I’ve been to Switzerland many times, often to visit relatives, but I’d never made it to the Swiss capital: this time I decided to fix that and we made a day trip to Bern. As far as capital cities go, it’s relatively small with a population of around 120,000. But in fact this makes it a great spot for a day trip, because you can easily stroll around to some of the key sights.
Bern has a historic old town on a kind of peninsula almost surrounded by the River Aar. Understandably, it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it’s very photogenic. I had no map and no plan when I hit Bern – but it was easy to start walking up and down the cobbled streets of the old town area and stumble across sightseeing spots. For example, there’s a clock tower with puppets, reminiscent of Munich’s Glockenspiel, and two major fifteenth century buildings – the town hall and the cathedral.
There is also plenty for keen shoppers to discover in Bern, especially in the old town where boutiques line the street. Particularly interesting shops seem to be “downstairs” at cellar level, disappearing off the main streets. However, as with most things in Switzerland, it’s unlikely you’ll find any real bargains there.
One tourist attraction which I thought was a bit of a stretch was the Einstein house – with big signs advertising the fact that Einstein had lived there, and smaller signs admitting it was only for two years. But Bern was so lovely I’ll forgive it for that!