Bern: Some places to visit

•    Historisches Museum (Historical Museum), Helvetiaplatz 5. Monday closed. Switzerland’s second largest historic museum, combining under one roof one of the country’s most important ethnographic collections together with the Bernese historical collections from prehistory to the present day. It includes the Einstein Museum. CHF 13 for permanent exhibition, CHF 18 for Einstein Museum.
•    Bundeshaus (Federal Palace of Switzerland), Bundesplatz 3. The Swiss House of Parliaments is a representative building dominating the Square. Constructed by the end of 19th century. Free guided tour when the Parliament is not in session. During session only access to the spectators ranks. Free, but bring your passport.
•    Einsteinhaus, Kramgasse 49. 10AM to 5PM (4PM Saturdays). Albert Einstein rented this small flat with his wife during his years working at the Swiss patent office. Their first child, Hans Albert, and the special and general theories of relativity were born here, where Einstein’s writing desk overlooked the busy street and its lovely clock-tower. There are numerous photos and original documents from Einstein’s life, work, and speeches. CHF 6/4.5 (adults/students).
•    Kunstmuseum (Museum of fine Arts), Hodlerstrasse 12. Closed on Mondays. The Museum of Fine Arts Berne is known for its collection of works of painters such as Pablo Picasso, Ferdinand Hodler and Meret Oppenheim. It is the oldest art museum in Switzerland with a permanent collection and houses works covering eight centuries.
•    Alpines Museum der Schweiz (Swiss Alpine Museum), Helvetiaplatz 4. 10-17 h (Thursdays: 10-20 h). Closed on Mondays. CHF 14/10. A museum showing the full variety of the Swiss mountains (with a nice restaurant).
•    Zentrum Paul Klee, Monument im Fruchtland 3 (Bus No. 12 to the end of the line). 10-17 except closed Mon. The Paul Klee centre which is in a modern wave-shaped building presents the world’s most important collection of works by Paul Klee (rotating exhibition drawn from 4000 works, or 40% of his oeuvre). CHF 20/18.
•    Zytglogge. The Clock Tower near the center of the old town, built around the turn of the 13th century, is a great thing to see. On the hour, every hour throughout the day, there is a stunning display of early animatronic technology. The locals are proud to tell you it’s “the longest running act in show business”. A few minutes before the hour, it begins with a little song and some drumming by a jester on top. On the hour, bears and an old bearded king get into the act. It’s great for kids to see. The clock tells time too, as well as the month, day, sign of the zodiac and phase of the moon. There are guided tours inside the tower that will let you have a look at the clockwork while the show is displayed outside. It can be booked at the tourist office and is definitely worth it if you love mechanics. Free.

Further places

Bärengraben (Bear Pit)

Berne is inseparably linked with bears. According to legend the city’s founder, Duke Berchtold V von Zähringen, named the city after the first animal to be caught here. The saga lives on in the form of the real-live bears in the Bear Pit and the heraldic bear in the Bernese coat of arms. The Bear Pit can be easily reached by bus number 12 from the railway station in Berne in direction Zentrum Paul Klee.

The Gurten

The Gurten is a 864m hill just outside the city – and a must-see for everyone staying longer than 1 day. It features a park and great view over the city on one side and a stunning panorama of the Bernese Alps on the other. The park is visited heavily by locals to play ball, to barbecue or to just lie in the sun, and a wooden look-out tower that allows you a great view over the Jura Mountains and the peaks of the Bernese Alps on a good day. Several nice hiking trails.

Getting there:
The Gurten can be easily reached with tram number 9 from the railway station in Berne in direction Wabern. Exit the tram at station Gurtenbahn and walk a few steps up the hill. Then take the Gurtenbahn, a panorama train that will bring you on top in just 5 minutes.
–    The Restaurant includes a self-service budget restaurant with balcony that overlooks the city and the Jura Mountains.
–    One nice, easily manageable hiking trail down to Bern (about 45 min.) leads first through the picturesque village Gurtendorf alongside cow meadows (take a sharp turn left at the farm with the silo to get back to Bern.
–    Round tickets are CHF 9 – but if you have a Bern Mobil day ticket, the Gurtenbahn is already included!

