In the heart of the Bernese Oberland, with views to the iconic peaks of the Eiger, Monch, and Jungfrau, Bern is a unique small city with deep history and cultural relevance. Switzerland’s capital city is also a UNESCO heritage site, thanks to its perfectly preserved medieval historic center of sandstone architecture and colonnaded streets, lined with restaurants and cafés, eclectic boutiques, and gothic fountains. Bordered on 3 sides by the River Aare, important cultural sites include the Federal Palace and house of Parliament, the Natural History Museum, as well as the Kunstmuseum (Fine Arts) and the Swiss Alpine Museum, and the Einstein house. But most recently noteworthy is just across the river, on the outskirts of town: the Zentrum Paul Klee, dedicated to Bern’s famous Bauhaus artist and designed by architect Renzo Piano.
The Zytglogge, or astrological clock at the city center is every bit as much a symbol of Bern as the namesake Bären Park, where the former bear pits have been transformed to a riverside park, and they are free to roam and play with more space. Classic historic hotels such as the 5* Schweizerhof offer legendary hospitality right in the center of town, with other nearby options as well.
With its proximity to the mountains and central location, Bern is ideal for day trips to any part of Switzerland by the well-connected rail system. But our favorite thing to do in Bern is act like a local, enjoy the outdoor dining, have a leisurely float down the river (in the summer, of course), and take in the sites of an idyllic medieval city, the seat of Swiss democracy for over 500 years.