Wandering its picture-postcard Old Town, with arcaded stone streets and a provincial, laid-back air, it is hard to believe that Bern (Berne in English and French) is the capital of Switzerland – but it is, plus a Unesco World Heritage Site to boot.
Indeed, on the city’s long, cobbled streets, lined with 15th-century terraced buildings and fantastical folk figures frolicking on fountains since the 16th century, you feel as if you’re in some kind of dizzying architectural canyon. From the surrounding hills, you’re presented with an equally captivating picture of red roofs crammed on a spit of land within a bend of the Aare River.
In a nutshell, Bern captivates. Its drinking scene is dynamic, its alternative arts scene happening and its locals happy to switch from their famously lilting and slow local dialect to English – which all goes to show that there’s more to Bern than bureaucracy.