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BernBernBärn - Top left: Historical Museum, Top right: Federal Palace, Bottom: Aerial view of Bern
Top left: Historical Museum, Top right: Federal Palace, Bottom: Aerial view of Bern
Country Switzerland Coat of Arms of BernBernBärn
Canton Bern
District Bern-Mittelland adminstrative district
46°57′N 7°27′E / 46.95°N 7.45°E / 46.95; 7.45Coordinates: 46°57′N 7°27′E / 46.95°N 7.45°E / 46.95; 7.45
Population 122,658 (2007-12-31)
  - Density 2,377 /km2 (6,157 /sq mi)
Area 51.6 km2 (19.9 sq mi)
Elevation 542 m (1,778 ft)
  - Highest 864 m - Gurten, Bern
  - Lowest 480 m - Aare
Postal code 3000
SFOS number 0351
Mayor (list) Alexander Tschäppät SPS/PSS
Demonym Berner
Surrounded by
(view map)
Bremgarten bei Bern, Frauenkappelen, Ittigen, Kirchlindach, Köniz, Mühleberg, Muri bei Bern, Neuenegg, Ostermundigen, Wohlen bei Bern, Zollikofen
SFSO statistics
BernBernBärn [zoom] is located in Switzerland
Bärn [zoom]

The city of Bern or Berne (German: Bern, pronounced [ˈbɛrn]  ( listen); French: Berne [bɛʀn]; Italian: Berna [ˈbɛrna]; Romansh: Berna [ˈbɛrnə]; Bernese German: Bärn [b̥æːrn]) is the Bundesstadt (federal city, de facto capital) of Switzerland, and, with about 130,000 people [1], the fourth most populous city in Switzerland. The Bern agglomeration, which includes 43 municipalities,[2] has a population of 349,000.[3] Bern is also the capital of the Canton of Bern, the second most populous of Switzerland's cantons.

The official language of Bern is German, but the main spoken language is the Alemannic dialect called Bernese German (even though it does in fact have nothing to do with the German language)[citation needed]. Most people speak both.

The historic center of Bern has been featured in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1983, and Bern is among the world’s top ten cities for the best quality of life.[4]



Bern in 1638

Duke Berchtold V of Zähringen founded the city on the River Aare in 1191 and allegedly named it after a bear (Bär in German) he had killed. It was made an Imperial Free City by the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II in 1218 after Berthold died without an heir. In 1353 Bern joined the young Swiss Confederation, becoming a leading member of the confederation. It invaded and conquered Aargau in 1415 and Vaud in 1536, as well as other smaller territories, thereby becoming the largest city-state north of the Alps. It was occupied by French troops in 1798 during the French Revolutionary Wars, when it was stripped of parts of its territories. In 1831 the city became the capital of the Canton of Bern and in 1848 it additionally became the Swiss capital.

The city grew out towards the west of the boundaries of the peninsula formed by the river Aare. Initially, the Zytglogge tower marked the western boundary of the city from 1191 until 1256, when the Käfigturm took over this role until 1345, which, in turn, was then succeeded by the Christoffelturm (located close to today's train station) until 1622. During the time of the Thirty Years' War two new fortifications, the so-called big and small Schanze (entrenchment), were built to protect the whole area of the peninsula.

A number of congresses of the socialist First and Second Internationals were held in Bern, particularly during World War I when Switzerland was neutral. (See Berne International.)


Aare river in Bern. Background shows the high incline of the riverbank.

Bern lies in the Swiss plateau within the Canton of Bern, somewhat west of the centre of Switzerland and 20 km (12 mi) north of the Bernese Alps. The landscape around Bern was formed by glaciers in the last Ice Age. The two mountains closest to Bern are the Gurten with a height of 958 and the Bantiger with a height of {947 m (3,106.96 ft) . The site of the old observatory in Bern is the point of origin of the CH1903 coordinate system at 46°57′08.66″N 7°26′22.50″E / 46.9524056°N 7.439583°E / 46.9524056; 7.439583.

The city was originally built on a hilly peninsully surrounded by the river Aare but outgrew these natural boundaries in the 19th century. A number of bridges were built to allow the city to grow beyond the Aare.

Bern is built on very uneven ground. There are several dozens of meters in height difference from the quarters on the Aare (Matte, Marzili) to the higher ones (Kirchenfeld, Länggasse).

Bern has an area of 51.6 square kilometers (19.9 sq mi). Of this area, 20.2% is used for agricultural purposes, while 33.5% is forested. Of the rest of the land, 44.2% is settled (buildings or roads) and the remainder (2.1%) is non-productive (rivers or glaciers).[5]



Climate data for Bern
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 2.2
Daily mean °C (°F) -1.2
Average low °C (°F) -3.7
Precipitation mm (inches) 66
Avg. precipitation days 10 9.8 11.3 11.6 13.7 11.8 10 10.9 8.1 8 10.1 10.2 125.5
Source: MeteoSchweiz [6] 8 May 2009


The municipality is administratively subdivided into six districts (Stadtteile), each of which consists of several quarters (Quartiere).


