One Day In Bern Itinerary: Landmarks & Scenic Spots Tour

Bern is one of the most beautiful cities in Switzerland. It is an unmissable destination that is absolutely worth visiting for its beautiful, preserved old town—a UNESCO World Heritage site. 

When exploring Bern, it will feel like time-traveling. From its arcade streets to panoramic viewpoints, you can find picture-perfect scenes to transport you back to the middle ages. Not to mention centuries-old architectural attractions and unique landmarks that are also a feast for the eyes!

The things mentioned above—you can have them all in one day… and I’ll help you achieve that! With the one-day Bern itinerary, which I will share, you don’t have to worry about how you can satisfy your wanderlust for Bern. Sounds like a great idea? Of course! So, let’s get started!

In simplest words, this one-day Bern itinerary will let you visit the best attractions in Bern’s old city. Most of them are the ones you can enjoy for free or only require small fees. You and your bank account won’t be frowning after visiting Bern using this itinerary!

I also included the little gems you’d love to discover along the way. So, without further ado, let’s dig into the best way to spend one day in Bern!

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How To Spend One Day In Bern Itinerary: 12 Best Things To Do In Bern

One reason why I love Bern so much is that it has many attractions and places you can visit (despite being one of the smallest capital cities in Europe). Even within the old city, you can already find several landmarks that are hard not to marvel at.

I think you will also love Bern, especially its old city because it is so walkable! And the streets that link landmarks—they are like the main attractions. Since most attractions in the old town are only sightseeing destinations, which are primarily free to see, breaking the bank is something you should not worry about.

In this itinerary, the only places you might like to spend money are Zytglogge, Einsteinhaus, and the Bern Cathedral. The payment and access are optional and cost only a few USD/CHF.

Overall, these three are only three of the 30-plus attractions you can visit in Bern. The 30 include landmarks, fountains, museums, parks, and gardens (I’ll discuss some later). If I made you wonder how long you must visit Bern, I’d give you my brief answer:

One day is enough in Bern to see unmissable attractions in the old city and a couple of parks beside the Aare river, where you can relax with a view after exploring the town. Visiting Bern’s most iconic landmarks and taking a leisurely stroll in the arcade streets will already take half a day.

Do you want to know how to visit Bern in a day now? To be efficient, I suggest exploring Bern in one direction, from west to east. That means, from the train station, you’ll first visit the tourist attractions within Aussere Neustadt (outer new town), then Innere Neustadt (inner new town), and finally, Zahringerstadt.

I assume you’ll arrive in Bern or start your trip to Bern on or before 9:00 in the morning. Following this, you can finish the itinerary before sunset. We’ll now discuss each tourist attraction. I’ll introduce them to you, tell them their exact location, and explain how you can reach them. 

Anyhow, if you are looking for a specific kind of attraction in Bern, you should see the links below.

Do you need more ideas where to go in Bern? I can help you with that! You can try reading: Most Beautiful Views In Bern, Walking tour to the Most Beautiful Fountains In Bern, DIY day tour to the Impressive Landmarks in Bern. (Links open in a new tab)

Sources and useful links are placed at the end of this post so you can easily access them in one place. 

Lastly, this post will be lengthy—I’m sharing everything I know about the old city of Bern, so you don’t miss a thing when you visit this beautiful city. Okay? Let’s go!

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1. Bundeshaus

Let’s kick off the list of things to do in Bern for this one-day itinerary with the Bundeshaus or the Federal Palace of Switzerland. 

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The facade of Bundeshaus from Bundesplatz in Bern, Switzerland
The facade of Bundeshaus from Bundesplatz
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For me, Bundeshaus is one of the reasons why anyone interested in history should visit Bern during their trip to Switzerland. It is the best place to learn about Switzerland’s history and politics, as visiting Bundeshaus can give you hands-on experience of how the Swiss Government works.

How? You can join the free 60-minute guided tours that the Bundeshaus tour guides offer. The tour includes visiting the chambers in the Parliament building, where you will be explained how Swiss democracy works. 

Of course, you will see the interiors of the Parliament building, which is so impressive. There are also incredible symbolic artworks, sculptures, and murals. Even at the reception area (entrance is along Bundesterrasse), you can already find interesting artifacts, like the first map of Switzerland.

However, the tour is unavailable when a parliament session is going on. So, it’s best to check or book online/through a call before going. You may see more information at the links at the end of this post.

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The archway between the Parliament Building and Bundeshaus West in Bern, Switzerland
The archway between the Parliament Building and Bundeshaus West
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Nevertheless, Bundeshaus is an architectural marvel and a beautiful vantage point of the Aare River. Your visit will not be vain if you visit Bundeshaus without the tours. Learn more about what else you can see inside and outside Bundeshaus from the post I just linked.

How to go to the Bundeshaus?

Bundeshaus is one of the landmarks in the old city of Bern, closest to the train station (Bahnhof). It is located along Bundesgasse and one of the buildings situated in Bundesplatz.

Going to Bundeshaus is only a 3-minute walk from Bahnhof. From Bahnhof, start walking south along Christoffelgasse. When you reach the corner, turn left at Bundesgasse, and you shall see the Bundeshaus.

