Seven Things to do in Bern, Switzerland

I recently had the opportunity to visit beautiful, beautiful Bern, Switzerland.  Known for its Bears, Beers, Buskers and a Brilliant mind.  Well, at least during my recent trip.  This city was a stop along a larger trip, but totally worth it.  We only spent a day here, but my family and I enjoyed the architecture, food and energy of this beautiful town in Switzerland.  Here are seven things to do while in Bern, Switzerland.

Visit the Famous Bern Bears

A Bern bear lounging in Bear Park in Bern, Switzerland.
Bern Bear lounging in Bear Park in Bern, Switzerland.

Bern is known for its bears. There’s a bear on the flag, many statues around town pay homage to bears, and bear souvenirs are hibernating in the tourist shops.  Honestly, I’m not sure where the bear obsession originated.  I’ve read many theories, but I’ll leave you to explore that further on your own.  The fact is that the city is home to three full-grown bears.  They live in Bear Park (obviously) by the Aare River.  It’s not like seeing a bear in a zoo enclosure.  The park habitat is quite large, remains fairly natural, and there’s a path that encircles the enclosure.  So, seeing the bears is likely.  I saw two of them…possibly all three. 

Dip your toes (or whole body) in the Aare River

Family of three dipping their toes in the Aare River in Bern, Switzerland.
Dipping our toes in the Aare River in Bern, Switzerland.

The frigid and beautiful Aare River borders Bern on three sides.  And it is actually “a thing” to go floating/swimming down the Aare River.  If you’re feeling adventurous, go for it.  Jump in – literally.  I witnessed one guy jump off of one of the bridges into the river.  However, most people I observed took the more conservative approach by wading in from the shore.  If you can make it to the end of the Bern section, you’ll be rewarded by a really great gathering of other adventure seekers at the pub on the shore.  I promised my daughter we would swim in the Aare during July 2020.  Stay tuned for a follow up post on that adventure.

Take a Picture at the Clock Tower (Zytglogge)

There is a beautiful, picturesque clock in Bern that makes for a great photo opportunity if you’re willing to get up early to beat the other tourist to it.  Otherwise, you’ll have a lot of random people in your family photo.  It is quite lovely.  Built in 1530, it is the oldest clock in Switzerland and is said to have inspired Einstein’s Theory of Relativity.  So, something you should definitely see.  Also, it’s quite close to the main streetcar stop for the historic section of town so it’s quite convenient for a photo opportunity.

Tour the Albert Einstein House

Maybe it’s the nerd in me, but I really thought it was awesome to be standing in Albert Einstein’s former living room and lean out the window to look at the view that he once had of the main street.  Besides being in the same place that once housed a brilliant mind, there was also an extremely informative video about Einstein’s life.  I learned so much more about him, his family and his struggles.  Once you tour Einstein’s apartment try the café on the first floor. 

Relax at a Local Brewery

There’s a restaurant at the top of Bear Park called Altes Tram Depot Brewery & Restaurant that brews its own beer and has a lovely view of the park, Aare River and Bern.  Sit on the balcony and drink it in – the view and the beer.  A beer and some bears (sorry I couldn’t help it).  There’s a gelato stand close by as well.  My husband and I got our daughter a gelato, while we enjoyed our beers.  It made for a great afternoon break from touring the city.  The beer was quite good.


View of the Aare River in Bern, Switzerland.
Strolling along the Aare River in Bern, Switzerland.

Bern is a very strollable city.  The historic section is not very large and has plenty of markers to help you get your bearings. Stroll along the river, or throughout the city.  Both are beautiful.  The river stroll is quieter and you can watch people swimming along the Aare River and the views are amazing.  Strolling through the city offers plenty of shops, dining options and architecture. If you stroll along the outskirts of the walled section of Bern at the higher altitude, you will be rewarded with breathtaking views.

Enjoy Buskers Bern

So, we were fortunate enough to accidently tour Bern during the Buskers Bern festival.  It is an annual event that celebrates street performers. There’s music, dance, theater, street performances, art and acrobatics at about 25 different venues.  Talented, high quality performers.  I must also mention that for the amount of people that were at this festival, no one got too rowdy.  Everyone stayed very civil.  Plan your trip around it.  You’ll be very happy you did.

Friendly Observations:

  • People drink straight from the fountains in town.
  • Use public transportation because parking in the Old Town is quite difficult.

I’m sure there is much more to do and see in Bern, Switzerland, but like I mentioned, we were only there for a day.  If you’ve been to Bern, Switzerland, please let me know your thoughts in the comments below.  If you haven’t already been to Bern, which of these seven would you most like to experience?

Happy travels.

Published by Lex

Hi, I'm Lex! I moved to Europe in July 2019 and my goal is to seize every opportunity to explore this beautiful continent. I hope you will join me on this crazy adventure. Quick facts about me: I'm a mother of one and a wife. In addition to my husband and daughter, I also love coffee, wine, kickboxing, history, architecture, photography and reading.

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