Bern has a population (as of 31 December 2008) of 122,925.[7] As of 2007, 21.7 % of the population was made up of foreign nationals. Most of the population (as of 2000) speaks German (81.2%), with Italian being second most common (3.9%) and French being third (3.6%).

52.7 % of the population are female, 47.3 % are male. The average age is 41 years and nine months. As of 2000 children and teenagers (0–19 years old) make up 15.1%, adults (20–64 years old) 65% and seniors (over 64 years old) 19.9%.

The Swiss population is generally well educated. In Bern about 72.8% of the population (between age 25-64) have completed either non-mandatory upper secondary education or additional higher education (either University or a Fachhochschule).

Bern has an unemployment rate of 3.2%. As of 2005, there were 773 people employed in the primary economic sector and about 104 businesses involved in this sector. 16,484 people are employed in the secondary sector and there are 1,094 businesses in this sector. 131,659 people are employed in the tertiary sector, with 7,638 businesses in this sector.[5]



Bern is governed by the Gemeinderat, an executive council with five members, one of them the elected mayor (Stadtpräsident). The parliament has 80 members and is called Stadtrat. Both the legislative and the executive are elected in general elections for a term of four years. The last elections were held in November 2008 with a 43.48% participation.


The executive council has a left-green majority with two representatives, including the mayor Alexander Tschäppät, of the Social Democratic Party of Switzerland (SPS) and one representative of the leftist Green party Grünes Bündnis (GB). It also has a majority of three woman against two men.

The seat of the Gemeinderat is the Erlacherhof.

The 80 members of the legislative council belong to 18 different political parties, the strongest being the Social Democratic Party with 20 representatives, followed by the conservative Free Democratic Party of Switzerland (FDP) with 10 and the moderate Green party Grüne Freien Liste (GFL) with 9 seats. Both the far right Swiss People's Party (SVP) and the leftist Green party Grünes Bündnis have 8 seats each.

The Stadtrat meets on Thursday evenings at the Rathaus (Town Hall).

The representatives of the Social Democratic Party and of the Green Parties, collectively referred to as "Red-Green-Center" (Rot-Grüne-Mitte), hold a majority in both councils and mostly determine City policy, although no formal coalition agreement exists and, under the system of direct democracy that prevails in Switzerland, most important issues are settled by general vote.

Main sights

The Zytglogge clock tower and the city's medieval covered shopping promenades (Lauben).
Albert Einstein house

The structure of Bern's city center is largely medieval and has been recognised by UNESCO as a Cultural World Heritage Site. Perhaps its most famous sight is the Zytglogge (Bernese German for "Time Bell"), an elaborate medieval clock tower with moving puppets. It also has an impressive 15th century Gothic cathedral, the Münster, and a 15th century town hall. Thanks to 6 kilometers of arcades, the old town boasts one of the longest covered shopping promenades in Europe.

Since the 16th century, the city has had a bear pit (the Bärengraben). The current pit off the far end of the Nydeggbrücke no longer contains any bears, the last being put down in 2009,[8] shortly before the opening of the new bear pit later in the year.

The Federal Palace (Bundeshaus), built from 1857 to 1902, which houses the national parliament, government and part of the federal administration, can also be visited.

Albert Einstein lived in an apartment at the Kramgasse 49, the site of the Einsteinhaus, from 1903 to 1905, the year in which the Annus Mirabilis Papers were published.

The Garden of Roses (Rosengarten), from which a scenic panoramic view of the medieval town centre can be enjoyed, is a well-kept Rosary on a hill, converted into a park from a former cemetery in 1913.

Bern's most recent sight is the set of fountains in front of the Federal Palace. It was inaugurated on August 1, 2004.

Bern features many heritage sites of national significance.[9] Apart from the entire Old Town and many sites within it, these include the Bärengraben, the Gewerbeschule Bern (1937), the Eidgenössisches Archiv für Denkmalpflege, the Kirchenfeld mansion district (after 1881), the Thunplatzbrunnen, the Federal Mint building, the Federal Archives, the Swiss National Library, the Historical Museum (1894), Alpine Museum, Museum of Communication and Natural History Museum.

The Universal Postal Union is situated in Bern.

View of the city.



Movie theaters

Bern has several dozen movie theaters. As is customary in Switzerland, movies are generally shown in their original language (e.g., English) with subtitling in German and French. Only a small number of screenings are dubbed in German.

  • Queersicht - gay and lesbian film festival, held annually in the second week of November.


  • BeJazz Summer and Winter Festival
  • Buskers festival
  • Gurtenfestival
  • Internationales Jazzfestival Bern
  • Queersicht - Queer Filmfestival, annually held second week of November.
  • Taktlos-Festival


  • Zibelemärit - The Zibelemärit (onion market) is an annual fair held on the fourth Monday in November.
  • Berner Fassnacht (Carnival)


The football team BSC Young Boys is based in Bern at the Stade de Suisse Wankdorf, which also is one of the venues for the European football championship.

The Stade de Suisse hosted three matches during the 2008 UEFA Euro Cup tournament.

SC Bern is the major ice hockey team of Bern who plays at the PostFinance Arena.

