Things to Do in Bern

What to do in Bern?

See the cherry blossoms, Meet Finn, Ursina, and Berna, Enjoy an open-air fashion show, See the magnificence of Bern Munster, Visit the famous UNESCO site, Enjoy a late-night drink, Go for dinners, Visit the weekly markets, See the House of Parliament, Visit the lush Botanical Garden, visit fountains, enjoy shopping and many more.

There is a sheer range of absolutely amazing things to do in Bern, just waiting to be discovered! Often overlooked, the capital city of Switzerland offers activities and experiences perfect for everyone, whatever be your vacation style. The top 10 things to do in Bern include watching bear pits, soaking in magnificent views of the world-famous Swiss Alps, enjoying an open-air fashion show, and even going ghost hunting! If that’s not a fascinating lineup, what is? So, Embark on an unforgettable adventure with a Switzerland tour package and explore the myriad wonders of Bern.

Whatever be the season, the city is always ready to entertain and enthrall. Especially during the cold season, this white shrouded gorgeous beauty of a city amazes one with all the fun things to do in Bern in winter. There are spooky tours to enjoy on a cold winter night and hot comforting cheesy fondue to relish. Not to mention the glistening Christmas markets that one should not miss. Where Bern astonishes the most is that though it lies in one of the most expensive countries in the world, there is quite an array of free things to do in Bern that are equally charming and memorable.

These include strolling in nothing less than a UNESCO World Heritage-listed Old Town area, exploring some of the most iconic fountains in the world and seeing the largest bell in Switzerland at the Bern Munster. So read on to know about how not to miss the beautiful Bern!

Read More
The Parliament Building

The Parliament Building in Bern is the heart of Switzerland’s democracy and is the symbol of politics in Switzerland. Also referred to as the Federal Palace, the place was built between 1894 and 1902 by the architect Hans Wilhelm Auer. The place was officially inaugurated on 1st April 1902 and currently holds all its Federal government meetings. In front of the building is a long terrace and the large Parliament Square, with 26 water fountains representing 26 cantons of Switzerland. 

Our Partners

Bern Things To Do FAQs

Which are the best things to do at Bern?

1. See the cherry blossoms: Come spring and the city’s Rose Garden bursts with the heady fragrance and pinkish hues of lacs of cherry blossoms. These saplings were gifted to Bern by Japan in 1975 and since then have been enticing visitors from all over the world.

It is quite an experience, and one of the best things to do in Bern, as one sits in the shade of one of these blossoming trees while enjoying a picnic lunch with the balmy breeze enveloping you.

Location: Alter Aargauerstalden 31 B, 3006 Bern.
Timings: Every day from 9:00 am to 11:30 pm.

2. Meet Finn, Ursina, and Berna: One of the most unique experiences to enjoy in Bern is to meet the city’s most famous residents. No, Finn, Ursina, and Berna aren’t local celebrities; they are three brown bears, probably more popular than the celebrities! They live in their own huge lush green enclosure located near the Aare River complete with their own swimming pool and caves.

It is amazing to see this family of bears going about their day as they eat and play, enthralling with their cute antics. Round off your visit by enjoying beer from the tap at the Altes Tramdepot terrace restaurant, one of the most fun things to do in Bern.

Location: Grosser Muristalden 6, 3006 Bern.
Timings: The Park is always accessible.

3. Enjoy an open-air fashion show: One of the high points of any Bern visit is when every year for a day, the streets of Bern’s old town area convert into a fashion arena with models walking the cobbled streets doubling up as the open-air ramp.

The idea behind this activity is to promote conscious fashion and its sustainable showcase. The show sees participation from local as well as international designers, live music performances, and a lovely vibe of furor and gorgeousness all around making it one of the best things to do in Bern.

Location: The show starts from Kornhausplatz and ends at Kornhausforum in the Old Town.
Price: All are welcome to enjoy the show.
Timings: The show will be held on 16th May 2002 from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm

4. See the magnificence of Bern Munster: This 15th-century building is the largest and most important cathedral in Switzerland and one of the most visited landmarks in the world. The 100-metre long spires of the cathedral, are the tallest in the country towering majestically over everything else around.

