Bern Walking Tour (Map and Tips!)

Bern-walking Tour

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The Old City of Bern captivates visitors with its well-preserved medieval architecture that has remained unchanged through the centuries. Stroll through the charming Old Town, a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site framed by the Aare River, offering spectacular views of the Alps.

The Old Town features numerous remarkable sights, including old limestone buildings, Renaissance fountains adorned with colorful figurines, and medieval arcades. Significant construction took place after the Middle Ages, adding many patrician houses and public monuments to the cityscape. Today, you can find structures dating from various periods, including the 15th and 16th centuries. A standout highlight is the Cathedral of Bern (Das Berner Münster), the largest ecclesiastical building in Switzerland, a late-Gothic masterpiece dating back to the early 15th century.

Another major attraction is the six kilometers of arcades housing numerous shops and restaurants. At the heart of Bern Old Town is the Kramgasse. Once the busiest trade route for merchants and shopkeepers, it is now a vibrant shopping street lined with Baroque facades, making it a must-visit location in Bern.

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Bundeshaus

Bundesplatz & Bundeshaus
CC BY-SA 2.0 / Peter Gronemann

Located in the heart of Bern, Bundesplatz is an excellent spot for a stroll or a picnic in the park. Surrounded by numerous cafes and restaurants, it’s an ideal place for people-watching. The square is flanked by the Swiss Parliament building on one side and the Federal Palace on the other. Nearby, you’ll find a charming fountain with four life-size bronze figures and plenty of greenery and trees that offer welcome shade during the summer months. Bundesplatz hosts a variety of events, including concerts and markets, so be sure to check the schedule before your visit to make the most of your time there.


Location: Bundeshaus, Bundesplatz, Bern, Switzerland
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Heiliggeistkirche

Heiliggeistkirche
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Absolutely new

Walk north across the Bundesplatz and Left down Schauplatzgasse. Turn right at the end to reach Heiliggeistkirche.


The Church of the Holy Spirit was built by the city architect Niklaus Schiltknecht and consecrated in 1729. It stands where the so-called Spitalkirche previously stood. The Church of the Holy Spirit is considered the most beautiful Reformed Baroque church in Switzerland. It is richly furnished. The interior is dominated by the fourteen sandstone columns and the free-standing pulpit in the north part of the central nave.


Location: Heiliggeistkirche, Spitalgasse, Bern, Switzerland
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Käfigturm

Berna, Torre Dell’orologio
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Maksym Kozlenko

Walk east along Spitalgasse, look out for the Pfeiferbrunnen (Bagpiper Fountain). Pfeiferbrunnen was created by Hans Gieng in 1545, and has the figure of a bagpiper on it.


The Käfigturm, located in Bern, Switzerland, is a medieval watchtower dating back to the 13th century. It stands as a testament to the city’s rich history and architectural prowess. Initially built during Bern’s second expansion, the tower has undergone several modifications and renovations, making it a significant historical landmark today. In 1405, a major event reshaped the role of the Käfigturm. After a devastating fire destroyed much of Bern, the city’s prison was relocated from the Zytglogge tower to the Käfigturm. This transition marked a new chapter in the tower’s history, as it began to serve as the city’s main prison. In 1640, the Käfigturm underwent a significant transformation. The old tower was demolished, and a new tower was constructed slightly to the west of the original site. This reconstruction marked a major change in the city’s landscape. The new tower, which still stands today, exemplifies Bern’s resilience and ability to rebuild and adapt over time.


Location: Käfigturm, Marktgasse, Bern, Switzerland
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Zytglogge

Zytglogge Bern
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Daniel Schwen

Walk past the Käfigturm along Marktgasse. You will pass the Anna-Seiler-Brunnen (Anna-Seiler Fountain), Schutzenbrunnun (Musketeer Fountain) and and you get to the Zytglogge to the north is the Kinderlifresserbrunnen (Ogre Fountain).


