The federal city
without airs and graces
Bern is very beautiful and unique. Well, yes, the locals would never say that themselves. The Bernese are modesty itself, and prefer understatement. People in Bern are calm and at ease. A blessing in a hectic world.
Bern from above
The local mountain and panoramic viewpoint of Bern, the Gurten, rises to an altitude of 840 metres and is easily accessible by the Gurtenbahn funicular railway (relaxed) or on foot (sporting).
A swim in the river
The Caribbean turquoise hue in summer is rather misleading. The river Aare is as cool as a mountain stream, and is rarely warmer than 20 degrees even in July and August. Bathing in the Lorraine Bad, at the Marzili pool or at the Eichholz bathing place is specially invigorating – and free of charge.
Riding the Mattelift
The “mountain station” of the Mattelift is located at the edge of the Münsterplattform park, while the “valley station” at the bottom is located 32 metres vertically below, in the Matte district of Bern. Since it started operation in 1896, the Mattelift has helped more than 25 million people reach new heights. And because guests at The Bristol have a Bern Ticket, the ride is free for them. Operating hours
Bern Münster cathedral
Its church tower dominates the Old Town. (You really have to actually see it, so no pictures here.) The Berner Münster cathedral is the largest and most significant Late Gothic religious building in Switzerland. Its foundation stone was laid in 1421. From the Münsterplattform park in front of the church you have a grand view over the Matte district and the river Aare.
Walking is a great way to explore Bern. If your legs start to tire, the next bus or tram stop is never far off. Guests at The Bristol receive the Bern Ticket at no charge and can use public transport for free.
The Zytglogge clock tower of Bern was the watchtower and gateway at the time of the first town fortifications in around 1220. Its clock movement is a major public attraction. Every hour, on the hour, the antique figures move round, as the mechanical bell-ringer gets ready to sound the time.
Wandering round the Old Town
In Bern, a window-shopping excursion is always a cultural tour as well: UNESCO considers the Old Town of Bern to be “a living witness to medieval town planning”, conferring on it the title of World Heritage Site already back in 1983. The covered arcades are probably “the longest covered shopping promenade in Europe”.
Trip to the jungle
With some 5,500 plant species, impressive open-air grounds and six display houses, the Bern Botanical Garden – or BOGA is a green oasis in the heart of Bern, open 365 days a year and free of charge. The palm house is a great mood-lifter on cold grey days.