Summary of the visit to Bundeshaus

  • Suggested arrival time to Bundeshaus: 9:00 am
  • Start of the tour: 9:30 am
  • The time you will need in Bundeshaus: 1.5 hours (with tours) or 0.5 hours (without a tour)
  • Bundeshaus Checklist:
    • Take a selfie with Bundeshaus in the backdrop
    • Appreciate the facade of Bundeshaus
    • Watch kids have fun in the fountain in Bundesplatz
    • Go to Bundesterrasse through the picturesque archway between the West Bundeshaus and Parliament Building
    • Join the 9:30 am Parliament Building tour
    • Rest and sightsee in Bundesterrasse
  • Estimated time of departure from Bundeshaus: 10:30 am

Tip: The tours inside Bundeshaus are only in French and German during weekdays. I suggest downloading the Federal Palace App Audio guide to your smartphone as it describes everything about Bundeshaus (also the buildings in Bundesplatz) in English.

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2. Käfigturm

Let’s say you arrive at Bern for the first time without any research beforehand; I think your first impression of Bern will make you believe that remarkable medieval buildings await you in the city.

Well, if that happened, what you have in mind is right. Because Bern’s important medieval structures are preserved together with the overall architecture of the old city. 

And whether you are from Bahnhof or Bundeshaus, the first notable medieval building (and the closest) you can see in Bern is Käfigturm. It is a 13th-century tower, now used to provide time to anyone passing by Bärenplatz, Spitalgasse, and Marktgasse.

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Kafigturm seen from Bärenplatz in Bern, Switzerland
Kafigturm seen from Bärenplatz
Kafigturm seen from Marktgasse in Bern, Switzerland
Kafigturm seen from Marktgasse
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As an old-world architecture lover, Käfigturm’s five-pointed towers immediately got my attention. It will also catch your eye as soon as you leave the Bundesplatz (assuming you just visited Bundeshaus).

Perhaps, it will also paint your imagination with some scenes straight out of movies set in the middle ages! 

Actually, Käfigturm is a prison tower, as its name suggests. But it has also served different purposes in the past (i.e., city gate and defensive tower). And up to now, Käfigturm is still an important place in Switzerland as it’s still the home of the country’s political forum.

I’m not sure if you can enter Käfigturm, but sometimes it has exhibits that may be open to any visitors. However, when I checked the reviews of Käfigturm on Google Maps, I discovered that people can really enter and see the exhibits inside (and the views from the windows).

You may check the website of Switzerland’s Political Forum at the end of the post for announcements and more information. Nevertheless, I would suggest spending only a few minutes in the area around Käfigturm to appreciate the landmark and take pictures. 

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Pfeiferbrunnen in Spitalgasse with Käfigturm on the backdrop in Bern, Switzerland
Pfeiferbrunnen in Spitalgasse with Käfigturm on the backdrop
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Where to take photos? I suggest you go to Pfeiferbrunnen in Spitalgasse. You can photograph the fountain with Käfigturm in the backdrop for a more creative shot. (Spitalgasse is the street in front of Käfigturm to the west)

How to go to the Käfigturm?

Käfigturm is the gate tower of Bern’s Innere Neustadt. Marketgasse goes through the tower, and the building faces Barenplatz and Spitalgasse. 

Finding and visiting Käfigturm is very simple as it’s one street apart from Bahnhof. If you want to go straight to Käfigturm from the train station, you may only spend 3 minutes walking along Spitalgasse.

Bundeshaus and Käfigturm are also very close to each other (a 1-minute walk). Like, you can still see Bundeshaus standing in front of Käfigturm in Bärenplatz and facing left (south).

Summary of the visit to Käfigturm 

  • Suggested arrival time to Käfigturm: 10:31 
  • The time you will need in Käfigturm: 15 minutes
  • Käfigturm Checklist:
    • See Käfigturm close-up and take pictures
    • Go to Spitalgasse and Pfeiferbrunnen to admire and photograph the nice Käfigturm scene
  • Estimated time of departure from Käfigturm: 10:45 am
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3. Marktgasse

In my opinion, there are three most picturesque streets in Bern which you should not miss on your one-day visit to Bern. One of them is Marktgasse, and the other two are Kramgasse and Junkerngasse.

Did you know that Marktgasse is so beautiful that the creators of Gran Turismo 5 included Marktgasse in their car racing game? Marktgasse was one of the dynamic photo locations for the player’s car in Gran Turismo 5. 

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The beautiful facade of Kaiserhaus along Marktgasse in Bern, Switzerland
The beautiful facade of Kaiserhaus along Marktgasse
Beautiful statues attached to the houses in Marktgasse in Bern Switzerland
Beautiful statues attached to the houses in Marktgasse
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Martkgasse is a picturesque street in Bern because it offers not only one but many photo opportunities along its length. It has arcades on both sides, two of the most beautiful fountains are here, and the buildings in Marktgasse are decorated with stuccoes and beautiful symbolic figures.

Most importantly, you can see at both ends of Marktgasse the two clock towers, Käfigturm and Zytglogge. If you view these clock towers a few steps away from the ends of the street, you can photograph them together with the arcades and the two beautiful fountains in Bern. 

