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How to Spend 1 Day in Bern, Switzerland

Last Updated on October 26, 2023 by Darla Uhl

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Have you ever been to Bern, Switzerland? If not, you should. A beautiful city with many attractions, Bern is certainly worth a visit.  Bern offers a variety of attractions for all tastes, whether you enjoy history, art, animals, or simply relaxing in a beautiful setting.

Image of Bern by TouringSwitzerland.com

The city of Bern is the federal city of Switzerland. The city is nestled along the banks of the Aare River and is surrounded by mountains. There is much more to discover when you take the time to explore this charming city.

There’s a lot to do in Bern, Switzerland, whether you’re looking for an itinerary or a list of things to do.  In this guide, we’ll show you all the best things to do in one day.

Bern One Day Itinerary: What can you do?

In Bern, there are so many things to do in one day that you can choose from several options based on your mood or the weather. Here’s a glimpse at what one day in Bern might be like.

1.  Start Your Day With a Cozy Breakfast

Image of a Coffee Shop and Bakery by TouringSwitzerland.com

In case your hotel doesn’t offer a breakfast option, you can walk around Bern to find a café. There are a number of cafes and restaurants that serve up hot coffee with delicious pastries, particularly in the Old Town. I would suggest picking one of the coffee shops in the city center. Some options are the following:

  • Einstein Café & bel étage (Kramgasse 49, 3011 Bern) – You can start your day at this cozy coffee shop in Bern next to Einstein’s house. They are typically open by 8:30 AM (earlier on Saturdays). You can get croissants, brioche, bread, pancakes, eggs, and cheese for breakfast. Their chocolate cake is highly recommended. The best part is that the prices are reasonable.
  • Energy Kitchen Bern (Spitalgasse 47-51, 3001 Bern ) – This restaurant, located on the fourth floor of Loeb and overlooking Bern’s train station, is a wonderful place for breakfast. In a nice, modern restaurant, you can find healthy portions and food like freshly squeezed juices, homemade Birchermüesli, and breakfast classics.
  • Petit Couteau (Monbijoustrasse 6, 3011 Bern) – Petit Couteau serves breakfast Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Their breakfast menu includes hummus bread, pancakes, croissants, cheese, yogurt, and more. There is a brunch menu available on Saturdays until 1:00 PM with items such as french toast, hash browns, pancakes, and fresh juices.

All breakfast options listead above are located in Bern’s city center. After breakfast, you can start your day by walking through Bern’s old town.

2. Explore Bern’s Old Town

There is no better place in Bern to start your day than the Old Town, located across the Aare River. The Old Town of Bern, which consists of a number of well-preserved buildings from the medieval era, was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. 

Located right at the entrance of the Old Town is a prominent medieval clock tower called the Zytglogge. One of Bern’s most famous symbols, the clock dates from between 1218 and 1220. 

The Old Town contains a number of historical buildings dating from the 12th to 15th centuries. There are streets lined with cobblestones lined with historic buildings, as well as arcades with shops and restaurants. 

Bern’s UNESCO-listed Old Town and Zytglogge are a must-see.

After you’ve seen the sights, walk in the direction of Nydegg Bridge. After crossing the Aare River, it will lead you to the bear pit. 

You can buy tickets for guided walks in Bern’s old town at GetYourGuide – Bern: 90-Minute Stroll Through the Old Town.


3.  Visit the Bear Pit

Image of the Bear in Bern by TouringSwitzerland.com

After crossing the Nydegg Bridge, you can explore the Bear Pit. It is home to bears (currently three brown bears), which can be seen playing and climbing around in their enclosure. You can walk the Bear Pit easily. And you may visit it even if you have small children with you, as the fences are high and secure.

Swiss and international tourists love Bern’s bear pit.  Visit the Bear Pit if you are ever in Bern. You will be glad you did. You can then decide to have lunch near the Bear Pit or head up to one of the panoramic viewpoints and have lunch there.


