Things to do in
Bern

With its medieval old town, oriental hammam, and proximity to the Alps, the Swiss capital caters to all.

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Our most recommended things to do in Bern

Bern: 90-Minute Stroll Through the Old Town

1. Bern: 90-Minute Stroll Through the Old Town

On this 90-minute stroll through Bern’s Old Town, your local guide will tell you about the city‘s 8 centuries of history. On rainy days, you can still enjoy this atmospheric area, as the arcades provide shelter. Admire the late Gothic Cathedral (Münster) with its stunning portal and rendering of the Last Judgment. See the 13th-century Clock Tower (Zytglogge), where you can watch the fascinating show that happens on the hour. Who knows, you might even meet up with a member of the Federal Council in front of the Parliament building! Come along and discover the charms of the Swiss capital and this UNESCO World Heritage Site on a pleasant and leisurely walk.

Bern: Zytglogge - Tour through the Clock Tower

2. Bern: Zytglogge - Tour through the Clock Tower

Conceived in the 1300s, the clock tower is one of the remainders of Bern's first city walls. For over 600 years, the clock has struck on the hour. Inside, time seems to stand still and cool solitude awaits. The reliable ticks of the Middle Age technology impart a steadiness to visitors. Approximately 130 steps to the top of the spiral staircase lead you to a lookout platform. From here, see the roofs of the old city and maybe even the Alps. Visit the clockwork with your guide and follow the puppet show step by step until the famous rooster crows.

Swiss Travel Pass: Unlimited Travel on Train, Bus & Boat

3. Swiss Travel Pass: Unlimited Travel on Train, Bus & Boat

The Swiss Travel Pass is a must-have for any traveler to Switzerland. You can enjoy unlimited access by public train, bus, and boat to over 90 cities and towns and benefit from free entrance to 500+ museums, discounted city tours, and access to private and scenic trains with a pre-requisite seat reservation. There are two broad types of Swiss Travel Pass: Continuous and Flexi, with an option to choose from 3, 4, 8, and 15 days. Apart from it being an ‘all-in-one’ pass which allows a traveler to access all modes of public transportation within the country, it also offers numerous other benefits on the mountain excursions. So be it the adventurous, the avid or the leisure traveler, you will have the chance to make the most of your Switzerland Travel Pass.

Bern: Hammam and Spa Admission

4. Bern: Hammam and Spa Admission

The Bernese Hammam has been installed in a former building which was home of one of the first Gas boiler in Switzerland, an octagonal building. The oriental spa represents the latest magnificent manifestation of a tradition spanning two millennia. Enjoy a unique bathing experience across four floors.  The bathing ritual is based on the gradual warming up and cleansing of the body and follows a fixed course. Begin with the so-called "pestemal", a cotton cloth that binds to the body. In the first herbal steam room , Sogukluk, feel your body being warmed to 38 degrees Celcius.  In the second room, Kese, your body is scrubbed with a rough glove to remove dead skin cells.  "Sicaklik" is the central room in the middle of the octagon with the warm relaxation bath.  After the bath, the next step is the steam room. In the "Bingül" your pores open to the hot herbal steam at 48° Celcius. In the fifth room, "Lif", the second exfoliation with soap takes place. On a big warmed umbilical stone let your body relax and dive into the comfort of the hammam.

