Bern

Bern, Switzerland’s seat of power has a small-town ambience rather than the bustle of a metropolis. The city seems to have stepped straight out of a fairytale. The tall gothic spires, the quintessential clock tower and the maze of cobblestone streets of the Old Town only add to the visual appeal. Combine that with an unhurried pace of life and you’d be forgiven to think that Bern is a small, sleepy hill station. But Bern has consistently been featured in the top 10 best places to live in the world.

So, how’s Bern as a holiday destination? In a single word, awesome! With six kilometres of shopping and one of the biggest UNESCO Works Heritage sites, Bern is an exciting holiday city that has something for everybody. From a refreshing swim in the Aare River to a leisurely stroll through Rosengarten, you will find a number of activities here. Sightseeing in Bern is not just a visual feast, but a treat for the senses. After all, where else in the world can you relax at a public fountain in front of the Parliament building?

Bern is known as the city of fountains and for good reason too. The city is dotted with scores of fountains and some of them are over 500 years old. But the best part of Bern’s fountains is that they all spout clean drinking water that is tested daily! The city loves its onions too. The Zibelemärit is Bern’s largest market and it is dedicated entirely to onions. And the love doesn’t end there. On the fourth Monday of every November, there’s a big onion party where people buy and sell onions by the tons, share onion-themed foods and have confetti fights.

Bern is a treasure trove of such quirky traditions. It welcomes its visitors with delight. If you’re already looking forward to a holiday in this wonderful city, here’s a quick look at Bern’s tourism that will help you plan the perfect holiday itinerary.

Bern Tourism : A Quick Overview
Continent Europe
Country Switzerland
Official Language Alemannic Swiss German, Bernese German
Dial Code 41-31-contact number
Population 1,40,000 (2019)
Currency Swiss Franc
Timezone GMT+1
Area 51.62 sq. km.

 

Highlights of Bern Tourism:

Bears are definitely the highlight of Bern tourism. They adorn the city’s coat of arms, manhole covers and the iconic Zytglogge clock tower. If that’s not enough, you will find live bears in the city’s Bear Park located by the riverside. Legend has it that Duke Berchtold V of Zährigen, who founded the city in 1191, decided to name it after the first animal he came across on his hunt. And that animal happened to be a bear (Bär in German, plural Bären).

Bern can also boast of abundant greenery that covers 50% of the city. Cattle, pigs and sheep are part of the city. The city even has special bicycle lanes. You can rent one and explore the city without spending too much on public transport. The Rosengarten offers a bird’s eye view of the city. You can enjoy a beer at Restaurant Rosengarten surrounded by countless varieties of roses.

If you go to apartment no. 49 at Kramgasse, you’d be standing in the very room where Albert Einstein came up with his famous equation, E=mc2. Whether you are interested in science or not, this is certainly on of the most iconic places to visit in Bern. There’s also a full-fledged Einstein Museum inside the Bern Historical Museum.

But by one way or the other, most attractions and monuments of Bern are concentrated in and around the Old City. Like the glue that holds everything together, the Old City still takes care of the spirit of Bern as the city itself moves towards a modern future.

Adventure Activities in Bern:

If you’re searching for adventure in Bern, the city will not disappoint you. From skydiving to go-karting you’ll have a wide selection of outdoor activities, each one more amazing than the next. Tobogganing is one of the most fun and yet one of the most underrated outdoor activities. The euphoria of trundling downhill has to be experienced to be believed.

Blow off some steam at the Swiss Bike Park Oberried as you race across an obstacle course on a bicycle. Open for all ages, the park studies all the bicyclists and apply the insights to sports science and traffic safety. Try a different kind of a bicycle in the Sense Valley. The rail bicycle starts from Laupen and ends at the recreation centre at Wittenberg. It takes you through some of the most scenic countryside in Bern.

Test your driving skills at the go-karting track in Expodorm. Compete with your friends as you zoom across the race course. But the Gantrisch Rope Park inside the Lägeney Forest is a far more challenging course that will test your stamina and strength. People of all ages are allowed to participate and there are over eight different rope courses that will test your mettle.

The River Arre, which originates from the Bernese Alps is a great hub of activity for locals and tourists alike, especially in summer. Some of the activities that you can do here include swimming, rafting, stand-up paddling, tubing and river surfing. The city has created four riverside pools which offer a safe swimming area for new and inexperienced swimmers. You can enjoy swimming the river without any worries.

Shopping in Bern:

Shopping can be quite an experience in Bern. From high fashion brands to chic boutiques and quaint antique stores, you have your choices laid out in front of you. The 6-kilometre-long shopping boulevard, Lauben, in Old Town is no less than a shopping paradise. Here you can shop for stationery and crafts, antiques, home essentials, clothes, jewellery and accessories on a single street.

Lauben is an eclectic mix of exclusive brand showrooms and small boutiques. Another place to get your shopping done is at Bern’s covered shopping arcades near the city centre. You’ll find an interesting mix of antique dealers, art galleries, fashion boutiques and theatres. Apart from these there’s an abundance of weekly markets selling everything from fresh produce to souvenirs. You can also unearth some hidden treasures at Bern’s second hand shops, known as Brokenstube.

Then there’s Migros, the largest retail store in Switzerland where you can get all your shopping done, if you’re not too keen on spending days in shopping. Shopping essentials in Bern include Swiss chocolates, watches and an assortment of souvenirs to carry back home. However, do note apart from those in airports and trains stations, most shops in Bern remain closed on Sundays.

