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.