Bern is beautiful, charming and has a lot to offer – but let's face it: it's not exactly a city that never sleeps. On a not-so-sunny Sunday, you can walk its streets and hardly meet a living soul. Like its inhabitants, the city is cosy rather than bustling. They say the Bernese are slower than other people. This could be true – but you see, that's not a negative quality. Instead of rushing things, we savour the moment.
One place to spend time chatting over a cup of coffee is Café Wartsaal. First opened in 2011, its popularity is evergrowing. They have a fine selection of tea, coffee and syrup, as well as beer and wine from all over Europe. The food they serve is plain but of high quality. They organise readings by Swiss authors, language nights and other events.
The café is the perfect place to sit and read a book. In fact, books are part of their concept – various bookstores present a variety of books for adults and children (in German). Visitors are encouraged to read and buy them in the café. You'll feel welcome whatever your age, because the atmosphere is as relaxed as sitting in your living room.
Wartsaal Bar Kaffee Bücher
Open Monday to Saturday 9:00–23:30 Sunday 9:00–18:00
Possibly the most spectacular view of Bern can be seen from the Rosengarten (the Rose Garden). You can get there by bus or – much more rewarding – walk through the old town and up the Aargauerstalden. The park has a rose garden, where non sun-worshippers can find benches pleasantly sheltered by the trees. Most people come up here to enjoy the sunshine in a quiet atmosphere, although it can get lively near the children's playground. Situated at one corner of the park is Restaurant Rosengarten. You can sip a cold drink on the terrace, while taking in the view of UNESCO World Heritage Bern. The restaurant is classy and the dishes mostly Italian. While their menu is somewhat on the expensive side, the view is simply beyond price.
Alter Aargauerstalden 31b
Open daily 09:00–24:00
If you prefer ice cream to coffee and prosecco, the Gelateria di Berna is just for you. Freshly made every day, you'll find classics like Chocolate, Stracciatella and Strawberry alongside foreign flavours like Zuppa Inglese, Zabaglione and Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla. The Gelateria is always looking for new combinations of ingredients, even if a particular mixture might sound a little strange at first. In winter, when the Gelateria is closed, they spend time at the Gelato University in Bologna to keep up to date. On a lovely summer evening, you might need to queue for your ice cream, but it's definitely worth the wait. And all of a sudden, you'll understand the Bernese way of doing things – once you've tasted that ice cream, you'll be sure to savour the moment.
Gelateria di Berna
Open Monday to Saturday: 12:00–22:00 Sunday: 12:00–20:00
If your thirst needs quenching on your way to a café, drink some water from the fountains in the old town. Unless indicated otherwise, it's perfectly good drinking water. This summer, Bern seems to be one big construction site. To escape the noise, you can take a walk along the River Aare. There you'll come upon the occasional little café or restaurant, or even just an invitingly quiet park bench.
Photo: 1st: © ST/swiss-image.ch; 2nd © Gelateria di Berna