Bern’s cobbled streets and red-roofed houses on the banks of the Aare River give it a small-town charm.
Its UNESCO-listed old town has a medieval look and feel, but the stylish cafes and designer shops hidden in its pretty arcades offer a very modern distraction. With brilliant museums, a dynamic nightlife and 100 striking – sometimes macabre – fountains make it a must-explore city.
Food and drink
Serving up Bernese sausages, boiled beef and spätzli, a Swiss take on pasta, Altes Tramdepot on Grosser Muristalden is a favourite among travellers. They brew their own beer – you’ll see the copper vats behind the bar – and the outdoor terrace has a brilliant view over the Bear Park. For fondue, raclette and warming potato rosti, head to Le Mazot on Bärenplatz.
Vaulted ceilings, ornate chandeliers, sturdy stone pillars and an elegant dark-wood staircase characterise the high-Baroque building that houses Kornhauskeller. Feast on Swiss and Mediterranean cuisine and be transported to another era.
For sweeping views of the city as you eat, dine at Restaurant Rosengarten in the Rose Garden and try to get a table by its floor-to-ceiling windows in winter or on the terrace in summer.
Switzerland is one of the most enthusiastic coffee-drinking nations, and in Bern there’s no shortage of cafes. The Einstein Kaffee & Rauchsalon sits within the historic Einsteinhaus, where the physics genius spent much of his life. At Adrianos Bar & Cafe on Theaterplatz, you’ll see locals downing a swift espresso at the bar in the morning or lingering over a beer brewed on-site come nightfall.
Bundesplatz is the place to go every Saturday and Tuesday morning as farmers and makers lay out their cheeses, meats and pastries.