Two Days in Bern Itinerary: Old City, Gurten, & Museums

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After exploring Bern and taking in its stunning landmarks, picturesque spots, and even its charming fountains, I’ve come to realize that half a day is ample to cover the city’s highlights, and a full day allows for a thorough exploration of the Old Town and the Rose Garden. However, to fully experience the city’s other offerings, including its museums, delightful spas, and surrounding natural wonders, you would need at least two days. For a truly relaxed journey, consider extending your stay to three days.

Yet, I must admit, two or three days do not seem entirely practical. That is especially when you consider other Swiss destinations that offer more memorable experiences, such as the Jungfrau Region and Lucerne for your entire Switzerland trip. In fact, if you’re planning a two-day stay in Bern, it may be more rewarding to dedicate your second day to a day trip to nearby attractions, like the quaint town of Thun, Lake Thun, or Oberhofen Castle, as outlined in my 4-Day Switzerland itinerary.

Nevertheless, a two-day visit to Bern can be quite enjoyable, particularly if you’re spending a week or longer in Switzerland or if it’s your second visit to the country. If you’re still undecided, I can help you decide how long to stay in Bern. Now, if you opt for a two-day itinerary in Bern, I have some excellent tips to help you make the most of your time in the Swiss capital. Ready to start?

Please Read: explanation how you can make the most of your trip to Bern using this 2-day itinerary. (Writer’s Note)

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!

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.

Map of Bern 2-Day Itinerary
Map of Bern 2-Day Itinerary

Day 1 in Bern: Old City & Gurten

There are several ways to spend a day in Bern; however, your priority should be seeing the old city. It is, in my humble opinion, the primary reason to visit Bern. The old city of Bern is a beautiful place, filled with picturesque, romantic scenes. If you are a history lover, an architecture enthusiast, or a photographer, I’m sure you’ll find your trip to Bern worthwhile.

I honestly think the old city alone can “complete” a trip to Bern. Every visitor can undoubtedly find value in it. You can see unique historical landmarks, learn about Swiss history and politics, and have some relaxing moments at places with panoramic views. Visiting the old city can keep you busy for the entire day.

However, there are times when an attraction is unavailable for tourists, or you might not be interested in a specific destination and decide to skip it. If that happens, you will indeed create some spare time. Of course, we don’t want to be idle during our trip, as visiting Switzerland is quite expensive!

We want to maximize our day, constantly seeing new, beautiful places or having great experiences. The museums can fill the space in the itinerary, but I would not suggest them yet at least for day 1. Especially if the weather is excellent, you have to take advantage! I suggest going to other outdoor attractions like Gurten or the River Aare in Bern.

As I mentioned at the beginning, there are many ways to spend a day in Bern. If you really like the outdoors and the weather is fantastic, you can also spend a day in Bern: half in the old city, half in Gurten. This can be a good option, as you can already see the unmissable places in the old city of Bern in half a day.

Old City of Bern (Main Destination for Day 1)

Spending time in the Old City of Bern is simple: explore it on foot. It’s the best way to fully immerse yourself in the uniqueness of Bern’s Old City. Start at the train station, which is located west of the old city. From the train station, move eastward, explore every street, and you’ll effortlessly encounter the tourist attractions and main points of interest in the town.

If you’re looking to dive deeper into the local culture, get the inside scoop on the best eateries, or uncover Bern’s hidden gems, think about getting a local guide for a personalized city tour. Just let the guide know your interests and they’ll take care of the rest, making your day in Bern hassle-free!


Here is the visual summary of the places to see/visit in the Old City of Bern

A short history about Old City of Bern + Insights

The old city of Bern, built as early as the 12th century, is the original part of the city. Today, it’s recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the best-preserved medieval cities in Europe. Visitors to the old city are transported back to the Middle Ages by its charming appearance. I love the old city of Bern for its compact size, walkability, and well-planned architecture.

