The 20 Best Sights in Bern – Description and Photos

The 20 sights of Bern worth seeing

Attractions in Bern (Switzerland)

When visitors see Bern for the first time, they are enthralled by the beauty of its views. The Swiss capital is built on a sandstone ridge, surrounded on three sides by the Aare River flowing through the valley. High bridges connect the city to the high ground on the right bank of the river and to the new urban areas.

The exterior decor of the houses and stores retains the splendor of 17th- and 18th-century Bern – the arcades and protruding roofs are also among the attractions of Bern. It’s the way the city has combined the frills of the past with the innovations of the present that has led UNESCO to include it as a World Heritage Site.

Altstadt (Old Bern)

Altstadt (Old Bern)

Photo: Lukas Portner / Flickr.

The Altstadt, or Old Bern, is one of the most enchanting places in all of Switzerland. The cobblestone streets and sandstone arcaded buildings have not changed much in 500 years, so you can see many of Bern’s sights in their pristine condition. Its natural boundary is the river Aare.

The medieval Altstadt district boasts 16th century fountains and 15th century arcades. Of course, you can also catch a glimpse of the beauty of the old city on a streetcar ride, but it is best to take the time to walk around on foot and soak up as many views of the place as possible.

Address: UNESCO-Altstadt von Bern, Kramgasse 40, 3011 Bern, Switzerland.

The Zitglogge Clock Tower

The Zitglogge Clock Tower

The clock tower Zitglogge.

One of the most recognizable sights in Switzerland is the Zitglogge Clock Tower, a prominent 13th-century building in the heart of Old Bern. This clock tower is designed for greater and more beautiful purposes than simply telling you the time.

Every hour, a few minutes before the minute hand completes a full turn, the jester on the clock begins to drum and music begins to play. When the minute hand completes its circle, the main characters of the performance–the king and his bears–are shown and captivate the audience.

For the most part, children enjoy this performance, but any adult can appreciate the work, longevity and significance of the clock in Bern’s cultural history. The construction itself is also surprising – on the dial you will see not only the current month, but also the sign of the zodiac.

Address: Zytglogge, Bim Zytglogge, Bern, Switzerland.

Bern Cathedral

View of Bern Cathedral

View of Bern Cathedral | Photo: clare_and_ben / Flickr.

What else to see in Bern is definitely the Bern Cathedral. Although the cathedral was completed back in the 15th century, the Reformation of the Swiss Church did not take place until 1893. It is the tallest cathedral in Bern, or perhaps in all of Switzerland.

The Gothic style of the building is accentuated by the incredible spire that towers over the city. And the most beautiful thing about this cathedral is, of course, the portal with a detailed depiction of the Last Judgment.

Of course, it’s a great idea to see the masterpieces of the cathedral up close, but all of its best photos are taken from the Kirchenfeldbrucke Bridge.

Address: The Cathedral of Bern, Münsterplatz, Bern, Switzerland.

Rosengarten Park

Rosengarten Park

Rosengarten Park | Photo: Lukas Portner / Flickr.

If you’re planning a hike through Bern’s Old Town district, you’ll definitely want to visit Rosengarten Park. It is small and located on top of a hill, which provides a special view of the city.

In this garden you’ll find more than 200 varieties of roses, not to mention an almost as rich collection of irises and even rhododendrons. There is also a children’s playground and a cozy restaurant where you can have a cup of coffee, have a light snack and watch the hustle and bustle of the city from this secluded hilltop.

Address: Rosengarten, Alter Aargauerstalden, Bern, Switzerland.

Federal Palace

Federal Palace

Federal Palace | Photo: Josar Photos / Flickr.

The Bundeshaus, or Federal Palace of Switzerland, is where both the Swiss Federal Assembly and the Federal Council meet. Two different branches of government meet in different wings of the palace, making it one of the most important buildings in the entire country.

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Built in the 19th century, the Bundeshaus is not only a beautiful and remarkable building, but also the place where one of the first modern democracies was born.

When the Federal Palace is not in session, it can be walked through with a tour guide. Right in front of the Bundeshaus, on Bundesplatz, is a chic fountain that is a favorite of tourists.

Address: Federal Palace, Bundesplatz 3, 3005 Bern, Switzerland.

The Bear Pit

Bear Pit Park

The Bear Pit Park.