The PostFinance Arena was the main host of the 2009 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship, including the opening game and the final of the tournament.

Bern Cardinals is the baseball and softball team of Bern, which plays at the Allmend

Bern Grizzlies is the American football club in Bern and plays at Sportanlage Schonau.

Bern was a candidate to host the 2010 Winter Olympics, but withdrew its bid in September 2002 after a referendum was passed that showed that the bid was not supported by locals. Those games were eventually awarded to Vancouver, Canada.


The University of Bern, whose buildings are mainly located in the Länggasse quarter, is located in Bern, as well as the University of Applied Science (Fachhochschule) and several vocations schools.


Tram station on the Bahnhofplatz

Bern is well connected to other cities by several highways (A1, A12, A6).

Public transport works well in Bern, with tram, S-Bahn and bus lines which connect the different parts of the City. Bern Rail Station connects the City to the national and international train network. A funicular leads from the Marzili quarter to the Bundeshaus. This funicular is, with a length of 106 m (347.77 ft), the second shortest public railway in Europe after the Zagreb Funicular. Several Aare bridges connect the old parts of the city with the newer quarters outside of the peninsula.

Bern is served by Bern Airport, located outside the city near the town of Belp. The regional airport, colloquially called Bern-Belp or Belpmoos, is connected to several Swiss and European cities.

Notable people

External links


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Berne [1] (German: Bern), the capital of Switzerland, is a small to medium sized city with a population of about 130,000 in the city proper and roughly 350'000 in the agglomeration area. It sits on a peninsula formed by the meandering turns of the river Aare. The remarkable design coherence of the Berne's old town has earned it a place on the UNESCO World Heritage List. It features 4 miles of arcaded walkways along streets decked out with fountains and clock-towers. Bern was one of the eight host cities in the 2008 European Football Championships.

High technology for the 13th century. The 'Zytglogge' clock tower is found in the center of the old-town.
High technology for the 13th century. The 'Zytglogge' clock tower is found in the center of the old-town.


Berne was founded in 1191 by Duke Berthold V von Zähringen and was part of the Holy Roman Empire. It was made a free imperial city by the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II in 1218 after Berthold died without an heir.

In 1353 Berne joined the Swiss confederation. After several successful conquers, Berne became the largest independent city state north of the alps. It was occupied by French troops in 1798 during the French Revolutionary Wars, and was stripped of a large part of its territory. The city became the Swiss capital in 1848.


The main language spoken in Berne is Bernese-German, one of the many Swiss-German dialects which all vary greatly from what the Swiss and Germans call Hochdeutsch/High German, and are difficult to understand even for Germans. Like all Swiss-German dialects, Bernese-German is only a spoken language. For writing, the standard German (Hochdeutsch/High German) is used.

English seems to be supplanting French as the favorite second language of the Bernese, even though the canton of Berne is a bilingual German and french speaking canton.

Get in

Berne is in the center of Switzerland and is very well connected with the rest of the country.

By plane

Berne's small international airport [2] with direct flights from Amsterdam, Berlin, London, Munich, Vienna and other european cities lies just a few kilometers south of the city. A taxi ride into the city costs approx. CHF 30, the airport shuttle bus takes you to the railway station in the center of Berne for CHF 14.

Berne is connected to Zurich Airport with half-hourly direct trains (less than 1.5 hours).

By train

Bern is conveniently located in the vast network of Swiss Federal Railway between Geneva, Basel and Zurich and is served twice per hour by express (InterCity) trains from the airports of each of these cities. Hourly express trains take you into all directions, including Interlaken, Brig, and Lucerne.

For more information:

  • Swiss Federal Railway, +41 (0)900 300 300 (CHF 1.19/min), [3]. Provides a useful online travel planner which includes information about local bus and tram services as well as rail services and can plan your journey from door to door.  edit
  • Swiss travel System, [4]. is a great source of information for finding the best ticket as a tourist. It is a must to visit, as regular, full fare tickets are expensive. This site tells you what is the best option for your needs.  edit

By car

Berne is easily reachable with the national motorway network from all directions and has several exits from motorways A1, A12 and A6.

The church Münster seen from Kirchenfeldbruecke
The church Münster seen from Kirchenfeldbruecke

Berne has an excellent public transportation system, with frequent local city services provided by trams, trolleybuses and buses, together with an S-Bahn rail system for longer journeys into the surrounding suburbs.

By foot

The city center of Berne is easily accessible by foot. You can get around the main shopping area and restaurants simply by walking. But if you are going to go outside of the city center in areas like Guisanplatz, it's better to go by tram unless you want to be walking for 45 minutes.

  • Bernmobil, +41 (0)31 321 88 88, [5]. Operator of the local tram and bus services, and provides timetables and other information on its web site or by telephone.  edit

Ticket for one ride (Einzelbillette) is CHF3.80; daily pass (Tageskarte) is CHF12 (2008). The city used to provide a "Berncard", an integrated ticket good for unlimited rides on all modes of transport within the city and the surrounding area (including the Gurtenbahn funicular to the top of the Gurten hill - see below) as well as free or discounted admission to many of the museums and attractions for the price of CHF20/31/38 for 24/48/72 hours from the moment of validation. As of October 2009, the card is not offered anymore.

