Although Berne (German: Bern) is the seat of most of the institutions of the Swiss confederation, this is only a small to medium sized city with a population of about 130,000 in the city proper and roughly 350,000 in the urban agglomeration. It sits on a peninsula formed by the meandering turns of the river Aare. The remarkable design coherence of Berne's old town has earned it a place on the UNESCO World Heritage List. It has 6.4 km (4 miles) of arcaded walkways along streets decked out with fountains and clock-towers.
There are Tourist Information Centres outside the main railway station, and in the Old Tram Depot next to the Bear Pit.
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 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.
Bern was one of the eight host cities in the 2008 European Football Championships.
Situated in the middle of Switzerland, Berne is easy to reach from all parts of the country.
- 1 Bern-Belp Airport (10 km south of the city, off Hwy 8 west of river Aare). This airport is a small affair. The main operator is Skywork, with twin-prop flights to London City, Amsterdam, Hamburg, Berlin-Tegel, Munich and Vienna, plus summer holiday destinations around the Med.
To reach the city take Bus 334 or 160 to Belp railway station (10 mins). Frequent S-bahn local trains connect Belp to Bern's main station, 40 min altogether. The bus runs every 30 minutes between 05:10 and 23:10, with the first and last buses of the day running directly to Bern railway station. The transfer is free if you have booked accommodation in Bern, just show your confirmation letter; otherwise Fr. 7 each way.
A taxi to the city is about 40 Fr and takes 20 mins.
Berne is at the hub 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.
2 Bern Railway Station. In a mall surrounded by cafes and other shops. The info kiosk and main bank of ticket machines are at the back, beneath the big departures board.
Berne is easily reachable with the national motorway network from all directions and has several exits from motorways A1, A12 and A6.
Eurolines and Flixbus connect 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 are valid for all modes of transport within a given zone and time. The suburbs of Berne, Biel and Solothurn form a common public transport network named "Libero-Tarifverbund". Tickets can be purchased as single ticket, saver ticket with six rides, day pass as well as weekly, monthly or yearly passes.
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 Fr. 4.60 (May 2016).
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 centre 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 centre 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 centre 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 Fr. 20 for deposit, and you can explore Berne by bike. After four hours, you'll have to pay 1 franc 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.
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 favourite 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.
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.
- 1 Berne Historical Museum, Helvetiaplatz 5, ☎ . Tu-Su 10:00-17:00. Large 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. Adult Fr. 13; Fr. 18 including Einsteinhaus.
- 2 Bundeshaus (Federal Palace of Switzerland; Curia Confoederationis Helveticae), Bundesplatz 3. Inaugurated in 1902, the Swiss Parliament building is a great dome separating the two chambers: the National Council and the Council of States. Free guided tour when Parliament is not in session (German Tu-Sa, English only Sa 14:00, book online). In session there are 25 spaces in the spectators' gallery, no advance booking. For either, you need your passport. Free.
- 3 Zytglogge. It has been a guard tower, and a prison for women convicted of having sex with priests, but since the 15th century, it's been a clock tower with an elaborate astronomical clock. Hourly throughout the day, it puts on a great display of early animatronics. The show starts a few minutes before the hour 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. As well as the time, the clock shows 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.
- 4 Einsteinhaus, Kramgasse 49, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Feb-Dec 10:00–17:00, closed Jan. Suppose a Bern Tram passed you at the speed of light, with Einstein peering out the window. While your own watch ticked on, his would appear stationary, and the tram's mass and dimensions would distort. Most of us would just shrug at this and await the next tram. But Einstein realised that the same occurred if you were aboard the tram looking back at the tourist standing at the tram-stop. There could be no absolute reference point: all was relative. He also inferred an equivalence of acceleration and gravity, and of mass and energy, that totally rewrote the laws of what till then was a Newtonian universe.
Einstein rented this flat 1903-05 with his first wife Mileva, during his years working at the Swiss patent office. (The day job helped, as many inventors were exploring telecomms, and the problem of synchronising processes many miles apart.) Their son Hans Albert was born here in 1904; their illegitimate daughter Lieserl (b. 1902) was given up for adoption and her fate is unknown. But above all Einstein's special and general theories of relativity were born in this flat, which now displays photos and original documents from his life, work, and speeches. His writing desk overlooks the bustling street: trams rumble by, and the clock-tower tick-tocks, with a Swiss regularity that we now know to be deceptive. Adult Fr. 6, concessions Fr. 4.50.
