Switzerland
Berne

Here you’ll find travel reports about Berne. Discover travel destinations in Switzerland of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.

72 travelers at this place:

  • Day1195

    A day in Bern, the Swiss Capital

    October 4 in Switzerland ⋅ ⛅ 12 °C

    Before travelling to Switzerland neither of us would have been able to name its Capital; Bern. Having researched this diminutive city, located in the Mittelland region, we decided it was most definitely worth a visit.

    With the provision of a metered car park (belonging to the Paul Klee museum) just 2km from Bern's central square, we chose a day visit instead of staying overnight at a less central location. Charges came in at 2Sfr (£1.60) an hour, or 7Sfr for the day.

    Bern is a small city, the roads are well designed and despite being a Friday, were quiet, so the drive in was as stress free as any we've experienced.

    Modern, efficient and frequent electric buses had a direct line into the centre, but we thought we'd gain more of a feeling for the area on foot. What immediately struck us was the calm, uncongested and unhurried atmosphere; not what you'd expect in the suburbs of a capital. Well designed and maintained low rise apartments mingled with elegant townhouses and surprisingly, an orchard with a small flock of sheep! Compact gardens and balconies grew colourful flowers, ornamental grasses and shrubs, while ancient Beeches and Horse Chestnuts thrived in larger plots of wild ground. We were definitely liking what we'd seen so far!

    Bern's UNESCO listed Old Town, built between the 12th and 15th centuries, occupies a tongue of land within a sharp meander of the Aare River. Even on this drizzly grey day the view of the terracotta tiled houses rising up from the turquoise blue water made our hearts melt. Protruding above the skyline were the Gothic spire of Bern Münster and the green and gold domes of the parliament buildings, each sporting the square Swiss flag.

    Crossing the arched stone Nydegg Bridge we passed the Bärenpark, home to Finn, Björk and Ursina, three brown bears. Bern has a long history with bears, some even say this is where the city's name originated. These creatures have long been kept in cramped pits, the last one closing in 2009 following the death of its remaining occupant. Whilst this new Bear Park is 6000 square metres with trees and a river fed pool, we weren't convinced with the ethics of keeping bears captive in this city centre confine while tourists leant over the bars of their enclosure trying to attract their attention for photo opportunities.

    Once over the bridge we were caught up in the quaintness of cobbled streets, flanked by porticoed walkways, off which lay a smörgåsboard of boutiques. Many outlets contained skilled crafters making and mending leather goods, watches and shoes. Others sold fabrics, fashion, souvenirs, Swiss Army knives and antique curios. Bern again defied our preconceptions, having the feel more of a high end market town than a major administrative centre.

    So enthralled were we that the need to find food was forgotten, until Vicky turned from Jekyll into Hyde. There were a range of options; fondue, kebab and some really expensive looking restaurants, but mindful of our limited budget we opted to find sustenance at Bread à Porter bakery, who heated up a tasty mozzarella and tomato baguette and a small leek quiche for us.

    Now it was time to see the sights! So compact is the Old Town that we ended up criss crossing the same latticed streets more than once, but first we headed to a viewpoint on Kirchenfeldbrücke, where looking back revealed even better sights of parliament on the left and the cathedral spire on the right. We timed our arrival at the Zytglogge just right. A few tourists were beginning to gather in the fenced off 'tourist photo' areas at the junction under the medieval Clock Tower, while a traffic warden made sure buses didn't have to dodge those focussed on their selfie sticks. At 12:56pm a chime rang out and the miniature carousel of figures embedded into this arched old western gate revolved a quarter turn. For the next four minutes we listened and watched as further notes were struck and the guilded characters came to life; the cockerel flapping its wings and the bell player striking their instrument. The artistry of these and the astronomical clock was impressive, but the hourly event a bit of an anti-climax.

    Next port of call, less than 500m away was the Bundesplatz outside Parliament. The grey skies and dull light didn't show this square, nor the fine sandstone building off to their best, but they were impressive nonetheless and the 26 water jets layed into the paving (one to represent each Swiss canton) added a modern element of fun. Our hope had been to enter and watch the house sitting from a gallery, but arrangements seemed to have changed from when our guidebook was written because we were informed by security that we'd need to book online.

