Get to know Bern and meet new people
Bern is a wonderful quiet city, with lots of culture and a fair bit of entertainment. Local publications, expat groups and Bern Tourism are good resources to help you familiarise yourself with your new town. Find others with similar interests on Meetup or try signing up for a language class. The US Embassy lists all of the Swiss-American organizations in Bern. A few well known clubs include The American Women's Club of Bern, The English Speaking Club of Bern and the Bern Cricket Club.
Stay up to date on interesting events in your area through the Hello Switzerland Events page. Use the Around Me feature on the Hello Switzerland app (on iPhone and Android) to locate points of interest in your vicinity.
For English news resources read the article Entertainment, News & Media in Bern.
Get to know nearby Biel/Bienne
A short 40 minute drive from Bern, find the lakeside town of Biel/Bienne. This small city is part of the three lakes region, which also includes Murten and Neuchâtel. Biel/Bienne Tourism provides lots of fun ideas for activities in the area.
A few suggestions to start you off:
- Take a guided tour through Biel/Bienne's old town.
- Visit the CentrePasquArt museum to view rotating exhibitions of contemporary art.
- Enjoy a relaxing weekend away at beautiful St. Peter's Island.
- Treat yourself to a day of wellness at Hotel Worbenbad.
Things to do in Bern
Bern consistently ranks amongst the top ten best places to live. The old town is beautiful and the entire area is a UNESCO world heritage site. In spite of being Switzerland's political centre, it is known for its relaxed environment. It remains green, safe, clean and family friendly. Sports and outdoor lovers, as well as those interested in cultural activities, can choose from a variety of activities. The public transport system is efficient and the city's compactness makes it easy to navigate by foot or bicycle. In addition to the suggestions below, find other great suggestions in the Family activities in Bern article.
- Snap a photo of the beautiful old Clock Tower (Zytglogge) in the centre of town.
- Take a guided tour (in English, German, French or Italian) of the House of Parliament (Bundeshaus).
- Visit Bern's adorable living mascots at the BearPark overlooking the Aare.
- Pop into the Cathedral of Bern (Das Berner Münster) and check out the magnificent view from the tower on a nice day.
- Hike the short but steep path up to Bern's Rosengarten. Lounge on the lawn, enjoy a meal at the restaurant and soak in the spectacular view of old town.
- The University of Bern's botanical garden (DE) is a nice spot that is also close to the main train station.
Tip: Explore the cellars in Bern's old town. You will be please to discover shops, restaurants, venues and bars that are easy to miss unless you pay attention.
Cultural Activities in Bern
It may not be the largest city in Switzerland but Bern has a variety of cultural activities to offer. Enjoy a plethora of good theatres, museums, galleries and live music venues. 15 city cinemas in Bern and five in Biel-Bienne screen new releases in the original language with subtitles. Orange Cinema hosts an open air cinema in Bern during July and August at the Grosse Schanze next to the university.
If you're looking for a good museum you have several options. The Zentrum Paul Klee offers events and concerts in addition to its collection. Visit Einstein House and grab a cup of coffee in the downstairs café afterwards. Learn about mountains and glaciers at the Swiss Alpine Museum. Enjoy Kunsthalle Bern's diverse collection.
There are small theatres sprinkled all around Bern. Most productions however are given in German. However, Upstage presents regular amateur English Theatre and ONO (DE) occasionally runs an English improv theatre night.
Bern hosts a number of yearly festivals.
- The Gurten festival lasts for four days in July with shows by musicians and DJs.
- At Bern Buskers enjoy performances ranging from music, juggling, to theatre, all in the street.
- The Zibelemärit, or onion market, is a traditional one-day folk market celebrating all things onion. Buy delicious food and braided onion bouquets, among other goodies.
- Fasnacht (DE) is a massive carnival that takes over the city in early March.
- Visit museums late on Museum Night and enjoy culinary treats in the street.
- BEA Horse is a massive agricultural and animal exhibition.
Eating out, restaurants & nightlife
Bern has restaurants serving local and international cuisine and many options for clubs, discos and bars. Restaurant Harmonie is one of several Bern restaurants known for its Swiss cheese specialities. Loetschberg and Volver are hip and yummy choices. Kloetzlikeller is a famous cellar restaurant. For a beautiful setting, right on the Aare, try Schwellenmätteli and sit on the glass floor patio. Enjoy the upscale atmospheres of the Kursaal Bern and Kornhauskeller. A few other good options include Waldheim, Tingel-kringel and Zum Blauen Engel.
For live music, check the programs at Mahogany Hall (DE), Bierhübeli (DE) and Musig Bistrot (DE). For more suggestions, pick up a free copy of the Bewegungsmelder Magazine or check their online music guide (DE). Mühle Hunziken in Rubigen is a must for music lovers. A former farm building, this completely revamped three story concert venue has a unique atmosphere. Several smaller cafes such as Wartsaal and Café Marta also have live music on a regular basis. If you enjoy singing, check out a performance by the Choir of Nations.
Leisure and day trips in and around Bern
- Bielersee Schifffahrt offers cruises on Lakes Biel and Thun.
- Ligerz, Twann or La Neuveville are winemaking villages (DE/FR) that are definitely worth visiting, especially during harvesting in September.
- Treberwurst (sausage) making is a local tradition that takes place in winemakers' cellars.
- Take the funicular tram to the Gurten (DE) to enjoy the scenery and a meal at the restaurant. There is also a small ski lift for kids here during the winter.
- Enjoy a stunning boat trip on the Aare from Biel or Solothurn.
- Visit Gantrisch Nature Park for outdoor activities all year round.
- Take time out to rejuvenate at a wellness centre.
- Stand on the "top of Europe" at the Jungfraujoch.
- Take the funicular (or hike!) up the Niesen for spectacular views of Lake Thun.
- Marvel at the five beautiful castles on Lake Thun.
- The vineyards along the shoreline of Lake Biel offer hiking and wine-tasting.
- Worb (DE) is a nice nearby village. Here you can visit the family owned Egger Bier brewery in the centre of town or the restaurant Eisblume, located in a former greenhouse.
- Other areas worth exploring include: Burgdorf (DE) and Langenthal (DE).
Photo: swiss-image.ch/Terence du Fresne