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Best attractions in Bern: Top 20

The city was founded at the end of the twelfth century, so many of Bern’s sights are of historical value and most of them are included in the list of UNESCO sites. When deciding what to see in Bern, consider its unconventional layout on two levels. The upper part contains the main iconic sites, while the lower part is ideal for quiet walks by the river.

What to see first in Bern

Having a truly German origin and, accordingly, cultural preferences, Bern still manages to retain a semblance of European culture. Looking at the sights of Bern photo with names and descriptions, appreciate the influence of Europe on the Swiss capital.

1. Old Town

An aerial view of Bern's Old Town with the Aare River flowing through the city on a sunny day

The heart of Bern is concentrated precisely in its old part. There are some interesting places here that should be a must-see. Despite its small size, the old town is home to many beautiful, ancient buildings that astonish you with their architecture. Take a leisurely stroll through the astronomical clock tower, the fountains, and the arcades that stretch for miles through the medieval streets. This part of the city is a UNESCO heritage site.

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2. Federal Palace

South side of the Federal Palace

Listing the main attractions in Bern briefly, let’s put this palace, famous for its Florentine Baroque architecture, in the vanguard. Here is the seat of the Swiss parliament and the federal government of the country. The size of the dome - 62 m - attests to the magnitude of the structure. In the vestibule of the building you can admire the statues of national historic figures and the emblems of the Swiss cantons. Tourists can watch the meetings of Parliament from special galleries.

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3. Bern Town Hall

The sculptures of saints, mythological characters and animals on the facades of Bern Town Hall

The building, built at the end of the 14th century, was originally a trading place. Its high tourist rating is due to the originality of the building (in particular the design of the roof with four slopes), the astronomical clock built into the tower and the two dials under the roof, catching the eyes of passing tourists. On the upper floors are the exhibition and concert halls, and in the summer you can listen to classical music there.

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4. Bernese fountains

The Banner Fountain at the Rathausplatz in Bern

Any tour in Bern includes a visit to at least a few of the more than 100 fountains. Many of them have drinking water, which saves people from thirst in the summer heat. The ingenuity of the creators, who have rejected the traditional, hackneyed notions of classic fountain construction, is amazing. Most of them are decorated in the thematic style, individual for each, but they are all united by a common element. The center of many of the fountains is crowned by a colorful large figure perched on a column decorated with stucco. Originally all the fountains were built of wood, and only in time was it replaced by stone.

5. The Citglogge Tower

Astronomical clock on the medieval clock tower Zytglogge on Kramgasse in the Old Town of Bern

“The bell of time” is how the name of the tower is translated. The graceful building, decorated with Baroque elements, was a fire tower in the 13th century and later a prison, and it was only by equipping it with a big astronomical clock that it became an iconic attraction in Bern and the main timekeeper for five centuries. The bell tower, decorated with images of planets, figurines of angels and mythical characters, offers a magnificent view of the Old Town.

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Check out Bern's beautiful sites in this great video!

6. Prison Tower

Spitalgasse Street and Kafigturm Tower, decorated with the clock "The Greatness of Bern"

Until the end of the 19th century it was used as a place of detention, then it became the city archives, and later a library and an exhibition hall. If you go on a trip make sure you have time to see this old building. Today there is an observation deck on the site of the fire watchtower, which was attached to the tower when it was built.

7. Bern Cathedral

Panoramic view of the Bern Cathedral and the River Are

If you’re visiting for a short time and don’t know what to see in Bern in 1 day, check out this cathedral in the Old Town, built in the late Gothic style. It is the highest church in the country with a bell tower 100 meters high and a huge bell with a diameter of about 2.5 m and weighing 10 tons. The interior decoration is not rich, but still interesting with its stained glass windows, antique furniture and bas-relief composition. Tourists are allowed to climb the tower.

8. Church of St. Peter and Paul

The Church of St. Peter and Paul is the city's first Catholic church after the Reformation Andreas Praefcke

The current Catholic church has earned top tourist recommendations, primarily due to the originality of the Gothic style building, complete with Romanesque elements. The plan of the church was approved as a result of an international competition for the best project. At the end of the last century, the interior of the building was completed with modernist paintings. Today the church has an organ.

9. Church of the Holy Spirit

A view of the Church of the Holy Spirit from the railroad station in Bern WillYs Fotowerkstatt

In the 13th century there was a small chapel on this site, of which only the bell has survived since its destruction. The reviews note the impressiveness of the structure, built in the Baroque style. The restraint, and at the same time the elegance of the interior is emphasized by the circular gallery of arches and massive columns of sandstone, elegantly decorated with stucco elements.

10. Nideggkirche

Nidegkirche Church in the Old Town Wladyslaw Sojka

If you see an ancient church with a green spire during your journey around Bern, it will be the Nidegkirche Church, built on the ruins of a fortress. Elegantly rising against the backdrop of the river Aara, it greets the parishioners with a door finished with beautiful bronze bas-reliefs. In front of the entrance is a monument to the Duke of Zeringen, the founder of the capital.