To the east side, you can take a picture of Anna-Seiler-Brunnen and Käfigturm. Schützenbrunnen and Zytglogge are on the flip side.

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Anna-Seiler-Brunnen and Käfigturm on the west end of Marktgasse in Bern, Switzerland
Anna-Seiler-Brunnen and Käfigturm on the west end of Marktgasse
Zytglogge at the east end of Marktgasse in Bern, Switzerland
Zytglogge at the east end of Marktgasse
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You can be more creative in taking the shot. Move a little backward from the towers and fountains so you may include the arcade street on your camera’s viewfinder. 

How to go to Marktgasse?

Marktgasse is the main street of Innere Neustadt. You can find it behind Käfigturm if you are currently in the Aussere Neustadt or Barenplatz. 

Summary of the visit to Marktgasse 

  • Suggested arrival time to Marktgasse: 10:45
  • The time you will need in Marktgasse: 15 minutes
  • Marktgasse Checklist:
    • Appreciate & take photos of Anna-Seiler-Brunnen and Käfigturm
    • Marvel & capture images of Zytglogge and Schützenbrunnen
    • Find beautiful decorations on the facade of the buildings in Marktgasse.
    • Window shopping within the arcade
  • Estimated time of departure from Marktgasse: 11:00 am
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4. Kornhausplatz

The old city of Bern has many squares. But, among them, Kornhausplatz is the one I find interesting to explore.

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View of Zytglogge from Kornhausplatz
View of Zytglogge from Kornhausplatz
View of Stadttheater from Kornhausplatz in Bern, Switzerland
View of Stadttheater from Kornhausplatz
Kindlifresserbrunnen in Kornhausplatz in Bern, Switzerland
Kindlifresserbrunnen in Kornhausplatz
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Why? Wandering in Kornhausplatz, you’ll see a fascinating fountain and buildings with beautiful neoclassical architecture. Also, Zytglogge and its gorgeous western facade dominate the square.

Of course, the main attraction in the Kornhausplatz is no other than Zytglogge, which we’ll discuss later. But before you start checking Zytglogge’s details, you might want to look for Kindlifresserbrunnen first.

Kindlifresserbrunnen is the fountain in the middle of Kornhausplatz, and you should be able to spot it (face left) easily after emerging from Marktgasse (assuming you are following this itinerary). It may look just like Schützenbrunnen from afar, but come close, you’ll see an ogre eating babies and small kids.

Among the beautiful fountains in Bern, Kindlifresserbrunnen is the most intriguing because of the image it depicts. Some people say that it was built to scare children from misbehaving.

As you move closer to Kindlifresserbrunnen, you’ll see another landmark in Bern, Stadttheater. It is one of the most beautiful buildings in Bern, exhibiting exemplary neoclassical architecture.

What can be fascinating about Stadttheater, especially for architecture enthusiasts like me, are the elaborations of the theater’s facade. They depict symbols of performing arts and different musical instruments. From afar, you might also see them appearing like just ordinary reliefs similar to some classical buildings.

Opposite the Stadttheater across the street is the lovely park, Ringgepark. It’s only a tiny green space in the city, yet it has views that can be nice with Stadttheater included in the scenery. There is a cafe/restaurant in Ringgepark, which can be an excellent place for lunch. 

Actually, if you noticed, I placed Kornhausplatz on this itinerary at noon because I think it’s also the best place to have lunch. A wide range of restaurants is in Kornhausplatz, from fast food (McDonald’s) to high-end restaurants like Kornhauskeller Restaurant and Bar. The latter has cozy interiors and a vaulted ceiling (similar to a church), giving an extraordinary dining experience.

How to go to Kornhausplatz?

There are many ways to reach Kornhausplatz. Several streets connect Kornhausplatz to other parts of the old city. 

However, if you’re from Bahnhof, the shortest way to Kornhausplatz is through the Spitalgasse and Marktgasse. You can walk for 8 minutes (650 meters or 2132 feet) or take a tram ride (Line #9) which cuts the travel time by half to 4 minutes.

Summary of the visit to Kornhausplatz

  • Suggested arrival time to Kornhausplatz: 11:00 am
  • The time you will need in Kornhausplatz: 2 hours (including lunch)
  • KornhausplatzChecklist:
    • See Kindlifresserbrunnen and take pictures if you want
    • Visit the facade of Stadttheater.
    • Eat lunch!
  • Estimated time of departure from Kornhausplatz: 1:00 pm 
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5. Zytglogge 

Of the beautiful landmarks in Bern, I find Zytglogge the most spectacular. Well, simply because it is really a spectacle! I think it is also one of the highlights of visiting Bern. Like, a trip to Bern is incomplete without seeing Zytglogge.

Zytglogge, like Käfigturm, is a clock tower that was once also Bern’s gate and defensive structure. It dates back to the 13th century, but its appearance today is no longer exactly what it was before. Nevertheless, Zytglogge remained a defensive architectural masterpiece, exhibiting elements of gothic and baroque styles.