By rail

Berne's S-Bahn rail system will take you to many places in the suburbs and even to other nearby cities like Biel, Thun, Fribourg or Solothurn.

  • S-Bahn Bern, +41 (0)31 327 27 27, [6]. Web site in German only.  edit

By car

As in most Swiss cities, free parking space is rare and the paying ones in the city center are quite expensive. As the center is quite small and all of the major attractions are within a mile walking distance it's a good choice to park in a "park and ride" and take public transport to the center of town.

By bike

You can get a free bike for four hours at "Hirschengraben". All you need is an ID and 20 CHF for deposit, and you can explore Berne by bike. After four hours, you'll have to pay 1CHF each hour. The "Hirschengraben" is less than five minutes away from the main train station. It's a stop for trams. Ask somebody, it's easy to find!

The Federal Palace of Switzerland
The Federal Palace of Switzerland
Zentrum Paul Klee
Zentrum Paul Klee

Berne is full of history and museums. It also has quite a bit of public art, all of which is marked on a walking map which is available from the tourist office in the train station for free.

  • Berne Historical Museum, Helvetiaplatz 5, +41 (0)31 350 77 11, [7]. Monday closed. Switzerland's second largest historic museum, combining under one roof one of the country's most important ethnographic collections together with the Bernese historical collections from prehistory to the present day.  edit
  • Bundeshaus (Federal Palace of Switzerland), Bundesplatz 3, [8]. The Swiss House of Parliaments is a representative building dominating the Square. Constructed by the end of 19th century. Free guided tour when the Parliament is not in session. During session only access to the spectators ranks. Free.  edit
  • Einsteinhaus, Kramgasse 49, +41 (0)31 312 00 91 (), [9]. 10AM to 5PM (4PM Saturdays) March to October, 1PM to 5PM (Noon to 4PM Sat) March and February. Einsteinhaus is closed on Sundays in March and February. Its completely closed in January. Albert Einstein rented this small flat with his wife during his years working at the Swiss patent office. Their first child, Hans Albert, and the special and general theories of relativity were born here, where Einstein's writing desk overlooked the busy street and its lovely clock-tower. There are numerous photos and original documents from Einstein's life, work, and speeches. CHF 6/4.5 Adults/Students..  edit
  • Invasion of Berne -- successful!, [10]. As you explore, you may notice these small alien graffiti mosaics. GAME NOT OVER was declared by the anonymous Parisian artist "Invader" in 1998. Since then, space invaders have been reappearing on the walls, bridges and roofs of cities across the world, most famously on the Hollywood sign and in several locations in the Louvre. Two additional Swiss cities have been invaded: Geneva and Lausanne. Those with 10 EUR, a longer visit, and a weird sense of humor might consider ordering a map and doing the space invader tour.  edit
  • Kunstmuseum (Museum of fine Arts), Hodlerstrasse 12, +41 (0)31 328 09 44, [11]. Closed on Mondays. The Museum of Fine Arts Berne is known for its collection of works of painters such as Pablo Picasso, Ferdinand Hodler and Meret Oppenheim. It is the oldest art museum in Switzerland with a permanent collection and houses works covering eight centuries.  edit
  • Swiss Alpine Museum, Helvetiaplatz 4, +41 (0)31 350 04 40, [12]. A museum showing the full variety of the Swiss mountains.  edit
  • Tierpark Dählhölzli (Zoo), Tierparkweg 1, +41 (0)31 357 15 15, [13]. Summer: 8AM - 6:30PM, Winter: 9AM - 5PM. Berne's zoo is located along the Aare river, with many outdoor enclosures that actually integrate the river.  edit
  • Zentrum Paul Klee, Monument im Fruchtland 3 (Bus No. 12 to the end of the line), +41 (0)31 359 01 01, [14]. 10-17 except closed Mon.. The Paul Klee centre which is in a modern wave-shaped building presents the world's most important collection of works by Paul Klee (rotating exhibition drawn from 4000 works, or 40% of his oeuvre). If you plan on visiting, then the CHF20 "Berne card" validated for that day (show it at the ticket counter to receive a complimentary pass) is totally worth its price - you'll spend about that for bus round trip and the ticket alone. CHF16 ('08).  edit
  • Zytglogge, [15]. The Clock Tower near the center of the old town, built around the turn of the 13th century, is a great thing to see. On the hour, every hour throughout the day, there is a stunning display of early animatronic technology. The locals are proud to tell you it's "the longest running act in show business". A few minutes before the hour, it begins with a little song and some drumming by a jester on top. On the hour, bears and an old bearded king get into the act. It's great for kids to see. The clock tells time too, as well as the month, day, sign of the zodiac and phase of the moon. There are guided tours inside the tower that will let you have a look at the clockwork while the show is displayed outside. It can be booked at the tourist office and is definitely worth it if you love mechanics. Free.  edit
The View from Gurten Hill
The View from Gurten Hill
  • Bear Pits. Opening hours: Summertime: 8AM - 5:30PM, Wintertime: 9AM - 4PM. Berne is inseparably linked with bears. According to legend the city’s founder, Duke Berchtold V von Zähringen, named the city after the first animal to be caught here. The saga lives on in the form of the real-live bears in the Bear Pits and the heraldic bear in the Bernese coat of arms. Members of the RSPCA might find the pits quite depressing. The good news are that they will be enlarged within the years to come. The bears will even have the possibility to go for a swim in the river. The Bear Pits can be easily reached by bus number 12 from the railway station in Berne in direction Zentrum Paul Klee. Free.  edit