Cuisine Of Bern:

With its fresh cheeses, succulent meats and mellow wines, Bern is a gourmet’s paradise. The city is known for its quality sausages which are usually served with a side of fermented cabbage. The Swiss favourite, Rosti, was first created in Bern. Potato is a staple of Bernese cuisine and features in most of the dishes.

The city is full of restaurants, new and old, that have earned themselves quite a reputation among their patrons. The Altes Tramdepot serves up its ‘Bernese plate’ of assorted meats and cheeses to the accompaniment of beautiful views of the Old Town and Aare river. The menu is an eclectic mix of Swiss, French and Asian cuisines. The Kornhauskeller is a culinary gem located inside a cellar that features a cafe, bar, lounge as well as a restaurant. It serves Mediterranean cuisine in a luxurious ambience marked by high stone arches and stunning ceiling frescos.

The Della Casa is over a hundred years old and offers a quintessentially Swiss menu in a simple setting. A friendly atmosphere and the traditional fare have made it a favourite among the locals. Moléseon is yet another culinary institution that has been around since 1865. Its ornate mirrors, mellow lighting and beautiful stained-glass windows do not detract from the food it serves.

 

Interesting Facts About Bern:

  • The bear is Bern’s symbol because it was the first animal that the city’s founder came across on his hunt. The city also gets its name from the bear.
  • Technically Switzerland has no capital. Bern’s official title is Bundesstadt, which means federal city, and not Hauptstadt or capital city.
  • The Cathedral of St Vincent’s Gothic tower is 101 metres tall and is the tallest cathedral spire in Switzerland. It also houses Switzerland’s largest bell weighing in at 10,000 kg.
  • Toblerone was created by Theodore Tobler in Bern in the year 1908 and the factory is still in production.
  • Another sweet favourite, Ovaltine, was also created in Bern in 1904 by Dr. Albert Wander.
  • Bernese German is the most widely spoken language in Bern followed by Italian and French in that order.
  • The Paul Klee Museum in Berlin, shaped like cresting waves, holds about 40% of the artist’s artwork.
  • With its population of over 1,40,000 people, Bern is the fourth-largest city of Switzerland.

 

Location Of Bern:

Bern is located on the Swiss Plateau, slightly to the west of the country’s centre. The region around Bern was carved out by the glaciers during the most recent ice age. Originally settled on a hilly peninsula surrounded by River Aare, the city grew and spilled over to the other side of the river. The two sides of the city are now connectedly by a number of bridges that span the river.

 

Best Time to Visit:

Summer (between June to August) is the best season to visit Bern. The warmer temperatures and the pleasant weather encourage outdoor activities. Form hiking to paragliding you will be able to enjoy a whole range of summer activities in and around the city. The hiking trails are buzzing with activity and the riverfront resonates with the sounds of summer. Sway to the tunes at the four-day Gurtenfestival and party in the street at the Buskers Street Music Festival. Explore Bern on two wheels and cycle your way through the Gantrisch Nature Park. All-in-all summer lets you experience Bern at its best.

 

How to Reach Bern:

Bern does not have an international airport of its own. Zurich Airport is the closest one where you can fly in from India. You can catch direct or connecting flights from any of India’s big cities such as Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi and Kolkata. Some of the major airlines operating this route are Lufthansa, Qatar Airways, Oman Air, Swiss Air and Air India.

From Zurich Airport, you can proceed to Bern in two ways, train and taxi. Two trains, IC1 and IC8, run directly to Bern and take 1 hour and 15 minutes to complete the journey. The ticket is around 23 Euros and a train is available every 20 to 40 minutes. A taxi takes 1 hour and 30 minutes to reach Bern in normal traffic conditions and the journey costs between 350 to 400 Euros.

Bern will amaze you as a holiday destination. A Thomas Cook holiday will ensure that you do not miss out on what Bern has to offer. Book your holiday online or visit your nearest Thomas Cook branch for a customised Swiss holiday.

Language Spoken

German

Currency used:

Swiss Francs

JUN-AUG 14 to 24oC
SEP-NOV 4 to 20oC
DEC-FEB -1 to 5 oC
MAR-MAY 2 to 18oC

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Best Bern Tourism Guide

The old town of Bern is the capital of Switzerland which makes it a rather important place to visit when you set out to explore the country. The Old town can make for quite enriching Bern holidays, since it promises rich heritage strewn over the place. Being listed on the UNESCO World Heritage Site also works in favor for Bern  , since lots of tourists go for this tour to experience the touch of Swiss legacies.

The Historical Museum and Federal Palace Bundeshaus can be interesting inclusions of your Bern travel packages as the exhibitions and historical collections can speak a lot about the country’s past. Fountains and Clock towers are very common along the streets, which you can see as you set out for your Bern tour.

The Bear Park is an inseparable part of Bern holiday packages, which can be a special treat for animal lovers and kids. The parks of Gurten and Rosengarten are other notable attractions which you can visit when you go on a trip to Bern.

The open air Gurtenfestival, International Jazz Festival and the annual street musician festival of Buskers Bern are popular reasons that make music lovers and tourists travel. The foodies can treat their taste buds with the traditional Swiss and Bernese cuisines, fondues and soups, as they sign up for the Bern vacation packages.

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