Berne Tourist Attractions, Landmarks, Monuments and Sightseeing
Those wishing to enjoy a spot of sightseeing in Berne should consider taking a walking tour, where it is quite likely that you will fall under the spell of the numerous tourist attractions and historic landmarks around the Old Town district. Much of this area was rebuilt in sandstone during the 15th century, following a terrible fire in 1405, which devastated the Old Town.
Numerous top tourist attractions in Berne line the banks of the River Aar, where many people choose to swim during the summer months, particularly along the stretch around the Kornhausbridge, or alternatively at the adjacent and rather quaint Lorraine swimming pool. Those looking for some top-notch landmarks and period monuments should get their cameras ready to snap sights such as the Münster Cathedral, the Houses of Parliament (Bundeshaus), the medieval Zytglogge Clock Tower, and the iconic bear pits (bärengraben) within Dählhölzli Zoo.
The city's rather splendid cathedral features the very tallest spire in the whole of Switzerland
, measuring some 100 metres / 328 feet. Those feeling especially energetic will be pleased to find that you can actually climb this tall and somewhat narrow tower for just a small charge, where from the very top you will be able to savour some rather special views across the city, the River Aar and the Alps, whilst you recover and get your breath back. Building of the actual Münster commenced as far back as 1421, although it was not finally competed in every aspect until almost 400 years later. The extraordinary collection of Gothic sculptures and related attractions are worth coming to see alone and reside above the main portal.
Open hours: April to November, Tuesday to Saturday - 10:00 to 17:00, Sunday - from 11:30; December to March, Tuesday to Friday - 10:00 to 12:00 and 14:00 to 16:00, Saturday - 10:00 to 17:00, Sunday - 11:30 to 14:00
Admission: free, donations suggested
Bundeshaus (Houses of Parliament)
Address: Bundesplatz, Berne, Switzerland, CH
Tel: +41 031 322 8522
Dating back to 1902, the Houses of Parliament has become one of Berne's most important and instantly recognisable landmarks, with the imposing palatial architecture dominating the Confederation Plaza (Bundesplatz). The building was always designed to be particularly noticeable and features several rather eye-catching copper domes. Home to the Swiss Federal Assembly, the Berne Bundeshaus also boasts a stained-glass dome, which is decorated with emblems of the city and contains an enormous chandelier, with more than 200 light bulbs. Guided tours of the Bundeshaus run when Parliament is actually in recess and allow you to get a close-up look at the many interior attractions. You are also permitted in the public gallery to observe parliamentary sessions from a distance.
Open hours: guided tours, Monday to Friday - 09:00, 10:00, 14:00, 15:00 and 16:00, Saturday - 11:00
Einstein-Haus (Einsteinhaus / House of Einstein)
Address: Kramgasse 49, Berne, Switzerland, CH
Tel: +41 031 312 0091
This small apartment may only comprise three rooms and for most be a little cramped, but is of enormous historical significance and a particularly special attraction. It was this very spot where in 1905, the world-famous, Nobel-prize winning, and rather struggling scientist Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955) actually developed his legendary theory of relativity. Visitors often find it quite fascinating to imagine how Einstein would have appeared, writing on his desk whilst enjoying the views across the bustling street and the nearby clock tower.
Open hours: Tuesday to Friday - 10:00 to 17:00, Saturday - 10:00 to 16:00
Admission: charge, discounts for children and students
Zytglogge Clock Tower
The Berne Clock Tower can be found close to the very heart of the Old Town district, where it has become one of the most loved landmarks and tourist attractions. All through the day you will be able to hear the hourly chimes and see the animated characters, which include a cockerel, jester, bears and a bearded king. If you have time, then treat yourself to a guided tour of the Zytglogge Clock Tower itself, and get a close-up look at the historic clockwork mechanics responsible for this truly unusual spectacle.
Open hours: daily - 24 hours
SC Bern / Ice-Hockey Stadium (Berne Arena)
The Schlittschuh Club Bern (SC) regularly plays games at the city's arena to crowds of up to 16,700 cheering spectators, which are often completely sold out. Formerly known as the Eisstadion Allmend, the arena has been used in the past to host the World Hockey Championships and many other exciting, packed tournaments.
Open hours: seasonal variations
Bärengraben (Bear Pits) / Dählhölzli Zoo
Address: Bärengraben, Berne, Switzerland, CH
It is fitting to find bear pits within Berne, since it is a bear that the city was named after, caught by its founder Duke Berchtold von Zähringen. Bears have been widely associated with the city since the 15th century and these particular beach pits (bärengraben) have been home to live brown bears since it opened in the 1850s, being part of the local Dählhölzli Zoo. The actual bear enclosures have recently been enlarged and enriched, with the bears even being allowed to use their very on stretch of the river. Close by, other attractions include the historic Tramdepot, which was once the hub for the city's tram network and today houses the Berne Tourist Office and an extremely busy brewpub.
Open hours: daily, April to September, 09:00 to 17:30; October to March - 09:00 to 16:00