Bern, Switzerland is a stunning city that is often overlooked as everyone magnates toward the Swiss Alps, Geneva, and Zurich.
Bern, however, has something special to offer as this city is stunningly beautiful, features historic buildings, great architecture, a lovely atmosphere, great access to nature, and it is easy to see in one day. You couldn’t find a more picturesque city if you tried.
But, how do you see Bern in one day? It is actually rather easy to see Bern in one day as it isn’t too big and all the attractions are close to each other.
Join me as I run through everything you need to know to have an amazing Bern day trip from how to get there, how to get around, where to stay, and there is even an itinerary laid out for you too.
Bern does have an international airport but it doesn’t serve a lot of destinations. If you are lucky enough to be able to get an affordable and direct flight to Bern airport, this is the best way to reach the city.
Your other option is flying into Zurich Airport and getting the train to Bern which takes around an hour and fifteen minutes.
The other option is heading to Geneva airport and getting a 2-hour train or the EuroAirport Basel Mulhouse Freiburg airport which is just a 1-hour train ride from Bern.
The last thing you need while spending one day in Bern is to lose time traveling from one of the top attractions to another.
Luckily Bern is a very walkable city and the itinerary below is designed to ensure you can see all the top attractions by walking from one to the next. But, if walking all day long doesn’t sound very appealing, Bern does have some great public transport options!
Since Bern is quite a small city it has no need for a metro but it does have a super efficient bus and tram system that will get you from A to B comfortably when your next stop is not within walking distance.
Be sure to ask your hotel for a complimentary public transportation card, they will probably offer it to you, but if they don’t, do ask as it gives you free public transport for the duration of your stay.
I highly recommend using Google Maps to navigate your way around your one-day in Bern itinerary. It will show you the fastest way to walk from one attraction to the next and show you the fastest bus and tram routes when you need them.
The best time to visit Bern is in the months of May, June, and September as you will have excellent weather, lower accommodation, and flight prices, plus the city center won’t be too busy with tourists either.
Expect temperatures around the 25 degrees Celsius mark which means during your one day in Bern you can enjoy outdoor activities such as swimming in the river and hiking.
If you visit during July and August, you will have the best of the weather but prices go up and some restaurants even close as everyone in the city is on holiday too. But, the heat means the outdoors are available to explore.
During the winter months between November and March, Bern gets cold with frequent snow and rain. It is a very different experience compared to the summer months but with snow comes winter sports like skiing, snowboarding, and ice skating. Plus, if you visit in December, you can experience the wonderful Christmas Markets and enjoy all the festivities.
Below you will find a great itinerary that will show you the best of Bern in a single day. It is logically laid out so you can walk from one spot to the next with ease, or use public transport if you need to.
Feel free to change the itinerary to suit you as it is only a suggested option. But, do remember to use Google Maps to find your way around without getting lost as it makes it a lot easier.
If you are staying in Bern Old Town, then you can simply step outside your hotel and start exploring. If you have chosen to stay outside the Old Town of Bern, use Google Maps to see if it is walkable or hop on a bus/tram.
The historic old town is actually a UNESCO World Heritage Site as it is so well preserved since its construction in medieval times. As you wander through the streets take in the charm, stop at a local cafe for a coffee, visit the many sweet shops and be sure to walk down Gerechtigkeitsgasse, a street covered in flags.
You will be spending most of your day in the old town so you don’t need to walk down every street as the next stops will take you down a lot of them.
While in the old town, type in the Parliament Building into Google Maps and make your way there. It should only be a 5-10 minute walk away.
Sitting in the historic square of Altstadt at Bundesplatz lies the magnificent Parliament Building also known as the Bundeshaus. It is a magnificent building that was completed in 1902 and one of the highlights is the amazing fountain in front of it.
The fountain features 26 jets and each one is representative of all of the Cantons (counties/districts) of Switzerland.
The interior of the building is lovely and was designed to showcase Swiss culture, values, and history. You can take a tour of the interior for free and learn all about it if you like.
The showstopper is the domed hall that features a cross to look like the Swiss Flag with painted windows beneath it by local artists to showcase Swiss industries.
From the parliament building, take a 25-minute stroll to Bear Park along the stunning Aare River.
Bear Park is home to bears, yes, fury bears. The bear is the symbol of Bern and the Canton Bern belongs. In honor of this, Bern has a Bear Park that sits on the banks of the Aare River.
It is absolutely huge, spanning some 6 square kilometers, and is home to many bears that can enjoy roaming free in their own protected area. To see the bears, make your way to the bear pit where they like to hang and you can safely watch them.
This is a great thing to do with kids and the walk to the park is so beautiful that there is no chance that you won’t enjoy it.
Once you’re done looking at the bears, walk back down the Aare River for 35 minutes or hop on a bus for 25 minutes to the Rose Garden.
The Rose Garden, aka Rosengarten, is one of the best things to do in Bern. It was once a cemetery but was converted into a stunning park with more than 28 rhododendron species, 200 iris plants, and 223 rose bushes.
The roses are stunning and when in bloom showcase a huge variety of colors and enchanting scents. If you are there in June, they will all be in bloom. It is not just about the roses either, the park is lovely to walk around with its fountains, and it offers the best view of Bern you can find.
You can see the entire city of Bern from the park and the Aare River as it wraps its way around the city. It is truly stunning so be sure to take your camera with you.
When you are ready to leave the amazing views of the Rose Garden behind it is time to head to the Bern Historical Museum, a short 20-minute walk away, again past the beautiful Aare River.
The Bern Historical Museum is the second largest history museum in Switzerland and contains more than 500,000 objects of interest. Inside, you will learn a lot about the history of Bern as well as see lots of art, silver, and there are even some exhibitions in Asia too.
The Einstein Museum is also inside the Bern Historical Museum. The exhibits take you through the life of Albert Einstein and his amazing contributions to science too. He actually lived in Bern when he came up with his theory of relativity.
After leaving the museum it is a short 8-minute walk across the river to the stunning Bern Cathedral. On the way, you’ll pass by the beautiful fountains of Bern that also provide fresh drinking water, so it is a great place to top up your water bottle.
The Bern Cathedral sits in a beautiful square that gives you amazing views of the architecture. It has a Gothic style to it and you can also wander inside and see the stunning interior.
From the cathedral, take the bus to Waben station where you will find a cable car that takes you all the way to the top of the mountain.
Once you are at the top, take in the amazing views from 858 meters above sea level. You will be able to see the city, the river, the Alps, and the surrounding countryside too.
It is a truly magical place to spend some time and I would highly suggest grabbing some drinks and food so you can have a lovely picnic at the top. You couldn’t find a more romantic spot.
Once you’re done, grab the cable car back down and the bus back to Bern and pick a restaurant for dinner in the Old Town.
Most of the attractions you are going to want to see in Bern are in the city center around the old town.
To make your one-day in Bern itinerary as easy as possible, I would recommend staying in the Old Town so you can easily walk to and from your hotel instead of using the buses and trams. The Hotel Allegro Bern is an excellent option.
Now, hotels in Switzerland are not cheap at all, and chances are the hotels in the old town are on the higher end of the spectrum due to their location. If you don’t fancy splurging some cash for a nice hotel for your one night in Bern, you can look for more affordable options outside of the Old Town.
I would recommend using Booking.com to book your hotel as it has the most options and always gives you the best deals.
Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!