Two days are more than enough to visit Bern. Within one day, you can already see all the highlights of the city. However, it does not mean there’s nothing more to do after seeing Bern’s best attractions.
Besides iconic landmarks and architectural tourist attractions, Bern also has fascinating museums, picturesque parks, fun outdoor activities, and relaxing wellness centers. And definitely, they can be destinations/activities you can visit/do for another day well spent in Bern.
So, for today, I’m going to share with you what I think is the best way to spend two days in Bern. You can expect an optimized and efficient 2-day Bern itinerary, covering the attractions within and outside the old city of Bern. Let’s get started!
One of the things I like about Bern as a travel destination is that its tourist attractions are in proximity to each other. Not only can you walk from one point of interest to another, but you can also make a weather-flexible itinerary.
Weather flexible? It basically means that you can group the tourist attractions in Bern like:
- Tourist attractions group 1: Places best to visit when it is sunny and the weather is pleasant.
- Tourist attractions group 2: Things you can do regardless of the weather.
If the weather forecast says that it’ll be dry and sunny on the first day of your visit to Bern, you can visit the attractions that belong to group 1. Group 2 will be for the second day. Otherwise, it’s group 2 for day 1 and group 1 for day 2. You get the point…
Visiting Bern this way, you can, even more, maximize your trip and, most importantly, see the stunning appearance of the city.
I really hope that you will be able to see Bern on a sunny day. Because sunlight makes the scenes in the city more vibrant and absolutely picturesque. You’ll enjoy it more!
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In short summary…
I think the best way to make a 2-day trip to Bern is to spend a day in the old city and another day in the museums close to each other south of the old city.
Visiting the old city must be done during a sunny day as much as possible. And if you have spare time, you may visit the attractions one bus away from the city center.
In our discussion, I assume pleasant weather during your visit to Bern. Thus, Day 1 is about the old city and Day 2 is about the rest of the tourist attractions. You can swap the destinations for Day 1 and Day 2 as you wish or as the weather requires.
Let’s get into the details.
Day 1 in Bern
There are several ways to spend a day in Bern. However, your priority should be seeing the old city. For me, it is the primary reason why you should visit Bern.
The old city of Bern is a beautiful place filled with picturesque, romantic scenes. If you are a history lover, architecture enthusiast, or photographer, I’m sure you’ll find your trip to Bern worth it.
I honestly think the old city can already “complete” a trip to Bern.
Every visitor, in general, can undoubtedly find value in it. You can see unique historical landmarks, learn about Swiss history/politics, and have some relaxing moments at places with panoramic views.
Visiting the old city can already make you busy for the entire day.
However, there are cases where an attraction is unavailable for tourists, or you’re not that interested in a specific destination, so you might decide to skip it. If that happens, then you’ll indeed create some spare time.
Of course, we don’t want to be idle during our trip as visiting Switzerland is pretty expensive! As much as possible, we want to maximize our day, seeing new beautiful places or getting great experiences all the time.
The museums can fill the space in the itinerary, but I would not suggest it yet.
Especially if the weather is excellent, you have to take advantage! I suggest going to other outdoor attractions like Gurten or River Aare in Bern.
As I mentioned in the beginning, you spend a day in Bern in many ways.
If you really like the outdoors and the fantastic weather, you can also spend a day in Bern: half in the old city, half in Gurten. This can also be a good option as you can already see the unmissable places in the old city of Bern in a half day.
A while ago, I was talking about spending one day in Bern and half a day in Bern. I have articles where I discussed in detail how you can do them. You can see those posts from these links: one-day Bern itinerary and half-a-day Bern itinerary. Most of the attractions I will mention later are tackled comprehensively in those posts.
Not sure how many days to visit Bern? Check my article How Long To Spend In Bern
Undoubtedly, the old city is the main highlight of a trip to Bern.
It is the first part of the city of Bern, built as early as the 12th century—the time of the city’s founding. Today it is considered a UNESCO heritage site and one of the best-preserved medieval cities in Europe. Travelers visiting the old city have their imagination transported to the middle ages by the old city’s quaint appearance.