    Nevermind, we'd saved the best for last! The tallest church spire in Switzerland rises 100m and belongs to Bern Münster. For 5Sfr you can scale the tightly spiralled stone staircase at one corner of the bell tower, peaking through tall, narrow, arched openings as you climb to see the terraced rooftops dropping away beneath you. At 46m we emerged onto a walkway leading around the outside of the rectangular structure, before taking another 90 steps to the second, smaller, octagonal gallery platform at 64m. From here we took in Bern's position, cupped amongst lush green hills, with far off views of the snow capped Bernese Alps. We spent a long time enjoying this new found perspective, Vicky was particularly taken with the different hues of hexagonal tiles capping identically shaped dormer windows and surrounding cutesy roof top gardens. Although many were hidden by the arcades lining each cobbled thoroughfare, we still marvelled at how few people we could see. Perhaps Swiss prices make foreign tourists (like us) think twice about visiting, but whatever the reason, Bern's uncrowded, unhurried nature is part of this very likeable city's charm.

    N.B. Special thanks to our friends Cath and Paul. We counted out 10Sfr worth of their centimes to pay for entry to the Münster spire - definitely the highlight of our day!
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  • Day1

    Day 1: Bern

    July 9 in Switzerland ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    So after a smooth journey to Bern, we drop off in the city centre of Switzerland's capital. I am quite impressed by the bikes and people respecting the pedestrian's traffic lights (Amélia doesn't look that overwhelmed). Another thing that impresses us is that a shower here can be up to 12 €!

    We follow the main street until the bridge, not without admiring the views from the park behind the Swiss Parliament. We see a poor bear locked in an urban zoo (as hipsters we dislike that).

    Afterwards we climb a little hill with incredible views of the whole city, which seems full of vegetation and just beautiful. We go back to the train station, checking out the Münster (cathedral) on our way there.
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  • Day3

    Mit der Bahn nach Bern

    April 10 in Switzerland ⋅ 🌧 14 °C

    Heute besuchten wir Bern mit der Bahn, da unser Bus nur 3 Sitzplätze hat, wir aber zu 6. sind. Zuerst liefen wir vom Bahnhof zum kostenlosen Streichelzoo des Berner Zoos. Danach ging es durch das "Botschaftsviertel" zu dem Bärengraben. Auf der Suche nach einem Lokal landeten wir dann an der besetzten Reitschule. Die besetzte Reitschule erinnert sehr an Berlin.Read more

  • Day20

    Oct 9 - Bern

    October 9 in Switzerland ⋅ 🌧 9 °C

    We then headed towards Bern, working our way down through more little villages. The landscape gradually changed and became flatter. Cows don’t need two different lengths of legs here to be able to graze. As we drove, William gave us short synopses on Switzerland’s educational system, its economic status and its political system. Switzerland developed the International Baccalaureate high school graduation program that is recognized world-wide. And of course, Switzerland is renowned for its banking system and its secret bank accounts. Don’t think I have any accounts here…..

    Tonight we are staying in Bern which is the capital of Switzerland. Geneva was deemed to be too French and Zurich was deemed to be too German, so Bern was chosen as a compromise capital city. This is very similar to what happened in Australia where Melbourne and Sydney were both rejected in favour of the purpose-built capital city of Canberra. In 1983, the historic old town in the centre of Bern became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Bern has a population of about 140,000. Many of the residents work in federal government type jobs. We drove into the city down embassy row - we waved at the Canadian Embassy.

    Before we got to the hotel, we made one stop - at a bear pit which houses several huge brown bears. “Why??”, you ask? Bern was founded by a nobleman who founded the city and who vowed to name it after the first animal that he encountered on the hunt, which turned out to be a bear. The bear became the heraldic symbol of the city in the 1200s and bears have been kept since the 1400s.

