Top 20 things to do in Bern

We have collected the top 20 best things to do in Bern

Top 20 things to do in Bern

While nowhere near the biggest and most populous city of Switzerland, Bern is the capital of the country. The city fully incorporates old and new, as the beautiful old districts of the city provide a good feeling of how the citizens probably lived a few hundred years ago. Bern is surrounded by mountains, giving it an amazing vista no matter where you turn, and people can of course hike these if they wish so. The city is full of attractions that you should visit while you are here, so here’s a list of the top 20 best things to do in Bern.

  1. Old City of Bern
    The Old City of Bern is the medieval city center of the Bern. It is what the current city of Bern is built around. Most of the old city is still intact, although it was once damaged by a fire, but was later repaired. The old city is situated on a cliff surrounded by the beautiful aquamarine river Aare. The cobbled streets, the numerous fountains, the old buildings and the old bridges all provide a delightful experience, so be sure to visit this part of Bern, which should be high on the list of things to do in Bern for everybody.
2. Untertorbrücke
The Untertorbrücke is the oldest bridge in Bern, which connected the Old City with the Mattequartier. The bridge originally had fortifications and gates on it, but those have been demolished as the years went by. Today, it’s a world heritage site just like the Old City itself, and visited by a great number of people throughout the year.
3. Zytglogge
Located at the Old City of Bern, the Zytglogge is a very old tower in Bern. It served as a prison, a guard tower, a clock tower and a memorial. Currently, it’s just a tourist attraction and a symbol of the city. The astronomical clock on the tower is quite famous and popular, and tourists ofter come here to see it. 3 minutes before every hour mechanical figures like The Fool, The Knight, The Rooster, The Piper, and others come out to put on a little show. Visitors can also climb the tower for a nice view.
4. Museum of Fine Arts
The Museum of Fine Arts in Bern is home to more than 50000 paintings, sculptures, photographs and others. It’s a large and permanent collection, and has many different styles including surrealism, cubism and impressionism from both Switzerland and outside of it.
5. Bern Historical Museum
The Bern Historical Museum is located in a building that resembles a castle from the 15th and 16th century. The building itself is quite beautiful, not to mention the about half a million artifacts and objects that the museum holds and puts on display. These are from various ages ranging from the Stone Age, through the Celts, Romans, Middle Ages and so on until our current time.
6. Einstein Museum
The Einstein Museum is actually located in the same castle-like building as the Bern Historical Museum. Just like its name suggests, it’s dedicated to the one and only Albert Einstein, who lived in Bern for quite a long time during his life. The museum shows the life and work of Einstein, including the famous Theory of relativity, which he developed while living in Bern. Old films, objects from his life and even his 1921 Nobel Prize certificate is on display. Animated videos help visitors understand his works in layman’s terms for those who are not deep into science.

7. Federal Palace of Switzerland
The Federal Palace of Switzerland is the most important building of Bern in terms of politics. The Swiss Federal Assembly (legislature) and the Federal Council (executive) are housed here. The building itself is also quite beautiful as it sits atop a hill overlooking the river Aare, and the inside provides quite a spectacle as well.

8. Bundesplatz
The Bundesplatz is name of the square located infront of the Federal Palace of Switzerland. It’s a beautiful square and very popular among both tourists and citizens. Demonstrations, events and social gatherings are often held here. A beautiful flower and vegetable market is also opened here every week.
9. Rosengarten
The Rosengarten is a public park in Bern, located on a hill slope with excellent view of the city. This is probably one of the most peaceful and beautiful parts of the city, so be sure to check it out if you want to take a little break. It was originally a cemetery, but was later repurposed into a public park with many beautiful flower species. This place is definitely a must-see among the things to do in Bern.
10. Bärengraben and BärenPark
As one of the symbols of Switzerland is a bear, the Bärengraben and BärenPark are two older and new enclosures for bears in the city. The Bärengraben was the older bear pit, but now the larger and upgraded BärenPark is the main one, though both of them are worth visiting. Walkways lead down to the river, so not only the bears are worth visiting, but the park itself as well.
11. The Granary
Originally used to store grain while the cellar provided storage for barrels of wine, The Granary became a cultural venue for various uses. Facilities include the City Theater’s Kornhausbühne, Kornhaus Library, Library for Design, the Forum for Media and Design and two dining establishments, the Kornhauskeller and Kornhauscafé. The interior also very beautiful, as it is decorated with twelve pillars featuring the traditional dress of Bernese women and has representations of 31 musicians dressed in Swiss attire from the Renaissance period.
12. Natural History Museum
The Natural History Museum of Bern is part of the University of Bern, and has more than 200 dioramas, many samples of minerals, including meteorite, and a large collection of animal skeletons. While some think that parts of the museum is outdated, it is still visited by around 100 thousand people every year.
13. Botanic Garden
The Botanic Garden of Bern contains a great number of different floras from all over world, including Australia and New Zealand, North America, Asia, Europe and Africa. Its best part is probably the Alpinum, the collection of Swiss and other alpine flowers and plants. If you like nature, then this garden is definitely for you.
14. Gurten
The Gurten is a name of a mountain south of Bern. While it’s not part of the city, it is still definitely worth visiting, as it is both wonderful in itself, and it provides a spectacular view of the city and the surround region. Hiking, taking a picnic or other recreational activities are all a common purpose for those coming here. The Gurtenfestival, a music festival, is also held here every year during July.
15. Zentrum Paul Klee
The Zentrum Paul Klee is a museum dedicated to the work and life of Paul Klee, a Swiss artist. His works have been influenced by Expressionism, Cubism, and Surrealism. His Writings on Form and Design Theory is considered one of the most important theoretical works on art ever written. The gallery contains about 40% of his works, donated by his daughter. Both the gallery and the distinct building itself are worth visiting.
16. Museum of Communication
The Museum of Communication in Bern is dedicated to the history of communication of our species. From sign language and speaking to postal services, the telegraph, telephone, and Internet, the museum has everything. Most of the exhibition is interactive, so this is also great for education and children.
17. Einsteinhaus
Found on the second floor of a regular apartment building in Bern is the Einsteinhaus (Einstein House), the home of Albert Einstein while he lived in Bern. This sort of a little museum preserves his workspace where he produced some of the most important ideas in science. This might not impressive for everyone, but for those who want to learn just a bit more about science and Einstein, this place is worth visiting.
18. Swiss Alpine Museum
Those who want to learn more about the life and history of the Alps should head to the Swiss Alpine Museum. It displays exhibits concerning the geology, tectonics, glaciology, meteorology, flora, fauna, cartography, agriculture, folklore, settlement, alpinism, tourism, winter sports, endangerment and protection of or in the Alps, as well as visual art relating to the Alps. It has a huge collection of about 20 thousand objects, 160 thousand photographs and 182 paintings, among others.
19. City of Fountains
Located throughout the city are a large number of old fountains. Statues on top of these are representations of ideas or biblical scenes such as Samson killing a lion, or a beat statue in full armor representing the power of Switzerland. The statues are repainted and renovated to preserve them even more. Drinking from these is still possible. For a list of the ones with statues, see this link.
20. Bern Minster
Perhaps the most famous building in city, the Bern Minster is a Swiss Reformed cathedral in the Old City. It was built in a gothic style, but has parts that are either from the renaissance era or baroque in design. Sculptures and statues decorate the cathedral, and it has a high bell tower which is open to the public. Above the main entrance is a sculpture collection depecting the Last Judgment. The terrace next to the cathedral provides a beautiful view for visitors.