One Day In Bern Itinerary (Visit Landmarks & Scenic Spots)

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Most people would say that a trip to Switzerland should be about seeing breathtaking alpine views, having life-changing hikes, or perhaps eating authentic cheesy Swiss cuisine on top of a mountain. Well, I don’t disagree. Because it’s true! 🙂 However, one can’t simply skip the Swiss cities like Lucerne, and of course, Bern.

The Swiss capital, Bern, is worth visiting for its well-preserved, well-executed old-world architecture, which makes it one of the most beautiful cities in Switzerland. Simply exploring its arcaded streets, dotted with colorful fountains and impressive landmarks, is a wanderlust-satisfying experience. Let’s not forget about Bern’s viewpoints that offer time-transporting views, providing a glimpse into what life looked like centuries ago. Bern deserves a day in your itinerary, at least if you are visiting Switzerland for three days or more.

Let me give you a detailed Bern itinerary, should you decide to spend one day in this city. It’s focused on the architectural attractions and spots where you can admire the city’s architecture from different perspectives.

IMPORTANT: For an efficient exploration, I recommend exploring Bern in one direction, from west to east. This means that from the train station, you’ll first visit the tourist attractions within Aussere Neustadt, also known as the outer new town. Then, you’ll proceed to Innere Neustadt, the inner new town, and finally, Zahringerstadt. I’m assuming that you’ll arrive in Bern or start your trip to Bern on or before 9:00 in the morning. If you follow this, you should be able to complete the itinerary before sunset.

If you’re seeking a deeper understanding of the local culture, insider tips on the best restaurants, or if you’re curious about Bern’s best-kept secrets, consider hiring a local guide for a private tour of the city. Simply share with the guide what you’d like to see or do, and they’ll provide all the information you need—no hassle for one whole day in Bern!

Writer’s Notes

One reason why I love Bern is that it has many attractions and places to 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! The streets that link landmarks—they are like the main attractions. Since most attractions in the old town are primarily sightseeing destinations, which are free to see, breaking the bank is something you shouldn’t worry about.

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

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

1st Destination: 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.

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. 

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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

Read Full Article: What to See in Visiting Bundeshaus (a guide to help you make the most of your visit)

More Information: Tour Inside Bundeshaus

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.

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.

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.

2nd Destination: 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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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
More information: Käfigturm’s history, current purpose, and tips in taking photos

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 this 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. 

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).

3rd Destination: Marktgasse

In my opinion, there are three picturesque streets in Bern that you should not miss during your one-day visit. These are Marktgasse, Kramgasse, and Junkerngasse. Marktgasse, in particular, is a must-see as it offers not just one, but many photo opportunities along its length. It has arcades on both sides, is home to two of the most beautiful fountains, and the buildings in Marktgasse are adorned with stuccoes and beautiful symbolic figures.

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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
Photography tips in Marktgasse & Fun Fact about Marktgasse

From Marktgasse, you can see the two clock towers, Käfigturm and Zytglogge, at both ends. If you view these clock towers a few steps away from the ends of the street, you can photograph them along 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 opposite side. You can be more creative in taking the shot. Move a little backward from the towers and fountains so you can include the arcade street in your camera’s viewfinder.

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

4th Destination: Kornhausplatz

The old city of Bern has several squares, but among them, Kornhausplatz is the one I find most interesting to explore. While wandering in Kornhausplatz, you’ll see a fascinating fountain and buildings with beautiful neoclassical architecture. Additionally, Zytglogge and its gorgeous western facade dominate the square.

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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)
  • Kornhausplatz Checklist:
    • See Kindlifresserbrunnen and take pictures if you want
    • Visit the facade of Stadttheater.
    • Eat lunch!
  • Estimated time of departure from Kornhausplatz: 1:00 pm 
More Information about Kindlifresserbrunnen, Stadttheater, and lunch on Kornhausplatz

The main attraction in Kornhausplatz is none other than Zytglogge, which we’ll discuss later. But before you start checking out 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 easily after emerging from Marktgasse (assuming you are following this itinerary). From afar, it may look just like Schützenbrunnen, but as you get closer, 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), providing 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.

5th Destination: Zytglogge 

Among the beautiful landmarks in Bern, I find Zytglogge the most spectacular. Simply put, it is truly a spectacle! I believe it is also one of the highlights of visiting Bern. In fact, a trip to Bern would be incomplete without seeing Zytglogge.

Like Käfigturm, Zytglogge is a clock tower that once served as Bern’s gate and defensive structure. It dates back to the 13th century, but its appearance today is not exactly as it was before. Nevertheless, Zytglogge remains a defensive architectural masterpiece, exhibiting elements of both gothic and baroque styles.

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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).