Built-in Gothic style, its architectural nuances are unlike any building in the world. It has stunning stained glass windows, a 300-foot high bell tower (the largest bell in Switzerland), delicately carved ceilings, an intricate mural of The Last Judgement, columns depicting angels & women, etc. The terrace of the cathedral gives onto stunning views of the city and the snow-capped peaks of the Bernese Alps. One of the best things to do in Bern is to sign up for a guided tour here to know more about this historical masterpiece.

Location: Munsterplatz 1, 3000 Bern.
Price: There is no entry fee for the cathedral. Entry to the terrace area costs around CHF 5, INR 367.
Timings: Summers- 10:00 am to 4:30 pm and winters- 12:00 pm to 3:30 pm.

5. Visit the famous UNESCO site: The Old Town area in Bern is so historically important and pristine in beauty, that it is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visiting here, one of the most stunning things to do in Bern is like stepping back in the 11th-century Renaissance era of old-worldly charm, romance, chiming bells, and slow-paced lives having the luxury of time.

The area now houses some of the most popular designer boutiques, charming cafes, chocolatiers, and watchmakers. Some of the most famous buildings that mustn’t be missed are the Zytglogge Clock Tower, Prison Tower, and Bern Munster.

Location: The area is built on a hilly area near the Aare River.
Timings: All attractions have their opening and closing timings.

Which are the must visit fountains in Bern?

Fountain hopping is amongst the top 10 things to do in Bern. This ‘City of Fountains’ is dotted with a whopping 100 (or more!) fountains. Every fountain is a historical masterpiece telling its unique story.  Not only are these fountains magnificent samples of Gothic and Renaissance-era art, but they are also sources of fresh drinking water freely available for everyone. Some of the must-see fountains here are:

1. Kindlifresserbrunnen: Also known as the Ogre Fountain, this is one of the strangest fountains in the world and also amongst the most photographed. High up on a column is the figure of an ogre depicting him devouring a baby. 

The ogre’s bag seems to have babies crawling out of it as if trying to escape him. Nobody knows the story behind this fountain, and that doesn’t do anything to lessen its scary effect. The fountain is located at Granary Square and visiting it is amongst the top free things to do in Bern.

2. Simsonbrunnen: Also known as the Samson Fountain, it depicts the Roman hero by the same name that personified strength and valour. Dressed in the traditional attire of the Middle Ages, Samson is seen almost tearing a lion’s mouth apart. Don’t miss to note the intricate detailing in both the figures of this 16th-century fountain. It is located on the middle road of Kramgasse.

3. Lauterbrunnen: Located on Messenger Square, this fountain depicts the proud Bernese tradition of having messengers cross treacherous paths to deliver messages from one region to the other. This figurine is dressed in the traditional Swiss colours with a spear and a case of letters. Next to him is a bear also dressed in similar attire.

4. Lenbrunnen: More than a fountain, this is probably one of the most important water-related discoveries in the history of Bern. Discovered in 1992, this fountain was found to be one of the most important ways of supplying water to the city. 

In the Middle Ages, Len Fountain used to have a holding capacity of 15,000 litres, that was enough for the city. There are regular guided tours to this restored architectural marvel, which are considered to be amongst the top 10 things to do in Bern.

What are the things to do in Bern in Night?

Come sundown and Bern lights up in the luminescence of a billion starry lights and the verve of music and happy chatter. Some of the most amazing things to do in Bern at night are:

1. Go looking for ghosts: One of the most intriguing things to do here is the ‘Spooky Bern’ city tour. The underbelly of this historical city, narrow alleys, and dark corners are rife with stories of witches and spirits. The tour will take you to the old town area where the guide will share spooky legends and terrifying stories associated with the haunted house and dark cellars. In fact, this is one of the most popular things to do in Bern in winter on a cold dark night.

2. Dine: Bern has some of the most charming places in the country where one can enjoy the finest foods, wines, and desserts. Some of the best places are Kornhauskeller, which is a chic cellar restaurant with intricate frescos, high arches, and sandstone walls lit up by wrought iron lamps.

