The Swiss capital 4 hours 27 minutes from Paris
When you visit, you'll enjoy its medieval architecture and wander along the peninsula, enveloped by the Aar. It is the little-known capital of Switzerland, often confused with Zurich and Geneva. Really, Bern isn't your standard metropolis; a sweet atmosphere reigns, as though you are far from the hustle and bustle and stress of the city. Let us take you on a guided tour!
Things to do in Bern
- Climb the Gurten
The Gurten overlooks Bern. You can make your way to the top by the funicular, or on foot if you're feeling courageous. From the top, you'll discover a real amusement park overlooking the Bernese Alps. Children will enjoy the miniature train and playing on the numerous attractions.
- The bear park
The bear is the symbol of Bern. Historically present in the city, it was introduced to the bear pit on the banks of the Aar. The bears now also have a huge park. If you come in the winter, there is a chance you won't see them. Just like in the wild, they hibernate…
- Swimming in the Aar
If you come to Bern in the summer, you'll be surprised. The inhabitants of Bern go swimming in the Aar, the river which borders the city, and let themselves be carried around the town by the current. The water is turquoise and refreshing; it's a unique, out-of-the-ordinary way to discover Bern. Warning: swimming in the Aare is only suitable for very proficient swimmers.
- Walk under the archways of the Old Town
Go shopping in the Old Town. The shops are found under archways (arcades), which will protect you from the bad weather. Many of the shops, restaurants and art galleries are found in caves under the footpaths.
- Taste a fondue
Treat yourself, even if it's not winter! Indulge in a fondue in one of the many restaurants specializing in this dish. We recommend the Loetschberg for its bistro ambiance and menu offering numerous melted cheese based dishes.
The best time to visit Bern
- July - Gurtenfestival. Music festival, lasting 4 days, on the famous Gurten mountain.
- October - Illuminations of the Palais Fédéral. Sound and light show, every evening, on the facade of the palais Fédéral.
- November - Marché aux oignons (onion market). Folk festival based on the theme of onions, which starts at 5 o'clock in the morning and ends with a confetti battle.
The climate in Bern
Summer is mild and warm in Bern, and a swim in the Aare or an ice cream in the popular gelaterias is just right to help you cool off. The old town radiates a very special charm with it golden lights when the snow falls in winter. You will encounter stands everywhere in the alleyways; these sell mulled wine and hot sweet chestnuts.
Did you know...?
- The street signs are not the same colour everywhere in the city. It is believed that this was introduced so that Napoleon's soldiers, present in the city in 1798, could find their way home after evenings when they drank a little too much alcohol.
- Albert Einstein lived in Bern and it is possible to visit the flat that he used to rent. Legend has it that his theory of relativity came to him when he was watching the Bern clock, the Zytglogge, which rings out every hour!
- When visitors arrive by train in Bern they are surprised by a large building covered with graffiti. It used to be a horse riding school, but today it's an alternative cultural centre. The demolition of this centre is part of the recurrent debates in politics in Bern.
Bern in figures
roses can be admired in the Roses Garden.