Explore the remarkable historic center, ornate with churches, museums and antique buildings, in this Swiss town just north of the Bernese Alps.

Bern is a Swiss city known for its fascinating historic center, a UNESCO site. Churches, museums and parks make up the charming city in northwest Switzerland, just north of the Bernese Alps. It is surrounded by serene landscape created by glaciers in the last Ice Age. The city itself is hilly and uneven, which adds to its old-world appeal. 

Make your way to the Bärengraben (Bear Pit) near the River Aar to see majestic animals in their enclosure. The smaller area holds adorable cubs. The bear has long been a symbol of Bern. The city’s name resembles the German word for “bear.” Legend has it that the city’s founder decided to name Bern after the first animal he discovered on a hunt.

At the Bern Historical Museum, browse extraordinary items from around the globe dating back thousands of years. Objects from the Stone Age until present day showcase a multitude of cultures. See wonders of the natural world at the Bern Natural History Museum, founded in 1832. Browse minerals, metals and life-sized preserved animals. 

Relax amid scenic flora at the Botanical Garden, an oasis of calm in the busy city center. Discover local plants and flowers as well as species from Asia and North America. The tropical section has banana and pineapple plants among other exotic flora.

Visit the Bundeshaus (Swiss Parliament) to learn about the city’s government and the history behind the architectural wonder. A guided tour of the iconic structure is available when parliament is not in session. Marvel at its elegant white-and-green façade, complete with arches, columns and domes. 

See the 13th-century medieval (Zeitglockenturm) Clock Tower. It has a rich history as a guard tower, then a prison and now a cultural landmark. In the Zentrum Paul Klee, a museum devoted to the artist of the same name, you’ll find almost several hundred works of art.

Bern’s summers are warm, while the area is often covered in snow in winter, making it a winter wonderland.

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