  • Gurten, [16]. The Gurten is a lovely hill just outside the city. It features a park and great view over the city on one side and a nice panorama of the Bernese alps on the other. The park is visited heavily by locals to play ball, to barbecue or to just lie in the sun. Tourists are not an unusual sight, though this little attraction is missed by most of the many that visit the city. Hiking paths lead in all directions and you will almost certainly stumble across some cows when walking around. A wooden look-out tower allows an even better panorama than that you would already have. If you get hungry or thirsty, a good budget restaurant service and self-service provides you with all you need. Families with children should not miss the cool playground. The Gurten can be easily reached with tram number 9 from the railway station in Berne in direction Wabern. Exit the tram at station Gurtenbahn and walk a few steps up the hill. Then take the Gurtenbahn [17], a panorama train that will bring you on top in just 5 minutes, round-trip tickets are CHF 9 for adults or CHF 4.50 for children (BernCard is valid), departure usually every 20 minutes depending on daytime. A club called up-town features various cultural events on weekends and once a year in summer national, European and a few international music stars (among others Alanis Morisette, Skin, Moloko and Jimmy Cliff in 2003) visit it for the Gurtenfestival, an open-air music festival [18]. Gurten is a must see for everybody visiting the city for longer than a day. Free.  edit
  • Rosengarten, [19]. Little park with a splendid view over the old town. Situated close to the bear pits (follow the path that goes up the hill opposite the bear-pit-roundabout. Quite popular (and populated) during lunchtime. The Rosengarten can be easily reached by bus number 12 from the railway station in Berne in direction Zentrum Paul Klee.  edit
  • SC Bern. The SCB is Berne's ice-hockey team. The stadium is the second largest in Europe and is regularly sold out, producing an impressive atmosphere in the arena. It is also mentionable that the SC Bern boasts the highest average attendance outside the NHL. To get there, just take Tram Nr. 9 towards Guisanplatz and get off at the terminal stop.  edit
  • Swimming in the river Aare. On hot summer days, let yourself drift for some kilometers in the river Aare. Good (and safe) stretches are between the Kornhausbridge and the public pool of the Lorraine (old fashioned swimming pool just next to the river) and between the Eichholz and the public pool of the Marzili. Other stretches such as swimming the bend around the old town (starting at the "Englische Anlagen" to the Lorraine) or the "Bremgartenschlaufe" are only to be done by good swimmers accompanied by experienced locals.
    BTW: Entrance to public pools is free of charge. This makes it a good idea to choose a swim that ends at a public pool so you can have a shower afterwards.
  • Tramdepot, [20]. Just next to the bear pits you'll find the tram depot, the old final station of Berne's first tramway. The building now houses the town's most popular brewpub, and the tourist office, with free shows on the city's history at regular intervals.  edit
  • Gurtenfestival, [21]. In July the Gurten hill is host for an open air festival with many national and international music acts. During these four days you will find a party crowd of up to 25'000 people on the hill day and night. 1 day pass CHF 75, 2 days 115, 3 days 155, 4 days 195.  edit
  • International Jazzfestival Bern, [22]. A jazz festival with international reputation is held in Berne every year since 1976.  edit
  • Buskers Bern, [23]. Since a few years the annual street musician festival is taking place in the picturesque old town streets. You don't need to buy a ticket but are encouraged to buy a festival pin or give donations to the musicians which come from all around the world.  edit


Berne is home to the prestigious University of Berne [24] which currently enrolls approximately 13,000 students. In addition, the city has the University of Applied Science also known as Berner Fachhochschule. There are also many vocational schools and an office of the Goethe Institut.

Marktgasse lies right in the centre of the 6km long shopping arcades
Marktgasse lies right in the centre of the 6km long shopping arcades

As with most other cities in Switzerland, store opening and closing hours in Berne are strictly regulated but were slightly relaxed on 1st January 2007. All stores, including grocers must close by 7PM from Monday to Friday, except on Thursdays they remain open untill 9PM. On Saturdays everything must close by 5PM. The stores are closed on Sundays. Stores inside the railway station are allowed longer opening times. Both major supermarket chains Migros and Coop have a store inside the station so you'll be able to get relatively cheap groceries even on Sundays.

Rathausgasse and the streets parallel to it have any number of cute shops with an amazing range of handicraft and luxury goods. This is not the normal range of swiss souvenir stuff, but really interesting things. There are a couple of worthy examples below, but the real pleasure is in spending a few hours (or days) exploring the arcades and vitrines.

