Lose yourself in laid back Bern, the capital of Switzerland. Labelled as, “the most beautiful thing we have ever seen” by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in 1779 (a master of aesthetic criticism) it is a corner of the world not to be missed by the hardy traveller. The Old Town of Bern became a UNESCO world heritage site in 1983 to protect the stunning medieval architecture. Rightly so, as it contains many of the well-known sights of the city and offers a spectacular view of the Alps.
The great Albert Einstein once lived in Bern, and developed there his theory of relativity. The apartment he stayed in remains, and is now open to tourists, furnished in the style of the times and documenting his stay there over 100 years ago.
Also to be found in the Old Town are the majestic 16th century clock tower (Zytglogge) and the cathedral, which took an astonishing 472 years to finish building! The church tower offers a view like no other. The Rosengarten, a beautiful park situated just outside the Old Town on the site of a former cemetery, has hundreds of species of flower to marvel at as well as a fantastic view of the river.
Animal lovers should not miss the BearPark, a 6000 square metre home to a family of live bears who can relax, fish and climb at their leisure. The father bear, Finn, is apparently a keen swimmer!
Bern is known for its water fountains. Over 100 masterfully sculpted fountains can be found around the city. Once upon a time providing clean water for the city’s inhabitants, they have been kept to boast of Bern’s artistic wealth. How many can you find?
Free Walking Tours
Everything is close together in Bern and the best way to see the city is by participating in a free walking tour! All the following tours generally run at 17:00 on Tuesdays and 11:00 at the weekends, but it’s best to check the website to be sure.
Those intrigued by the fountains of Bern should consider this tour. 1 hour long, it is self-guided so stops for refreshment are un-policed! If you haven’t got your fill, check out the Fountain Walking Tour in Bern Part II which, predictably, delivers much of the same. Both these tour routes can be downloaded for use offline via the ‘GPSmyCity: Walks and Articles with Offline Maps’ app.
While the capital of Belarus conjures up images of a cold, grey, stoic landscape, the reality could not be further from the truth. Minsk was completely destroyed in the Second World War, so the past has been buried in the foundations of the grand Stalinist architecture which lines the streets. It is the administrative centre of the Commonwealth of Independent States, and is due to host the 2019 European Games. With its strong police presence one need not fear trouble while exploring the cosmopolitan delights of the city.
Minsk is something of a haven for those seeking to broaden their knowledge of the Soviet and Lukashenko periods, but has plenty to offer for all palates. The Former Residence of Lee Harvey Oswald is well worth a visit for researchers of presidential assassin’s living quarters. The world-renown Bolshoi Theatre of Belarus is the place to be for opera and ballet, while the newly renovated Belarusian State Circus is not to be laughed at…until the clowns appear.
For the young at heart, the city offers many a place to let the proverbial hair down, notably Sweet & Sour – a reputable cocktail bar where the best drinks are kept off the menu. Minsk is also something of a shopper’s super highway, with the Stolitsa Shopping Centre and Minskikh Maestroy Souvenir Market offering a range of gifts that an army of elves would struggle to muster.
Free Walking Tours
The best way to explore the city is via guided walking tour, and the following examples are all free, so you can save your rubles for a souvenir along the way!
If you have children with you in the capital, this self-guided tour is a great way to keep them happy for the day. At 2 hours long the route is not too strenuous, but it is the stops along the way that will really appeal. Beginning with cakes at Salodki Falvarak, it takes in the best entertainment the city has to offer, ending at The Planet of Dinosaurs! This tour’s route can be downloaded for use offline via the ‘GPSmyCity: Walks and Articles with Offline Maps’ app.
Free from the oppression of a time sensitive guide, this self-guided route takes you to some of the best museums in the city and allows you to enjoy them at your leisure. The walk is 3 hours without stops and begins at the Museum of Fire-Fighting and Rescue of the Ministry of Emergencies, ending at the Museum of the Great Patriotic War. This tour’s route can also be downloaded for use offline via the ‘GPSmyCity: Walks and Articles with Offline Maps’ app.
The European Capital of Culture 2017, Aarhus is the second largest city in Denmark, found at the geographical centre of country, on the east coast of the Jutland peninsula. Aarhus was founded by Vikings in the 8th century and gained its city status in the 15th. It is named after the Aarhus River, which flows through the centre of the city. More recently, Aarhus has shown itself to be popular with a younger demographic, as it has continued to grow as the centre of culture and trade in the Jutland region.
Visitors to Aarhus should find time to check out the city’s world renowned museums. Den Gamle By (The Old Town Museum) is a National Open Air Museum of Urban History and Culture. It gives its visitors a first-hand look at what life was like in a traditional Danish market town. Interact with the animals and help out the maids. A wonderful multi-sensory learning experience for all ages. The ARoS Aarhus Art Museum boasts two Michelin stars and offers a spectacular 360 degree view of the city. Lovers of natural history shouldn’t miss the MOMU Moesgaard Museum in a stunning locale just south of the city.
Aarhus also offers Tivoli Friheden, a theme park with 4 rollercoasters within walking distance of the city centre, and Musikhuset Aarhus, a concert venue with plays host to fantastic Danish music and live performance.
Free Walking Tours
Walking tours are the best way to get to know the city, and with all the following free of charge, are a cost cutting introduction to the sights and sounds of Aarhus.
This self-guided tour begins at the Natural History Museum and takes in 5 more of the best museums Aarhus has to offer. The walk alone is 2 hours but will take much longer if you stop to see the exhibits. Luckily this tour is self-guided so you have no restrictions on movement other than the opening times of the museums on the route. This tour’s route can be downloaded for use offline via the ‘GPSmyCity: Walks and Articles with Offline Maps’ app.
This self-guided tour is one for the party animals, taking in the best of Aarhus’ bar and club scene. Why not walk it during the day and plan your evening’s activities? It is only an hour long, beginning at Train and ending at Café Paradis. This tour’s route can also be downloaded for use offline via the ‘GPSmyCity: Walks and Articles with Offline Maps’ app.