From Zurich/Lucerne: Berne Capital and Countryside Day-Trip

5. From Zurich/Lucerne: Berne Capital and Countryside Day-Trip

Enjoy a small group tour of the Swiss capital of Berne, with round-trip transfers by air-conditioned minibus from either Zurich or Lucerne. Drive along scenic roads through stunning landscapes, and get a flavor of the rural highlights of the Entlebuch Valley (Switzerland's first UNESCO Biosphere) and Emmental Valley. See some of the many farms scattered across the pristine moors and Alpine pastures. Cross the border to the idyllic Emmental Valley to reach Trubschachen. Here, enjoy a biscuit tasting at the Kambly Experience and discover the origins of Switzerland's best-known premium biscuit brand. Learn the fine art of biscuit making and watch master confectioners at work. Indulge in the unique flavors of Kambly's biscuits, tasting as many of the tantalizing varieties as you like. Continue through typical Bernese back country en route to the capital. Upon arrival in Berne, burn off some calories on an informative walking tour of the charming Old Town. Marvel at the late Gothic architecture of the cathedral (Münster). Stroll under characteristic arcades to the Zytglogge (Clock Tower). Pay a visit to the Parliament building overlooking the beautiful River Aare. Then, enjoy some time at leisure for lunch (not included) and some souvenir shopping. Continue in the afternoon through the fascinating rural landscapes of the Emmental Valley. Admire the vast roofs that shelter prosperous Emmental farmhouses. Glory in the red of the geraniums in their windows. See grazing cows on green hills producing the best milk; the principal ingredient for Emmental cheese. Stop at the Emmentaler show dairy for the highlight of the day. Tour the show dairy on the audio-visual "King's Way" and learn more about the history of the world's most famous cheese. Marvel at the gigantic wheels of cheese in the impressive cellar before indulging your senses during a cheese tasting only an arm's length away from the master cheesemaker's workplace. Take a picture stop with amazing views over the gentle green hills of the Emmental to the triple peaks of Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau. After, drive back with a goodie bag full of Swiss delicacies collected at the visited attractions throughout the day.

Bern: 1-Hour Must-See Express Tour

6. Bern: 1-Hour Must-See Express Tour

Discover Bern in a nutshell and learn about the history, local lifestyle and modern transformation of the city of Bern during this 1-hour walking experience. This experience is offered by a private local guide. During your walk through Switzerland’s capital, you will learn all about the local lifestyle and politics. You will be able to attain insider tips about cafes, restaurants and bars to visit, plus how to make the most of the city’s nightlife. Walking through the wide, well-organised cobblestone streets, you will discover the city’s many well-known fountains. Discover the famous clock tower and parliament house and stroll on the beautiful paths next to Aare River. Learn about the history and culture of the city from a local who loves the city and wants you to love it too!

Bern: Tour with iPod Audio Guide

7. Bern: Tour with iPod Audio Guide

The iPod audio guide is a kind of personal tour guide. It will lead you through the city, to Bern's most beautiful spots and tell you everything you need to know about this UNESCO World Heritage Site through words and pictures. Enjoy this small multimedia experience and discover Bern in a unique way. Choose from two organized routes. Precise directions will lead you directly to the landmarks, while music by famous artists from Bern provide the soundtrack to your tour. This way of touring presents an all-encompassing experience of the Swiss capital; experience the real characteristics of Bern. Begin the tour at any time you choose and take breaks whenever you want. Follow the outlined routes or pick specific sights you want to see. The iPod Audio Guide is available from Bern Tourismus — the Tourist Information Center at Bahnhof Bern — and at Bärenpark. Leave a deposit, rent an audio guide and return it later.

Bern: City Sightseeing Self-Guided Walking Tour Game

8. Bern: City Sightseeing Self-Guided Walking Tour Game

Get to know the beautiful old town of Bern at your own pace on this interactive scavenger hunt walking tour. You'll explore the city on foot and get points for solving different types of tasks: Find sights: You will use hints to find the best sights and hidden gems throughout the city. The map function in the app will help you get there. Solve questions: Once you’ve arrived at the place you’re looking for, you’ll be asked questions about the sight. Most of the time, the answers are hidden in signs, pictures, etc. A great and fun way to learn new things about the city. Have fun: During the adventure you can also expect exciting photo tasks that require a lot of creativity. If you master the snapshots, you will be rewarded with points. Along the way, you’ll reach amazing places like the "Bundeshaus", "Zytglogge", "Rathaus" and many more! After you book the game, you’ll get a game code via email with instructions on how to play. Head to the “ Käfigturm” and use the code to unlock the game in the app. The tour ends at the “Bärenpark”. The experience is not limited in time. You can explore the city at your own pace and take breaks. Just download the Explorial-App, go to the starting point, and you’re ready to start with the game. The tour lasts on average about 1-2 hours.