I love the old city of Bern because it is compact, walkable, and architecturally well-planned. And you know what, whenever I look at the old city, I am amazed by the cleverness of the Zahringer people who built the old city.
They built Bern on a peninsula on the Aare River, repurposing the river to a natural moat that could protect them from invaders from the north, east, and south. Only from the west can people enter the old city way back when.
This is why arriving at Bern today may feel like visiting the old city of Bern centuries ago. That is the case primarily if you use trains from other cities in Switzerland. The train station is located west of the old city.
From the train station, move eastward, and you’ll start seeing the tourist attractions and points of interest listed below. The list basically summarizes the overall experience you can have in the old city.
1. Bundeshaus, or the Federal Palace of Switzerland, is a remarkable neoclassical building with a vantage point of the Aare River. You can join the tour inside Bundeshaus to discover pieces of history and marvelous artwork. Learn more about what you can see inside and outside Bundeshaus from this link.
2. Käfigturm, or the Prison Tower, is one of the two remaining defensive towers in Bern. Today, it houses Switzerland’s political forum and sometimes holds various exhibits.
3. Marktgasse is one of Bern’s three most beautiful streets, located in Innere Neustadt. From here, you can see and photograph Anna-Seiler-Brunnen, Käfigturm, Schützenbrunnen, and Zytglogge.
4. Kornhausplatz is the most interesting square in the old city of Bern and the one best to eat lunch. Wander in Kornhausplatz to see the Kindlifresserbrunnen (ogre fountain), marvel at the Stadttheater, and relax in Ringgepark.
5. Zytglogge is the most spectacular medieval landmark in Bern. It has gorgeous giant clocks, a colorful astronomical clock, and fascinating automatons that move minutes before a full hour. Here’s a post showing you what you must discover about Zytglogge.
6. Kramgasse is another picturesque street in Bern, the center of urban life in Bern before the industrial age. Here you can find 3 beautiful fountains, which you can photograph with Zytglogge in the backdrop.
7. Einsteinhaus is a simple yet unique attraction in Bern for being the home of Einstein for a few years in Switzerland. Come inside to see the living condition of Einstein’s family during the time he invented the theory of General Relativity.
8. Rathaus, or Bern’s City Hall, is an architectural attraction in Bern. In front of it is a small square with a cafe and a beautiful fountain. It can be an excellent place for you to relax.
9. The Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul is one of the churches in Bern with unique architecture. You can appreciate it at the same square in front of the Rathaus.
10. Bern Cathedral is the most unmissable landmark in Bern, the tallest church in Switzerland, and a structure dating back to the 15th century. It is an architectural marvel with awe-inspiring and unique artworks you should see! Climb its spire to see some of the best views in Bern. Discover more about Bern Cathedral here.
11. Bear Park and Bear Pit is a symbolic tourist attraction in Bern. Here, you can find bears which are heraldic symbols of the city. The site has panoramic views of the Aare River and Bern’s skyline.
12. Rose Garden is a park east of the old city where you can see an overlooking view of Bern. It is the best place to watch the sunset or have some romantic moments—thanks to the park’s restaurant and thousand colorful flowers.
In case you missed… I thoroughly discussed these tourist attractions in my post about my Bern one-day itinerary. You should read the article to know the best part of visiting these landmarks/sites, and the time you may need for each.
Gurten is the closest mountain to Bern, situated a few kilometers south of the city. It has a height that’s a little over 850 meters or 2780 feet. Standing on the area around its summit, you’ll see an overlooking view of Bern and a panorama of the Bernese Alps.
I think Gurten is an excellent alternative to the Rose Garden for watching the sunset in Bern. It even has an observation tower which can be accessed for free. Climb it for more breathtaking views.
Aside from beautiful scenery, Gurten also has a restaurant, children’s activities, and recreational areas for adults. It’s actually a giant park, and it’s nice to visit if you are traveling with your kids.
I think the best experience your family can try in Gurten is the Toboggan run. It has a 500-meter-long track, which of course, lets you have a view of the surrounding fields, forests, and city.
However, Gurten is not the only place to ride a Toboggan run in Switzerland. You can find one in Kandersteg and Mount Pilatus near Lucerne. I recommend them more for a better experience because of the more spectacular views of the Alps.