    The hotel we are staying at in Bern is the Hotel Bellevue which is the official guesthouse of the Swiss government. It is located right beside the Swiss Parliament Buildings. Its got a magnificent lounge with a spectacular ceiling (there are a lot of those in Europe) and superb views of the Bernese Alps – always a ‘belle vue’. It’s full of brocade drapes, velvet-covered chairs, polished bronze railings and elegant floral arrangements.

    Our room (alas for just one glorious night) is a suite - with a lovely desk with built-in USB ports, a sofa and an easy chair, a king sized bed (not just two single beds butted up to one another), a separate toilet room, double sinks in the bath/shower room, and a fabulous view of the city and the Aare River. Scenic is spoiling us very badly.

    William took us out for a 45-minute walking tour. We saw the parliament buildings, the Swiss National Bank, the 15th-century astronomical clock, several of the city’s fountains, the house where Einstein lived, the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul (Catholic Church), the Münster of Bern (Swiss Reformed Church) and the City Hall. The rain was kicking up again, so William released us to our own devices for dinner.

    We found the local grocery store and picked up salads, pineapple, honey yogurt, milk and chocolate digestive biscuits. One of the reasons we search out grocery stores is that restaurant meals are incredibly expensive in Switzerland. We considered having spaghetti at a little place - each plate would have been $30. Not happening. While we dined Chez Hotel Suite - pretty posh settings for an indoor picnic - we watched a British TV game show that we have endured before just because it’s in English. The housekeeping staff had been in while we were out to turn down the giant bed and to lay little mats on the floor on each side with a pair of slippers for each of us. We have to be on the bus at 9:00 a.m., so there’s not going to be much time for lounging around wearing our Bern slippers.

    Tomorrow we are off to Luzern (Lucerne) and from there to our final Swiss destination of Zurich.
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  • Day21

    Calgary/Heimweg

    July 25 in Switzerland ⋅ ☀️ 21 °C

    E letschdi Nacht und de der Camper usruhme.... es herrlichs Packchaos fiumriiif😂 denn ab i Flüger und Richtig Heimat 🇨🇭
    Mit 1000ig Idrück ganz viu Gschichte und viu Dankbarkeit gsund und munter in Bärn acho

  • Day174

    Bern

    February 24, 2017 in Switzerland ⋅ ⛅ 4 °C

    Beautiful train trip from Lausanne to Bern, and only one hour 26 minutes. The country side and mountains were beautiful. Got into Bern and spent 3 hours roaming around. Very homogeneous here with all the buildings the same colour of communist green. Very weird. Only spending one night here and then heading to Lucerne. Saw five guys swimming in the river today, holy wow, because I was cold in my down jacket. I had to take a picture of them. Super expensive in this city and so glad I groceries yesterday. Very clean but very tourist driven. They have these shops and restaurants that are in cellars underground. What happens when it rains? Where does the water go? Also noticed that there is no wheelchair access to many sites or cathedrals. When I was here 30 years ago they had the Bern bears in a hole in the ground. The girl at reception said they are still here in hibernation but their hole is bigger.Read more

  • Day65

    Switzerland for a couple of days

    September 16, 2016 in Switzerland ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

    Made it to the capital of Switzerland. The ride out of Treisenberg was great. The old proverb of "what goes up must come down" suited the ride perfectly. The road down the other side was fantastic smooth tar with really well banked corners..just fun. Had to traverse a couple of ranges and the weather was looking a bit ominous but held off. Beautiful country side but with a fair bit of slow traffic including the obligatory milk trucks! The problem with a lot of these roads is that there is nowhere to pull over for pic taking.

    Bern is a mix of old and new like a lot of Europe. I thought Lietchenstein was expensive......just add 10% for Switzerland. Spent a couple of days wandering around the city ang got the shortest hair and beard cut of my life. I went into an African barber shop that advertised cuts for both "black and white". Well by the surprised look on all the faces in the shop when I took a seat, I'd say it had been a while since anyone took the sign at face value. There was a bit of whispeting and pointing and then some big smiles (ftom all of us) before I was invited to take a seat. Anyway great hair cut (a number 1 - took about 3 1/2 minutes) but still cost me £30.

    Next stop Italy and a chance to meet some relatives.
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Bern/Berne/Berna, Bern, Berne, Berna

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