Berne (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.
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 successfully conquering several rivals, 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-)Swiss-German, a Swiss dialect of the Alemannic language. Swiss-German is mostly a spoken language, but also used in text messages etc. In official publications and announcements, Standard 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. However, many people you encounter as a tourist will be able to speak both so it's certainly worth a try.
Situated in the center of Switzerland, Bern is easy to reach from all parts of the country.
Located a few kilometers south of the city, Berne's small Bern-Belp Airport' offers direct flights from and to several seasonal destinations and most principal cities in Europe.
The airport is connected to the city by:
- taxi (c. CHF 30 for a trip to the city)
- Bus: The bus routes 334 and 160 connect to the railway station of Belp, connecting to regional trains to the train station in the center of Bern, with a total travel time of up to 40 minutes. The bus operates every 30 minutes between 05:10 and 23:10, and the transit to and from Bern costs CHF 5.80. The first and last buses every day connect directly to Bern train station.
For longer flights, Berne is served by Zurich's airport.
Berne is at the center of the Swiss Federal Railway network. Express (InterCity) trains connect twice per hour to Geneva, Basel and Zurich as well as Zürich and Geneva airports. Hourly express trains connect to most other cities, including Interlaken, Brig, and Lucerne.
For more information:
- Swiss Federal Railway, ☎ . 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.
- Swiss travel System. 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.
Berne is easily reachable with the national motorway network from all directions and has several exits from motorways A1, A12 and A6.
Eurolines connects Bern to several European cities by bus.
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.
Tickets can be bought at vending machines at most stops, or with a smartphone using the SBB mobile app. They are valid for all modes of public transport within the zones they encompass. A ticket valid in the central urban zones (101, 102) for 60 minutes costs CHF 4.20 (2014).
Since June 2014, all hotel accommodations in Bern include the "Bern-Ticket", which allows the free use of public transport within the city (zones 100 and 101) for the duration of the stay, including the Gurten funicular and transfer from and to the airport.
The city center of Berne is easily accessible by foot. The relatively small old town and the area around the main train station is best explored by walking.
By tram and bus
The bus and tram lines operated by BERNMOBIL are complemented with yellow Postauto bus lines connecting to the suburbs. Almost all lines are linked together at the main train station, and operate at intervals between 5 to 30 minutes.
- Bernmobil, ☎ . Operator of the local tram and bus services, and provides timetables and other information on its web site or by telephone.
Berne's S-Bahn rail system will take you to many places in the suburbs and to nearby cities like Biel, Thun, Fribourg or Solothurn.
- S-Bahn Bern, ☎ . Web site in German only.
By car or motorbike
Like in most Swiss cities, parking space is rare and expensive. There are several paid parking stations, including at the main train station. As the city center is quite small and all of the major attractions are within walking distance, it's a good choice to park in a "park and ride" and take public transport to the center of town. Using the car in the old town is very difficult and not recommended.
Motorbikers will find free dedicated parking spaces in several places around the perimeter of the old town, including near Waisenhausplatz and at the main train station.
Berne is a bike-friendly city, and most thoroughfares include dedicated bike lanes. There are a few challenging spots where bike traffic interweaves with motor traffic, but motorists are used to sharing the road with bikers and will normally pay attention. Because of the city's topography, some stamina may be required, or an electric bike.
Free bikes can be rented for four hours at the "Hirschengraben" near the main train station. 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 1 CHF each hour. There are paid bike deposit stations at the main train station, which also offer repair services.
Several taxi companies operate in Berne, including NOVA Taxi (+41 31 331 33 13), Bären Taxi (+41 31 371 11 11) and Taxi Bern (+41 31 333 88 88). Taxis can be booked by phone, or at the main train station.
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, ☎ . 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. It includes the Einstein Museum. CHF 13 for permanent exhibition, CHF 18 for Einstein Museum.
- Bundeshaus (Federal Palace of Switzerland), Bundesplatz 3. 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.
