Bern Old Town with Gothic Munster (Cathedral) in background.

Getty Images/Lonely Planet Images



Bern’s 15th-century Gothic cathedral boasts Switzerland’s loftiest spire (100m); climb the 344-step spiral staircase for vertiginous views. Coming down, stop by the Upper Bells (1356), rung at 11am, noon and 3pm daily, and the three 10-tonne Lower Bells (Switzerland’s largest). Don’t miss the main portal's Last Judgement, which portrays Bern’s mayor going to heaven, while his Zürich counterpart is shown into hell. Afterwards wander through the adjacent Münsterplattform, a bijou clifftop park with a sunny pavilion cafe.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Bern attractions

1. Einstein-Haus Bern

0.08 MILES

Housed in the humble apartment that Einstein shared with his young family while working at the Bern patent office, this small museum includes a 20-minute…

2. Zytglogge

0.19 MILES

Bern’s most famous Old Town sight, this ornate clock tower once formed part of the city’s western gate (1191–1256). Crowds congregate to watch its…

3. Kindlifresserbrunnen


Bern is home to 11 decorative 16th-century fountains depicting historic and folkloric characters. The most famous is Kindlifresserbrunnen (Ogre Fountain),…

4. Schweizerisches Alpines Museum

0.28 MILES

The Swiss Alpine Museum hosts special exhibitions; its permanent collection of relief maps and Alpine mountaineering exhibits are kept under wraps.

5. Berner Altstadt

0.28 MILES

Bern’s flag-bedecked medieval centre has 6km of covered arcades and cellar shops and bars descending from the streets. After a devastating fire in 1405,…

6. Historisches Museum Bern

0.31 MILES

Tapestries, diptychs and other treasures vividly illustrate Bernese history from the Stone Age to the 20th century in this marvellous castle-like edifice,…

7. Bundeshaus

0.35 MILES

Home of the Swiss Federal Assembly, the Florentine-style Bundeshaus (1902) contains statues of the nation’s founding fathers, a stained-glass dome adorned…

8. BärenPark

0.36 MILES

A popular etymological theory is that Bern got its name from the bear (Bär in German), when the city’s founder, Berthold V, duke of Zähringen, snagged one…