Out of all the places we visited on our trip to Europe, Bern is the place that surprised us the most. This extremely old city was founded in 1191 and was strategically built between the "U" shaped bend in the River Aare for protection. Switzerland's capital is a mix between a charming old town and a bustling city. Bern is often overlooked on European itineraries and if you ask us we don't think it should be missed.
Explore the Alstadt (old town)
In 1983 the entire old town of Bern was made a UNESCO world heritage site. These ancient cobblestone streets wind through the city which is flanked by water on three sides. You could spend a whole day walking around this compact and extremely walkable old town.
Visit the Einstein House
Bern was once home to the famous physicist Albert Einstein and his wife Mileva. During his time in Bern Einstein discovered the Theory of Relativity his most famous work. You can visit their second floor apartment off the main street which has been completely restored to what it looked like back then. The Einstein House allows visitors the chance to see where Einstein worked when he came up with his revolutionary theory about space and time.
See the Clock tower
Built more than 800 years ago the Clock Tower is a iconic landmark in the middle of Bern's old town. The intricate astronomical clock on one side was completed in 1530. Come here at the top of the hour and you will see the miniature figurines move on the clock. For a great view of the city you can climb to the top of the Clock Tower too.
Stroll under the Covered Arcades
It was pretty rainy during our visit to Bern and we were pleasantly surprised how much we enjoyed the covered arcades of Bern. These ingeniously designed covered walkways shield pedestrians from the elements as they walk around the city. Under the cover of over 4 miles of arcades you can find cafes, bars, boutiques, galleries, coffee shops, and markets. We barely noticed the rain because everything was so accesible by following under the arcades.
Discover the Vaulted Cellars
A fun surprise we discovered in Bern were the vaulted cellars that lined the main street. At first we didn't notice them and then we fell in love. These underground cellars have been converted into bars, shops, music stores, and more! We loved to look down into each cellar and see what we would find.
TIP: Make sure to stop at a Traditional Swiss pastry shop to try some delicious desserts with famous Swiss chocolate.
Walk the Nydeggbrucke Bridge and up to the Rose Garden
One of the must do things in Bern is walking across the Nydeggbrucke Bridge and up to the Rose Garden. Take your time as you cross the Nydeggbrucke Bridge taking in the views of the Aare River as it winds in a U shape around the old town. In the summer you float down the river around the city. After you cross the bridge follow the signs to the Rose Garden. Be prepared this walk is steep but the view is worth it. Keep your eyes open for the statue of Einstein sitting on a bench overlooking the city. The plaque explains that this was Einstein's favorite spot to sit and think, and once you see the view you will see why! We knew we were in love with this Bern after taking in the breathtaking views from the Rose Garden.
Our favorite meal in Bern was at the Altes Tram Depot, across the Nydeggbrucke Bridge next to the Bear Park. This local favorite is a brewery and restaurant and has great views of the city. The Hefeweizen beer was delicious and comes in a large beer tower! We couldn't have been more impressed with the food too. Serving elevated European bar food we loved the mushroom schnitzel, pretzel, and goulash.
Fondue at Le Marzot or Lotschberg
A cozy classic fondue restaurant in the middle of the old town, Le Marzot serves traditional Swiss fondue. Besides fondue they have a variety of delicious rosti (traditional potato fritter) and more. If you are looking for super unique place for fondue check out Lotscheberg (pictured below). Yep, those are gondolas, and guess what people are doing inside them? Eating fondue! Such a cool idea, but make sure to get reservations.
Some of the best Italian food we had our whole trip! We had a fantastic night at Luce's Italian restaurant. Everything was delicious and the staff was wonderful. Try the green lasagna.
photos by http://ristoranteluce.ch/galerie/
A favorite place to party for the university crowd is TurnHalle. We were so excited when we stumbled across this place. It was packed! Set in an old university building TurnHalle has 3 stories and multiple bars. There was even an outdoor area with stalls selling gluhwein and raclette. There was a DJ inside and was so packed we could barely walk. If you are looking for a local hot spot make sure to check out TurnHalle.
Platzhirsch in the Christmas Market
This outdoor pop up restaurant and bar is located in the Christmas Market at Orphanage Square (Waisenhausplatz) and only open in December. Grab a glass of gluhwein and mingle out in the beer garden or step inside and grab a table where they offer do it yourself fondue! Choose your own ingredients and melt it all together for your own cheesy creation.