How to Spend One Day in Bern and Make the Most of your Swiss Capital Adventure

Bell   |   24 March 24

Bern is not only Switzerland’s capital but also a historical, culinary and cultural hub. Here is how to explore its highlights in just one day!

I have now visited 5-6 Swiss cities and Bern firmly falls under my absolute favourites. Not only is Bern’s old town beautiful, but there are so many different things to do no matter the weather or season.

Another amazing thing about Bern is the multitude of day trips. You can get to some of Switzerland’s best ski resorts in just 1.5 hours, to most major Swiss cities in less than 2 hours and visit countless hiking trails nearby.

However, today we are going to focus on Bern itself and all the top sights you can’t miss on a visit to the capital:

How to get to Bern?

The closest airport to Bern is its city airport, BRN, though it has a very limited list of destinations. You will likely arrive at either Zurich Airport (ZRH) or Basel Airport (BSL), both of which are under 2 hours by train from Bern and great cities to start your Swiss adventure. 

In Switzerland, use the SBB app to buy public transport tickets. Depending on how much travelling you are planning to do within the country, it may be worth looking into the all-inclusive Swiss Pass, though they are pricy. 

Bern airport to the city takes only 41 minutes and costs around 4 CHF. Zurich would take just over an hour and cost about 30 CHF. Basel would take just over 1.5 hours and set you back only about 20 CHF.


Buy train tickets

Click below to prebuy your tickets. I would highly recommend getting the SBB app for easy on the go transport.

Click here

Best itinerary for one day in Bern

Wander through Bern’s Old Town

Bern’s Old Town is actually a UNESCO world heritage site, with most buildings stemming from the 15th and 16th century. The city has preserved its medieval buildings exceptionally well, making it a fascinating location to visit. Strolling amongst the streets of Old Town truly feels like you are going back in time.

Head to the Zytglogge at the strike of the hour

One of Bern’s most famous sights, the Zytglogge which stands for clock tower is a spectacle all on its own. At the strike of the new hour, the mechanical figures, including bears and a jester, surrounding the clockface start to move. 

The clock is a beautiful feat of medieval architecture and so intrinsically detailed, that you could spend all day just studying its facade. 

You can also visit the inside on a guided tour for just 20CHF, granting you access to the mechanical elements that are hidden behind this show.

Discover Kramgasse and its 16th century fountains

Zähringerbrunnen Kramgasse Bern Old Town

Kramgasse is the main street in Old Town and is lined by beautiful medieval buildings, shops and one fountain after the next. 

These fountains date back to the 16th century and distribute drinking water to this day. Most of the fountains are topped by a fountain figure, a remembrance of important figures or events to the city. 

The Zähringen Fountain is the one pictured above, topped by a bear that overlooks the entirety of Kramgasse. Bern has a special connection to the animal, with tales saying it is named after the German word “Bär”.

Go thrift shopping

Kramgasse is also a great place for thrift shopping, which I have found is fairly rare in Switzerland. You need to carefully watch out for these shops, as most lie beneath the street, in sort of alcoves. You take a few stairs down and are met with some of the most unique, local shops the city has to offer. It’s fascinating!

Check out the Gerechtigkeitsbrunnen

If you keep walking along Kramgasse, you eventually land on Gerechtigkeitsgasse which means justice street. There, you will find one of Bern’s most beautiful fountains, the justice fountain.  

At the top, Lady Justice stands blindfolded, her sword raised above a Pope, an Emperor, a Sultan and a Schultheiss. She portrays the “supremacy of Justice over all Earthly authorities” so the idea of virtue defeating vice.

Head over Nydeggbrücke for beautiful views

Once you feel ready to leave Old Town (don’t worry, we’ll be back), head over the river Aare via Nydegg Bridge for some unique photos of Bern. The riverside of Bern is beautiful, with one side lined by old buildings and the other taken over by nature.

Visit the Bärenpark and brewery

Altes Tramdepot Brauerei Restaurant Bärenpark Bern

We have already established that bears are important to the city of Bern, but nothing showcases this more than their free bear park. It stretches all the way to the riverside and is home to three bears – Björk, Finn and Ursina. 

The park is free and open 365 days a year, though you are much more likely to spot them from spring to autumn. We went in winter when they are hibernating and didn’t see any, though it is said they do poke their head out every now and then. 

Right next to the bear park is a brewery and restaurants, which often run themed events. As you can see, it was Canada weeks when we went. From within the restaurant, you can watch the beer be freshly brewed. It is also built inside an old tram depot, making it a fascinating dining experience. 

Climb up to Rosengarten for sprawling city views

For the best city views, head up to Rosengarten, which at its peak blooms with 100s of variations of roses. It is also lined with cherry blossom trees, meaning April makes for stunning photos over the city.

But even amid winter, I would recommend the small walk up here. The views are incomparable and completely free. 

Photo Opportunity

On the way up, there is a bench where you can take a picture together with Albert Einstein’s statue with a view of Bern’s Old Town in the background. 

Head to Münster Cathedral and Münsterplatz

Stemming from the late Gothics, Bern’s minster is a seriously impressive building. It has the “highest church spire in all of Switzerland” and is Switzerland’s biggest late medieval church.

You can visit the inside for free and walk up the tower for 5CHF for sprawling views over Bern. 

The area surrounding the cathedral boasts a park with gorgeous views over the river as well as a restaurant.

Grab a coffee at Einstein House and Café

Einstein spent two years in Bern and it is claimed he developed his Theory of Relativity here. It costs 7CHF to enter his old apartment, which I would only really recommend to history buffs or Einstein fans. It is said to be a bit underwhelming otherwise.

However, the bottom floor houses a really cute café with delicious drinks and pastries to fuel up. If you manage to get a seat by the window, you will have a view of Kramgasse at the same time. 

End the day at Bundeshaus

Bundeshaus Bern

You can visit the Bundeshaus on your way back to Bern train station. This is where the Swiss parliament makes most of their major decisions. You can also book a free guided tour of the inside if you are interested in learning more about Swiss politics. 

Personally, I found the building impressive and it is worth stopping by, but not one of the highlights of the city. 

Is 1 day enough for Bern?

While you can spend several days in Bern, one day is easily enough to see the main attractions. The city is fairly compact and walkable, with most attractions less than 10 minutes walk apart from one another. 

Budget-friendly activities in Bern

The majority of the things on the above itinerary are completely free, including the Bärenpark, Rosengarten and admiring Old Town. 

In summer, you can also swim in the clear river Aare running right through the town, which is free to anyone.

Is Bern walkable?

Bern is an incredibly walkable city. You can cross the entirety of Old Town and make it up to Rosengarten, which is the furthest attraction, in just 30 minutes by foot. 

In fact, the Old Town is even completely car-free, making it a pleasure to walk through.

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Hi, I'm Bell

Bell from Travel Off Script

My blog is here to show you that there isn’t one correct way to travel the world. Together, we can figure out what that means for you. Learn more about me here!

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