- Einsteinhaus, Kramgasse 49, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. 10AM-5PM (4PM Saturdays) March to October, 1PM-5PM (Noon to 4PM Sat) March and February. Einsteinhaus is closed on Sundays in March and February. It's 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..
- Invasion of Berne -- successful!. 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, a longer visit, and a weird sense of humor might consider ordering a map and doing the space invader tour.
- Kunstmuseum (Museum of fine Arts), Hodlerstrasse 12, ☎ . 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.
- Swiss Alpine Museum, Helvetiaplatz 4, ☎ . A museum showing the full variety of the Swiss mountains.
- Tierpark Dählhölzli (Zoo), Tierparkweg 1, ☎ . 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.
- Zentrum Paul Klee, Monument im Fruchtland 3 (Bus No. 12 to the end of the line), ☎ . 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. CHF 16 ('08).
- Zytglogge. 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.
- 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 have found the pits quite depressing. The good news is that they were recently enlarged. The bears have now even 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.
- Gurten. 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 , 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 Morissette, Skin, Moloko and Jimmy Cliff in 2003) visit it for the Gurtenfestival, an open-air music festival . Gurten is a must see for everybody visiting the city for longer than a day. Free.
- Rosengarten. 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.
- 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.
- 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. 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.
- Gurtenfestival. 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.
- International Jazzfestival Bern. A jazz festival with international reputation is held in Berne every year since 1976.
- Buskers Bern. 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.
Berne is home to the prestigious University of Berne  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 offices of the Goethe Institute and the Alliance-Francaise (German and French cultural institutes).
As with most other cities in Switzerland, store opening and closing hours in Berne are strictly regulated. All stores, including grocers, close by 7PM or 7:30PM from Monday to Friday, except on Thursdays when they remain open until 9:30PM. Aldi supermarkets are an exception, closing at 8PM during the week. On Saturdays everything must close by 5PM. On Sundays, all stores are closed, except for those in the main railway station, which are open 7 days a week until about 10PM, and which include Migros and Coop supermarkets.
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, ☎ . 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.
- Krompholz Music, Spitalgasse 28 (Just around the corner from the main train station), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Open Mon to Sat 10AM-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.
There are several used book stores that carry cheap books in German, English and French:
- Bücherbergwerk Monbijou, Monbijoustrasse 16 (on the street through which tram line 9 descends from Hirschengraben near the main station, in the basement of the building marked SWICA), ☎ . Open Tu-F 10AM-5PM and Sa 11AM-3PM. The used books store of the Swiss Workers' Aid Society.
- Bücher-Brockenhaus Bern, Rathausgasse 34 (in the old city between the Zytglogge and the Rathaus), ☎ . Open Di-Fr 2PM-6:30PM, Sa 9AM-12PM, 2PM-4PM.
|This page 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 of them cater to 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 daunting experience. Be patient and you will persevere without breaking the bank.
- Suan Long, Rail City, underneath main station, Bern, ☎ . 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.
- Beaulieu, Erlachstrasse 3, ☎ , fax: +41 (0)31 305 86 55. M-Th 8AM-11:30PM, F 8AM-00:30AM, Sa 10AM-10PM. Old-fashioned restaurant serving traditional Swiss and Bernese cuisine at very affordable prices. Popular among students due to its situation close to the university; equally popular among the local workers. Definitely not a tourist restaurant—go here if you want to meet the Bernese among themselves.
- Sous le Pont, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Open Tue to Fri 11:30AM-2:30PM and 6PM to Midnight, Sat 7PM to Midnight, Sun 10AM-4PM. A nice restaurant in the Reitschule complex which serves excellent dishes.
- Wäbere, Gerechtigkeitsgasse 68, ☎ , fax: +41 (0)31 312 20 67. 11AM-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.
- Altes Tramdepot, Grosser Muristalden (Across bridge at east end of city centre, by bear pit.), ☎ 031 368 14 15. 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.