From Zürich: Glacier Express Train Round-Trip Private Tour

9. From Zürich: Glacier Express Train Round-Trip Private Tour

Travel on the worldwide known Glacier-Express-Train with a private guide. Enjoy a round trip by train and spend four hours on the panoramic coach from Chur to Brig, crossing 291 bridges, passing 91 tunnels, and climbing up to approximately 7000 feet (2033m) above sea level by train. Experience travel on the Glacier-Express while passing spectacular valleys and mountains. According to your preferences, a short walk around in Chur or Brig can take place (while transfer times to/from Glacier Express). Your guide will show you the changing landscape, answer your questions about the country and its people, and show you a few places away from the tourist flow.

Bern Old City Walking Tour

10. Bern Old City Walking Tour

Learn the story of the capital of Switzerland and its most famous monuments on a 2-hour walking tour of the historic city center. See the large Heiliggeistkirche (Church of the Holy Ghost) in the Old City (Altstadt), where the layout has remained unchanged for centuries. Walk along the Spitalgasse to arrive at the Baerenplatz, built during the 13th century expansion. Admire the government buildings of the Bundesplatz, where many Swiss banks are located, and see the oldest clock in Switzerland at the Zyttglogge. Get the chance to visit the Einstein House Museum, or climb the 344 stairs up the tower of Bern Cathedral. Look over the rooftops of the Old City on the banks of the Aare River with the snow-capped mountains of the Berner Oberland in the background. Discover the old Tramdepot brewery restaurant before ending in the Rosengarten, where the scent of more than 220 different species of roses is coupled with magnificent views of the city.

Planning Your Visit

  • Safety

    Bern is generally a safe place, but normal caution is to be exercised - keep your valuables hidden away and don't leave your belongings unattended!

  • Souvenirs

    Make sure you don't miss out on any of that tasty Swiss chocolate - just wander the central streets of Bern and you'll find more varieties than you ever thought possible!

  • Getting around

    Bern has a steady network of buses and trams - maps are available from any local tourist office.

  • Local lingo

    The country of Switzerland counts no less than four official languages - German is the language of Bern, but just a drive away and you could be speaking French, Italian, or even Romanch!

Good to know

  • Language
    German
  • Currency
    Franc (CHF)
  • Time Zone
    UTC (+02:00)
  • Country Code
    +41
  • Best time to visit
    The spring and fall are best for cool weather temperatures, although summer is when locals and tourists take advantage of many of the water activities and winter is a magical time to see the Alps covered in snow.

Other Sightseeing Options in Bern

Want to discover all there is to do in Bern? Click here for a full list.

What people are saying about Bern

Overall rating

4.5 / 5

based on 499 reviews

The travel pass is a great deal if you need flexibility for a lot of traveling in Switzerland. We‘ve been located in Zurich and visited Geneva, Zermatt, Tessin and another hiking destination and the pass saved us at least 50%. Anyhow, if you can plan all activities in advance or you don‘t plan to travel long distance, consider buying directly at SBB and use their special prices. Note that we haven‘t taken the panoramic trains and the included cablecars so I cannot comment on them.

The activity provider sent the passes quickly. Family Pass was included for the children. The pickup point is a bit confusing for a digital pass, it made me think that the passes will be delivered to the place of our stay (pickup point). Pay close attention to the start date. The activity provider was very helpful and easily reachable.

It's worth it despite the high cost. Just not having to buy each section used at the time is worth it, even for the time savings.

Monica is a wonderful tour guide. Very knowledgeable and educated. I had a great time in Bern. Thank you

Informative and convenient. Clear explanations. Worth the price. Go at your own pace.