According to local legend, the name of the town comes from the word “bear”, whereas the animal itself has long played an important role in the history of Bern and its culture. The Bear Pit, or Berengraben, is far more than just a pit where you can gawk at falcons. It is a real sanctuary where you can watch bears live to the full, watch them swim and chill in the Aare River.

The original bear pit was established here in the 16th century, and all prominent people who visited Bern, from Einstein to Lenin, came here to admire bears in their natural habitat.

Although the Bear Pit has always been an important part of the city’s heritage, the animals living there are now treated much better than in past centuries.

Address: Bear Pit, Grosser Muristalden, Bern, Switzerland.

Albert Einstein House Museum

From 1903 to 1905, Einstein lived in the heart of Bern at Kramgasse 49. He did not live there alone – his wife Mileva and son Hans lived with him. During his stay in this house, Einstein wrote articles that turned physics upside down, combined in the Annus Mirabilis Papers, “notes of the year of miracles.

It was these articles that laid the foundations of the physics we know and study today. The apartment is available for viewing, and its interior is tailored to the fashions and trends of 1905. On the top floor, you’ll learn a detailed biography of Einstein and how closely he was associated with Bern and Switzerland in general.

Address: Einsteinhaus, Kramgasse 49, 3011 Bern, Switzerland.

Gurten Mountain

Climbing up Mount Gurten

Climbing Mount Gurten | Photo: Cha già José / Flickr.

Locals know that Mount Gurten is one of the most picturesque, relaxing and scenic spots in the entire city, but many tourists ignore it for some reason. Gurten is not far from the city, so it offers a truly mesmerizing view. On one side you have the wonderful city of Bern in front of you, on the other side the magnificent Bernese Alps.

There are marked hiking trails winding around the mountain, a good way to work up an appetite for a Swiss dinner! If you don’t feel like walking, you can take the Gurtenbahn, a special streetcar which takes you a full 5 minutes to enjoy panoramic views of the mountain and the city.

Address: Gurten, Könitz, Switzerland.

Historical Museum of Bern

Historical Museum of Bern

Historical Museum of Bern | Photo: Kotomi_ / Flickr.

One of the largest museums in Switzerland is the Bern Historical Museum. The museum’s exhibits trace the country’s history from its prehistoric, ancient beginnings to the most impressive achievements of modern times.

In addition to learning about history, you can also experience an aesthetic delight with the elegant Burgundian tapestries and the huge collections of silver and goldware from the 16th and 18th centuries.

Bern’s History Museum also houses the Einstein Museum, a fantastic opportunity to learn even more about the great scientist.

Address: Bernisches Historisches Museum / Einstein Museum, Helvetiaplatz, Bern, Switzerland.

The Paul Klee Center

Paul Klee House

The Paul Klee Center. | Photo: wikimedia.

The undulating shape of the exhibition center named after the famous German artist Paul Klee is impressive in itself. However, the interior of the center will surprise you even more. The Paul Klee Center is the world’s largest collection of his works, true works of art.

Expressionism, cubism and surrealism are all featured in his work, which is largely due to the influence of the Bauhaus – the Higher School for Construction and Artistic Design.

There are two exhibition halls with iconic masterpieces such as “Park near Loup”, a colorful painting that impresses with the contrast between the black lines of a tree and the bright and colorful leaves surrounding it.

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Address: Zentrum Paul Klee, Monument im Fruchtland, Bern, Switzerland.

Museum of Fine Arts

Museum of Fine Arts

Museum of Fine Arts.

The oldest art museum in the country opened its doors in 1879 in a purpose-built eclectic hall. The earliest works in the museum’s possession date back to the Middle Ages, and the museum tries to keep up with the times by carefully following the directions of modern art.

The collection includes 3,000 paintings and sculptures, as well as nearly 50,000 photographs, prints, sketches and works of videography.

The museum features a series of works by the Symbolist Ferdinand Hodler, and expressionism is well represented by Paul Klee, Franz Marc, Kandinsky, August Macke and Alexei von Jawlensky. And most recently, the museum announced that German collector Cornelius Gurlitt had bequeathed his collection of 1,400 works to it.

The only drawback to this gift is that it is likely that many of these paintings were stolen by the Nazis in the 1930s and 1940s.

Address: Museum of Fine Arts Bern, Hodlerstrasse, Bern, Switzerland.

Delchelzli Zoo

Delhelzli Zoo

Delhelzli Zoo | Photo: Tambako The Jaguar / Flickr.