Check now: How Much is a Tour in Zytglogge

Read full article: Things You Must See in Zytglogge (another simple guide to make the most of your visit)

Impressions and tips for visiting Zytglogge

With its bluish pointed spire and elegant tile roof reaching over 50 meters, Zytglogge will definitely catch your eye whether you are in Marktgasse, Kornhausplatz, or Kramgasse. These are some of the places where you can find and enjoy a nice view of Zytglogge.

The top part of Zytglogge is undoubtedly eye-catching, but the real spectacle lies in its east and west facades. Zytglogge’s facades feature two imposing giant clocks, a colorful astronomical clock, and automatons. The automatons move every full hour in sync with the bells ringing. It’s a spectacle you should see.

I can’t help but marvel at the automatons, considering the time they were made. As an engineer, I can’t imagine how the craftsmen who made Zytglogge carefully calculated the sizes of the gears with paper and rulers.

If you are also curious about the mechanism inside Zytglogge, consider joining the 60-minute tour inside Zytglogge. However, the tour does not occur every hour but only at specific times. Check the available time slots here. So if you are following this itinerary, you must make a slight adjustment to your schedule.

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.

6th Destination: Kramgasse

If you’ve made it to Zytglogge, you’re now also in Kramgasse, which is one of the most picturesque streets in Bern. Kramgasse is the old city’s most historically significant 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’ll find in Bern.

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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. 

Facts, impressions, and photography tips for visiting Kramgasse

Among 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.

Start walking east from Zähringerbrunnen, and you’ll reach the second fountain, Simsonbrunnen. It is a fountain with the figure of Samson taming a lion on top. I bet you’ll also love the view of Zähringerbrunnen with Kramgasse in 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.

7th Destination: Einsteinhaus

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

What’s special about Einstein’s house in Bern, aside from the fact that Einstein lived there, is the apartment itself. It is preserved in such a way that it can make you feel as if it’s the early 20th century and Einstein was there just yesterday. This is evident from the appearance and layout of the furniture, glassware, and photographs inside the apartment. As well as on the crib of Einstein’s baby, their sewing kit, his wife’s clothes, and more.

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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
What to expect inside Einsteinhaus

Overall, the apartment offers amazing insights into the living conditions of Einstein and his family in Bern.

In fact, I find Einstein’s house quite inspiring. It appears rather humble, yet it was here that Einstein penned his Theory of General Relativity—the cornerstone of Modern Physics. It’s inspiring because Einstein’s house demonstrates that we don’t need expensive things to achieve greatness. You might argue that he was a “genius,” but still!

Einstein’s house, which you can visit, spans two floors. The second floor depicts the living conditions of Einstein’s family, while the third floor showcases Einstein’s biography and life’s work. A visit to Einstein’s house should be brief unless you wish to read all of Einstein’s biography on the third floor. Descriptions are provided in English.

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.”

8th Destination: Rathaus

For architecture enthusiasts, a visit to Rathaus, the town hall of Bern, is also a must. Like the Bundeshaus, Rathaus is a politically significant landmark in Bern, adorned with symbolic architectural details—little gems to discover while wandering through Bern. The facade, decorated with the beautiful shields of Bern’s 26 former districts, indeed testifies to its importance.

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

Suggestions and tips when visiting Rathaus & Rathausplatz

While tours are available inside Rathaus, I wouldn’t recommend joining if you’re only visiting Bern for a day. Instead, head to the small square, Rathausplatz, in front of the town hall and admire its late-Gothic facade.

The last time I was there, a cafe with al fresco seating offered a place to eat and relax while taking in the view of the town hall. The Vennerbrunnen fountain, also located in Rathausplatz, adds a tranquil vibe with its gentle water drips.

From the cafe, you can see the town hall’s elaborate staircase and iron gates, transporting you back in time as you imagine a medieval crowd listening to announcements from the Rathaus’ loggia.

Rathausplatz also offers the best vantage point for viewing the front of the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul.

9th Destination: Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul

When visiting a European city, one thing is certain: you will encounter several churches, not just one. Bern is no exception. The city is home to a number of churches, including the Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul.

As a Catholic, I’ve visited many churches in my lifetime. I can assure you that each one is unique in its appearance, despite some similarities. This holds 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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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
History and architecture of the Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul

In short summary, the Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul was the first Catholic church constructed after the Reformation. It was built in the 19th century in response to a request from Catholics who were left without a place to worship.

What makes the Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul unique? It’s none other than its architecture, a blend of different styles. Suppose you’re in Rathausplatz. In that case, you can already see the church with its flying buttresses, rose windows, and a stunning tower with open arches revealing the bell.

This first impression might lead you to believe it’s built in a Gothic style, but a closer look or a visit inside the church will reveal elements of the Romanesque style and Art Nouveau.

I’ll include the link to the official website of the Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul at the end of this post for visiting information if you want to come inside.

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.