- Invasion of Berne - successful!. As you explore, you may notice these small graffiti mosaics, in the style of Taito's "Space Invaders". There are some 29 in Bern, the work of an "Unidentified Free Artist". They've appeared on the walls, bridges and roofs of many cities around the world, including Basel, Geneva and Lausanne. And still they come: "Game Not Over". Consider buying a map and doing the space invader tour - though in midsummer 2018 the Invader's online shop is closed.
- 5 Kunstmuseum (Museum of Fine Arts), Hodlerstrasse 12, ☎ . Tu 10:00-21:00, W-Su 10:00-17:00, closed M. Huge collection including Pablo Picasso, Ferdinand Hodler and Meret Oppenheim, and all the big names over eight centuries. Adult Fr. 10 permanent collection.
- 6 Swiss Alpine Museum (Alpines Museum), Helvetiaplatz 4, ☎ . Tu-Su 10:00-17:00. A museum describing all aspects of the Swiss mountains: geology & tectonics, glaciers, weather, wildlife, agriculture & settlement, and alpinism and winter sports. With a large collection of artwork, e.g. paintings by Ferdinand Hodler. Adult Fr. 16.
- 7 Zentrum Paul Klee, Monument im Fruchtland 3 (Trolleybus 12 to the end of the line), ☎ . Tu-Su 10:00–17:00. The Centre is a modern building formed of three waves. The ground floor is a rotating exhibition drawn from some of Klee's 4000 works - to Oct 2018 this is "Cosmos Klee". Downstairs are other artists - to Oct 2018 this is Etal Adnam. Klee was celebrated for his "child's view" of the world and his work is so accessible and fun, eg his wacky glove-puppets. A short walk across the adjacent park brings you to his grave. The Centre is included on the "Berne card" so you'll recoup the Fr. 20 straight away. Adult Fr. 20, students Fr. 10, children 6-16 Fr. 7, families (1 adult + children 6-16) Fr. 27, families (2 adults + children 6-16) Fr. 40.
- 8 Bear Pit (Bärengraben & BärenPark), Grosser Murisalder 6 (Foot of old town at Nydeggasse Bridge; trolleybus #12 towards Zentrum Paul Klee). Always open, but the bears hibernate Nov-Mar. Run as an outstation of the city's Dählhölzli Zoo, the bear pit has a tunnel through to a bosky enclosure along the steep river bank, around which the bears can roam and swim. There are three: Finn (b 2006) is Daddy Bear, Björk (b 2000) is Mummy Bear, and Ursina (b 2009) is their daughter. Björk has been sterilised so there will be no more cubs: "More space for fewer animals" is the zoo's motto. These are Eurasian brown bears, Ursus arctos arctos, with a round head and yellow-brown fur; they remain common in the wild in Central & East Europe.
A second smaller pit is bare of bears but describes the history of the pits. Next to this is the Old Tram Depot, see "Eat". Free.
- 9 Tierpark Dählhölzli (Zoo), Tierparkweg 1 (Bus 19 from main station to Tierpark), ☎ . Mar-Oct 08:30–19:00, Nov-Feb 09:00–17:00. Berne's zoo is along the Aare river, with many outdoor enclosures that incorporate the river. Adult Fr. 10, child 6-15 Fr. 6.
- 1 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 Fr. 9 for adults or Fr. 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 a few kilometres 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. 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.
- 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: Fr. 75, 2 days: Fr. 115, 3 days: Fr. 155, 4 days: Fr. 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 enrolls 17,431 students (2015). 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 18:30 or 19:00 from Monday to Friday, except on Thursdays when they remain open until 21:00. Aldi supermarkets are an exception, closing at 20:00 during the week. On Saturdays everything must close by 17:00. On Sundays, all stores are closed, except for those in the main railway station, which are open 7 days a week until about 22:00, 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, ☎ . M-W F 10:00–18:30, Th 10:00–21:00, Sa 10:00–17:00. Unique toys and kitsch collectibles pack the walls of this cramped space.
- Krompholz Music, Effingerstrasse 51, 3008 Bern (Visit website for which tram lines to take and the stops.), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. M-Sa 10:00–17:00. 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), ☎ . Tu-F 10:00–17:00 and Sa 11:00–15:00. The used bookstore of the Swiss Workers' Aid Society.
- Bücher-Brockenhaus Bern, Rathausgasse 34 (in the old city between the Zytglogge and the Rathaus), ☎ . Tu-F 14:00–18:30, Sa 09:00–12:00, 14:00–16:00.
|This page uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:|
|Budget||Under Fr. 25|
|Mid-range||Fr. 25 to 50|
|Splurge||Over Fr. 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! Fr. 17-25.