Following the credo “The fewer animals, the more space they need,” the zoo has gained its uniqueness. It is located just 10 minutes from the Hauptbahnhof station.

The park is divided into free and paid sections: In the free aviaries along the Aare you can see wild boar, chamois and ibex, as well as a small farm with domestic animals such as horses and goats.

The paid aviaries are home to more exotic animals with a predominant emphasis on European species. In the tropical house, you’ll encounter reptiles, birds and monkeys, and marvel at the beauty of the aquarium with its coral reef ecosystem. And outside you will find spacious aviaries with leopards, wolves and even harbor seals.

Address: Tierpark Bern, Dählhölzli + BärenPark, Tierparkweg, Bern, Switzerland.

Museum of Communications

Museum of Communications

Museum of Communications.

Not far from Helvetiaplatz is Switzerland’s only museum specializing in communication. Its origins lie in the Postal Museum, founded in 1907, and the modern museum still has an exhibition of postal history explaining the workings of the postal network and showing postal carriages and postage stamps.

Another exhibition is devoted entirely to “media” and features interactive audiovisual displays. And there is a huge telecommunications exhibition with models of early telephones and telegraphs, where you can try to decipher a message in Morse code, or send a message through a vacuum tube.

Address: Museum für Kommunikation, Helvetiastrasse, Bern, Switzerland.

City of Fountains

Zähringerbrunnen Fountain

Zähringerbrunnen Fountain | Photo: Lukas Schlagenhauf / Flickr.

Scattered throughout the Old Town are many ancient public fountains. Installed in the 16th century, the fountains were topped with statues recreating biblical themes, such as Samson killing the Lion.

Other fountains were adorned with statues praising and emphasizing Bern’s strength, such as the Zähringerbrunnen (bear in full armor) and the Läuferbrunnen (track-and-field runner).

These fountains replaced wooden ones at a time when the city was rapidly gaining in power and wealth. There are a hundred of these fountains in all. Eleven of them retain their original features and are all carefully maintained and repaired.

The address is Zähringerbrunnen, Kramgasse, 3011 Bern, Switzerland.

Botanical Garden

Botanical Garden

Botanical Garden | Photo: Lukas Portner / Flickr.

Do not forget the unique Bern Botanical Garden. It impresses even those who are certain that they have no interest in flowers and plants at all. The garden has several sections: the Alpine section includes mountain ecosystems with specimens from Europe, Asia and North America, but with a special focus on Swiss flora.

There is also an entertaining exhibit on extinct species. Three other sections cover desert, tropical and subtropical vegetation. Especially interesting, of course, is the palm house – here you will see tropical fruit plants such as bananas, coconuts and coffee.

Address: Botanical Gardens, 3013 Bern, Switzerland.

Museum of Natural History

Natural History Museum

Museum of Natural History.

The Museum of Natural History is part of the University of Bern. It was founded in 1832 and includes more than 200 dioramas, including the 200-year-old remains of a rescue dog, a Saint Bernard named Barry. Even the outdated dioramas leave a lasting impression. It’s also curious to see how museums were built and organized in general in the mid-19th century.

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Some of the preserved remains cannot leave visitors indifferent, such as the skeletons of the giant inhabitants of the water depths.

Don’t miss the natural fossils exhibit where you can see Alpine gold, pieces of meteorites and giant crystals. All of the exhibits are capable of enlightening for adults and children alike.

Address: Naturhistorisches Museum Bern, Bernastrasse, Bern, Switzerland.

Grain storage

Grain Store

Grain storage.

This impressive multifunctional cultural space includes the Kornhausbühnle City Theater; the Kornhaus Library; the Design Library; the Media and Design Forum; and two famous restaurants, the Kornhauskeller and the Kornhauskafe.

You would never guess that the original building was nothing more than a granary. The interior is made up of 12 columns with images of 12 women in traditional Bernese dress and images of two dozen musicians dressed in Swiss Renaissance attire.

Address: Kornhaus, Kornhausplatz 18, 3011 Bern, Switzerland.

The French Church

French Church

French church.

Just behind the granary is the French Church – the oldest church in Bern, decorated with many frescoes. It was built from 1270 to 1285 on the foundations of an even older church and was originally part of the Dominican monastery. During the country’s painful Reformation, French-speaking Protestants took refuge here from 1623.

