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Overview

Switzerland's capital is a historical treasure and a modern cosmopolitan center of culture. Bern's old city (Altstadt), famous as the largest preserved medieval city in Europe, sits on a hill inside a U-shaped bend of the River Aare, a perfect defensive location in the Middle Ages. The main street (Marktgasse), which runs from the train station to the river, has lovely covered arcades on both sides lined with atmospheric cafés and endless shopping opportunities, from modern department stores to art galleries to quaint specialty shops. Architectural gems are everywhere, from the Zytglogge (Clock Tower), once part of the city walls, to ...

Switzerland's capital is a historical treasure and a modern cosmopolitan center of culture. Bern's old city (Altstadt), famous as the largest preserved medieval city in Europe, sits on a hill inside a U-shaped bend of the River Aare, a perfect defensive location in the Middle Ages. The main street (Marktgasse), which runs from the train station to the river, has lovely covered arcades on both sides lined with atmospheric cafés and endless shopping opportunities, from modern department stores to art galleries to quaint specialty shops. Architectural gems are everywhere, from the Zytglogge (Clock Tower), once part of the city walls, to the Kornhaus, a High Baroque masterpiece. The squares feature 16th-century fountains with whimsical statues. The intricate facade of the Late Gothic Münster (Cathedral) is a must-see, as is the view of the Alps from behind the Bundeshaus (House of Parliament). Across the river at the Helvetiaplatz is a complex of several excellent museums. Just out of town is the Paul Klee Center, a showpiece of modern architecture that highlights one of Switzerland's most famous painters. Fast, efficient trams make getting around a breeze. A short train ride away is Interlaken, the gateway to the Bernese Alps.

Charlie Morris
About the Expert

Charlie Morris is the author of the Open Road guidebooks Best of Honduras, Best of Costa Rica, Best of Belize, and Switzerland Guide.

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Charlie Morris for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Bern, the capital of Switzerland, is located in the northwestern part of the country
  • Language: German, French, Italian, Romansh
  • Currency: Swiss Franc
  • Research: Wikipedia | Wikitravel
  • Weather: Daylight | Rainfall

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Summer, early fall, late spring, Christmas/New Year's holiday season