Holidays to Switzerland are often associated with one particular activity – skiing. However, this captivating country is home to a number of breathtaking cities, towns and resorts.
Although it is the capital city, Bern is perhaps often overlooked when it comes to Swiss city breaks, with holidaymakers favouring trips to Zurich, Geneva, or even Lucerne.
Whilst those are all amazing places in their own right, Bern is a perfect destination for every kind of traveller – whether you’re on a solo trip, or travelling with young children, it has something for everyone.
As one of Europe’s safest cities, it offers visitors a chance to completely unwind and enjoy the wonders it has to offer.
Bursting with mediaeval charm and character, Bern’s entire Old City is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and situated in the centre of the Swiss capital, it is an area packed full of fascinating sights.
Switzerland’s tallest cathedral, or the Münster of Bern, elegantly watches over the city, standing at 330 feet tall.
Admission to the cathedral is free, and is well worth visiting to witness the stunning stained glass windows, the most notable being ‘The Dance of Death’. It is possible to climb to the top of the cathedral’s tower for a fee of CHF 5 (£4.53).
Elsewhere in the Old City is one of Bern’s most iconic landmarks, the Zytglogge, an 800-year-old mediaeval clock tower. Switzerland is famous for its luxurious and ingenious timepieces, and the Zytglogge is a perfect example of this on an even grander scale.
Composed of delicately designed facades and clock faces, golden bells, and an extraordinary astronomical clock, the Zytglogge is not to be missed.
If you continue to explore Bern’s Old City, you’ll be sure to find the Swiss Parliament buildings, Nydegg Church, the Holy Ghost Church, and the Untertorbrücke – the oldest bridge in Bern still in existence.
Throughout the city you may notice a number of public fountains, 11 of which are beautifully adorned with Renaissance allegorical statues depicting scenes such as Samson killing a lion, or Moses with the Ten Commandments.
Running through Bern is the Aare river, a tributary of the High Rhine, and on its banks is a peculiar attraction that you may not associate with being in the middle of a European capital city – a bear pit.
Bern has been home to bears since 1513, and since 2009 they have lived in a new and spacious 6,000 square metre bear park.
There is currently a family of three bears living in the Bärengraben, and the attraction is open 365 days a year and is completely free to explore.
One of the most beautiful parts of this enchanting city is the breathtaking Rose Garden, a large and relaxing park that offers unrivalled views over the Old City.
Take the time to gently wander around and marvel at the 220 different types of roses that the gardens are home to, or simply find a spot to sit down, relax, and enjoy the views from this incomparable oasis.
There are also a number of interesting and inspiring museums in Bern well worth visiting, including the Museum of Communication, the Paul Klee Centre, and Einstein House – which is on the site of the iconic theoretical physicist’s old apartment.