  • Yamatuti, Aarbergergasse 16-18, +41 (0)31 318 26 56. Open M,Tu,W,F 10AM-6:30PM, Th 10AM-9PM, and Sa 10AM-5PM. Unique toys and kitsch collectibles pack the walls of this cramped space.  edit
  • Krompholz Music, Spitalgasse 28 (Just around the corner from the main train station), +41 (0)31 311 3489 (), [25]. Open Mon to Sat 10AM to 5PM. The thing that makes this shop special is its huge collection of sheet music and English language music instruction materials. Pretty good CD section with lots of Swiss artists, both pop and folk.  edit
This guide uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:
Budget Under CHF 25
Mid-range CHF 25 to CHF 50
Splurge Over CHF 50

Eating in Berne (or almost anywhere in Switzerland for that matter) can be an expensive proposition for foreign tourists. Be sure to "shop around" before deciding on a restaurant as many cater to said foreign tourists (especially those serving traditional Swiss food) and have inflated their prices accordingly. Most Bernese natives prefer Italian, Asian, or other non-local cuisine so finding a traditional Swiss restaurant with acceptable prices can often be a a daunting experience. Be patient and you will persevere without breaking the bank.

  • Suan Long, Rail City, underneath main station, Bern, +41 (0)31 311 87 88. Low-priced Chinese meals, wide variety of dishes, including good vegetarian selection. Quick service and ideal if you're waiting for a train. Especially recommended if you enjoy spicy food! 17-25 francs.  edit
  • Beaulieu, Erlachstrasse 3, +41 (0)31 301 24 59 (fax: +41 (0)31 305 86 55), [26]. Open Mon to Thur 8AM - 11:30PM, Fri 8AM -00:30AM, Sat 10AM - 10PM. Old-fashioned restaurant serving traditional Swiss and Bernese cuisine at very affordable prices. Popular amongst students due to its situation close to the university; equally popular amongst the local workers. Definitely not a tourist restaurant - go here if you want to meet the Bernese amongst themselves.  edit
  • Pastamania, Kramgasse 49, +41 (0)31 318 28 28 (, fax: +41 (0)31 318 28 29), [27]. Open Mon to Fri 9AM to 11:30PM, Sat 7:30AM to 3PM. Located in the same house as the Einsteinhaus, this very small restaurant serves some very good pasta dishes. CHF 18-25 for the main dish. CHF 8-14 for appetizers..  edit
  • Sandwichbar L16, +41 (0)31 331 16 16 (), [28]. Open Mon to Fri 8AM - 19:30PM till 24:00PM (depending on weather and people), Sat from 9AM. Cool place where you can create your own sandwiches. Very popular amongst students due to its situatin close to the university. This is the perfect place if you just want to have a snack. CHF 5-20 depending on the size of the beard.  edit
  • Sous le Pont, +41 (0)31 306 69 55 (), [29]. Open Tue to Fri 11:30AM to 2:30PM and 6PM to Midnight, Sat 7PM to Midnight, Sun 10AM to 4PM. A nice restaurant in the Reitschule complex which serves excellent dishes at affordable prices.  edit
  • Wäbere, Gerechtigkeitsgasse 68, +41 (0)31 311 42 58 (fax: +41 (0)31 312 20 67). 11AM to 11PM except Sun. Excellent soups, a good rendering of Swiss standards, such as cheese fondue, and an decent number of veggie choices. Many items available in half portions. CHF 14-24.  edit
  • Altes Tramdepot, Grosser Muristalden, Bern. (Across bridge at east end of city centre, by bear pit.), 031 368 14 15, [30]. 11:00 - 23:00. Authentic Swiss restaurant based, as its name suggests, in a former tram depot. Good, hearty Swiss food. Range of dishes from budget price rösti to higher-priced meat specialities. On-site brewery with traditional beers available. Bench seating with great atmosphere. CHF 20 - 40.  edit
  • Café Fédéral, Bärenplatz 31, +41 (0)31 311 16 24, [31]. Stylish, modern atmosphere and international cuisine. Situated in front of the Bundeshaus, its popularity amongst politicians during the "Session" is legendary. Specializes in Entrecôtes (a kind of steak), but has other dishes, including vegetarian ones.  edit
  • Casino Restaurant, Herrengasse 25, +41 (0)31 328 03 28 (), [32]. Located at the shore of Aere river, with a view over the river and mountains on the South. Dishes include excellent pasta with mushrooms, fish, and meats, served throughout the day. CHF 25-45 for a main dish.  edit
  • Kornhaus, Kornhausplatz 18, +41 (0)31 327 72 70 (fax: +41 (0)31 327 72 71), [33]. The room alone is worth a stop at this fabulously appointed mostly Italian restaurant. As one might guess from the name, the building was originally built for grain storage, but now features fresco paintings of traditional swiss scenes, events from local history, and related characters. CHF 26-45 for the main dish. CHF 9-14 for appetizers..  edit
  • Schmiedstube, Schmiedenplatz 5, +41 (0)31 311 34 61, [34]. Open Mon to Sat 8:30AM - 11:30PM. German, French, Italian, English and Spanish spoken. This traditional Swiss restaurant is well known for its typical dishes, such as Röschti, Cordon Bleu, Älplermakkaronen. Its location in the heart of Berne (300 ft from the clock tower "Zytglogge") makes it an ideal resting stop while you're enjoying the city of Berne.  edit
  • Schwellenmätteli, Dalmaziquai 11, +41 (0)31 350 50 01 (), [35]. Terrace Open Mon to Sun 8:00AM - 24:00PM. A very nice restaurant at the side of the river Aare with a nice view on the Cathedral. CHF 20-40 for a main dish.  edit
  • Vatter, Bärenplatz 2, [36]. Grocery: 9AM to 5PM, Restaurant: 10AM to 10PM daily. Vatter is the largest of the several organic groceries in the old town, and has its own restaurant upstairs as well if you don't feel like cooking, or lack the facilities. It serves excellent beer from the Locher Brewery in Appenzelland has a balcony overlooking Bärenplatz. CHF 8-20.  edit
  • Bellevue Palace, Kochergasse 3-5, +41 (0)31 320 45 45 (fax: +41 (0)31 47 43), [37]. Berne's N° 1 address. Stylish hotel and restaurant; has its price. Go there when the Parliament is in session, and you may very well see the president of Switzerland having lunch.  edit
  • Restaurant Rosengarten, Alter Aargauerstalden 31b, +41 (0)31 331 32 06, [38]. Upscale Swiss restaurant with amazing view over the city  edit


