Why you should go to Bern!

German-speaking Bern on the western side of the country is an exquisitely preserved historic old town that has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1983. Its heraldic symbol is the bear. Should anyone forget it, live bears have been displayed in town since the 16th century, early on in a pit and now in an elaborate open-air bear park. Begun in the 12th century on a hilly peninsula created by a loop in the River Aare, the city spread into the surrounding plain. The nation's "federal city" and seat of Parliament, it is within easy striking distance of idyllic lakes and the Bernese Alps that have peaks of more than 12,000 ft (3,660 m), Emmenthal, the region producing the most popular Swiss cheese, is less than an hour away.

The quaint streets of old town discourage modern conveyances like the automobile. The compact neighborhood can best seen on foot although Segway and rickshaw tours are available. Among the sights are the elaborate medieval clock tower with moving puppets and a town hall and Gothic cathedral, both dating from the 15th century. Bern also has Europe's longest covered shopping promenade - four miles (6 km) of medieval arcades locals call "Lauben" that protect against all manner of weather. Behind many historic facades, are inviting bars, boutiques and cabarets. More contemporary attractions are the world's largest collection of Paul Klee works in a cultural center designed by Renzo Piano and the Einstein House where the famous physicist lived briefly in the early 20th century while working in the patent office and pondering relativity.

Bern lacks Zurich's glitzy LGBTQ nightlife, but it has an active LGBTQ community; Gaywest, an all-day queer street party and after parties in September; Queersicht, an annual LGBT film festival in early November; Pink Cross, a national umbrella association for gay and lesbian organizations in Switzerland; the HAB services and advocacy club and Pink Mama Theater, a queer/punk pan-European theater and dance company.

H24 The Club

H24 The Club

Nightlife

H24 The Club, "the place for open-minded party people", opened in 2015 in the National Hotel with club nights on Fridays and Saturdays, starting at 11 pm with club...
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Verdi Ristorante

Verdi Ristorante

Restaurant

The dining area of this traditional Italian restaurant is spread across several rooms, each with its own style and atmosphere, supplemented by a rather sizable art...
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Aqualis

Nightlife

The 6,500 square-foot (600 m2) sauna with a cruisy steam room, Finnish sauna, glory holes, solarium, Jacuzzi, bar and cabins. Themed monthly events include a sneakers or underwear parties and naked nights. Free Internet.
BearPark

BearPark

Things to do

Bears are an integral part of Bern's identity, named after the animal and bearing its image on the city's coat of arms. Although the first bear took up residence in the...
Berner Münster

Berner Münster

Things to do

Bern's cathedral is built in the Gothic style with three naves, the central of which is supported by 14 flying buttresses and decorated with a lacy vaulted ceiling and...
Clock Tower (Zytglogge)

Clock Tower (Zytglogge)

Things to do

Built in its first incarnation in the 13th century, the medieval clock tower has served as a gate tower, prison for women convicted of sexual relations with clerics,...

Comeback Bar

Nightlife

In a historic vaulted cellar in the old city, the Comeback Bar is casual and convivial, a nice place for an afternoon cocktail or nightcap. Things get a bit more lively on weekends with dancing and DJ music.
Hotel Allegro

Hotel Allegro

Hotel

This 4-star hotel comes with views of the historic old town and Bernese Alps, a casino, three restaurants, a bar and 171 modern rooms and suites. Breakfast and...
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Hotel Belle Époque

Hotel Belle Époque

Hotel

Hotel Belle Époque is decorated in the creams, olives, sages, mustards and peaches of art nouveau and home to a museum-worthy collection of art. Steps from the Aare...
Hotel National Bern

Hotel National Bern

Hotel

Five minutes from the central train station, the National is housed in a building dating to 1908, with its original elevator and well-appointed, no-frills rooms that...
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ISC Club

ISC Club

Nightlife

The ISC Club began as the international student club of the University of Bern in 1970. In the 1990s, it opened its events to the public at large, hosting homegrown and...
Jack's Brasserie

Jack's Brasserie

Restaurant

Jack's Brasserie at the Hotel Schweizerhof Bern has an elegant fin-de-siècle atmosphere and French Brasserie cuisine alongside popular local classics like the...
Meridiano

Meridiano

Restaurant

Meridiano at the top of the Allegro Hotel is haute cuisine prepared in an open kitchen and delivered in multiple-course menus to an elegant dining room and terrace with...
Paul Klee Center

Paul Klee Center

Things to do

Designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano, the Paul Klee Center is composed of three undulating steel and glass hills rising out of a green island on the city's...
Studio 43

Studio 43

Nightlife

Bears, chubbies and older gentlemen are all welcome at Studio 43, a well-equipped sauna bar dating to the 1980s and one of three in Bern. Facilities, although somewhat...

3 community reviews / Bern

General impression
Excellent
LGBT-friendly
Good
Gustavo Brant de Carvalho wishlisted Bern

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Getting around

Bern is served by an airport in Belp, about six miles (9 km) southeast of town with vacation charters and SkyWork flights to a number of European cities. It has high-speed train connections to Paris, Berlin and Milan and is the hub for train travel around Switzerland with local and regional networks. Walking is the most convenient way to get around the historic city even in inclement weather, because it has almost four miles (6 km) of covered arcades called "Lauben." Public transportation is efficient with short wait times and - better yet - it's free for tourists with a Bern Ticket which can be obtained with a reservation confirmation from your hotel or hostel. It covers zones 100/101, the Marzilibähnli and Gurtenbahn funicular railways, the train station and airport.

International and local car rental agencies have offices at the airport and around town if you want to head to the countryside, but it is unlikely you will need a car during your stay in the city itself. The local public transportation system is extensive, plus much of the historic town center is inaccessible to most vehicular traffic.

Bern Rollt is a "free" bicycle rental service that can also supply children's bikes, e-bikes, scooters and skate boards. Just present a valid ID and a deposit of CHF 20 at one of three pickup spots, one near the train station. and you can rent a bike from any of the following locations: Map three pickup spots, one near train station. The first four hours are free (first two for e-bikes), then it's CHF 1 for each additional hour.

Buses and trams. Bernmobile Unlimited day ticket about 12 SF but hotel guests get a free Bern Ticket for transportation, which covers the city as well as Bern Airport and funiculars.

Taxis are available in Berne, but Uber isn't and likely won't be because what draws visitors to Bern is the medieval city, much of which is inaccessible to convenient vehicles. Public transportation is generally a better choice in terms of both time and money.

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