I just want to share, every time I look at the old city, I’m amazed by the ingenuity of the Zähringer people who built it. They strategically constructed Bern on a peninsula on the Aare River, transforming the river into a natural moat for protection against invaders from the north, east, and south. The city could only be entered from the west in the old days. It makes arriving in Bern today can feel like stepping back in time to visit the old city centuries ago, especially if you’re arriving in Bern on its train station, located west of the Old City.

More information: Summarized list of attractions/places to visit in the Old City of Bern

The list you’ll find later below essentially summarizes the overall experience you can have in the old city. You can see from my 1-day Bern itinerary how you can precisely spend a day in the Old City of Bern.

  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.
  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.
  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.
  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.
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Here’s how you can make the most of your visit to 3 of the 4 must-see attraction in the Old City of Bern:

  1. Bundeshaus — Visiting Bundeshaus In Bern: What To See Inside and Outside
  2. Zytglogge — Zytglogge In Bern: Seeing Switzerland’s Famous Clock Tower
  3. Bern Cathedral — Bern Cathedral: Things You Must See When You Visit

Gurten (Alternative Destination for Day 1)

Gurten is the nearest mountain to Bern, located just a few miles south of the city.

It stands a little over 2780 feet high. From the area around its peak, you can enjoy a sweeping view of Bern and a panoramic vista of the Bernese Alps. I believe Gurten is a fantastic alternative to the Rose Garden for watching the sunset in Bern. It even features an observation tower that you can access at no cost. Ascend it for even more stunning views.

An overview of the experiences in Gurten

In addition to stunning scenery, Gurten also offers a restaurant, activities for kids, and recreational areas for adults. It’s essentially a large park, making it a great place to visit if you’re traveling with your children.

I believe the best experience your family can have at Gurten is the Toboggan run. It features a track that’s over 1600 feet long, which naturally provides views of the surrounding fields, forests, and city. However, Gurten isn’t the only place in Switzerland where you can ride a Toboggan run. You can also find one in Kandersteg and Mount Pilatus near Lucerne. I recommend these locations for an even better experience due to the more spectacular views of the Alps.

To get to Gurten, take streetcar no. 9 from Bern’s central station. It can get you to Gurtenbahn’s funicular valley station in around 15 minutes. Then, ride the funicular to the top of Gurten. If you want to learn more about Gurten, you can check out their official website, which is linked at the end of this post.

Day 2 in Bern: Museums & Other Indoor Attractions

One way to spend another day in Bern is by engaging in activities that aren’t dependent on the weather. Naturally, these are the indoor tourist attractions in Bern, such as the museums, spas, and tours inside the historical sites in the old city.

Is museum hopping in Bern a good idea? I believe so. The museums in the city are fun and unique, especially the Einstein Museum and the Museum of Communication. If you’re a fan of art and history, Bern’s Historical Museum and Zentrum Paul Klee are worth a visit.

Visiting different museums in Bern is easy as they are located near each other in their own district called “Kirchenfeld,” which some people refer to as the “Museum district” of Bern. In Kirchenfeld, you’ll be walking short distances to go from one museum to another.

Kirchenfeld is situated south of the old city, across the Aare River. It is connected to the old city via Kirchenfeldbrücke, the bridge next to Bern Casino. You can get directly to Kirchenfeld from Bern’s central train station by taking Bus #19 or Tram #8 or #9. However, I wouldn’t entirely recommend it, especially if you want to see a different panoramic view of the old city.

Kirchenfeld bridge in Bern, Switzerland
Kirchenfeld bridge

I think you’ll also appreciate the view of the old city while walking along Kirchenfeldbrücke. From the bridge, you can get a different perspective of the old town’s skyline—it’s picture-perfect. Facing the old city, you can see a panorama that includes the Bundeshaus, Bern Casino, and Bern Cathedral.

By the way, in addition to some of the museums mentioned earlier, you can also find the Natural History Museum, Kunsthalle Bern (an art museum), and Alpine Museum in Kirchenfeld. There are several restaurants near the museums, so you might not need to leave Kirchenfeld and return to the old city for lunch.