To get to Gurten, ride on the streetcar no. 9 from Bern’s central station. It can bring you to Gurtenbahn’s funicular valley station in around 15 minutes. Finally, ride the funicular going to the top of Gurten.
If you want to learn more about Gurten, you can check their official website, linked at the end of this post.
Also, if you are curious about what Mount Pilatus and Lucerne looks like, learn more about them from these links:
- 5 Reasons To Visit Mount Pilatus (Lucerne Day Trip)
- How To Spend One Day In Lucerne (1-Day Itinerary)
Day 2 in Bern
One way to spend another day in Bern is by doing activities that aren’t weather-dependent. Of course, they are the indoor tourist attractions in Bern, like the museums, spas, and tours inside the historical sites in the old city.
Museum hopping in Bern—is that nice?
I think yes because the museums in the city are fun and unique, notably the Einstein Museum and the Museum of Communication. Then, if you love art and history, Bern’s Historical Museum and Zentrum Paul Klee are worth a try.
Visiting different museums in Bern is effortless as they are located near each other in their own district called “Kirchenfeld.” Some people call it the “Museum district” of Bern. In Kirchenfeld, you’ll be literally walking short distances in going from one museum to another.
So, where is Kirchenfeld or Bern’s museum district? Kirchenfeld is located south of the old city, across the Aare River. It is connected to the old city through Kirchenfeldbrücke, the bridge beside Bern Casino.
You can go straight to Kirchenfeld from Bern’s central train station by riding Bus #19 or Tram #8 or #9. But I would not totally suggest it, especially if you want to see a different panoramic view of the old city.
Why? Because I think you’ll also love the view of the old city while walking along Kirchenfeldbrücke.
From the bridge, you can have a different perspective of the old town’s skyline—it’s photogenic. Facing the old city, you can see a panorama that includes Bundeshaus, Bern Casino, and Bern Cathedral.
By the way, aside from some of the museums mentioned previously, you can also find the Natural History Museum, Kunsthalle Bern (an art museum), and Alpine Museum in Kirchenfeld. There are a handful of restaurants near the museums, so you might not need to leave Kirchenfeld and go back to the old city for lunch.
Visiting a few museums in one day can be exhausting. It is, especially if you really like visiting museums, and you can spend hours exploring, strolling, and standing to appreciate the exhibits.
If you need some pampering and relaxing, you might want to check Hammam & SPA Oktogon. We’ll talk about it later, but in a nutshell, it is a beautiful spa with a unique bathing experience on its 4-floor building.
Let me share the four museums that I think are the most interesting in Bern.
Bern Historical Museum
Bern Historical Museum is the second-largest historical museum in Switzerland. And if you come from the old city of Bern, it’ll be the museum in Kirchenfeld which you’ll see first. You can spot it right away from Kirchenfeldbrücke.
Your first impression would definitely be a question: “is that really a museum or a castle?” That will surely be because of its castle-like structure, reminiscent of the ones from the 15th to 16th centuries. It’s like a Disney castle from Kirchenfeldbrücke, though!
I think the Bern Historical Museum is one of the most beautiful landmarks of Bern. Not to mention the fascinating glass mosaic above its entrance, called “The Age of History.” In fact, Bern Historical Museum is a heritage site of national significance.
As its name suggests, you can expect to see many things related to history, archaeology, and ethnography when exploring the Bern Historical Museum. There are half-a-million artifacts in Bern Historical Museum from different ages, originating from different parts of the world.
If you are a map nerd like me, I bet you’ll also like to see some historical maps inside the museum. One that remained in my mind was the map of Europe during the reign of Augustus and Caesar.
You can also find miniatures of cities and villages from different parts of the world. Of course, there is also a miniature of the old city of Bern inside the museum.
The last time I checked, the Bern Historical Museum had exhibits about Japan and its Samurai. It was impressive and full of learning. It featured more than an hour of audio stories giving full insight into this part of Japanese culture.
Overall, it would take slightly more than a couple hours to see every part of the Bern Historical Museum. However, you wouldn’t like to leave the museum building yet because there’s part 2 for your visit: it’s the Einstein Museum.