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Zytglogge's astronomical clock, frieze, and automatons in Bern, Switzerland
Zytglogge’s astronomical clock, frieze, and automatons
View of Zytglogge close-up from Kramgasse
View of Zytglogge close-up from Kramgasse
Zytglogge and the beautiful building beside the clock tower in Bern, Switzerland
Zytglogge and the beautiful building beside the clock tower
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With its blueish pointed spire and elegant tile roof reaching 50+ meters, Zytglogge will definitely catch your eyes whether you are in Marktgasse, Kornhausplatz, or Kramgasse. These are some of the places where you can find and have a nice view of Zytglogge.

The top part of Zytglogge is undoubtedly eye-catching, but the real spectacle lies on its east and west facades. Zytglogge’s facades have two imposing giant clocks, one colorful astronomical clock, and automatons. 

The automatons move every full hour in sync with the bells ringing. It’s the spectacle you should see. 

I can’t help myself not to marvel at the automatons, considering the time they were made. I am an engineer… and I can’t imagine how the craftsmen who made Zytglogge carefully calculated gears’ sizes with paper and rulers. If you are also curious about the mechanism inside Zytglogge, join the 60-minute tour inside Zytglogge.

However, the tour does not occur every hour but only on specific hours (2:15 pm every Monday, Friday & Saturday, or 3:15 pm every Wednesday & Sunday). So if you are following this itinerary, you must make a slight adjustment with the time.

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Golden hour view of Zytglogge in Bern, Switzerland
Golden hour view of Zytglogge
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There is a lot more I want to say about Zytglogge, but I cannot include it all here in this post. You can check my post about what’s inside and outside Zytglogge to learn more about this beautiful clock tower. I also mentioned in that article where else you can photograph and see Zytglogge.

How to go to Zytglogge?

Finding and going to Zytglogge is, without a doubt, effortless if you are already in Marktgasse or Kornhausplatz. 

However, let’s say you are currently in other places in Bern and want to get to Zytglogge quickly. In that case, you might want to ride the trams that run in different parts of the city. Hop on trams #6, #8, #7, #10, #19, and #30. They all have a stop a few steps from Zytglogge.

Summary of the visit to Zytglogge

  • Suggested arrival time to Zytglogge: 12:55 pm
    • You must come at least 5 minutes before 1:00 pm to watch the entire spectacle of Zytglogge’s automatons.
  • The time you will need in Zytglogge: 15 minutes
    • If you come back to Zytglogge and join a tour inside the tower, you will definitely need 1+ hour here.
  • Zytglogge Checklist:
    • See the west facade of Zytglogge, and take pictures if you like.
    • Marvel at the murals and astronomical clock in the east facade of Zytglogge.
    • Check out the paintings inside Zytglogge’s arch.
    • Watch the full-hour spectacle in the east facade of Zytglogge. (approximately 5 minutes).
    • Enter and join the tour inside Zytglogge (optional).

You can learn more about the Tour in Zytglogge from GetYourGuide.

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6. Kramgasse

If you made it to Zytglogge, you are now also in Kramgasse, which is one of the most picturesque streets in Bern. Kramgasse is the old city’s most historically important street, as it was the center of urban life in Bern until the industrial revolution.

Like Marktgasse, Kramgasse has beautiful fountains and arcades on both sides that are absolutely enticing to photograph. The late gothic facades of the houses on this street are the little gems you find in Bern. 

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A cute statue attached to the facade of a shop in Kramgasse, Bern, Switzerland
A cute statue attached to the facade of a shop in Kramgasse
Simsonbrunnen in front of the gorgeous houses in Kramgasse in Bern, Switzerland
Simsonbrunnen in front of the gorgeous houses in Kramgasse
The beautiful facades of the houses in Kramgasse in Bern, Switzerland
The beautiful facades of the houses in Kramgasse
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Of the fountains in the 330-meter or 1080-feet-long Kramgasse, Zähringerbrunnen is the fountain closest to Zytglogge. It is a figure-topped fountain depicting an armored bear which is Bern’s heraldic personification. This is why I think Zähringerbrunnen is Bern’s most iconic fountain.

For me, the area around Zähringerbrunnen is one of the best places to have a photo souvenir in Bern. Move a few steps east of Zähringerbrunnen so you can photograph yourself with Zytglogge, Zähringerbrunnen, and the beautiful arcades in the backdrop.

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Zähringerbrunnen and Zytglogge, seen from Kramgasse in Bern, Switzerland
Zähringerbrunnen and Zytglogge, seen from Kramgasse
Simsonbrunnen along Kramgasse in Bern, Switzerland
Simsonbrunnen along Kramgasse
Kreuzbrunnen in Kramgasse in Bern, Switzerland
Kreuzbrunnen in Kramgasse
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Start walking east from Zähringerbrunnen, and you’ll reach the second fountain, Simsonbrunnen. It is a fountain with the figure of Samsom taming a lion on top. 

I bet you’ll also love the view of Zähringerbrunnen with Kramgasse on the backdrop (facing west). The arcades create leading lines, emphasizing Zähringerbrunnen or Zytglogge. It’s a scene you can’t miss taking photographs of!

Aside from Zähringerbrunnen and Simsonbrunnen, you can also visit Kreuzgassbrunnen, an obelisk fountain at the end of Kramgasse.