- Café Fédéral, Bärenplatz 31, ☎ . Stylish, modern atmosphere and international cuisine. Situated in front of the Bundeshaus, its popularity among politicians during the "Session" is legendary. Specializes in Entrecôtes (a kind of steak), but has other dishes, including vegetarian ones.
- Casino Restaurant, Herrengasse 25, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
- Kornhaus, Kornhausplatz 18, ☎ , fax: +41 (0)31 327 72 71. 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..
- Restaurant Muesmatt, Freiestrasse 65, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. The Restaurant Muesmatt located in the middle of the University district was built in 1891 for the steel workers working in the famous Von Roll steel works in Bern. The old Von Roll buildings have since been converted to University Lecture Halls and the surrounding brownstone houses are now home to families and students. They have a lovely outside terrace with big Oak trees for shade. The restaurant operates as a society using fresh local organic produce and serves great local Burgdorfer beer. They also offer free internet. CHF 22-40 for the main dish. CHF 8-12 for appetizers..
- Schmiedstube, Schmiedenplatz 5, ☎ . 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. It's 300 ft from the clock tower "Zytglogge".
- Schwellenmätteli, Dalmaziquai 11, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Terrace Open Mon to Sun 8AM-24PM. 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.
- Bellevue Palace, Kochergasse 3-5, ☎ , fax: +41 (0)31 47 43. 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.
- Restaurant Rosengarten, Alter Aargauerstalden 31b, ☎ . Upscale Swiss restaurant with amazing view over the city
- Kursaal-Bern (Meridiano), Kornhausstrasse 3, ☎ . Tuesday to Friday 11.30 – 14.00 and 18.00 – 24.00 hrs. Saturday 18.00 – 24.00 hrs. Sunday & Monday closed. The Meridiano is renowned far beyond the borders of Bern for its welcoming hospitality. And for its innovative cuisine - prepared to perfection by Chef de Cuisine Markus Arnold and his team. The restaurant has been awarded 16 GAULT-MILLAU points and one MICHELIN star. Guests are offered fine views extending over Bern and the surrounding scenic countryside. 20-76 CHF.
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), ☎ .
- Café Kairo, Dammweg 43, 3013 Bern. Another nice choice in the same area as Du Nord.
- Cuba, Kornhausplatz 14, ☎ . with Latin-influenced Cuba Bar next door
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, ☎ . 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!
- PROGR_center for cultural production, Waisenhausplatz 30/ Speichergasse 4, ☎ . 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).
- Reitschule, Neubrückstrasse 8, ☎ . 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.
- Silo Bar, Mühlenplatz 11, ☎ . 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).
- Wasserwerk Club. 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.
|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, Altenbergstrasse 4 (near the bear pit), ☎ , fax: +41 (0)31 332 69 04, e-mail: email@example.com. Check-out: 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.
- Berne backpackers - Hotel Glocke, Rathausgasse 75, ☎ , fax: +41 (0)31 311 10 08, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
- Youth Hostel, Weihergasse 4, ☎ . 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.
- Astoria Swiss Quality Hotel, Zieglerstrasse 66. 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.
- Bern Swiss Quality Hotel, Zeughausgasse 9, fax: +41 (0)31 329 22 99, e-mail: email@example.com. Charming hotel in the city center of Bern, only 600m from the main station away and 10 km from the airport Bern Belp. Single room from 245CHF, double room from 280CHF
- Kreuz, Zeughausgasse 41, fax: +41 (0)31 329 95 96, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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).
- Metropole, Zeughausgasse 26 (600m from the railway station), fax: +41 (0)31 329 94 95, e-mail: email@example.com. Member of Swiss Quality Hotels International. Single room from 132CHF, double room from 184CHF (rates of 2009).
- Bellevue Palace, Kochergasse 3-5, ☎ . This five star hotel provides exquisite rooms and 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..
- Hotel Bern, Zeughausgasse 9, ☎ , fax: +41 (0)31 329 22 99. 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..
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 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 proving 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.
- Finland, Weltpoststrasse 4, 3015 Bern, ☎ , fax: +41 31 350 41 07, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Mo-Fr 9AM-noon.