Address: French Church, Zeughausgasse 8, 3011 Bern, Switzerland.

The Swiss Alpine Museum

Swiss Alpine Museum

The Swiss Alpine Museum.

On the Helvetiaplatz in Bern is the Swiss Alpine Museum, which opened in 1934 and is a fascinating history of the exploration of the Swiss Alps, covering scientific research, communications, mapping and mountaineering. It even includes a large relief model of the Bernese Oberland as well as a restaurant.

The address is Alpine Museum of Switzerland, Helvetiaplatz, Bern, Switzerland.

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A small and cozy Bern is not at all like a capital in the usual sense of the word. Its lush green streets, red-tiled houses, and church steeples would be more fitting in a prosperous province where people have lived a measured life for centuries rather than in the midst of events. Nevertheless, Bern is the administrative center of Switzerland, where many states send their ambassadors.

For tourists in the city opens up a wide field of activity. After exploring the many architectural sites in Bern’s historic districts, you can explore the local museums or enjoy the majestic views of the Alpine peaks rising up out of that piercing blue sky.

What to see and do in Bern?

The most interesting and beautiful places to visit. Photos and information.

Old Town

Historic part of Bern, located in the hilly bend of the river Are. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1983. Most of the city’s sights can be found precisely in the old quarters. The first settlements in this area date from the end of the 12th century, when the founder of Bern, Duke Berthold V Zähringen, came here. Nowadays this part of town is home to restaurants, hotels, clubs and offices in the former residential blocks.

Old Town.

Bern’s fountains

Bern is famous for its many fountain wells, many of which were created as early as the 13th to 16th centuries. Bern’s fountains are guarded by statues of fabulous creatures made by sculptor H. Ging. The most frightening statue is the Child Eater. It is an evil giant with a bag full of children’s bodies (he eats one of them). Apparently, the sculpture was created to help parents raise naughty offspring.

Bernese fountains.

Federal Palace

The palace complex was erected in 1894-1902 by G. Auer in the neo-Renaissance style. The building is used as a meeting place of the Swiss government. At the height of the palace reaches 64 meters. The roof was topped by a large dome, on the inside of which was laid out the mosaic coat of arms of Switzerland and 22 of its cantons (at the beginning of the 20th century). The building is open to the public. Parliamentary sessions can be viewed from special galleries.

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Federal Palace.


Tower with astronomical clock, presumably erected in the XIII century as a defensive fortification. At the beginning of the XV century, the structure burned down, after which it was rebuilt from the local sandstone. The modern look of the building was achieved in the 16th century. The ancient Citglogge tower clock is over 500 years old. For all these centuries the townspeople used it to tell the exact time.


Prison Tower

The tower was built in the middle of the 17th century on the site of the town gates. Until 1897 it was used for the detention of prisoners (hence the name), then the building housed the city archives. At the same time there was an observation post in the tower, from where the keeper could watch out for fires breaking out. Nowadays this point is converted into an observation deck for tourists.

Prison Tower.

Town Hall

Town Hall in Bern is an example of mixed architecture. It has Romanesque features as well as early and late Gothic elements. The town hall was built in the early 15th century for the needs of the City Council. The building was rebuilt several times, and its architectural appearance changed somewhat. Today the town council and the church’s parliament of the canton of Bern meet there.

Town Hall.

Bern Cathedral

Cathedral of the Protestant Church of Bern, located in the historic part of the city. Construction of the temple lasted for several centuries – from the 14th to the late 19th centuries. The dominant architectural style of the building is late Gothic. The interior of the cathedral is quite simple and laconic. All unnecessary, in the opinion of the church reformers, decorations were removed from here back in the 16th century, so that the faithful could focus only on communion with God.

Bern Cathedral.


A small church with a high spire, built in the middle of the 14th century. In the difficult years of the Reformation the church was almost abandoned, and divine services were only resumed here in 1566. In the middle of XX century the building was reconstructed under the direction of architect M. Perincaioli. As a result new bronze reliefs were added to the facade. In 1968 a monument in honor of Berthold V Zeringen was installed in the courtyard of the church.

Nideggkirche church.

Church of the Holy Spirit

A modest and elegant baroque church from the 18th century that is considered one of the most important Protestant parishes in Switzerland. Like other local churches, its interior is not lavish, but nevertheless the walls are decorated with rich stucco and the hall has a circular gallery of massive columns. The Church of the Holy Spirit is one of the most capacious in the country. It can accommodate up to 2,000 people.