Also, know that Kramgasse is Bern’s upmarket shopping street. You may want to window shop as you stroll from one fountain to another. Boutiques, art galleries, wine cellars, jeweler’s stores, antiquaries, and more await you in Kramgasse.

Most importantly, along Kramgasse, you can find the apartment of the genius who formulated the Theory of General Relativity. We’ll talk about it next! 

How to go to Kramgasse?

Kramgasse is the western section of the street that runs in the middle of Zahringerstadt. If you come from Bahnhof, you can just start walking east from Spitalgasse. You should arrive at Kramgasse within 10 minutes.

If you think you are too far from Kramgasse, you may ride bus #12. It has a stop in Kramgasse. Alternatively, you can also ride the buses and trams (mentioned earlier) that have a station in Zytglogge.

Summary of the visit to Kramgasse

  • Suggested arrival time to Kramgasse: 12:55 pm or 1:00 pm (after seeing Zytglogge’s spectacle)
  • The time you will need in Kramgasse: 15 minutes
  • Kramgasse Checklist:
    • Appreciate Zähringerbrunnen & take a photo souvenir with Zähringerbrunnen 
    • Stroll in Kramgasse and window shop
    • Visit Simsonbrunnen and photograph the epic view of the street
    • See Kreuzgassbrunnen
    • Visit Einsteinhaus
  • Suggested departure time: (see departure time after visiting Einsteinhaus)

Tip: The water spouting from the beautiful fountains in Bern is fresh and potable.

Another tip: If you continue walking east after Kramgasse, you will see Gerechtigkeitsbrunnen (fountain of justice). It is another beautiful fountain in Bern, very colorful and symbolic. 

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7. Einsteinhaus

The House of Einstein (Einsteinhaus, Kramgasse No. 49) is Bern’s simple yet unique attraction in Switzerland. It is the apartment where Albert Einstein and his family lived in Bern from 1903 to 1905.

What’s special about Einstein’s house in Bern, aside from the fact that Einstein lived here, is the apartment itself. It is preserved in a way that can make you think that it’s the early 20th century and Einstein was there only yesterday. You will see it from the appearance and layout of the furniture, glassware, and photographs inside the apartment.

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Facade of the apartment of Einstein in Bern, Switzerland
Facade of the apartment of Einstein
Things inside the house of Einstein in Bern, Switzerland
Things inside the house of Einstein
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The exhibit shows even the crib of Einstein’s baby, the sewing kit, and his wife’s clothes. The apartment should give you insights into the living condition of Einstein and his family in Bern.

Actually, I think Einstein’s house is quite inspiring. It looks pretty humble, yet it was here that Einstein wrote his Theory of General Relativity—the foundation of Modern Physics. Inspiring—because Einstein’s house tells me that we don’t need expensive things to do something great.

You may say that he’s a “genius,” but still!

Anyway, Einstein’s house has two floors you can visit. The living condition of Einstein’s family is shown on the second floor. The third floor exhibits Einstein’s biography and life’s work.

Visiting Einstein’s house should be quick unless you want to read all the biography of Einstein on the third floor. English descriptions are provided.

How to visit Einsteinhaus?

Einsteinhaus can be quite a mini-challenge for first-time visitors because of its small signage in Kramgasse. However, it should not be totally difficult; you only have to keep your sight on the arcades to the left if you’re from Zytglogge.

Specifically, Einsteinhaus is 60 meters (197 feet) east of Zähringerbrunnen. After you pass by Zähringerbrunnen while walking in Kramgasse going east, you should see a red signage indicating “Einstein Haus” after a few steps.

Let’s say you are in the arcades (south of Kramgasse); you will know that you’re at the entrance of Einsteinhaus when you see the markings on the beam and column, indicating “Einstein Haus.”

Summary of the visit to Einsteinhaus

  • Suggested arrival time to Einsteinhaus: 1:15 pm
  • The time you will need in Einsteinhaus: 30 to 45 minutes
  • Einsteinhaus Checklist:
    • See the living condition of Einstein and his family in the second floor of their apartment
    • Learn more about Einstein on the third floor of their house
  • Suggested departure time from Einsteinhaus: 2:00 pm
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8. Rathaus

For architecture lovers, you should also visit Rathaus or the town hall of Bern. Why? Because, like the Bundeshaus, Rathaus is one of Bern’s politically important landmarks with symbolic architectural details—the little gems you find along the way as you wander in Bern. 

Rathaus is considered a heritage site of national significance in Switzerland. The beautiful 26 shields of former districts of Bern decorating its facade (top part) will tell that indeed it is.

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View of the Bern's City Hall from Rathausplatz in Bern, Switzerland
View of the Bern’s City Hall from Rathausplatz
The gorgeous loggia and facade of the city hall of Bern in Bern, Switzerland
The gorgeous loggia and facade of the city hall of Bern
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There are tours inside Rathaus, but I would not suggest joining if you only want to visit Bern only in a day. Instead, go to the small square (Rathausplatz) in front of the town hall and appreciate the late-gothic facade of the town hall.