Many Bernese will tell you that nightlife in Berne is not exactly what you might call spectacular, but they're probably comparing it to Zurich or Paris. There are quite a few good spots to hang out at.

For a drink or two, there's a wide choice of bars all over town. However, you might be disappointed with most central options as they tend to be annoyingly conventional, though there are an ample number of exceptions:

  • Du Nord, Lorrainestrasse 2 (just across Lorraine Bridge from the city center), +41 (0)31 332 23 38..  edit
  • Café Cairo. Another nice choice in the same area as Du Nord.  edit
  • Kornhaus Café, Kornhausplatz 18, +41 (0)31 327 72 70. Posh but nice and near the center.  edit
  • Kornhausbar. Located in the basement, one floor over the restaurant. It serves the best drinks in Berne, but is always crowded with overdressed people.  edit
  • Cuba, Kornhausplatz 14, +41 (0)31 311 64 86. with Latin-influenced Cuba Bar next door  edit

Most of the towns cooler bars are located around the main clubbing venues though. In the ancient Matte neighborhood, which is well worth a daytime visit too, you'll find nightlife options for almost every taste.

  • Dampfzentrale, Marzilistrasse 47, +41 (0)31 310 05 40, [39]. In this former electricity facility you'll find an excellent restaurant and bar, along with lots of cultural pearls. They specialize in urban, jazzy, electronic music and dance performances. Definitely a gem!  edit
  • PROGR_center for cultural production, Waisenhausplatz 30/ Speichergasse 4, +41 (0)31 318 82 70, [40]. Close to the Reithalle and even closer to the city center, you will find the PROGR. More than 100 artists, dancers, actors and musician have their studios here. It's large courtyard with the CaféBar Turnhalle is a real oasis. From September to June, they offer a cultural program with exhibitions of experimental and contemporary art, theater, performance, lectures and regular concerts on Sunday nights (jazz- connected, world women voices).  edit
  • Reitschule, Neubrückstrasse 8, +41 (0)31 306 69 69, [41]. Next to the central train station is Berne's most important center for alternative culture. The huge brick building is visible from far, easy to recognize by its abundant graffiti art on the façade and roof. Reitschule has the status of an autonomous cultural center, which means in firm language that it's a no-police zone. This of course gives it a bit of an anarchist touch, a touch of "anything goes". And indeed, anything does go: Reitschule features a theater, a cinema, a women's room and two concert/dancing venues, all dedicated entirely to alternative culture. Recent concerts included rjd2, Metalheadz or DJ Babu. The center as a whole is a unique experience and a must-see for anyone who has an interest in contemporary urban culture.  edit
  • Silo Bar, Mühlenplatz 11, +41 (0)31 311 54 12, [42]. Also in the Matte, this is a popular student hangout and disco. Admission is free and the place gets really packed on weekend nights. A nice place if you don't mind the sound (a mix of mainstream hits).  edit
  • Wasserwerk Club, [43]. This is one of Berne's traditional clubbing and concert venues for urban music. It actually features two parts: Sportwerk The very welcoming, smaller "Sportwerk", which is open all week and free of charge, offers drinks, music, pool, snooker, darts, table soccer and flipper games as well as sport events on TV in a laid back, greenish atmosphere. The bigger part of the club, the actual "Wasserwerk" is open on weekends and features excellent djs and live concerts.  edit
This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
Budget Under CHF 150
Mid-range CHF 150 to CHF 300
Splurge Over CHF 300

The main train station has a tourist office on the west side on the ground floor. They'll try to help you find a hotel room, if you arrive without booking. However, it is better to book ahead if you can, as Berne is a capital city; the budget hotels do tend to fill up on the weekends.