The place is famous for its pies, antipasti, pasta, and pizza and dining here is considered to be amongst the top 10 things to do in Bern. Other great options are the Casa Nova kitchen on a terrace next to the Aare River and Lotschberg in the Old Town area famous for its raclette, rosti, fondue, and local beer.

3. Enjoy a late-night drink: The city has great options for an evening drink whether its wine, beer, or even gourmet espressos as you soak up the hues of the setting sun over the stunning Bern skyline. Some of the best places are Einstein Kaffe (once the home of Albert Einstein) famous for its cigar room and beef tartar, salads, and wines. Marta café is famous for its coffees, teas, and scones along with live music performances.

Which are the best places for shopping in Bern?

Shopping is considered to be amongst the top 10 things to do in Bern for its sheer range of independent labels, large department houses, and mom and pop stores. Some of the best places for shopping here are:

1. Spitalgasse: One of the best shopping areas in Bern, Spitalgasse is dotted with international clothing label shops, independent boutiques, Swiss watch stores, and art galleries. Some of the best shops here include Changemaker, Swatch, Dress Code Project GmbH, etc. Don’t miss to explore the huge Globus department store here for everything ranging from fashion labels, cosmetics, fine foods, and homeware.

2. Kramgasse: One of the most fun things to do in Bern in winter sun is to go on a shopping spree at the amazing Kramgasse. The medieval atmosphere of Kramgasse is as amazing as its stores. The entire area is paved in cobbled streets and house centuries-old cellars that have now been converted into shops. You will find the best of Swiss chocolates, watches, wines, handbags, apparel, and carpets here.

3. Old Town area: The six kilometre long cobbled streets of the Old Town area is a paradise for shoppers. Some of the best places to explore are Bazaar58 for its collection of over 10,000 buttons & Indonesian Ikat fabrics, Maison Art for its enamel & glass homeware, and Amuse Brocante for its unique antiquities and concept dresses. If you don’t want to shop, you can spend time window shopping, which is one of the best free things to do in Bern.

4. Christmas markets: During the Christmas time, every nook and corner of Bern fills up with the fragrance of freshly baked bread, roasted chestnuts, coffee, and spiced wines. Some of the most charming Christmas markets in the city are Stars market (on the Kleine Schanze) famous for its huge fondue chalet, Bern Minster (Minster Square) market for its handicrafts & jewellery, and the Waisenhausplatz Market (Orphanage Square) for its caramels, mulled wine, and gingerbread. One of the best things to do in Bern in winter is to try and take a tour of as many winter markets as possible.

What to do in Bern for free?

These are some of the most amazing and surprisingly free things to do in Bern:

1. Visit the weekly markets: Bern is a city of vibrant pop-up farmer’s markets that are a great way to enjoy the sights and fragrances of the city. One of the most interesting markets here is Zibelemarit (Onion Market), (every 4th Monday in November) where you can see 50 tonnes of onions woven in braids with garlic, which is one of the most interesting things to do in Bern in winter. 

Other great options are the weekly market (Tuesday and Saturday at Waisenhausplatz), Market of Wild Plants (late April) and the Flea Market (3rd Saturday of every month from May-October).

2. See the House of Parliament: The Swiss Parliament is an imposing building with magnificent architecture edging on the Aare River. Its copper and golden coloured domes and interiors have been decorated by 38 of the most famous Swiss artists.

Free guided tours are conducted 5 times each day daily that narrate the workings of the building and take visitors through all the important areas and the art collections of the Parliament. These tours rank amongst the top free things to do in Bern.

3. Visit the lush Botanical Garden: One doesn’t have to shell out money to spend a beautiful day surrounded by sunshine, cool breeze, and the intoxicating fragrance of thousands of flowers. The garden houses over 5000 types of plants from all over the world including regions like Mediterranean, Asia, Balkans, Himalayas, etc. 

Don’t miss to see the patches of pineapple, cherry blossoms, and roses here. You can also see the memorial of the famous artist Paul Klee here, which is one of the most surreal things to do in Bern.

How can I reach Bern?

Air: Bern has a small airport known as Flughafen Bern that receives flights only from within Europe from destinations like Elba, Palma, and Menorca. All the international flights like British Airways, Lufthansa, United Airlines, etc. for Bern are received at Zurich Airport, EuroAirport (located near the border of Switzerland, France, and Germany), and Geneva Airport.

