When I first looked at where we would stay in Switzerland, I tried to pick 1-3 cities that we could make our home base, but also easily take trains to neighboring cities. The 2 cities I settled on were Zurich & Bern.
Bern is often one of the forgotten cities of Switzerland; overshadowed by places like Zermatt, Zurich & the towns surrounding the peaks of Jungfrau & Schilthorn. The thing is, Bern is the Capitol of Switzerland. It's central to seemingly everything in Switzerland. It was perfect for us. We booked a 4 night stay in a highly rated Airbnb.
Our hosts picked us up at the train station (with carseats) and drove us through the city and out out to their apartment. It was a great first look at this unique city. If you didn't know, the old city of Bern is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Old City, founded in the 12th century, is surrounded by the Aare river and is an outstanding example of coherent planning concepts. As the city grew, the buildings were revitalized and adapted instead of torn down and rebuilt. It is an incredible show of urban expansion through centuries of change.
Our 4 days were a mash up of city walks, delicious chocolate, quick train rides out to Lucerne, Interlaken & Thun, and really enjoying the slower pace of this capitol city.
We stayed in a truly 5 star, 2 bedroom - 1 bath Airbnb. The location was impeccable, the apartment was sparkling clean & the host went out of their way to make our stay special; including buying a birthday cake & supplies for our daughter's 3rd birthday. (Don't forget to USE OUR LINK to save $40 off your first Airbnb stay and help support our blog!)
Phone Apps: There are several apps that you can download to help you with your time in Bern. HERE is a link to the apps. I will also highly suggest the ZVV Fahrplan app for navigating the public transit throughout Switzerland.
Bear Park: This is a must see in Bern which is named after Bears. The Bern Bear Park is a unique recreation area at the lower end of the old town of Bern. It is open around the clock and free for all visitors.
Bern Rose Garden: This park overlooks the entire city of Bern. The hike up may make you winded, but it's worth the workout. The kids will enjoy an amazing playground while you can dine and drink at the delicious restaurant at the top.
Munsterplattform: This park/garden is located between The Cathedral of Bern and the Aare River. It's a gorgeous park with games, a small playground, an ice cream shop and a small cafe called Einstein au Jardin. We spent at least an hour letting the kids run, taking in the views of the river and relaxing before we moved on to tour the church.
The Cathedral of Bern: This church is home to the tallest church tower in Switzerland. It is also the largest and most important Gothic Church in all of Switzerland. Take your time exploring this cathedral and spend time sitting in the church's square (Munsterplatz) to take in it's shear size.
Albert Einstein's House: The flat on the second floor of Kramgasse No. 49 was rented by Einstein from 1903 to 1905. MON – SUN: 10am – 5pm (last entry 4.45pm) COSTS: Individuals: CHF 6.- Students, children, senior citizens: CHF 4.50
Gurten Park: This mountain setting overlooks Bern. It is easily accessible by public transit. Gurten is a natural setting with a few restaurants and a fun miniature railway system.
Kleine Schanze: Also know as the State Park. It is a gorgeous park centrally located in Bern. We did not get a chance to visit, but it's on the top of my list for our next visit.
Tierpark: This is Bern's Zoo. We did not get the chance to visit, but if you have kids in tow and love viewing different species of animals, this could be a great place to explore.
Rosegarten Restaurant: a great place for lunch. We let our kids play on the playground while we enjoyed some real Swiss delicacies and few drinks. The views of Bern from this restaurant are unbeatable.
Laderach: This famous chocolate has several locations throughout Bern. We highly recommend a stop inside to snag some of Switzerland's most prized chocolatier & treats.
Confiserie Tschirren AG: We stopped here on a date night without the kids. It's an elegant sweets shop along the main drag through Old City. We tried several different treats, but our absolute favorite was the chocolate dipped candied Orange slices -- a MUST if you stop in.
***We cooked most of our meals in Switzerland because of the high priced meals. When you're visiting, be sure to visit the Co-Op Grocery Store chain. They have a great selection of food and you're able to make several meals at home for the price of eating at a restaurant.
Bern was such a great stop for us. Our kids loved the city, we loved the city and I can't rave enough about our amazing Airbnb & hosts. The city is small enough to walk easily, but the public transportation is extremely straight forward and simple. We loved the slow paced atmosphere, the delicious food, gorgeous river views and immense history every where you look. If you're visiting Switzerland, put Bern on the must-see list!
Have you traveled with kids to Bern or Switzerland? What are your absolute favorite places you visited? Let us know in the comments!
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