Bern by bike: discover the ideal way to tour the capital
Shopping, recreation or culture … treat yourself to a visit to Switzerland's 'state-of-the-Aare' capital!
Thanks to the brand-new Velo Bern network, it's easier than ever before to savour the delights of the Federal capital. Here are some routes that will guarantee an unforgettable getaway.
The Old Town: a mediaeval gem
Unless you're thoroughly familiar with the city already, it's impossible to imagine a visit that's worthy of the name if it doesn't include several iconic 'must-see' attractions. What do they have in common? All of them are located close to a Velo Bern station!
Bern's Old Town – classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site – is a superbly preserved mediaeval gem. Well-informed visitors are sure to include the city's emblematic Clock Tower on their itinerary. Every hour on the hour, curious onlookers flock here to marvel at the unusual spectacle of figures set in motion by a mechanism that dates back to the 16th century. Visitors are also admitted to the interior of the tower, where they can see what happens behind the scenes and enjoy an astounding view.
The Federal Palace, Switzerland's parliament building, is another of the city's quintessential icons – and you can bike to it in just a few minutes. Equally unmissable: the bear pit, where you can watch a family of these endearing creatures as they stroll around a spacious compound.
The Rose Garden is a favourite spot to relax for local residents and visitors alike. This is the ideal place to take some time out – and from this privileged position, surrounded by flowerbeds, you can enjoy views of the Old Town and the loop of the river Aare.
Last but not least, knowledge-hungry visitors of all ages will want to include the Museum of Communication on their route. This is a storehouse of historical treasures that also keeps up with cutting-edge technologies and the latest debates.
It's impossible to give a complete list of the city's attractions here, but one thing is certain: if you want to discover them, your best friend is the highly functional Velo Bern network with its excellent coverage!
Shopping malls like no others
Bern's Old Town also invites you to enjoy a somewhat unusual shopping experience. Six kilometres of covered shopping arcades stretch from Kramgasse to Gerechtigkeitsgasse in the heart of the city – so you are protected from the sun and rain as you stroll and browse. You'll notice a special local feature: the vaulted cellars under the buildings on either side of the streets are also used as shops nowadays. Wine, fashion, art galleries … everything is available here, to match every taste and every budget. There's also an extremely colourful market that opens according to a regular schedule.
Not far away is the large Loeb department store, a typically Bernese family-run enterprise. It offers outlets on eight floors with international brands as well as local specialities – and quite a few surprising discoveries!
Here too, you'll have plenty of opportunities to unearth hidden treasures, and you're sure to find inspiration.
A delight on every street corner
Among its many assets, the city of Bern can boast an extraordinary range of bars and restaurants – so many, in fact, that listing them all would take for ever. Nevertheless, here are a few recommendations.
A genuine little 'paradise island', the Schwellenmätteli offers a trio of appealing venues: a terrace that will make you feel glad to be alive, a restaurant devoted to delicious no-frills Italian cuisine, and a lounge that is equally pleasant by day and by night.
For a slightly more upmarket but equally welcoming ambience, the Bellevue offers a taste of the 'good life'. This gastronomic restaurant is something straight out of the Belle Époque – a place where connoisseurs can savour sophisticated cocktails and fine cigars … Or, for those with simpler tastes, a little refreshment at the Bellevue Bar (with superb views, as its name suggests!)
Finally, Gelateria di Berna is the perfect destination for any self-respecting visitor in summertime: three branches at locations across the city, with one and the same golden rule: Italian-style ice cream to die for!
River trip on the Aare
Much prized by locals and holidaymakers alike, an excursion on the river Aare is the final, essential item on this alluring programme.
In this case, we shall opt for the short route with departures from the Schwellenmätteli. You won't need your own watercraft – you can hire one on the spot before you embark on your voyage (preferably as a group). This is a novel and pleasant way to discover the city from an unusual perspective. And to view it from a little distance …. But don't panic! A Velo Bern station awaits you near your arrival point!