The Zytglogge was constructed in the early 13th century as a gatehouse for Bern’s western fortifications. After a fire devastated much of Bern in 1405, the tower was repurposed as a prison for petty criminals, earning the nickname “the hollow tower.” Over the centuries, it served various functions, including as a women’s prison and even as an observatory during the Middle Ages. In terms of architectural evolution, the Zytglogge underwent numerous transformations, transitioning from Gothic to Baroque styles. It ultimately achieved its current form as an impressive example of late Baroque architecture, with Rococo elements added in later stages.


Location: Zytglogge, Bim Zytglogge, Bern, Switzerland | Hours: Monday to Sunday, 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM | Price: CHF 15.00
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Einsteinhaus

Einsteinhausberne
Public Domain / Gerd Kortemeyer

Continue east along Kramgasse, passing Zähringerbrunnen (Zähringer Fountain). Einsteinhaus is on your right.


The Einsteinhaus museum features interactive displays, historical artifacts, and photographs that illustrate the development of Einstein’s theories and their global impact. The museum houses numerous original documents and personal items, including furniture and papers that belonged to Einstein himself. Visitors can also tour the house to learn more about Einstein’s life and legacy. The museum hosts lectures, seminars, and events related to science and Einstein’s work, offering deeper insights into his contributions.


Location: Einsteinhaus, Kramgasse, Bern, Switzerland | Hours: Monday - Sunday 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. | Price: CHF 7 | Website
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Rathaus Bern

Rathaus Bern
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Nemo bis

Continue east along Kramgasse, passing Simsonbrunnen (Samson Fountain) and turn first left to reach Rathausplatz and Rathaus Bern. In the middle of the Rathausplatz is the Vennerbrunnen (Ensign Fountain).


Rathaus Bern is located in the heart of Bern’s Old City, this historic town hall serves as a hub for both the cantonal and city governments. As you approach the Rathaus, you’ll be struck by its impressive sandstone facade, adorned with intricate details and symbols of Bern’s heritage. Inside, the grand halls and chambers, supported by majestic columns and steeped in history, offer a glimpse into the governance and cultural evolution of the city. The panoramic views from the terrace provide a stunning perspective of the surrounding old town and Aare River. Whether you’re interested in architecture, history, or politics, a visit to Rathaus Bern is an enriching experience that shouldn’t be missed.


Location: Rathauspl. 2, 3011 Bern, Switzerland | Hours: 08:00-12:00 & 13:30-17:00 (Mon-Thur) & 08:00-12:00 (Fri) | Price: Public tours are free
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Nydeggkirche

Nydeggkirche Und Untertorbrücke
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Falk2

Walk back towards Kramgasse but turn left along Gerechtigkeitsgasse. You will pass Gerechtigkeitsbrunnen (Justice Fountain). At the end of Gerechtigkeitsgassebear left and walk down the slope. Just outsode the church is the Zähringerdenkmal, a bronze statue from 1847 of Berchtold V. von Zähringen, the last duke of the Zähringer line.


The Nydeggkirche stands on the original site of Nydegg Castle, which was built in 1150 by Duke Berchtold V. von Zähringen just before he ordered the construction of the city of Bern. From this vantage point, the duke oversaw Bern’s development. In a classic example of real estate development, the castle was demolished in the 13th century to make way for the Nydegg neighborhood, and a small church was built as a consolation.

Following the Protestant Reformation, the church was repurposed as a timber and grain warehouse. However, in the 16th century, the structure was restored to its original function as a church.


Location: Nydeggkirche, Nydeggasse, Bern, Switzerland
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Untertorbrucke

Bern Untertorbrücke
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Daniel Schwen

Walk down Nydeggstalden to reach Untertorbrucke.


Located in the heart of Bern, the Untertorbrücke Bridge is one of the city’s most stunning and iconic landmarks. This historic bridge spans the Aare River, connecting the old town with the river’s eastern bank. Originally built in the 15th century, the bridge has undergone several renovations over the years. Today, it is a popular spot for both locals and tourists to enjoy breathtaking views of the river and the city. It’s a particularly picturesque location for photography enthusiasts.

Insider travel tip: Visit the Untertorbrücke Bridge at sunset for a scene straight out of a film. The reflection of the lights on the river creates a magical atmosphere that is truly unforgettable.

