Wandering through the picture-postcard, Unesco World Heritage–listed Old Town, with its provincial, laid-back air, it's hard to believe that Bern (Berne in French) is the capital of Switzerland.
Bern’s flag-festooned, cobbled centre, rebuilt in distinctive grey-green sandstone after a devastating 1405 fire, is an aesthetic delight, with 6km of covered arcades, cellar shops and bars, and fantastical folk figures frolicking on 16th-century fountains. From the surrounding hills, you’re presented with an equally captivating picture of red roofs arrayed on a spit of land within a bend of the Aare River.
In a nutshell, Bern seduces and surprises at every turn. Its museums are excellent, its drinking scene dynamic and its locals happy to switch from their famously lilting dialect to textbook French, High German or English – which all goes to show that there’s more to Bern than bureaucracy.
These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Bern.
Whether it’s a guided tour of a historic landmark, private tasting of local delicacies, or an off-road adventure — explore the best experiences in Bern.