The capital of Switzerland — a traveler’s guide to Bern

Capital of Switzerland: views of Bern's old town

A beautiful country should have a beautiful capital — and Bern lives up to Switzerland’s high standards. Here, you’ll find a lovely Old Town, beautiful fountains, and a sparkling river. For a city break with a breath-taking backdrop, head to the capital of Switzerland.

If you’re looking for quick information about Bern, you’ve come to the right place. This April, it’s our Swiss City of the Month.

Capital of Switzerland: winter views
Photo by Geerk

Exploring the capital of Switzerland

The capital of Switzerland is extremely walkable, so it’s best to explore the old town on foot. Remember to take your camera and a little bit of money on your first excursion. That way, you can capture Bern’s charm and buy yourself a souvenir while you’re out and about.

If you like exploring beautiful cities, you’re in for a treat! Gorgeous Bern has retained its medieval magic throughout the centuries, and the Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The sandstone buildings, red roofs, and fountains are picture-perfect reminders of the past.

In fact, the fountains are one of the city’s most iconic symbols, dating all the way back to the Middle Ages. Although modern Bernese residents can access clean water at home, the fountains are still an integral part of the city culture. Elaborate and colorful, many of the fountains are decorated to recount history or tell legends. (For example, the Kindlifresserbrunnen, or Ogre Fountain, shows a giant ogre eating young Bernese children.)

The Old Town is also famous for its arcades (covered walkways used for shopping). With about 3.75 miles (6 kilometers) of arcades located in the capital of Switzerland, Bern has one of the longest shopping promenades in Europe. Even if you’re not a shopaholic, you should at least stop by to admire the architecture.

Keep an eye on the time, and check out the Zytglogge (Clock Tower) at four minutes before the hour, when the tower comes to life with a mechanically animated show. Small figurines chase each other and dance all around the clock, ending only when a wooden knight hits the bell on the hour.

In the summer, the Aare River provides a fun-filled way to spend an afternoon. Since the capital of Switzerland is situated right on the riverbanks, Bernese citizens love swimming and floating in the Aare. Hop in for an authentic Swiss experience!

But Bern offers more than just a fun summer vacation. According to one group of researchers, it’s the most Instagram’ed winter destination in the world, and it’s beautiful under a blanket of snow. With prime skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, and hiking locations nearby, the capital of Switzerland is a great place to explore all year long.

Capital of Switzerland: floating the Aare River
Photo by Kasch

Visit the capital of Switzerland with us

Ready to visit Bern? So are we! Luckily, this charming city is a stop on several of our tours — including Swiss BlissScenic Alps by Rail — Christmas Edition, and Discover Swiss Cuisine — German Inspired.

Of course, the Bernese Alps are extraordinary too. If you can hear them calling your name, check out Exploring the Jungfrau, Bernese Oberland Traverse, and Eiger to the Matterhorn.

We’d love to see you in Bern!

Cover photo by Geerk


Whitney Brown

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