Berne – A historical gem in central Switzerland

by Veronica Reyes, March 4, 2020

Compact, charming and somewhat overlooked. Not precisely the adjectives you would expect to describe the Capital of Switzerland. Berne is indeed a special city and worth every minute!

Berne lies along a narrow loop of the Aare River. Berne was most likely founded by Berthold V, duke of Zähringen as a military post on the frontier between the German-speaking Alemanni and the French-speaking inhabitants of Burgundy. After the extinction of the Zähringen dynasty in 1218, Berne became a free imperial city and in 1353 entered the Swiss Confederation, which it soon began to lead. After a devastating fire ravaged the predominantly wood-built town in 1405, Bern was rebuilt with sandstone. Much of the surroundings have been expanded and modernized but the city center with it’s sandstone buildings still remains intact from that period.

Bern became the political capital of the Swiss Confederation in 1848. It is home of the Federal Palace (Bundeshaus) of the Swiss federal parliament, as well as the administrative and executive offices of the federal government. This impressive structure overlooks the Aare River and the terrace behind it offers best views of the Bernese Alps including Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau.

Modern Berne has evolved in such way, that today, you find something for all tastes and generations. The Swiss Capital is a stunning combination of old and new… Its gorgeous old town is protected UNESCO World Heritage and is embellished with fountains, flowers and a relaxed atmosphere.

Berne is one of those cities where you can just wander around and make the most out of your day. Its streets offer the longest shopping arcades in Europe, so even on a rainy day strolling around is still enjoyable. There are plenty of local restaurants, cafés and museums. A great add up is a relaxing walk along the riverbank (Schwellemätteli), or a float down on river Aare during summertime.

The train station in Berne offers efficient connections in every direction including the Jungfrau region and the French speaking part of the country. For this and many other reasons, Berne is the perfect gateway for travelers which do not want to pack and unpack luggage every day and instead be based and explore Switzerland from one central location.

Recommended places and activities in and around Berne:
– Berne’s house mountain, the Gurten, for best views of the Alps and leisure hiking
– picture-postcard Emmental with its green, rolling hills and the cheese factory in Affoltern
– Walk up to Rosengarten to enjoy best views of the Aare River and the Old Town
– Bernese Oberland with visit to Mt. Schilthorn above the Lauterbrunnen  valley
– the iconic Paul Klee museum, an architectural highlight designed by Renzo Piano, which hosts the world’s most important Klee collection
– Museum of Communication where the development of communication can be experienced through interactive games in a playful way
– the medieval town of Gruyere and the Cailler Chocolate Factory in Broc

Gastronomy in Berne
The extensive number of all sorts of restaurants and bars in Berne will enhance your culinary and cultural experience of Switzerland. Choose between trendy restaurants, one-of-a-kind locations like the Kornhauskeller or roof top terraces with stunning views of the Alps, like the Sky Terrace on top of Hotel Schweizerhof. Try a Cheese Fondue paired with a local white wine at the traditional Restaurant Harmonie next to the Clock Tower or the rich vegetarian and vegan buffet at Tibits, next to the station (one of my favorite restaurants in Switzerland!). Shopping under arcades, great food, a peaceful river and the historical buildings of Berne are the perfect ingredients for a memorable experience.

We will be very happy to assist you planning your stay in Berne and surroundings.  Feel free to contact us anytime!