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One Day in Bern Itinerary: Best Day Trip to Bern

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Want to see Bern in a day? Bern is the capital city of Switzerland, a vibrant and diverse country nestled in the heart of Europe. Bern has been the seat of government since 1848 and is home to many historic landmarks, monuments, and beautiful landscapes. If you are planning a day trip to Bern from Zurich or stopping as part of your Switzerland itinerary then you are at the right spot. Here is the perfect one day in Bern itinerary to see all the main landmarks! 

Beautiful Aare River in Bern
Beautiful Aare River in Bern

From ancient churches to modern museums, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in this picturesque city. 

You can enjoy the medieval city centre, go on scenic hikes in the nearby Alps, or take a tour of one of Bern’s many breweries. 

One day in Bern itinerary: Best day trip to Bern

One day in Bern: See Bern in a day

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With its rich cultural heritage and modern attractions, Bern is sure to impress you! The Swiss capital city is small and compact, but it packs a punch. 

At a glance, this is what you will discover in Bern in a day, 

One day in Bern itinerary: Bern day trip guide

  • Arrive in Bern, and wander through the Old Town
  • Admire the Astronomical Clock aka Zytglogge
  • Visit Bern’s Munster (or Bern Cathedral)
  • Take a free guided tour of the Swiss Parliament Building
  • Check out the Museum of Fine Arts or Einstein House
  • Meet bears at the Bear Pit – Bärengraben
  • Soak in the sunset hues of Bern and Aare river views

Essential travel tips for Bern Switzerland

Bern is the capital city of Switzerland. It is located in the west-central part of the country. 

Getting to Bern:

The best way to get to Bern is by flying to Zurich International Airport, one of the largest cities in Switzerland. 

Trams in Bern

Flights from North America to Switzerland might have layovers in major European cities like London or Paris. But it is possible to book direct flights to Zurich from certain US and Canadian cities. 

Once you are in Zurich, it is easy to get to Bern. 

From Zurich Hauptbahnhof, it will take you an hour to get to Bern.

Highly recommend getting the Swiss Travel Pass for unlimited public transportation rides and to access up to 500 museums (for free/included in the pass).

Or you can book a day tour from Zurich to Bern.

Girl in Bern Old Town
Gorgeous Bern Old Town

Now, Bern has a regional airport – BRN, also known as Belp Airport. This airfield is located about 10 km (6 miles) away from the city centre. Due to the compact nature of the airport, you can only book flights from nearby places like Menorca. 

Navigating Bern:

Once in Bern, you can explore the city on foot, on walking tours, or take the train, or trams to get outside the centre/Old Town area. 

Where to stay in Bern Switzerland:

If you need a place to stay overnight after exploring Bern in a day, then consider booking a room in Old Town. 

You can also find decent accommodation right outside the centre, but still close to the heart of the city for hitting bars and restaurants at night.

Lanes of Bern

Here are a few options,

Now, that we have all the practical information out of the way, let’s dive deep into the sightseeing spots to cover in your one day Bern itinerary,

Arrive, and wander through the Old Town Bern

Bern SBB is located in the city centre, and the Old Town is just a short walk away. Once you are at the train station, follow directions to get to the heart of the city!

Bern Old Town and Kreuzgassbrunnen (fountain)

The Old Town of Bern is one of the best-preserved medieval city centers in Europe, which is why it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

Within the Old Town, you will find a variety of cobblestone streets lined with colorful buildings and quaint shops. 

Many of these buildings are adorned with intricate carvings and murals that date back to medieval times. 

Bern Old Town markets

The houses in the area often feature balconies or window boxes where flowers can be seen blooming during the summer months.

The Old Town is also home to numerous museums and galleries, as well as parks and gardens that provide plenty of activities for visitors to enjoy. 

You will also find cute seasonal markets where you can shop or window shop! 

Tour recommendation: Book a private tour of Bern with the must do attractions

Admire the Astronomical Clock aka Zytglogge

Strolling through the Old Town is like taking a step back in time, with its narrow streets, sandstone buildings, fountains, and museums. 

Be sure to visit the Zytglogge, Bern’s iconic clock tower that dates back to the 13th century.


The Zytglogge is a medieval clock tower, and it is easily recognizable. The mechanical figures, with the jester, a golden rooster, and the bear along with the God of time impress all the passersby. 

The tower was built in 1218 and stands 35 meters tall. It served as a fortified guard tower, a prison, a lookout, and a fire observation tower. 

