Bern is the capital of Switzerland and also an UNESCO World heritage site. We visited the charming medieval city of Bern on our first day of our 7 day self planned summer holiday in Switzerland and it was an enriching experience, as also an enjoyable one.

Bern – the historic city of many fountains

Bern, the capital of Switzerland and also of Canton of Bern, was founded in 1191 and presently is the seat of Switzerland’s Government.  We were based in Basel and since Bern was around 1 hour by train journey (a direct train is available), we thought it best to visit Bern on our first day of Swiss holiday. We thought taking the train up to Bern on a direct route would give us time to settle down on using Swiss Travel System i.e.  Swiss public Transport for travelling all through Switzerland.

Bern – An UNESCO World Heritage city

The first things I noticed as I got out of Bern Rail Station was the stunning cerulean sky against the pretty medieval buildings. The second thing was that there were a couple of beggars near the station and although they did not look impoverished by our ‘Third World Standards’, it was a bit surprising to encounter people begging in Switzerland (In fact one guy came up to the husband and asked for 1-2 francs).

It was a perfect summer day and we decided to walk around the city at a comfortable pace, soaking in the delights.

The city of Bern beautifully marries modernity and its rich medieval past. There is a distinct medieval charm to the city with the Old Town’s pretty alleys, numerable fountains, sandstone facades, historic towers and ofcourse a heritage Church. Walking along the almost 6 kilometers of arcades, housing restaurants, shops and some of the best iconic brand boutiques, all the while observing the medieval structure of the Old Town, made for some pleasant & enriching moments.

Church in Old Town Bern, Switzerland
Interesting Sandstone houses and facades
Sights in Bern, Switzerland

We walked our way up to Aare River and the Bear Park, along the river. We also came across Einstein Museum, which used to be Albert Einstein’s home for many years and reportedly the place where he formulated his theory of Relativity!

We spent some time on the bridge by Aare River, having a bite and just enjoying the pleasant summer day before heading back down the Old Town.

A beautiful day by Aare river in Bern, Switzerland

On our way back, we visited the Parliament House (Bundeshaus), which rises above the city and is also visible easily from the railway station. It was a pleasant surprise to see the open nature of the Parliament Square, with children, adults & having a gala time getting wet in the musical water fountains in front of the Parliament, cyclists and walkers passing by and people just having a nice time. It made me wish that our own Parliament House was bit more open to public and bit more enjoyable like the Bundeshaus.

Parliament House in Bern, Switzerland

Places of Interest in Bern City

  • Old Town which is UNESCO world heritage site – A delightful town with sandstone houses, narrow streets, fountains, church and the shopping arcades which extend throughout the town.
  • Albert Einstein Museum – Formerly House of World Famous Scientist Albert Einstein, it is a museum dedicated to him.
  • Kunstmuseum Bern– Switzerland’s oldest museum of fine arts, built in neoclassical style near the the railway station.
  • Bear Park – Located along the Aare River, it houses family of beers.
  • Bundeshaus : Parliament House – Bern’s landmarks as well as being the seat of the government.

Bern delighted me and I would definitely recommend visiting this historic city when in Switzerland.

If you like this post and want to know more about the full itinerary of our self planned Switzerland trip, please see here.

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