The last time I checked, there was a cafe with al fresco seating where you could eat and relax while admiring the facade of the town hall. Vennerbrunnen is also in the Rathausplatz, and the dripping water from this fountain makes the vibes tranquil. 

From the cafe in the Rathausplatz, you can see the town hall’s elaborate staircase and iron gates. It’s a time transporting scene to make you imagine scenes of a medieval crowd listening to the announcement of the officials at the Rathaus’ loggia.

Rathausplatz is also the best vantage point for seeing the front of the church of St. Peter and St. Paul.

The itinerary details for Rathaus are merged with the Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul’s. See the next section.

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9. Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul

Visiting a European city, there is one thing you can always expect: you will see several churches, not only one. Bern is not an exception. There are a few churches in the city, one of which is the Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul. 

As a Catholic, I’ve already seen many churches in my life. I can assure you that all are unique (appearance-wise) from each other, although there are similarities. This is true, but somehow the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul is different, making it worth seeing even for a short while.

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The Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul seen from Rathausplatz in Bern, Switzerland
The Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul seen from Rathausplatz
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In a nutshell, the Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul is the first Catholic church to be constructed after the Reformation. It was built in the 19th century after Catholics that were left without a place to worship requested for one.

So, what makes the Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul more unique? It is no other than its architecture, a combination of different styles. 

Let’s say you are now in Rathausplatz. Then you can already see the church with its flying buttresses, rose windows, and a gorgeous tower with open arches showing the bell.

That first impression can make you think it is built in a gothic style, but if you look closer or enter the church. You will also see elements of the Romanesque style and Art Nouveau. I’ll leave the link to the official website of the Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul at the end of this post for the visiting information.

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The Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul seen from Rathausplatz in Bern, Switzerland
The Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul seen from Rathausplatz
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How to go to Rathausplatz?

You can find Rathausplatz, Rathaus, and the church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in the northern part of Zahringerstadt. If you want to go straight here using public transportation, hop on bus #12. It has a stop at the Postgasshalde, behind Rathaus.

If you are already in Kramgasse, just walk east until you reach the intersection. Turn left at Kreuzgasse, and in less than a minute, you should arrive at Rathausplatz.

Summary of the visit to Rathausplatz

  • Suggested arrival time to Rathausplatz: 2:00 pm
  • The time you will need in Rathausplatz: 30 minutes (includes a quick visit to Rathaus and the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, a short coffee time, or the short rest in Rathausplatz)
  • Rathausplatz Checklist:
    • Appreciate the facade of the Rathaus
    • Enter Rathaus to see the fountain inside and the interiors (optional)
    • Check out the details of the Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul.
    • Chill and relax in Rathausplatz
  • Suggested departure time from Rathausplatz: 2:30 pm
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10. Bern Cathedral

As an architecture and history enthusiast, it is the Bern Cathedral that I find the most worth visiting of all the tourist attractions in Bern. Unique artworks, stunning architecture, and scenic views await you here! And if you love introspecting, you’d definitely love the tranquility in the Bern Cathedral.

Bern Cathedral is the oldest church built in Bern, dating back to the 15th century. And for me, it’s also the most beautiful! Even if you haven’t arrived at the church, its angelic spire that you’ll see peeking above the buildings in the old city can already tell that it is gorgeous.

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Rear side of the Bern Cathedral in Bern, Switzerland
Rear side of the Bern Cathedral
The tympanum of Bern Cathedral in Bern, Switzerland
The tympanum of Bern Cathedral
The iconic spire of the Bern Cathedral in Bern, Switzerland
The iconic spire of the Bern Cathedral
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But no part of the Bern Cathedral can make you marvel so much more than its facade, which is also the church’s spire. This spire is not ordinary, though. It is the tallest in Switzerland!

Its size, form, and elaboration are simply a masterpiece you can’t miss seeing during your trip.

You may find Bern Cathedral just like an ordinary church if you have seen the best churches in Europe, like the Notre-Dame de Paris in France, the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Spain, and Saint Peter’s Basilica in Italy.

Although that may be true, the main portals of Bern Cathedral will give an overwhelmingly remarkable first impression. Its tympanum and archivolt are filled with more than 200 sculptures and figures—a feast for the eye!

The decoration on the portal of the Bern Cathedral depicts different biblical stories and characters. But the most obvious is that it shows the scene from the last judgment where the sinners are separated from the holy. The statues of Jesus, Mary, the apostles, Isaiah, Saint Michael the Archangel, and King Solomon, are also there.

The facade is only the start of the fascinating experience you can have when visiting the Bern Cathedral, though. When you enter, the lace-like vaulted ceiling will immediately invite you to pull your cameras out of your pockets and take photos!

Fascinating artworks and furniture also await you inside the Bern Cathedral. One of them is unique. I don’t like to spoil you, but if you want to see them now, you can check my post about Bern Cathedral. It’s where I thoroughly discussed everything you can expect from visiting the church.

If there is one experience you must not miss, it has to be seeing Bern’s old city from the cathedral’s spire.

Going to the top of the spire can be tiring as it’s climbing a 300-plus-step spiral staircase. Yet, the views are absolutely rewarding! There’s a small fee to enter the spire, though.