Clock Tower and lanes of Bern

Zytglogge is made up of several components and its stellar feature of the astronomical calendar clock was installed later in 1530.

You can climb 130 steps inside the clock tower to get a gorgeous view of the entire Old Town from above (for a fee). 

The tower is open all year round, making it an ideal destination for anyone looking to experience Bern’s rich history and culture.

You can also book a guided tour with a local expert. 

  • Address: Bim Zytglogge 3 3011 Bern

Visit Bern’s Munster (or Bern Cathedral)

Next, walk to the Bern Munster or the Gothic Cathedral of Bern. Located in the center of Bern’s Old Town, this Romanesque-style cathedral started its construction in 1421 and was completed a few hundred years later. 

The spire of the Bernese Munster is the highest church in all of Switzerland, and it is an impressive sight to behold. The tower stands 100.60 m (330.1 ft) tall, and it dominates the cityscape of Bern! 

Bern Cathedral
Bern Cathedral

The interior of the cathedral is just as impressive, with its grand columns and ornate ceilings. The stained glass windows depicting the Last Judgement are beautiful. 

You can take a tour of the cathedral to learn about its history and marvel at the intricate details that make it so special. You can also climb 312 steps to get to the top for stunning city views. 

Rathaus Bar
Rathaus Bar

Bern Cathedral truly encapsulates the beauty of Bern’s Old Town. After visiting the cathedral, grab some lunch in a cafe nearby such as Rathaus Bar!

  • Address: Münsterpl. 1, 3000 Bern, Switzerland

Take a free guided tour of the Swiss Parliament Building

Bern, the capital city of Switzerland, is also the political center of the country. 

The Parliament Building in Bern is a grand building located in the heart of the city. It was built in 1902 and serves as the home to both the Swiss Federal Assembly and the Council of States. 

View of the House of Parliament (Bundeshaus)

The impressive building features several architectural styles, such as neo-Renaissance and neo-Baroque elements, making it one of the most iconic buildings in Bern.

The building is open to the public for both guided and self-guided tours of the facility to learn about the history and workings of Switzerland’s government. 

Federal Parliament

It is open from Monday to Friday between 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. 

Guided tours last 60 minutes, and are free. Plus there are numerous markets and events that take place on Parliament Square or the Bundesplatz, for you to check out! 

  • Address: Bundesplatz 3, 3003 Bern, Switzerland

Check out the Museum of Fine Arts or Einstein House

After a visit to the Parliament Building, pick a museum to explore. Here are two museums that are worth adding to your Bern one day itinerary,

Museum of Fine Arts (Kunstmuseum)

The world-renowned Bern Museum of Fine Arts is an exceptional destination for every art enthusiast. It houses a collection of Paul Klee’s works and boasts a magnificent selection of 20th-century artists’ pieces.

Bern Museum of Fine Arts
Bern Museum of Fine Arts

We recommend the Swiss Travel Pass so that you can enter for free. To access both regular and temporary exhibitions, it is 24 CHF per adult. 

  • Address: Hodlerstrasse 8, 3011 Bern, Switzerland

Bernisches Historisches Museum / Einstein Museum

Another noteworthy museum is the Bern Historical Museum, which is dedicated to the history of Bern and its people. 

The museum complex houses an extensive collection of artifacts, documents, photographs, and artworks in the form of permanent exhibitions. 

Inside Einstein House Bern
Inside Einstein House Bern

It also includes the Einstein Museum which presents the life of the Nobel-prizewinning physicist. 

The Einstein House offers an awe-inspiring opportunity to step inside the residence where Albert Einstein lived. This is where he crafted his remarkable Theory of Relativity (from 1903 to 1905) transforming our outlook on space and time.

Visit this museum to learn about Einstein’s life in Bern. 

  • Address: Helvetiapl. 5, 3005 Bern, Switzerland / Kramgasse 49 3000 Bern

Meet bears at the Bear Pit – Bärengraben

Now comes the fun and relaxed time of the day. 

You must have noticed bears all across the city of Bern, and there is a reason why. Bears are a symbol of the city of Bern. 

And there is a huge park dedicated to them – Bear Park / BärenPark Bern. 

The Bern Bears in the new Bern Bear Pit.  The Pit houses the famous Bern bears that gave the Swiss capital city its name.
Bern Bears in the new Bern Bear Pit

You can opt for guided tours of the BärenPark, but for the purposes of this itinerary, we will stick to the enclosed area called the Bear Pit, located along the Aare River. 

