, but you will be amazed to learn that in the Old Town part of Bern, there is the longest shopping boulevard in all of Europe that goes on for a total of 6 km. It is filled with fashion boutiques, antique dealers, fancy jewellery, luxury shops and traditional markets. You name it and you will find it! Another exciting shopping destination is the Westside shopping mall which has 55 shops, a water park, a hotel and a theatre within the same complex.
Depending on what you want to shop for, you can visit the following stores for a spot of window-shopping -
- Stationery and crafts stores: Feines, Daucher Papeterie, Clementine, Chat Noir, Spiess Idea
- Home Furnishings & Gifting: Maison Art, Yamatuti, Kuchen Laden, Holzart, Iljos Cucina
- High Fashion & Accessories: Ooonyva, Rytz, Stoor, Companero's, Kitchener, TOKU, Fiona Losinger, HB Eyewear Switzerland
Some of the popular things to buy in Bern are Bear Shaped items like handmade soaps and other souvenirs, Chocolates, Cheese, Watches etc. Shops open at 9 am from Monday to Saturday. Monday through Wednesday, they close by 7 pm, on Thursdays and Fridays some shops remain open till 9 pm and on Saturday's they close early by 5 pm. Very few shops are open on Sundays.
When in Switzerland, eat as the Swiss do! For local traditions and flavours, check out the following restaurants - Wartsaal Kaffee Bar, Altes Tramdepot, Kornhauskeller, Della Casa, Jack's Brasserie, Klösterli Weincafe.
- If you're looking for vegetarian or vegan food, visit - Moleson, Brasserie Lorraine, Bonbec
- Craving for Indian food? Visit - Way to India or Namaste India
- If you're looking to relax in a bar, you can visit - Abflugbar, Turnhalle, Burgunder Bar and Adriano's Bar & Cafe.
Some of the local delicacies you must taste are Rosti Potato, Berner Platte, any Sausage preparation, Zwiebelkuchen onion pie and Lebkuchen cakes with honey.