You can learn more about Bern Historical Museum from its official website, linked at the end of this post.
The Einstein Museum is another museum you can find inside the castle-like building of the Bern Historical Museum. It is a 1000-square-meter-exhibition of many aspects of Albert Einstein’s life, located on the second floor of the building.
If you plan to see the exhibits at Bern Historical Museum and Einstein Museum, you should allow at least 4 hours (half-day) to be spent.
You must also prepare yourself to learn so much when visiting the Einstein Museum. Not only will you discover Einstein’s private and professional life but also the events and happenings during the 1920s up until the second world war.
If you also like science, visiting the Einstein Museum will be more fun. The cosmos and special and general theory of relativity are well explained inside the museum. They’ll satisfy your curiosity about space and time!
Discovering something new is pretty fun and simple in the Einstein Museum. Why? Aside from the 500+ original objects and replicas of Einstein’s work and daily life stuff, the museum also has films and animations that explain science in a clear and easy-to-understand way.
And if you imagine a futuristic learning museum, you are right. I think you’ll be amazed even right before you enter the Einstein Museum. The entrance is a mirrored staircase that appears like you’re in another dimension, which hints at the science that Einstein unfolded to the world.
You can learn more about the Einstein Museum from its official website, which I linked at the end of this post. By the way, speaking of a modern museum—if that’s the kind of museum you like, then it’s the Museum of Communication which you must try.
Museum of Communication
Among the museums in Bern, it’s the Museum of Communication, where I think you can find the most fascinating, fun, and futuristic exhibits. Where is the Museum of Communication? You can find it behind the Bern Historical Museum, along Helvetiastrasse.
In a nutshell, the Museum of Communication exhibits anything related to how people communicate. It’s filled with old phones, telegraphs, tablets, computers, and many more electronic gadgets. Indeed, it’ll be a nostalgic visit, especially for Millennials and older visitors!
However, phones and other electronics used for communicating aren’t only the kinds of exhibits that await you inside the museum. The Museum of Communication has 3 floors of various exhibits that give insight into how humans have communicated for thousands of years.
I find the Museum of Communication fascinating because you can see objects in the exhibits we use every day but unconsciously use to communicate. It’s mind-blowing to think that those things also serve as means of communication.
Some examples are paper, cars, bicycles, CDs, fireworks, and more! But what’s more interesting? The museum is really up to date!
The Museum of Communication even has an exhibit of a meme with several copies, depicting how “copy-paste” made our lives more fun and easy to communicate. You can also find screenshots of the social media platforms we use today.
When it comes to fun, the Museum of Communication offers you a lot of ways to have fun.
You can try using interactive stations (i.e., printing postage stamps, film karaoke), playing video games (i.e., preventing a hacker’s attack), or watching real live people on screens sharing facts about communications. Kids and teens will absolutely love these activities.
There is just a lot to do inside the Museum of Communications that you expect to spend more than 3 hours there. More information is available at the official website of the Museum of Communication which I linked at the end of this post.
Natural History Museum
Are you a traveling family? You should also bring them to the Natural History Museum. It is located along Bernastrasse, a few steps from the Museum of Communication and Bern Historical Museum.
The Natural History Museum of Bern is definitely one of the places your small kids will enjoy, like kids below 10 or 7. Why? Because it has hundreds of life-sized dioramas of animals from different parts of the world, I think your little kids will be curious to see them.
It’s like visiting a museum of stuffed animals—that’s why it’s great for kids! However, I think the museum needs to add more descriptions for most exhibits so adults may enjoy them and find them educational.
Anyhow, you will find dogs, rhinos, vultures, giraffes, hippos, walruses, and more in the Natural History Museum. There are dinosaurs, too! I am impressed by how good the dioramas are. If they’re moving, you might think that they’re real animals.
When you visit the Natural History Museum, you should not miss the main star of the exhibits. It is the stuffed hide of Barry (a dog of a breed later called St. Bernard). Barry is a mountain rescue dog of Great St Bernard Hospice, known to have saved more than 40 lives.