The Bern Bear Pit or the Bärengraben is a unique attraction established in 1857 and it was home to a family of brown bears who has become an iconic symbol of the city. 

The pit offers visitors an opportunity to observe these majestic animals up close, as well as learn about their behavior and habits.

The Bear Pit provides a tranquil setting for visitors to enjoy. It also serves as a reminder of how conservation efforts are helping to keep these creatures safe and protected.

  • Address: Grosser Muristalden 6, 3006 Bern, Switzerland

Soak in the sunset hues of Bern and Aare river views

Walk over to the Rosengarten for views and drinks. 

Both the Bear Pit and the Bern Rose Garden sit on the eastern edge of the Old Town, and both offer views of the Aare River. 

Rosengarten view
Rosengarten view

The Rose Garden is completely free to enter. 

As you leave the garden and head back to the city centre (or the train station), you will cross over many bridges – take a moment to admire the gorgeous Aare River and soak in the view of the peaks of the Bernese Oberland from far away.

From here you can either return to Zurich from Bern SBB or grab dinner at the heart of Old Town.

One day in Bern itinerary: Google Maps Sightseeing Map

Click to view the full map

Day trips from Bern | Bern Travel Guide

Bern, the capital city of Switzerland, boasts a vast array of attractions and activities that make it the perfect destination for a day trip. 


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From hiking through lush alpine forests to charming cities, here are some of the best day trips from Bern:

1. Hiking in Emmental Valley: Located just an hour’s drive from Bern, the Emmental Valley is perfect for a day of hiking. The area is surrounded by beautiful mountain peaks and offers numerous trails to explore. This region also boasts some of Switzerland’s most picturesque villages, making it ideal for a leisurely stroll or picnic lunch.

2. Explore Fribourg: The city of Fribourg is located just over 30 minutes from Bern and offers a unique blend of culture and history. This charming city is home to Gothic cathedrals, quaint old-town squares, and a vibrant art scene.

3. Visit the Aare Gorge: The dramatic Aare Gorge is located about an hour outside Bern. This stunning natural formation features an impressive limestone canyon and was carved out by the Aare River over thousands of years. 

4. Visit Interlaken: The resort town of Interlaken is about 45 minutes from Bern and it is known for its stunning scenery of the Swiss Alps. Here, you can explore the charming old town, take a cable car ride to the top of one of the nearby peaks, go on a boat cruise, or enjoy a traditional Swiss meal at one of Interlaken’s many restaurants.

Pro tip: Don’t forget to grab the Swiss Travel Pass to take the trains in Switzerland!

Additional travel tips for visiting Bern in a day

Here are some additional tips for your trip to Bern. 

To travel to Bern Switzerland depending on the traveler’s nationality, you may need a visa in order to enter the country. Citizens from some countries such as US and Canada are exempt from this requirement; however, all travelers should check the Swiss government website for exact visa requirements. 

One day in Bern itinerary Best Day Trip to Bern

Switzerland is a non-EU member, but it follows the Schengen agreement. 

They use Swiss Francs (CHF) as the primary mode of exchange. Cash, debit, and credit cards are accepted in Bern. 

Read: What to wear in Switzerland Packing list

What to do in Bern on a rainy day

When it rains in Bern, there is still plenty to do! Here are some of the best activities for a rainy day in Bern:

1. Visit a museum: Bern has several amazing museums to explore. You can learn about the history of the city at the Bern Historical Museum or take a look at masterpieces from around the world at the Kunstmuseum Bern.

2. Take a brewery tour: Even on a rainy day, you can still take a guided tour of Bern’s breweries for a unique beer-tasting experience!

3. Go shopping: One of the best things about Bern is that it has plenty of shopping options, even when it’s raining. Visit one of the many charming boutiques in Old Town or explore the modern shops like The Shopping and Leisure Center Westside.

4. Relax at a cafe:  Despite the rain, you can still enjoy some delicious food and drinks at one of Bern’s many cozy cafes. Try some Swiss specialties like fondue or raclette, or just grab a cup of hot coffee to warm up!

5. Catch a movie: What better way to pass the time than by watching a movie? Check out what’s playing at Kino Rex, an independent movie theater located in the heart of Bern. 

Things to do on a half day in Bern

If you only have a half day in Bern, there are plenty of activities to fill your time. Here are some top things to do:

1. Visit the old town: Wander through the cobblestone streets and admire medieval architecture. This is the perfect place to take photos and get a real feel for Bern’s history.

