Bern
Switzerland
By Amy Meekings

Bern, at first glance, looks like something from the imagination. It almost seems too picturesque to be real. Sitting amongst weaving rivers and guarded by the surrounding mountains, the city would need a backdrop like this to do it justice. It is a city steeped in history and culture. All aspects of this city lead to one word - enchanted.

To get here you can fly into the local international airport simply named Bern Airport (BRN). The more elaborately named EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg (EAP) is located in France but is only 66 miles away. If you prefer to stay within Swiss limits, Zurich Airport (ZRH) is a short distance further. Let WhatsCheaper.com help you find a deal on a flight; it’s as easy as clicking here (http://www.whatscheaper.com/flight.php). Also need a hotel? We can find deals for that too by another simple click here (http://www.whatscheaper.com/hotel.php).

If you love museums, this destination will not disappoint. Albert Einstein lived in the city from 1903 - 1905 and in this time developed his theory of relativity. His old apartment has been restored to the style of the time and turned into the Einstein Museum where you can learn about his life and works. If you want to learn more about Einstein and his work, you can wander down to the Bern Historical Museum. Once there immerse yourself in the history of Bern and get lost imagining yourself amongst the ages. The Paul Klee Museum is home to the largest collection of his art in the world and is encased in a building of incredible architecture. If these museums aren’t enough to satisfy the quest for knowledge, you can also visit the Natural History Museum, the Museum of Communication, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Swiss Rifle Museum, I think you get the idea...

To truly appreciate the age of the city, a visit to the Old Town should be made, which dates back to 1191. The Zytglogge (Clock Tower) is a main attraction in the center of Old Town. The clock was a centerpiece, both physically and metaphorically, as it was the main clock used for official and informal business alike. Form and function have come together beautifully in the town, and there are no better examples than places like The Parliament Buildings, The Lower Gate Bridge and the Bern Cathedral.  The town plays host to an array of sparkling fountains which are a recurring feature around Bern. They were originally built as the main water supply but are now an attraction in themselves - eleven of them have Renaissance allegorical statues incorporated.

If you prefer having the sun on your face there is plenty to do outside. The Bear Park is a good first stop. Recently redesigned, it started out in medieval times as a bear pit  in which bears were kept as a symbol of the city. Now the bears are given more space to roam and is an extension of the Zoological Gardens. Both are worth a visit and take you on a relaxing walk along the Aare river.

The parks are not just limited to appreciating the fauna. The Botanical Gardens sit on 5 acres right in the center of the city. There are 6000 different plant species from all around the world, and there are several greenhouses throughout making it a place to visit year round. A little further out and you find The Rose Garden with a view of Old Town and the Aare River. 220 different types of roses are on display here and are a feast for the eyes. In 1967 the park was renovated to include azaleas, rhododendrons and an iris garden. The garden is not just a place to walk, but also has green areas in which to sit and take in the sights and smells.

For a more exhilarating outdoor experience, visit the rope park in Bern, or head further out to the Grantrisch Rope Park situated in Grantrisch Nature Park. Hiking is plentiful in the area, with stunning views of the Alps and the Emmental region. Luckily you don’t have to hike to get the views. Take the Gurten funicular from Warben, just down the road from Bern, for a fun ride. But if you are feeling energetic, you can hike up Gurten Mountain which is 2,835 above sea level. Once you’re hot and sweaty, come back down to the banks of the Aare for a swim in the Marzili, a river pool in front of the Parliament Buildings. Or you can head to many other points along the river for a refreshing swim.

Top the whole experience off with a visit to one of the varied nightclubs or bars. Here you can find anything from jazz to underground drum and bass to trendy nightclubs in which to showcase your best outfit. Everything is done with an element of style, and luxury sits just around the corner. If you’re feeling lucky, go to the Grand Casino which has the highest payout rate in Switzerland and you may go home with more money than you started with!

Bern has everything you need for a memorable vacation. So what are you waiting for?

MUST SEE IN Bern LIST:

  • 1. Old Town
  • 2. Bear Park & Zoological Park
  • 3. Botanical Gardens
  • 4. Bern Historical Museum
  • 5. Gurten
  • 6. Zytglogge (the Clock Tower)
  • 7. Rose Garden
  • 8. Paul Klee Center
  • 9. Federal Square
  • 10. Bern Cathedral

Bern EVENT CALENDAR:

  • 1. International Jazz Festival - March - May
  • 2. Grand-Prix - May
  • 3. Gurtenfestival - July
  • 4. Busker's Street Music Festival - August
  • 5. Bern Music Festival - September
  • 6. Bern Biennial - September
  • 7. Sichlete (Harvest Festival) - September
  • 8. Cheese Festival - October
  • 9. Onion Market - November
  • 10. SHNIT International Short Film Festival - October

PHOTO GALLERY