Feel The Bern
One of the planet's most underrated capitals, Bern is fabulous. With the genteel, old soul of a Renaissance man and the heart of a high-flying 21st-century gal, this riverside city is both medieval and modern. The 15th-century old town is gorgeous enough to sweep you off your feet and make you forget the century (it's definitely worthy of its Unesco World Heritage site protection order). But edgy vintage boutiques, artsy-intellectual bars and Renzo Piano's futuristic art museum crammed with Paul Klee pieces slams you firmly back into the present.
Things you may not know!
- Bern is the capital of Switzerland and has a population of over 133,000 people
- That yummy triangular chocolate know as Toblerone was invented by Theodor Tobler in 1908 and every piece is still made in Bern!
In the Old Town the street signs are different colours – green, white, yellow and burgundy. The reason being when Napoleon conquered the city in 1798 his troops were largely illiterate so the coloured signs were used to help them find their quarters.
Medieval Bern, with 6km of covered arcades and cellar shops/bars descending from the streets, is the sandstone city’s prime attraction. Join the crowds congregating around the Zytglogge (clock tower) at four minutes before the hour to watch its revolving figures twirl; street-snack on hot chestnuts; and trip between decorative fountains (1545) depicting historical and folkloric characters…
Paul Klee Centre
Forming a three-peak wave next to the Bern-Ostring exit of the A6, Renzo Piano’s remarkable Zentrum Paul Klee is Bern’s Guggenheim. The exhibition space showcases 4000 rotating works from Paul Klee’s prodigious and often playful career. Inspired music audio guides take visitors on one-hour DIY musical tours. In the grounds, a walk will take you past a stream of sculptures, including some contemporary works by artists such as Yoko Ono and Sol LeWitt.
Houses of Parliament
The 1902 Bundeshäuser, home of the Swiss Federal Assembly, are impressively ornate. When the parliament is in recess you can tour the place; otherwise watch from the public gallery. Bring your passport.
Markthalle (Bubenbergplatz Buzzing in quick-snack action, this covered market arcade is jam-packed with eateries from around the world.
(Bahnhofplatz) This train-station vegetarian buffet restaurant is just the ticket for a quick, healthy meal any size, any time. Serve yourself, get it weighed, pay and eat.
Sous le Pont
(Schützenmatte) Grab fries, falafel or a schnitzel from the graffiti-covered hole in the wall next to the Sous le Pont cafe-bar and dine at a graffiti-covered table in the graffiticovered courtyard.
(Am Bärengraben) Even locals recommend this cavernous microbrewery. Swiss specialities snug up to stir-fries, pasta and international dishes on the bistro menu.
Drinking and Dancing
(Muhlenplatz 11) By the water, Bern’s 19th century corn house throbs with mainstream hits and a lively student set – the place to drink, dance and party.
(Wasserwerkgasse 5) Bern’s main techno venue with bar, club and occasional live music.
(Marzilistrasse 47) This industrial red-brick riverside building hosts concerts, festivals, gigs, contemporary dance and a lovely riverside restaurant terrace.
Our guide took us to some cool bars, loved this place totally worth stopping off at for a couple of days."