  • Landhaus, Hotel-Restaurant Landhaus (near the bear pit), +41 (0)31 331 41 66 (, fax: +41 (0)31 332 69 04), [44]. checkout: Reception is open until 10. A cute, friendly, and well-kept place with a good restaurant and bar downstairs. (If they are fully booked ask to crash in the TV room, CHF 34) CHF 90-160.  edit
  • Berne backpackers - Hotel Glocke, Rathausgasse 75, +41 (0)31 311 37 71 (, fax: +41 (0)31 311 10 08), [45]. A member of Swiss Backpackers Association, and Located in the center of the old town this highly favored backpacker's hotel is only a 10 or 15 min. walk from the central train station they have Internet, games and laundry facilities, solid security and no more than six beds in a room. There are also kitchen facilities, a big common room with TV, a pool table, games, movies at night, and gift shop. Prices from CHF 31.- per person, per night.  edit
  • Youth Hostel, Weihergasse 4, +41 (0)31 311 63 16, [46]. 187 beds in all, consisting of two, four, five and six-bed rooms and two group rooms, one with eighteen and one with 20 beds. Shower and WC on each floor, the security is lacking though, and theft is common in the dorms, given the area the hostel is located in.  edit
  • Astoria Swiss Quality Hotel, Zieglerstrasse 66, [47]. Tastefully renovated 3*-hotel with a friendly and informal atmosphere, close to the city centre on the “Eigerplatz” (motorway exit “Berne Forsthaus”). Awarded Swiss Tourism’s Quality Award I, the hotel has 62 spacious and comfortable rooms, a restaurant with bar, conference rooms, w-lan and parking for cars and coaches.  edit
  • Bern Swiss Quality Hotel, Zeughausgasse 9, CH-3011, (, fax: +41 (0)31 329 22 99), [48]. Charming hotel in the city center of Bern, only 600m from the main station away and 10km from the airport Bern Belp. Single room from 245CHF, double room from 280CHF  edit
  • Kreuz, Zeughausgasse 41, CH-3011, (, fax: +41 (0)31 329 95 96). Member of Swiss Quality Hotels International. Located 500m from the railway station directly in the city center. Single room from 144CHF, double room from 208CHF (rates from low season 2009).  edit
  • Metropole, Zeughausgasse 26, CH-3000, (, fax: +41 (0)31 329 94 95), [49]. Member of Swiss Quality Hotels International. Located 600m from the railway station directly in the city center. Single room from 132CHF, double room from 184CHF (rates of 2009).  edit
  • Bellevue Palace, Kochergasse 3 - 5, +41 (0)31 320 45 45, [50]. This five star hotel provides exquisite rooms and amazingly attentive service. It is situated right next to the Federal Council building, which is appropriate, as it belongs to the state and frequently houses visiting dignitaries and heads of state. The bathrooms alone make this place worth the price, if you can afford it. There is a public bar with tons of old world charm (and a dress code - no shorts, no trainers) on the ground floor, which is usually nice for a quiet drink. Doubles from CHF 350 per night, presidential suite from CHF 2500 a night..  edit
  • Hotel Bern, Zeughausgasse 9, +41 (0)31 329 22 22 (fax: +41 (0)31 329 22 99), [51]. A good value nearing the upper end the Hotel Bern has a great location, near perfect service and impeccable rooms for somewhat less money than the five star options. The hotel mainly caters to business travelers, which means that they are more likely to be booked up during the week, and more likely to give you a deal on the weekend. Ask for room 508, not just because it's named for the only Swiss astronaut to date, but also because it has a lovely bay window with a view of the cathedral and of course of neighboring rooftops, offering an especially nice view when it snows. Doubles start at CHF 180..  edit

Stay safe

Berne is a very safe place with nearly no violent crime. However, as it is the capital of Switzerland, it sees political demonstrations every few weeks on a variety of subjects, occasionally leading to police intervention.

The central railway station often hosts drunks and vagrants at night, which is a nuisance but in general not dangerous.

Recently there has been a slight increase in violence from young people. Try to avoid groups of drunk teenagers that look suspicious and you should be fine.

While police officers in Berne will happily help you out if you are in trouble or need an information, they are also known for approaching "suspicious" persons in order to check their papers. This procedure is annoying, but legal as you will probably have a hard time proofing you were not acting suspicious. Carry a photocopy of your passport and your onward ticket with you, stay calm and polite and you won't have much trouble.

The surroundings of the Reitschule on the outskirts of downtown, are notorious for drug dealers and even violence.

Get out

Berne is an ideal gateway to the Bernese Highlands. You can make day trips to many famous and/or beautiful locations, like Spiez, Interlaken, Grindelwald, Jungfraujoch or Gstaad.

This is a guide article. It has a variety of good, quality information including hotels, restaurants, attractions, arrival and departure info. Plunge forward and help us make it a star!


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also berne



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Proper noun




  1. An alternative spelling for Bern (the city or the canton).



Proper noun

Berne f.

  1. Bern, Berne (the city)

Simple English

Redirecting to Bern (city)


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