Church of the Holy Spirit.

Church of St. Peter and St. Paul

The first Catholic church built after the victory of the Reformation in Switzerland. The church was erected between 1858 and 1864. The façade is in a mixed architectural manner. It has Gothic and late Romanesque features. The interiors are decorated in a relatively recent Art Nouveau style, in 1998. Despite belonging to the Catholic diocese, St. Peter and Paul Church is relatively independent of the Vatican.

Church of St. Peter and Paul.

The Paul Klee Center

A museum whose collection consists of works by P. Klee, an avant-garde graphic artist and art historian. The idea for the exhibit came after the master’s descendants donated more than 700 of his works to the city. The museum building was erected at the expense of the Muller family, designed by architect R. Piano. It was opened in 2005. The collection is located in the underground part of the building, as paintings by Klee are sensitive to light.

Paul Klee Center.

Albert Einstein House Museum

In the house on Kramgasse 49 A. Einstein lived from 1903 to 1905 while working at the local patent office. It was here that the great scientist wrote his first articles, which covered the fundamental postulates of the theory of relativity. In Einstein’s former apartment, the original furnishings of the early 20th century have been recreated, photographs of the scientist and his family hang on the walls, and the shelves contain scientific papers and documents.

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Albert Einstein House Museum.

Historical Museum of Bern

The museum is located on Helvetiaplatz. The building was built in the late 19th century. From the outside it looks like a real castle. The museum exhibition is divided into four large sections, where thousands of objects are exhibited. Altogether there are over 250,000 exhibits in the funds. Here you can see the armor of knights, ancient coins, elements of decoration of churches, church utensils and much more.

Historical Museum of Bern.

Museum of Fine Arts

The collection contains a large number of paintings by Swiss, French, Italian and Spanish masters of the XIV-XX centuries. Special mention should be made of the avant-garde exhibition, which was given to the museum in 2014 on behalf of a private art connoisseur. It includes works by S. Dali, P. Cezanne, A. Matisse, A. Modigliani, W. Kandinsky and other artists. In addition to paintings, the museum holds 3,000 sculptures and 48,000 prints.

Museum of Fine Arts.

Museum of Natural History

Natural History Museum, which was founded in 1832. The staff of the museum closely cooperates with the University of Bern. The collection consists of stuffed animals, skeletons, minerals, huge crystals. There are even meteorite fragments and gold ingots. Many of the rooms have interactive installations that imitate the smells and sounds of wildlife. The Bern Museum has one of the most comprehensive natural science exhibitions in Switzerland.

Museum of Natural History.

Communication Museum

The exhibits in the museum take the visitor on a journey through the history of communication. Old telephones, telegraphs, radios, televisions, computers and other devices are exhibited here. A large part of the exposition is devoted to digital technology. The museum has a specialized sanatorium where people suffering from computer addiction are treated.

Museum of Communication.

“Bear Pit”

“The Bear Pit” is called a small bear park with a moat adjacent to it, they are a branch of the city zoo Delhölzli. The bear is considered the heraldic symbol of Bern, this animal is quite reverent here. The first pit appeared in the city in the 15th century, and since then it has moved from place to place many times. The park is a popular tourist attraction.

Botanical Garden

The Botanical Garden is located at the University of Bern. It has a collection of plants from the tropics, deserts, steppes, forests and alpine meadows. The garden was created in 1862. Visitors with children may not have access to some of the particularly valuable plants in the greenhouses, as the administration is concerned about the delicate flora, which is sensitive to the slightest disturbance.

Botanical Garden.

Rose Garden

A romantic landscaped park with 220 varieties of roses and 200 kinds of irises. The garden is studded with flowers in all shades of red, yellow and white. It offers a picturesque view to the historical part of Bern, because the rose garden is located on a hill. The garden was created in the XX century on the place of the former city cemetery. It is a beautiful place for walks, relaxation and philosophical reflections.

Rose Garden.

Gurten Park

Gurten Mountain is located a few kilometers from Bern. Its height is about 864 meters. On the elephants of the mountain is organized by the amusement park of the same name. In winter they ski and sled, in summer – on bicycles. On the territory of the park there is a hotel, restaurants and places for conferences. Each year, a music festival “Gurtenfestival” is held here, which attracts participants from all over Europe.

Gurten Park.

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