From the moment you arrive in Bern and walk out from the Main Train station, you are greeted with lively atmosphere. Bern is compact and you can see it on foot in a couple of hours but I would suggest at least two days here. There are four miles of covered side walks while you meander around and soak in the view of beautiful ancient buildings, renaissance fountains, boutique shops and eateries.
You would think Zurich is the capital of Switzerland since it’s the largest Swiss city but the title goes to Bern. Known as a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its well-preserved old town and long arcades, Bern was chosen as the capital in the 11th century for its strategic position. Legend has it that the Duke named Bern after a bear he encountered whilst hunting in the surrounding forest.
WHAT WE DID :
After arriving from the train station, we grabbed some food to go for lunch and checked in to our hotel. The hotel is a few minutes walk from the train station. Then it was time to explore the Old Town. I felt like I was stepping back in time, the time during Medieval period and reminded me of Praque, another similar charming city. The cobbled streets are lined with covered arcades which date back to the 15th century. Within these arcades you’ll see a variety of boutique shops, wine bars and restaurants. You’ll see fountains everywhere. I carry a bottle of water and fill it up on these fountains when needed.
Right in the middle of Old town is the famous 16th century Zytglogge Clock Tower. The main attraction is watching the glockenspiel chime, which happens every hour on the hour.
Walk by the impressive building of the Federal Palace of Switzerland. If you have time, take a tour of the parliament building. Highly recommend booking early as they do fill up. The tours are offered in German and French and English. If you don’t speak German or French you can still do the tours, the tour guide will give you an information booklet in your language. If you do visit on the tour be sure to have some form of ID – passport or national ID card and some Francs for the lockers. We walked around the back of the parliament where the visitors entrance is, there is a lovely view across the Aare to the Bern Museum.
It was time for dinner and we noticed a restaurant by the river. Once we reached there, I noticed the lovely ambiance. Restaurant Terrasse is a must stop for lunch or dinner. I would recommend making reservations. They were kind enough to find us a seating overlooking the Aare river. The Aare river which surrounds the old city of Bern, so the view is spectacular. We saw a heron sitting out on the water. Beautiful birds and nature to take it in while you eat and drink. You will find fish and Mediterranean dishes. We had Hugo and several dishes. The food were tasty with local flavors. They had some Asian influenced dishes as well.
The waitress were friendly. We got some small tasting complimentary from the chefs. Also plenty of seating inside and outside and great for groups as well.
On the way to Bear park ( Barenpark) we noticed the Rose Garden which had a great aerial view of Bern, the town with all its sights and landmarks. The weather was clear and the view extends far beyond the city to Bern’s local mountain and Alps. The Rosengarten is home to a variety of roses and a great photo op.
As we approach the Bear park, I saw the open-air park. Bears were adopted as an emblem as long ago as the 12th century.
Bern has kept its own bears since at least the 16th century, and they were moved to this park on the opposite bank of the Aare River in 1857. Then a new space was opened next to the original pit.
The two enclosures are linked by a tunnel, and we saw the three bears that lived here at the moment Finn, Björk and Ursina. They were eating, playing and swimming. A must see!