Location: Untertorbrücke, Bern, Switzerland | Hours: 24 Hours | Price: Free
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Rosengarten

Rosengarten Bern
CC BY-SA 2.5 / Mike Lehmann

Walk through the car park on your right after crossing the bridge. Either cross the road to your left and walk up to see the rose garden, or cross over the right to see the BärenPark.


Not far from the Bear Pit, Bern’s beautiful Rose Garden Park (Rosengarten) is situated high on a steep hill, offering exceptional views of the Old Town and the Alps. Originally a cemetery, Rosengarten was converted into a public park in 1913, with its first roses planted a few years later. Today, the park boasts over 200 types of roses, along with hundreds of rhododendrons, azaleas, and irises. It also features a pond adorned with lilies in July, as well as sculptures, fountains, and a pavilion. Green and tranquil, Rosengarten is a favorite spot for local families and couples. During our visit, we even saw a morning yoga class on the lawn with stunning city views. The park also has a large playground, making it an excellent place for children to play.

TIP: Don’t miss the Einstein bench near the restaurant, which offers a great photo opportunity overlooking the city. This is one of four Einstein benches in Bern, with another easily accessible bench located at the Bern Historical Museum/Einstein Museum.


Location: Rosengarten, Alter Aargauerstalden, Bern, Switzerland
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Barengraben

Bärengraben-Bern
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Patrick Nouhailler's

The Bärengraben (Bear Pit) in Bern, Switzerland, is a historic tourist attraction located at the eastern edge of the old city, next to the Nydeggbrücke and the River Aare. Initially built in 1857, it served as a bear enclosure and has been a significant part of Bern’s heritage, reflecting the city’s symbol of the bear. In 2009, the Bärengraben was supplemented by the adjacent BärenPark, a larger and more natural habitat for the bears. Managed as part of the city’s Dählhölzli Zoo, the Bärengraben remains a notable heritage site, drawing visitors to see its resident bears and learn about Bern’s history.


Location: Bärengraben, Grosser Muristalden, Bern, Switzerland | Hours: 24 Hours | Price: Free
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Münsterplattform

Münsterplattform Bern
CC BY-SA 4.0 / H. Helmlechner

Cross over the Nydeggbrücke, and turn left down Junkerngasse. As you reach the back of the Berner Münster turn left to the Münsterplattform.


Perched atop Münster hill, the Münsterplattform is a terrace that offers stunning panoramic views of Bern’s old town. It’s the perfect spot to enjoy a sunny day and take in the beauty of Switzerland. This terrace is particularly popular for weddings, thanks to its breathtaking backdrop. The Münsterplattform also provides excellent opportunities for photography and a chance to soak in Bern’s rich history and culture.


Location: Münsterplattform, Bern, Switzerland
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Berner Münster

Bern Munster
CC BY-SA 2.0 / Thomas Woodtli

On the Münsterplatz you will see the Mosesbrunnen (Moses Fountain).


Located in the heart of Bern, the Münster of Bern is one of the city’s most impressive attractions. Constructed between 1421 and 1893, this Gothic-style cathedral boasts towering spires that dominate the Swiss skyline. Inside, visitors can marvel at an incredible altarpiece, intricately painted and detailed woodwork, and numerous stained glass windows. The Münster is also home to the largest clock face in Europe, built in 1530 and weighing over 24 tons.

For breathtaking views of Bern and its surroundings, head to the top of the tower. From there, you can see the Aare River winding through the city, the famous Einstein Tower, and the Niesen mountain. On special occasions such as Easter and Christmas, you can enjoy a spectacular fireworks display from this vantage point.

No visit to Bern is complete without experiencing the beauty of the Münster of Bern. Its stunning architecture and incredible views make it a must-see attraction in this charming city.


Location: Munster of Berne, Münsterplatz, Bern, Switzerland | Hours: Church: Mon.–Sat.: 10.00 – 16.00, Su.: 11.30 – 16.00 Tower: Mon.–Sat.: 10.00 – 16.30*, Su.: 11.30 – 16.30* *last ascent | Website
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