Visiting a few museums in one day can be tiring. This is especially true if you enjoy visiting museums and can spend hours exploring, strolling, and standing to appreciate the exhibits. If you need some pampering and relaxation, you might want to check out Hammam & SPA Oktogon. We’ll discuss it later, but in a nutshell, it’s a beautiful spa with a unique bathing experience in its 4-story building. Let me share the four museums that I think are the most interesting in Bern.

Bern Historical Museum

The Bern Historical Museum is the second-largest historical museum in Switzerland.

If you’re coming from the old city of Bern, it’ll be the first museum you see in Kirchenfeld. You can spot it right away from Kirchenfeldbrücke. Your first impression will likely be a question: “Is that really a museum or a castle?” That’s surely due to its castle-like structure, reminiscent of those from the 15th to 16th centuries. It even looks like a Disney castle from Kirchenfeldbrücke!

More information, things you can expect visiting Bern Historical Museum

Do you love architecture? I believe the Bern Historical Museum is one of the most beautiful landmarks of Bern outside the Old City. One particularly notable architectural feature of this museum is the glass mosaic above its entrance, called “The Age of History.”

As the name of the museum 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 the Bern Historical Museum from different eras, originating from different parts of the world.

If you’re a map enthusiast like me, I bet you’ll also enjoy seeing some historical maps inside the museum. One that stuck 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 providing comprehensive insight into this part of Japanese culture.

Overall, it would take slightly more than a couple of hours to see every part of the Bern Historical Museum. However, you wouldn’t want to leave the museum building yet because there’s a second part to your visit: it’s the Einstein Museum.

You can learn more about the Bern Historical Museum from its official website, linked at the end of this post.

Einstein Museum

The Einstein Museum is another museum you can find in Bern’s museum district. It’s located on the second floor of the castle-like building of the Bern Historical Museum, featuring a 10,764-square-foot or 1000-square-meters exhibition of many aspects of Albert Einstein’s life.

If you plan to see the exhibits at the Bern Historical Museum and the Einstein Museum, you should allow at least half a day. Be prepared to learn a lot when visiting the Einstein Museum. You’ll not only discover Einstein’s private and professional life but also the events and happenings from the 1920s up until World War II.

Mirrored Staircase in Einstein Museum in Bern, Switzerland
Mirrored Staircase in Einstein Museum
Other things you can expect to see in Einstein Museum

If you’re a fan of science, visiting the Einstein Museum will be even more enjoyable. The cosmos and the special and general theories of relativity are well explained inside the museum. They’ll satisfy your curiosity about space and time!

Discovering something new is quite fun and straightforward in the Einstein Museum. Why? In addition to the 500+ original objects and replicas of Einstein’s work and daily life items, the museum also has films and animations that explain science in a clear and easy-to-understand way.

If you’re imagining a futuristic learning museum, you’re on the right track. I think you’ll be amazed even before you enter the Einstein Museum. The entrance is a mirrored staircase that gives the impression you’re stepping into another dimension, which hints at the science that Einstein revealed to the world.

You can learn more about the Einstein Museum from its official website, which I linked at the end of this post.

Museum of Communication

Among the museums in Bern, I believe the Museum of Communication is where you can find the most fascinating, fun, and futuristic exhibits. Where is the Museum of Communication? It’s located behind the Bern Historical Museum, along Helvetiastrasse.

In a nutshell, the Museum of Communication showcases everything related to how people communicate. It’s filled with old phones, telegraphs, tablets, computers, and many more electronic devices. Indeed, it’ll be a nostalgic visit, especially for Millennials and older visitors!

Amazing discoveries and fun experiences in the Museum of Communication

Phones and other electronics used for communication aren’t the only types of exhibits that await you inside the museum. The Museum of Communication spans three floors, each filled with various exhibits that provide insight into how humans have communicated for thousands of years.

I find the Museum of Communication fascinating because it showcases objects we use every day but don’t consciously think of as communication tools. It’s mind-blowing to realize that these items also serve as means of communication. Some examples are paper, cars, bicycles, CDs, fireworks, and more!