4. Enjoy the Breathtaking Views from Rosengarten and Gurten 

My recommendation is to visit one or two wonderful viewpoints in Bern after visiting the bear pit Bärenpark. Rosengarten is just around the corner from Bear Pit. The rose garden in Bern offers a panoramic view of the old city. I highly recommend you visit it. I would also recommend that you go further to Gurten, where you will get a better view of the mountains.

To summarize your options:

  • Option # 1: Travel to Rosengarten Bern for fantastic views of Bern’s Old Town. It is only a short walk away from Bärenpark.
  • Option # 2: Travel to Gurten Bern for fantastic views of the entire city of Bern and the Swiss Alps

It is possible to do both if you wish, or you can choose either one. For those with limited time, I recommend visiting the Rosengarten. In case you have time, I recommend visiting both. We will discuss both options below.

Option #1: Rosengarten Bern

Image of Rosengarten Bern by TouringSwitzerland.com

Located northwest of Bern’s old town, Rosengarten offers breathtaking views of the city, the mountains, and the Aare River. Nature lovers will enjoy the park’s flora and fauna, which include a variety of species. There is no question that Rosengarten is a popular destination for tourists as well as locals.

The rose garden, which boasts around 250 varieties of roses in summer, is one of its main attractions. During a stroll through the garden, visitors can enjoy the vibrant colors and sweet fragrances of the flowers.

To learn more about Rosengarten, check out our article Rosengarten Bern: A Stunning Garden with Unparalleled Panoramic Views.

Option # 2: Gurten

Image of Gurten by TouringSwitzerland.com

Explore Gurten, Bern’s local mountain, after spending the morning in the city. Gurten offers beautiful views, green (or snowy) meadows, and a relaxing environment. In a paradise at 858 meters above sea level, it looks out over the city of Bern and the Aare river. You’ll have a beautiful panorama of the Bernese Oberland mountains beyond the city.

In summer it has hiking trails, and in winter it has mini ski lifts and a sledding hill. Get your walking shoes or skis and get ready to explore Gurten. If you are looking for a fun day out in the mountains, Gurten is well worth visiting.

From Bern’s main train station, you can get to the Gurten’s Valley station in 15 minutes. The Gurten funicular leaves the valley station every 15 minutes.

If you would like to read more about Gurten, you can check out our article Visiting Gurten? 8 Reasons To Love It.


5. Visit a Museum or Two if It’s Rainy

Image of the Historic Museum of Bern by TouringSwitzerland.com

If it’s rainy or you do not have enough time to go to Gurten, why not explore one of the museums in Bern? Here are some of your options:

  • Bern Historical Museum – Switzerland’s second largest historical museum is the Bern Historical Museum. In addition to Berne and its history, art, and silver, the museum contains exhibits on Asia.  Some of the exhibits date back to the Stone Age. It houses more than half a million objects.
  • Einstein Museum – You can also learn more about Albert Einstein, his life, and what he has contributed to science at the Einstein Museum. You can find it inside the Bern Historical Museum itself. Albert Einstein, who is considered one of the world’s greatest physicists, lived in Bern during the time when his theory of relativity changed everything.
Image of Museum of Communication in Bern by TouringSwitzerland.com
  • Museum for Communication – The Museum of Communication is a highly interactive and fascinating museum located in the heart of Bern. It is home to exhibitions about the history of everything connected to communication, such as postal services, telephones, computers, and networks. Additionally, the museum houses one of the world’s largest stamp collections.
  • Zentrum Paul Klee – The Paul Klee Center is a contemporary art museum that not only houses one of Europe’s most important art collections but also offers a suitable venue for events. The building itself was designed by Renzo Piano, who also did the Pompidou Center in Paris and the Whitney Museum in New York. It also has a museum shop, a café, and a workshop for kids.

If you would like to read more about what you can do in Bern in case of rainy weather, check out our article 7 Top Things To Do in Bern When It Rains.