2. Climb the Munster Tower: Take a trip to the top of the Munster tower for stunning views across the city and the surrounding Alps. 

3. Check out one of Bern’s famous bridges: There are many beautiful old bridges scattered throughout the city, including the iconic Nydeggbrücke with its decorative turrets.

4. Go enjoy and swim in the Aare River: Enjoy a leisurely swim in the Aare River and admire the stunning scenery.

Things to do in Bern at night

Bern, the Swiss capital, is a vibrant city that offers plenty of entertainment options for visitors and locals alike. Here are some of the best things to do in Bern at night:

1. Take a stroll through the Bern Old Town: The medieval streets of Bern’s old town are filled with atmosphere and charm, perfect for an evening stroll. Stroll along cobblestone alleys lit by street lamps and admire the colorful facades of the buildings around you.

2. Visit one of the city’s many bars: Bern has a thriving bar scene, with everything from cozy pubs to trendy cocktail bars. Whether you’re looking for a casual night out or an evening of sophisticated drinks, you’ll find something to suit your tastes here.

3. See a show at the Stadttheater Bern: The Stadttheater is one of the most prestigious theatres in Switzerland, and regularly hosts opera, ballet, and drama. Catch a show here for an unforgettable evening out in the town.

Is 1 day enough in Bern?

Yes, one day is enough to see the compact city of Bern. With 24 hours in Bern, you can experience its cultural landmarks, visit 1-2 museums, hang out at the old town, and enjoy scenic walks by the Aare river and parks. 

How to spend one day in Bern?

Follow this one day Bern itinerary to see it all, 

Arrive in Bern, and wander through the Old Town
Admire the Astronomical Clock aka Zytglogge
Visit Bern’s Munster (or Bern Cathedral)
Take a free guided tour of the Swiss Parliament Building
Check out the Museum of Fine Arts or Einstein House
Meet bears at the BärenPark Zoo
Soak in the sunset hues of Bern and Aare river views

Is Zurich to Bern train scenic?

The train route from Zurich to Bern is not the most scenic, but it is only an hour’s ride. However, as soon as you approach Bern train station you will be mesmerized by the views of the Aare River on your right :).

Do they speak English in Bern?

Yes, English is spoken in stores, hotels, and restaurants. Menus and store signs are in English. Most of the shops/cafes in Old Town had a mix of local and international employees. 

The official language is German.

What is Bern best known for?

Bern, the capital of Switzerland, is best known for its beautiful Old Town which is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is also well-known for its picturesque landscapes and stunning mountain views, as well as being one of the most culturally diverse cities in Europe. 

Bern is home to many interesting attractions such as the Zytglogge (clock tower) and the Parliament building. Other notable attractions include the Gothic Cathedral of Bern, along with several museums and galleries. 

Chocolates in Bern
Chocolates in Bern

Bern is renowned for its quality chocolate, cheese, and wine. With its unique blend of culture and history, Bern is one of the most popular tourist destinations in all of Switzerland.

Bern also has an active nightlife scene with plenty of cafes, bars, clubs, and restaurants to choose from. The city offers a wide variety of cultural events such as music festivals, film screenings, and theatre performances. 

Additionally, Bern is home to some of the most beautiful parks in Switzerland including Gurten Park, Rosengarten Park, and Aarepark.

Relax in Bern

For those looking for a more relaxing experience, Bern also has plenty of spas and wellness centers where one can enjoy a range of soothing treatments such as hot stone massages, reflexology, and facials. 

There are also plenty of outdoor activities to take part in including hiking, cycling, and even skiing in the nearby Alps.

Is Bern worth visiting?

Yes, Bern is definitely worth visiting. The Swiss capital city is known for its historic old town, cultural attractions, and stunning scenery. The city boasts a variety of sights, including the Parliament Building, Clock Tower, and the powerful River Aare. 

There are also plenty of cultural activities to take part in such as concerts, festivals, and museums. 

Bern is a great city for walking and exploring due to its narrow streets and numerous parks. It is compact and easy to navigate, plus it’s filled with the best of Swiss landscapes and city vibes!

Furthermore, the city has plenty of restaurants, bars, and cafes to enjoy in its vibrant atmosphere. 

All in all, Bern is an exciting destination with something for everyone to enjoy.  

Planning a trip to Switzerland? Read our travel guides:

Pin: See Bern in a day: The perfect Bern day trip guide

Guide to Bern Day Trip

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