11. The Paul Klee Center

General view of the Paul Klee Center - museum and exhibition center

Advice on where to go in Bern for those interested in landscape design. The museum dedicated to the famous painter of the last century Paul Klee is a vivid example of an unconventional approach to the organization of exhibitions, usually limited by walls. The alternative center is created in the form of a wave, the author of the project himself calls it a landscape sculpture. It is a landscaped island with glass and steel hills in which exhibition centers, theater and concert venues, a museum for children, and conference and seminar rooms are located.

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12. Albert Einstein House Museum

Facade of the Albert Einstein House-Museum Dsmntl

Want to know what to see in Bern that is ordinary and memorable? Visit the Einstein Museum, even if you’re a complete inexperienced in the theory of relativity. The exhibition reproduces the era of the genius physicist, introduces his theory, and tells about his family. The exhibition of personal belongings of the scientist and a film about his life story, which is shown in one of the museum halls, arouses the lively interest of visitors.

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13. Historical Museum of Bern

The World Telegraph Monument and Historical Museum of Bern at Helvetiaplatz Krol:k

Every sightseeing tour of Bern contains information about this museum with exhibitions of artifacts from different eras. Here you can spend hours looking at collections of ancient coins and works of Venetian craftsmen, objects of folk art and silver, Burgundian tapestries. Exhibits are equipped with modern multimedia, making them more interesting and easy to understand. In the building of the museum there is a place for the house-museum of A. Einstein.

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14. Museum of Fine Arts

White sculptures on the facade of the Museum of Fine Arts Kunstmuseum Bern

The guides in Bern are the best way to tour this place, supplementing what you see with real facts and curious nuances. The huge exhibition of paintings by the greatest painters will be appreciated not only by those who know a thing or two about it. Gray building with two floors deprived of glamour and flamboyance, but colorful atmosphere inside attracts tourists. There are constantly photo exhibitions and screenings of documentaries.

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15. Museum of Communication

Entrance to the Communication Museum in Bern

An austere, unremarkable building has become the home of an interesting exhibition on the subject of human communication and the transmission of information. In particular transport, the post office, philately, television, radio and digital culture are all on show. Interesting (especially for children) interactive exhibits that help to quickly understand and remember information.

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Bern sightseeings: what else to see in Bern?

This article compiles the best sights in Bern as judged by the travel tabloids. A tour of architectural monuments and temples of art is interspersed with the vibrant, lively atmosphere of Bern’s restaurants, sidewalk cafes and authentic cellars. No wonder hotels in Bern are never short of customers.

16. Museum of Natural History

The Natural History Museum is the most important of Switzerland's natural science museums Piggy

A huge, impressive diorama is what the museum is most proud of. It introduces the life of animals in nature. Perhaps the most famous exhibit here is the stuffed Saint Bernard Barry, who worked for 20 years on the North Pass rescuing frozen travelers. Also curious is the collection of 50 minerals with smoky quartz collected in a line a meter long. Visitors watch with interest the interactive process of diamond mining.

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17. Botanical Gardens

View from across the Aare River to the University Botanical Garden Krol:k

The local Botanical Garden, sprawling on a hillside, can confidently be called a Swiss landmark, not just the city. Small, situated in a cozy part of Bern, it is planted with plants brought from all continents. It is interesting to see collections of medicinal plants, cacti, and alpine areas. Tired of contemplating the 6,000 plants, you can rest on the bank of the pond or look out over the panorama of the city from the high ground.

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18. Rose Garden

Rose bushes in the Rose Garden, the local Botanical Garden

What to visit in Bern to capture the lush Swiss nature forever? Go to the top of the hill on the bank of the Aare and see the Rose Garden. There used to be an old cemetery; today a whole ocean of roses is fragrant. As you climb to the top, you’ll enjoy the view of the city from above. At the peak there is a huge garden with 220 kinds of rose bushes, exuding a magical fragrance. The beauty of the roses is diluted by the rhododendrons and irises growing nearby.

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19. Bear Pit Park

Bear Pit Park with live bears and with a slope descending to the Aarev River

The city authorities have been generous to their heraldic animal, allocating huge funds for the bears in the form of an entire park. They play, climb trees, fish, swim in the ponds, and generally enjoy themselves.The location of the park is attractive: it is as if it were a living nature, and at the same time, the center of the city. Transparent plastic fence allows you to take good pictures. Official website:

20. Gurten Park

The Gurten Park Children's Railroad

Despite its location in the city, the park gives the feeling of a country retreat. The area is equipped with a playground and a railroad for children, with a good view of Bern on one side and the Alps on the other from the top of the hill. In the hot season you can swim in the fountain. In summer, you can ride around the area on a mini-train.

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The medieval streets of the Swiss capital conjure up thoughts of a romantic getaway. Find the chance to visit the country where the world’s greatest cultural treasures are estimated by UNESCO. Read also about sights of Basel and be inspired to travel further in Switzerland.

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