Aside from hundreds of stuffed animals, the Natural History Museum also has exhibits about alpine rocks & minerals, meteorites, and animal bones or skeletons. Believe it or not, this museum is said to hold Switzerland’s most extensive collection of animal skeletons and bones. I think the most impressive reconstructed skeleton in the museum is the T-Rex.
If you are really interested in the Natural History Museum’s exhibits, you might spend 3 to 4 hours inside the museum. I think 2 hours would be enough to see the highlights and the most notable exhibitions.
I linked the official website of the Natural History Museum at the end of this post to learn more about the museum. Updated visiting information is posted on their website.
Hammam & SPA Oktogon
I always want to make my travels as productive as possible.
I aim to either bring home a new learning or experience, create new friendships, or be totally refreshed for another period of work and hustle. If you also aim for the later on your trip to Bern, there is no better way to end your Bern trip than by getting a massage or a spa session.
You’ll be surely tired after a day of strolling in the old city and exploring two or three fascinating museums. And for your body to be totally revitalized for post-vacation shenanigans, you should get a simple massage or access your hotel’s spa services before leaving the city.
However, you might like to try Hammam & SPA Oktogon for a quality and unique spa experience. They specialize in a Middle Eastern cleansing ritual that soothes all of you—mind, body, and soul. Usually, the ritual lasts for 2 hours.
The ritual happens in hammams where you can feel strangely good warmth and soothing relaxation. And the rooms where you’ll be staying are elaborated with colorful cushions, lanterns, and other oriental elements.
As it is a “ritual,” you can expect that your 2-stay inside Hammam & SPA Oktogon will involve several steps. There are natural peelings, warm baths, hot herbal steams, and Moroccan clay masks.
Can you imagine how relaxing it is? It’ll soothe both your body and eyes. A total indulgence.
You can book online if you want to try Hammam & SPA Oktogon. And if you want to learn more about the spa’s services and visiting information, check out its official website linked at the end of this post.
More Things To Do In Bern
The old city of Bern, Gurten, and all the fascinating museums in Bern is more than enough to make you busy for a 2-day Bern trip. However, there are still other ways to explore and enjoy the Swiss capital city.
You can join a walking tour, photography, or architectural walking tour. There are also games for couples and groups available. Check them out from this list of more things to do in Bern.
Should You Visit Bern For 2 Days?
Although Bern has a charming old city and fascinating museums, Switzerland has many natural attractions, and it’s there you should spend more time. Unless you have a long trip to Switzerland, a 2-day trip to Bern would be great.
However, since Bern is very near the Jungfrau region, staying in Bern and making it your home base can be advantageous. You’ll both see a beautiful city and making a day trip to the most beautiful natural attractions in Switzerland will be very easy.
I would not also suggest a 2-day trip to Bern, especially that visiting Bern’s old city can be done in one day—that’s already in a leisurely manner. Most importantly, you can already see its unmissable points of interest in Bern within a half day.
If you are interested in having a day trip from Bern, here’s where I can suggest you go:
- Lucerne: How To Spend One Day In Lucerne (1-Day Itinerary)
- Thun: Best Way To Spend One Day In Thun (Day Trip Itinerary)
- Interlaken: Beautiful Places To Visit In Interlaken And Jungfrau Region
Looking for different ways to travel in Switzerland? Check my itineraries below.
Where To Stay In Bern
Will you be visiting and staying in Bern for a couple of days? I suggest staying in a hotel/BnB near the train station, which has quick & convenient access to all attractions inside and outside the old city.
And if you haven’t booked a hotel yet, you may use this link to Booking.com. It’s where I usually find the best hotel deals in any destinations I visit.
Note that this is an affiliate link. If you find my content useful, please support my blog by bookmarking this link and using it to find your accommodation whenever you travel. Thank you very much!
I love booking.com because it features a map where I can easily browse for accommodation near my preferred hotel location. It also has free cancellation on nearly all rooms! And most importantly, it has millions of reviews in its listings which can help you choose an accommodation quickly (no more browsing the internet for reviews).
Sources: 2-Day Bern Itinerary
- Einstein Museum
- Bernisches Historisches Museum
- Museum of Communication Bern
- Natural History Museum of Bern
- Hammam & Spa Oktogon Bern
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