10th Destination: Bern Cathedral

As an architecture and history enthusiast, I find the Bern Cathedral to be the most worthwhile visit among all the tourist attractions in Bern. Here, unique artworks, stunning architecture, and scenic views await! If you’re fond of introspection, you’ll definitely appreciate the tranquility of the Bern Cathedral.

Dating back to the 15th century, the Bern Cathedral is the oldest church in Bern and, in my opinion, the most beautiful! Even before you reach the church, you will already get an idea of its beauty as you see its angelic spire, peeking above the buildings in the old city.

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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

Read full article: Everything you need to know about Bern Cathedral

Impressions and tips for visiting Bern Cathedral

No part of the Bern Cathedral can make you marvel more than its facade, which is also the church’s spire. This spire is not ordinary. It is the tallest in Switzerland! Its size, form, and elaboration are simply a masterpiece you can’t miss during your trip.

While you may find the Bern Cathedral similar to an ordinary church if you have seen the best churches in Europe (for instance, the Notre-Dame de Paris in France, the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Spain, and Saint Peter’s Basilica in Italy), the main portals of Bern Cathedral can still 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. 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. 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.

Lastly, 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 involves climbing a 300-plus-step spiral staircase. Yet, the views are absolutely rewarding! There’s a small fee to enter the spire.

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. 

11th Destination: Bear Park and Bear Pit

One of the most interesting parks Bern is the Bear Park. Its a culturally significant place, offering a scenic views of the old town’s skyline. Culturally significant because bears live in the park. 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 might be thinking, ‘Is it dangerous to walk in a park where bears roam around?’ Of course not, the bears are in their enclosure (known as the Bear Pit). You are completely safe to visit the park and watch them.

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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
Impressions and tips when visiting Bear Park

The Bear Park features a Bear Pit that extends to the banks of the River Aare. As you stroll through the park, you can observe the bears trotting or sometimes sleeping on the lush green grass of their enclosure. The last time I checked, there were three adorable bears in the Bear Pit named Björk, Finn, and Ursina. Have fun spotting them!

In addition to observing the bears in the Bear Pit, you can visit the spot with the best views of the old city in the park. In my opinion, the best view of the old city in Bear Park is located just a few steps west of the inclined elevator. At this spot, you will be treated to a panoramic view of the old city of Bern, including the Aare River, the city’s skyline, and the palatial houses along Junkerngasse.

If you have some spare time, you might want to descend to the banks of the River Aare and relax on the benches. On a sunny day, the Aare River takes on a turquoise hue, offering a truly refreshing sight. Travelers seeking a free place to unwind should not miss this spot. I believe it’s also an excellent location 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.

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.

12th Destination: Rose Garden

The Rose Garden is the ideal place to conclude your one-day trip to Bern. A visit to the Rose Garden is like receiving a recap of your entire day in Bern, as it offers an overlooking view of the old city. “That’s where I’ve been,” you’ll say!

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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. 

Impressions and photography tips for Rose Garden

In the simplest terms, the Rose Garden is the most beautiful and romantic park in Bern. It’s a promenade adorned with ponds and countless flowers, offering a panoramic view of the old city that becomes especially lovely at sunset. The park also features a restaurant with a delightful view of Bern.

The Rose Garden, perched on a hill, provides a stunning view of the old city. This view encompasses Gurten, the old city, and Bern’s modern business district, where the high-rise buildings stand. The cathedral’s spire dominates the view, creating an irresistible silhouette to photograph during sunset.

Resources

So, that’s it! That’s my suggestion on how to spend a day in Bern in the best way possible. However, I should mention that this isn’t the only way to enjoy Bern. The city offers special tours, fun games, and relaxing activities that you might want to explore. You 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. Not sure how many days to visit Bern? Check my article How Long To Spend In Bern. I hope these posts help! 🙂

Here are the links to the official websites of the tourist attractions and landmarks featured in my one-day Bern itinerary.

  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

If you haven’t yet secured accommodation, consider checking out my hotel search partner. They offer fantastic hotel deals to suit any budget. Whether you’re in search of a hostel, BnB, or top-tier luxury accommodation, you should be able to find a suitable place to stay. Please note that this is an affiliate link. If you find my content helpful, you can support my blog by bookmarking this link and using it to find your accommodation whenever you travel. Your support is greatly appreciated!

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After visiting Bern, you can visit the two closest amazing destinations in Switzerland: the Jungfrau Region and the beautiful city of Lucerne. The Jungfrau Region, in a nutshell, is the ultimate destination in the country, offering unforgettable scenery like Lauterbrunnen and ultra-fun activities like those you can find in Grindelwald. Lucerne, on the other hand, is a blend of amazing architecture, unique experiences, and alpine adventures like Mount Pilatus. From Bern, these cities are roughly an hour away by train. You can try my 4-day and 6-day Switzerland itineraries to visit all the places I’ve mentioned.

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