What’s even more interesting is that the museum is incredibly up-to-date. The Museum of Communication even has an exhibit of a meme with several copies, illustrating how the “copy-paste” function has made our lives more fun and simplified communication. You can also find screenshots of the social media platforms we use today.

When it comes to fun, the Museum of Communication offers a multitude of ways to enjoy yourself. You can try using interactive stations (like printing postage stamps, film karaoke), playing video games (like preventing a hacker’s attack), or watching real people on screens sharing facts about communications. Kids and teens will absolutely love these activities.

There is so much to do inside the Museum of Communication that you can expect to spend more than three hours there. More information is available at the official website of the Museum of Communication, which I’ve linked at the end of this post.

Natural History Museum

Are you a family that loves to travel? You should also take them to the Natural History Museum. It’s located on Bernastrasse, just a short walk from the Museum of Communication and Bern Historical Museum. The Natural History Museum of Bern is definitely one of the places your young kids will enjoy, like kids under 10 or 7.

The museum has hundreds of life-sized dioramas of animals from different parts of the world, I think your little ones 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 believe the museum needs to add more descriptions for most exhibits so adults can also enjoy them and find them educational.

Exhibits inside Natural History Museum in Bern, Switzerland
Exhibits inside Natural History Museum
More things you can expect to find in Bern Natural History Museum + tips

You will not only find dioramas of dogs, rhinos, vultures, giraffes, hippos, walruses, and more at the Natural History Museum. There are dinosaurs, too! I am impressed by how good the dioramas are. If they were 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 was a mountain rescue dog from the 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.

You can learn more about the Natural History Museum from its official website, which I’ve linked at the end of this post. Updated visiting information is posted on their website.

Hammam & SPA Oktogon

I always aim to make my travels as productive as possible. My goal is to either bring home a new learning or experience, create new friendships, or be completely refreshed for another period of work and hustle. If you also aim for the latter on your trip to Bern, there’s no better way to end your Bern trip than by getting a massage or a spa session.

You’ll surely be tired after a day of strolling in the old city and exploring two or three fascinating museums. And for your body to be fully revitalized for post-vacation activities, 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 high-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 takes place in hammams where you can experience a strangely comforting warmth and soothing relaxation.

The rooms where you’ll be staying are decorated with colorful cushions, lanterns, and other oriental elements. As it is a “ritual,” you can expect that your 2-hour 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 on the next section of this post.


I hope this two-day itinerary for Bern has given you an idea of how you can spend a couple of days in the Swiss capital. For further planning, here are the official websites of various museums and attractions in Bern, where you can find the most recent practical information for your trip.

Are you still searching for the perfect place to stay in Bern? I’d love to suggest my partner’s hotel search and booking platform. They’re known for offering some of the most competitive hotel deals in Europe. Plus, their handy map feature makes it a breeze to find a hotel in the location that suits you best.

Just so you know, the link I’m providing is an affiliate link. This means that if you decide to book your hotel through this platform, I might earn a small commission. But don’t worry, this comes at no extra cost to you. Choosing to use this link is one way you can support me in creating more helpful content like this. I truly appreciate your support. It means the world to me and helps me continue to provide valuable information for travelers like you. Thank you!

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Two days in Bern are usually sufficient, and it’s recommended to visit other places in Switzerland after that. If you want to stay in the Swiss Capital for longer, it’s practical to use it as your home base. For instance, if you stay here for three days, consider making your third day a day trip to nearby beautiful destinations like Thun — absolutely one of the most magical places in Switzerland. The town sits by its own lake, Lake Thun — a lake surrounded by castles and mountains. There’s Oberhofen Castle, Thun Castle, and more. From Bern, you can also spend a day in Lake Thun if you wish. You can enjoy a cruise, visit a cave, and more. You must see the 10 attractions that make Lake Thun worth visiting. The Jungfrau Region, the ultimate destination in Switzerland, is also not very far from Bern. Here you can find the stunning valley of Lauterbrunnen, often described as heaven on earth, and the spectacular turquoise Lake Brienz.

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