Bern is a gem that beckons travellers with its rich history, medieval architecture, and serene ambiance

ByAndrea Thompson

April 22, 2024

Switzerland’s capital, Bern, enchants visitors with its charm. Its picturesque beauty is often overshadowed by more renowned destinations, which makes Bern an underrated gem.

Bern’s old town is a labyrinth of narrow alleys, sandstone buildings, and hidden courtyards. With world class museums and galleries such as Zentrum Paul Klee designed by Renzo Piano, which houses an impressive collection of works of art by the city’s most famous artist.

The Kunstmuseum Bern features Swiss artists Méret Oppenheim and Ferdinand Hodler.  The Bern Cathedral, with its stunning Gothic architecture, stands as a testament to the city’s past and the iconic Zytglogge clock tower and Federal are just a few of the landmarks for visitors to look into the history of this city.

Another museum to dive into the intellectual legacy of Albert Einstein is the Einstein Museum. Explore the life and work of this brilliant physicist who once called Bern home. It’s a fascinating glimpse into the mind behind the theory of relativity.

Bern’s UNESCO-listed Old Town exudes an irresistible old-world charm, with its cobbled streets, medieval fountains, and beautifully preserved architecture where boutique shops and unique markets await. Spitalgasse and Marktgasse are the main shopping hubs. Treat yourself to exquisite Swiss watches, jewellery, and art.

One of Bern’s best kept secrets is its abundance of wild swimming spots, offering travellers a refreshing escape from the summer heat. Take a refreshing dip in the River Aare, which flows through the heart of the city. Its magical blue waters, fed by meltwater from the Bernese Alps, invite you to embrace this Swiss tradition for urban river swimming. Popular social hubs include Marzilibad and Lorrainebad.

Next to the main station lies the graffiti-covered Reitschule (or Reithalle). Once a riding school, it was squatted in the 1980s and transformed into a vibrant alternative space. Bars, clubs, and a welcoming restaurant coexist with the swankiest hotel in Bern, the Hotel Schweizerhof.

Or wonder through the city’s botanical gardens, including the renowned Bern Rose Garden, showcasing a stunning array of flora from around the world whilst enjoying panoramic views of the distant alps.

Bern exudes authenticity. You’ll experience local culture, Swiss cuisine from  fondue to raclette, and activities without the overwhelming tourist crowds. Whether you’re sipping coffee in a cosy café or exploring hidden corners, Bern offers a genuine Swiss experience.

Bern is a city that whispers its beauty rather than shouting it.