All the major Indian cities like New Delhi and Mumbai are well-connected to Bern through airlines like Air France, British Airways, KLM, etc. These fly daily with 1-2 stops.

Car: Bern is well connected by road and has motorway links with all the major Swiss cities like Geneva, Zurich, Basel, etc.

Train: Bern is connected to all major Swiss cities like Zurich, Basel, Lucerne, etc. by daily trains run by Swiss Railways, Deutsche Bahn Intercity-Express, Trenitalia Eurocity.

What is the best time to visit Bern?

The best time to visit Bern is the spring-summer season from April till September. The temperatures range between 10-14°C and the days are balmy, bright, and sunny. This is the time when one Bern bursts with the colours of cherry blossoms and one can enjoy events like Open-Air Catwalk, Bern Grand Prix, International Jazz Festival, hiking, and swimming in the Aare River, which are some of the best things to do in Bern.

Why is Bern so famous?

This capital city of Switzerland is a classic picture-perfect Swiss beauty! Not only is Bern bestowed with stunning natural beauty but also has unique architectural elements. It’s medieval Gothic buildings, preserved old town area, cobbled streets, quirky & extraordinary fountains are famous all over the world.

Bern, being located at the borders of France and Germany, has an atmosphere that is chic and international. Bern has occupied an important place in the world of art by bringing attention to the works of artists and their fine arts through its amazing museums and galleries.

Is it safe to visit Bern?

Yes, Bern is one of the safest cities in the world to visit. There is ample police presence throughout the day, street cameras, and low levels of crimes. Exercise the usual caution that you would anywhere else, and you are safe!

Is Bern an expensive city?

Yes, Bern is an expensive city to travel to and live in. It ranks amongst the top 5 expensive cities in the world. Accommodation, food, attractions, and things to do in Bern come at quite a steep cost.

How many days do you need in Bern?

3 days are enough for this small city. The city is so compactly packed, that it can be easily explored on foot. Whatever your travel priorities, you can easily explore all the major attractions, shop, and enjoy a variety of cuisines in these 3 days.

Is there a hop on hop off bus in Bern?

Yes, Bern has a very well organized local bus system run by Bernmobil. Currently, around 16 buses cover the entire city and offer an option to hop-on and hop-off at the destinations of your choice.

This is a great way to spend as much time as you want at the attractions of your choice and hop on to the bus for the next destination. You can choose between a one-way ticket, multi-ride ticket, which includes 6 one-way tickets or a whole day ticket if you don’t know how many times you will use the bus in a day.

What language is spoken in Bern?

The main language spoken in Bern is Swiss-German. Being around 12 kilometres from the closest French speaking village, you will find French being spoken commonly. However, you can get by even if you don’t speak either of these two languages. Most of the locals speak and understand a fair bit of English.

Is Bern (Switzerland) worth visiting?

Yes! Bern is one of the most amazing cities in Switzerland worth visiting once in a lifetime. This compact city packs all the amazing aspects of the world-famous Swiss beauty. It is a cosmopolitan city that meets its beautifully preserved history at its nooks and corners.

Every season in this picturesque city brings forth its own unique & compelling reasons to visit. Not only the bright & balmy summers but things to do in Bern in winter are equally amazing. It has great farmers’ markets, high-end stores, festivals, and of course a delectable array of foods especially cheese to dig into.

What are the essential items that one must pack while travelling to Bern?

Your summer packing list should include:
- A lightweight jacket or cardigan
- Pair of jeans
- Cotton T-shirts, shorts, skirts or trousers
- Cotton socks
- Comfortable walking shoes, sneakers, open sandals
- Sunglasses, sunscreen, hat
- Essential medicines
- Umbrella or raincoat

Thinking of things to do in Bern in winter? These are what your packing list should include:
- Short and long-sleeved loose tops for layering
- Lined jacket & heavy sweaters
- Fleece inners and thermals
- Wool-lined shoes, closed-toe sandals
- Woollen socks
- Sunscreen, hat, sunglasses
- Warm headcover
- Essential medicines

What are the best adventurous things to do in Switzerland?

Why Choose Thrillophilia