6. End With a Nice Meal for Dinner

Image of a typical Swiss Restaurant by RitaE from Pixabay

Before you end your day, why not try one of Bern’s best restaurants? If you want to have a nice meal in Bern, we recommend the following restaurants:

Jacks BrasserieAn excellent Michelin-starred restaurant located at the Hotel Schweizerhof. French Cuisine.Bahnhofplatz 11, 3001 Bern
Wein & Sein mit HärzbluetAn upscale restaurant with amazing food. Awarded 14 Gault-Millau points. Tip: Reserve your table early.Münstergasse 50, 3011 Bern
NoumiStylish ambiance with excellent cuisine and service. Surprisingly different from all the other traditional restaurants in the city.Kochergasse 3, 3011 Bern
Restaurant SüderTraditional Swiss dining. Moderately-priced. Weissensteinstrasse 61, 3007 Bern
Pizzeria da NinoPossibly the best and most authentic pizza that you can find in Bern. It is a simple restaurant with lots of loyal customers.Belpstrasse 65, 3007 Bern

Recommended Hotels in Bern, Switzerland

Image of Schweizerhof Bern by TouringSwitzerland.com

Should you need some assistance choosing a hotel in Bern, here are some suggestions:

  • Hotel Schweizerhof Bern & Spa (5-star) – A well-established hotel, Schweizerhof Bern & Spa offers luxurious, sleek rooms with elegant decor. This well-known and highly-rated hotel enjoys a great location in the heart of Bern.
  • Hotel Savoy Bern (4-star) – This elegant hotel is located in the old town of Bern. It is just a few steps away from the train station as well as the famed arcade streets.
  • Best Western Plus Hotel Bern (4-star) – Boasting a prime location at Bern’s Old Town, the hotel offers exceptional affordability coupled with a range of amenities including a rooftop bar boasting breathtaking views, an on-site restaurant, round-the-clock front desk services, complimentary Wi-Fi, and well-maintained, cozy accommodations. This establishment is a highly recommended choice for a fulfilling stay in Bern.
  • Kreuz Bern Modern City Hotel (3-star) – With its ideal location in the heart of Bern, Kreuz Bern Modern City Hotel is just 5 minutes from the train station. Modern rooms, a restaurant, fitness facilities, and an infrared cabin are available at the hotel. The hotel is also reasonably priced.
  • Ibis Styles Bern City (3-star) – Ibis Styles Bern City stands as a contemporary and tasteful hotel conveniently situated close to Bern’s train station. It offers exceptional value for money, features a delightful breakfast spread, and has the bonus of a compact play area by the entrance, complete with a table football setup.
  • Hostel 77 Bern (Hostel) – Located near Gurten, this charming hostel is easy to reach from Bern’s Main Train Station with public transport. This affordable accommodation offers male, female, and mixed dorm beds and lockers. They also offer free breakfast and free public transportation tickets.

Summary: 1 Day in Bern, Switzerland

Image of Tierpark Dählhölzli by TouringSwitzerland.com

Getting around Bern on foot in one day is easy.  However, this Bern One Day Itinerary can be easily extended to another one or two more days. If you’d like to know more about what to do in Bern, here are more suggestions:

  • Dählhölzli Zoo
  • Cathedral at Münsterplatz
  • Federal Building
  • Bernaqua
  • Botanic Garden

While you can explore Bern in a day, I’d suggest staying for several days so you can explore other cities nearby.

Image of Fribourg by TouringSwitzerland.com

If you make your base in Bern, you can make many leisurely day trips to Fribourg, Basel, Burgdorf, Interlaken, or some of the stunning places near Interlaken. Alternatively, you can also check out one or more of the mountains near Bern such as Stockhorn or Niesen.

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Darla Uhl is the owner of TouringSwitzerland.com. Her home is in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. Having lived almost 20 years in Switzerland, she's traveled extensively all over the country.

Darla's favorite regions to visit in Switzerland include Engadin, Lake Geneva, Bernese Oberland, Ticino, and Valais. She loves spending time with her family, hiking, visiting museums, and reading books.

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