Aare Swimming

On hot summer days, drifting down the river Aare is just the thing to do. However, the river is very fast (it can be very difficult to get out of the water), has many swirls, the ground is very stony (injuries) and the (glacial) water is quite cold – and it is not without reason that several tourists drown every year. Good (and safe) stretches are between the Kornhausbridge and the public pool of the Lorraine (old fashioned swimming pool just next to the river) and between the Eichholz and the public pool of the Marzili. Other stretches such as swimming the bend around the old town (starting at the “Englische Anlagen” to the Lorraine) or the “Bremgartenschlaufe” are only to be done by good swimmers accompanied by experienced locals.
–    In case you would like to go swimming, please ask Sarah Ross who is an experienced Aare swimmer.
–    Safe swimming: The entrance to public pools is free of charge. One of the most popular pools is the Marzili bath (take Bern’s smallest cable car) from just behind the houses of parliament.

Rose Garden

Little park with a splendid view over the old town. Situated close to the bear pit (follow the path that goes up the hill opposite the bear-pit-roundabout. Quite popular (and populated) during lunchtime. The Rosengarten can be easily reached by bus number 12 from the railway station in Berne in direction Zentrum Paul Klee.

Exploring UNESCO World Heritage in and around Bern

The Old City of Bern

The Old City of Bern has been a UNESCO Cultural World Heritage Site since 1983. Founded in the 12th century on a hill site surrounded by the Aare River, Berne developed over the centuries in line with an exceptionally coherent planning concept. The buildings in the Old City, dating from a variety of periods, include 15th-century arcades and 16th-century fountains. Most of the medieval town was restored in the 18th century but it has retained its original character. Numerous buildings in the Old City have been designated as Swiss Cultural Properties of National Significance, as well as the entire Old City itself.
The Rosengarten offers an exceptional overview of the older parts of the town.

Terracotta Army

“Qin – The eternal emperor and his terracotta warriors”
From 15 March to 17 November 2013 the Bernisches Historisches Museum presents the exhibition “Qin – The eternal emperor and his terracotta warriors”. The exhibition presents exhibits from the famous Terracotta Army of the First Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi, who created the Chinese Empire more than 2,000 years ago. The Terracotta Army was discovered in 1974 and designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. The exhibition provides about 220 original exhibits from museums and archaeological institutes in China.
Historisches Museum Bern (closed on Mondays; tickets are also available online)
Helvetiaplatz 5
3005 Bern
Tel. +41 (0)31 350 77 11
Fax +41 (0)31 350 77 99

Swiss Alps Jungfrau-Aletsch

The region centered around the Aletsch-Gletscher is an outstanding example of the formation of the High Alps, including the most glaciated part of the mountain range and the largest glacier in continental Eurasia. At the very heart of the Alps, it is exceptional for the breathtaking beauty of its landscapes and for the wealth of information it contains about the formation of mountains and glaciers. It features a wide diversity of ecosystems, including successional stages due particularly to the retreat of glaciers resulting from climate change, and is therefore invaluable in terms of the ecological and biological processes it illustrates.
Depending on the weather, the central mountains of the region, Finsteraarhorn, Schreckhorn, Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau are very clearly visible from Bern (best views: Grosse Schanze, Kleine Schanze (between Bundeshaus and the Kulturkasino) – while the view from the Gurten is especially stunning.

Pile Dwellings (Bieler See)

The “stilt houses” are remnants of pre-historic settlements in lakes and moors around the Alps. This serial trans-boundary site consists of 111 of the roughly 1,000 known sites in six countries (Switzerland, Germany, France, Italy, Slovenia, Austria) – of which 56 are located in Switzerland. The candidacy was presented under the aegis of Switzerland. 15 Swiss cantons are involved. The remnants of the pre-historic settlements provide a lively insight into the origin and development of early agricultural societies in the Alpine region.
The closed location to Bern can be found at the Bieler See.
See also for a complete overview.