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View (west) of the old city from the cathedral in Bern, Cathedral
View (west) of the old city from the cathedral in Bern
View (north) of the old city from the cathedral in Bern, Cathedral
View (north) of the old city from the cathedral in Bern
View (east) of the old city from the cathedral in Bern, Cathedral
View (east) of the old city from the cathedral
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How to go to the Bern Cathedral?

Bern Cathedral is located in the southern part of Zahringerstadt, and it is visible within the old city as far as Bundesplatz.

To directly go here using public transportation, you may ride trams #6, #7, #8, or Bus #19 and alight at the transit stop at Casinoplatz. From the square, walk east along Herrengasse or Munstergasse. Within 2 minutes, you shall arrive at Munsterplatz, where the entrance to the Bern Cathedral is.

If you are now in Rathausplatz, just walk south along Kreuzgasse, and you shall see Bern Cathedral at the end of the street.

Alternatively…

Let’s say you’re currently in Kramgasse and Zytglogge. Proceed on the street (Hotelgasse) in front/beside this landmark. It will lead you to Munstergasse, which ends at the Bern Cathedral. 

Summary of the visit to Bern Cathedral

  • Suggested arrival time to Bern Cathedral: 2:30 pm
  • The time you will need in Bern Cathedral: 1 hour
  • Bern Cathedral Checklist:
    • Admire the facade of the Bern Cathedral (and Mosesbrunnen) from Munsterplatz
    • Check the unique artworks inside the church
    • Climb the spire of Bern Cathedral and enjoy the panorama of the old city of Bern
    • See the centuries-old bells of the cathedral after climbing the spire
    • Relax at Münsterplattform

Suggested departure time from Bern Cathedral: 3:30 pm

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Mosesbrunnen in Munsterplatz in Bern, Cathedral
Mosesbrunnen in Munsterplatz
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11. Bear Park and Bear Pit

Another tourist attraction that makes me like Bern is Bear Park. Visiting the park, you immerse yourself in a culturally significant place and see scenic views of the old city’s skyline.

Culturally important?

Yes, because bears live in the park, and they are the animals that symbolize Bern, hence the city’s name. The relationship between the bears and Bern dates back to the city’s founding. You can learn more about Bern’s history at the link at the end of this post.

Maybe you are thinking, “is it dangerous to walk in a park where bears roam around?” Of course, bears are in their enclosure (called the Bear Pit). You are totally safe to visit the park and watch them.

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Bear Pit in Bern, Switzerland
Bear Pit
Bears in Bear Park in Bern, Switzerland
Bears in Bear Park
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The Bear Pit extends to the banks of the river Aare. While taking a stroll in the park, you can see the bears trotting or sometimes sleeping on the green grass of their enclosure. 

The last time I checked, you could find three cute bears in the Bear Pit. They are called Björk, Finn, and Ursina. Have fun spotting them! 

Aside from observing the bears in the Bear Pit, you may visit the spot with the best views of the old city in the park. For me, the best view of the old city in Bear park is located a few steps away (west) from the inclined elevator. 

At the said spot, you shall see a panoramic view of the old city of Bern. The view includes the Aare River, the skyline of the old city, and the palatial houses built along Junkerngasse. 

If you have spare time, you may want to go down to the banks of the River Aare and sit on the benches.

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View of the old city of Bern from BärenPark in Bern, Switzerland
View of the old city of Bern from BärenPark
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On a sunny day, the Aare River has a turquoise color which is a totally refreshing sight. Travelers looking for a place to relax for free should not miss the spot. I think it’s also an excellent place for a picnic.

How to go to Bear Park?

Bear Park is located on the other side of the Aare River if you are in the old city. From the old city, you can reach Bear Park on foot through the Nydegg Bridge, located in the easternmost part of the city. Facing south from the bridge, you can already see Bear Park.

Let’s say you are currently in Kramgasse or Zytlogge; just continuously walk east. You shall arrive at Nydegg Bridge within 10 minutes. At the east end of the bridge, turn right, and you will arrive at Bear Park.

If you come from Bern Cathedral, walk east in Junkerngasse to reach Nydegg Bridge and Bear Park. Junkerngasse is the alley that starts at the rear side of the Bern Cathedral. It is a picturesque street where you can see the cathedral’s spire peeking above the arcade and houses.

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View of the spire of the Bern Cathedral along Junkerngasse in Bern, Switzerland
View of the spire of the Bern Cathedral along Junkerngasse
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In case you want to use public transportation, you may hop on Bus #12 heading to Zentrum Paul Klee Museum. The bus has a stop near Bear Park.

Summary of the visit to Bear Park

  • Travel time to Bear Park from Bern Cathedral: 10 mins
  • Suggested arrival time to Bear Park: 3:40 pm
  • The time you will need in Bear Park: 30 minutes to 1 hour (rest and sightseeing)
  • Bear Park Checklist:
    • See the bears in the Bear Pit
    • Walk around the park and take pictures of the old city’s panorama
    • Go down to the river bank to rest or for snacks (mini-picnic)
  • Suggested departure time from Bear Park: 4:30 pm
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12. Rose Garden

For me, the Rose Garden is the best place to visit to end your one-day trip to Bern. Visiting the Rose Garden is like getting a recap of your entire day in Bern: getting an overlooking view of the old city.