- Beaulieu, Erlachstrasse 3, ☎ , fax: . M-Th 08:00–11:30, F 08:00–00:30, Sa 10:00–22:00. 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: firstname.lastname@example.org. Tu-F 11:30–14:30 and 18:00–00:00, Sa 19:00–00:00, Su 10:00–16:00. A nice restaurant in the Reitschule complex which serves excellent dishes.
- Wäbere, Gerechtigkeitsgasse 68, ☎ , fax: . M-Sa 11:00–23:00. 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. Fr. 14-24.
- Old Tram Depot (Altes Tramdepot), Grosser Muristalden (across bridge at east end of city centre, next to bear pit), ☎ . 11:00-23:00. The trams used to terminate here: nowadays it's a trolleybus route. 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. Fr. 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: email@example.com. At the shore of Aare 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. . Fr. 25-45 a main dish.
- Kornhaus, Kornhausplatz 18, ☎ , fax: . The room alone is worth a stop at this fabulously appointed mostly Italian restaurant. As one might guess from the name, the building was built for grain storage, but now features fresco paintings of traditional Swiss scenes, events from local history, and related characters. Fr. 26-45 for the main dish. Fr. 9-14 for appetizers..
- Schmiedstube, Schmiedenplatz 5, ☎ . M-Sa 08:30–23:30. 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 90 m (300 ft) from the clock tower "Zytglogge".
- Schwellenmätteli, Dalmaziquai 11, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Terrace open M-Su 08:00–00:00. A very nice restaurant at the side of the river Aare with a nice view on the Cathedral. Fr. 20-40 for a main dish.
- Bellevue Palace, Kochergasse 3-5, ☎ , fax: . 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, ☎ . Tu-F 11:30–14:00, 18:00–00:00. Sa 18:00–24:00. 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. Fr. 20-76.
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.
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 (across Lorraine Bridge from the city centre), ☎ .
- 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 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_centre for cultural production, Waisenhausplatz 30/ Speichergasse 4, ☎ . Close to the Reithalle and even closer to the city centre, 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, theatre, 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 centre 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 centre, 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 theatre, a cinema, a women's room and two concert/dancing venues, all dedicated entirely to alternative culture. Concerts included rjd2, Metalheadz and DJ Babu. The centre as a whole is a unique experience and a must-see for anyone who has an interest in contemporary urban culture.
- 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 Fr. 150|
|Mid-range||Fr. 150 to 300|
|Splurge||Over Fr. 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: , e-mail: email@example.com. Check-out: Reception is open until 22:00. 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, Fr. 34) Fr. 90-160.
- Berne backpackers - Hotel Glocke, Rathausgasse 75, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. A member of Swiss Backpackers Association in the centre of the old town this highly favored backpackers' hotel is a 10-15 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 Fr. 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 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: , e-mail: email@example.com. Charming hotel in the city centre of Bern, 600 m from the main station away and 10 km from the airport Bern Belp. Single room from Fr. 245, double room from Fr. 280
- Kreuz, Zeughausgasse 41, fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Member of Swiss Quality Hotels International. 500 m from the railway station directly in the city centre. Double from Fr. 225.
- Metropole, Zeughausgasse 26 (600m from the railway station), fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. Member of Swiss Quality Hotels International. Double from Fr. 129.
- 1 Bern City Rentals, Münstergasse 76. Fully furnished apartments in the heart of the old city, near the Münster (main Cathedral) and around the corner from the Zytglogge. Apartments can be rented via email with notice. Rates are Fr. 130-175 + cleaning and Visitor tax depending on apartment type and season.
- Hotel Schweizerhof & The Spa, Bahnhofplatz 11, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. In 2016 the Hotel Schweizerhof in Berne was awarded the "Luxury Hotel of the Year" by the Luxury Travel Guide Awards. This five-star hotel is in the core of the city.
- Bellevue Palace, Kochergasse 3-5, ☎ . This five-star hotel provides exquisite rooms and attentive service. It is situated 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 Fr. 350 per night, presidential suite from Fr. 2500 a night..
- Hotel Bern, Zeughausgasse 9, ☎ , fax: . 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 Fr. 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.
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.
Berne is an ideal gateway to the Bernese Highlands. You can make day trips to beautiful locations like Spiez, Thun, Interlaken, Grindelwald and all the way up the Jungfrau to Jungfraujoch. Other pleasant day trips are to Biel, Fribourg and Gstaad.
Geneva, Basel and Zurich can easily be done as day-trips but deserve a longer stay.