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Panoramic views of the old city from Rose Garden in Bern, Switzerland
Panoramic views of the old city from Rose Garden
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Rose Garden, in simplest words, is the most beautiful and romantic park in Bern. It’s a promenade with ponds, countless flowers, and a panorama of the old city, which can be so lovely during the sunset. At the same time, it has a restaurant with a nice view of Bern. 

You can find a beautiful view of the old city from the Rose Garden because the park is perched on a hill overlooking Bern. The view includes Gurten, the old city, and the modern business district of Bern, where the high-rise buildings are.

The spire of the cathedral dominates the view, though. And during the sunset, it creates a silhouette irresistible to photograph.

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Sunset zoomed-in view of the Old City from the Rose Garden in Bern, Switzerland
Sunset zoomed-in view of the Old City from the Rose Garden
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How to go to the Rose Garden?

Although Rose Garden is outside the old city, going there requires little effort.

Rose Garden is not very far from the old city, and it is possible for you to reach it on foot. If you are from the old city (Kramgasse or Bern Cathedral), going to the Rose Garden is a 15-minute-hike minimum. However, let’s say you come from Bear Pit; the walking time to Rose Garden is approximately 8 minutes.

Since the Rose Garden is located on a small hill, please expect hiking on an inclined path starting from the Nydegg Bridge. Overall, the path has a 50-meter (164-feet) inclination over a 350-meter (1148-feet) short hike.

Alternatively, you can reach Rose Garden by bus (#10, #40, or M73). These buses stop at Rose Garden along Laubeggstrasse—the northeast side of the park.

Summary of the visit to the Rose Garden

  • Travel time to Bear Park from Rose Garden: 10 mins to 15 minutes (approximate)
  • Suggested arrival time to Rose Garden: 4:45 pm
  • The time you will need in Rose Garden: 2 to 3 hours (rest, dinner, and watching the sunset)
  • Rose Garden Checklist:
    • Stroll in the garden, take pictures
    • Go to the Bench with the statue of Einstein
    • Dinner time!
    • Watch the sunset and marvel at the view of the old city of Bern
  • Suggested departure time from Rose Garden: 7:00 pm

Please note that the sunset in Switzerland is around 9:00 pm when it is summer and 5:00 pm during winter. You may adjust the time of your visit to each attraction accordingly, so you can see the sunset in Bern. 

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More Things To Do In Bern

So, that’s it! That’s how you can spend a day in Bern in the best way possible (in my opinion). 

However, I should tell you that it’s not the only way you can enjoy Bern. Bern has special/insightful tours, fun games, and relaxing activities you should also discover. You can check them out from this list of more things to do in Bern.

These activities are nice to have on your itinerary for some cases similar to the ones indicated below.

  1. When an attraction in the list I gave you is not accessible for tourists because the site/place is under maintenance.
  2. When you visit Bern during the summer, when the daytime is long, and you want to see the sunset. 
  3. If you want to discover more about Bern.

You can also check my 2-day Bern itinerary for more ideas of what to do in Bern. And if you think that 1 day or 2 days are more than enough to see Bern, here’s my half-a-day Bern itinerary. I hope these posts help! 🙂

Not sure how many days to visit Bern? Check my article How Long To Spend In Bern

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Should You Visit Bern?

Based on Bern’s unique and best attractions, it’s easy to say that Bern is a destination that fits only some types of travelers. Photographers, history lovers, architecture enthusiasts, city slickers, and, perhaps, escapists can find Bern a fascinating destination.

Nevertheless, Bern is a beautiful city, and spending one day in Bern should be worth it for most tourists. I’m positive everyone will enjoy wandering along Bern’s picturesque streets like Kramgasse and Marktgasse, discovering the city’s cute colorful fountains, and seeing unique attractions like Zytglogge and Bundeshaus. 

Not to mention the beautiful old-world scenery on top of Zytglogge or Bern Cathedral. And speaking of sights, the panoramic views from the parks (Bear Park and Rose Garden) outside the old city—they’re lovely.

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Where To Stay In Bern?

So yeah, visiting Bern is a good idea.

If somehow I convinced you to visit Bern or you’re already planning to go to Bern but don’t have accommodation yet, you can try looking at booking.com.

They offer great hotel deals which suit any budget range. You should be able to find a place to stay, whether you are looking for a hostel, BnB, or top-class luxury accommodation.

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 wish you a fun and memorable, beautiful journey. Live life!

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Sources: One Day In Bern

  1. Bundeshaus visiting information
  2. Switzerland’s Political Forum (Käfigturm’s visiting information)
  3. Zytglogge tour information and schedule
  4. Einstein’s House visiting information
  5. Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul (official website)
  6. Bern Cathedral visiting information
  7. History of Bern and Bears
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Looking for different ways to travel in Switzerland? Check my itineraries below.

4 Days Switzerland Itinerary: Visit Lucerne and Bern

6 Days In Switzerland Itinerary: Bern, Interlaken, and Thun

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