International Schools in Berne
Bern, Switzerland is one of the (if not the) best preserved medieval cities in the world. Centred on a peninsula on the River Aare, Bern is full of historic sites that range from the 12th century to the present day. Bern is where Albert Einstein lived as his career was starting, it's where the wonderful Toblerone chocolate is made, and it's known as the home of Emmental cheese, which you probably know as Swiss Cheese.
Bern, Switzerland’s capital city is a wonderful amalgamation of all the country has to offer. This is a city populated by relaxed folk who understand the importance of making time for the finer things in life – we’re talking leisurely meals at world class restaurants, exploring the surrounding countryside, and making the most of the city’s impressive cultural calendar. You’ll find diplomats and politicians conducting business in buildings dating back to the 12th century, and impressive architecture that ranges from modern to medieval. Within a day or two in town you’ll completely understand why Bern is consistently ranked as one of the Best Places to Live in the World.
Visitors to Bern are often overheard marvelling that they didn’t know it was such an attractive city. The capital is set on a cliff overlooking the aquamarine waters of the Aare River that surrounds it on three sides. Be sure to enjoy a riverside stroll before venturing into the cobbled streets of the UNESCO World Heritage Altstadt (Old Town), on the hunt for the city’s hidden arcades and historic fountains. In fact, it is for this reason Bern is known as the ‘City of Fountains’. You’ll find 100 scattered around town depicting historical events and heroes from the city’s past. Why not see how many you can find?
Visit the Federal Palace, which you can go inside if Parliament isn’t sitting that day. The 800-year old Zytglotte Clock Tower, one of Bern’s oldest landmarks, towers over the old town, as do the spires of Bernmunster cathedral, the city’s most impressive example of gothic architecture.
Where to start for you culture vultures? We recommend heading to the Albert Einstein Museum, a fascinating place to spend a couple of hours. Einstein lived in Bern for two years (1903-1905) whilst developing his Theory of Relativity that changed the way we think about time and space. Get a glimpse into how this genius lived through videos, photographs, letters, and various other weird and wonderful objects. The Paul Klee Centre houses the world’s biggest and most important collection of works by artist Paul Klee, and Bern’s Fine Arts Museum is home to over 4,000 paintings, making it arguably the country’s oldest, and best collection.
Bern is a city for lovers of live music. Highlights include their summer and winter jazz festivals, their Buskers Festival, and Gurtenfestival, a musical extravaganza held in the height of summer on the top of the local mountain.
If hiking is a favourite family activity, make your way to Gurten, Bern’s local mountain. The 360-degree views you’ll enjoy at the top will take in the towers and domes of the Bern skyline, the Alps, and across the Three Lakes Region all the way to the Jura Mountains. If you’ve made it this far, you might as well clamber up the tower – it’s free and if you need motivation, the view gets better with every step! There are tons of hiking routes surrounding the mountain that will lead you through colourful meadows and along forest paths. In the winter, kids can enjoy toboggan runs, and skiing.
Rest your head…
If you’re travelling on a budget, we suggest booking in at Hotel Waldorn. You’ll find the rooms to be quiet, the breakfast plentiful, and the coffee complimentary 24 hours a day. Double rooms start from 153CHF.
Hotel Alpenblick is a three star hotel located in a quiet neighbourhood in Bern city centre. A team of friendly, knowledgeable staff run the hotel, and their healthy (included) breakfast is not to be missed. Prices start from 206CHF per night.
Hotel Schweizerhof-Bern is Bern’s most luxury design hotel. Recently-renovated, this superior establishment is located in the heart of the city, and offers 99 stylishly designed rooms and suites, a number of exclusive bars and restaurants, and a lavish spa. Prices start from 550CHF.
Time to dine…
Schwellenmätteli is a lovely breakfast spot right on the banks of the River Aare. Its location in the Old Town means it’s the perfect jump off for a day of sightseeing. All ingredients are healthy and locally sourced. We recommend their birchermüesli!
If it’s a light lunch you’re after head to Tingel Kringel, an adorable little café and bakery serving up home-baked bagels, soups, salads and doughnuts. For a leisurely lunch with great views, make a reservation at Restaurant Rosengarten, in Bern’s fragrant rose garden. Sit back and enjoy spectacular views of the city whilst you sample their multi-course lunch or dinner menu.
To woo that special someone in your life, treat them to an evening at the Meridiano in Hotel Allegro. The restaurant itself is impressive, but when you team that with an alpine backdrop, and a gourmet menu, it is perfect for those looking to impress. Select their eight-course menu if you’re intent on pulling out all the stops.
If the weather isn’t playing ball, satiate your inner shopaholic in Bern’s covered arcades in the city centre. You’ll find most shops at street level, but keep an eye out for those nestled in basements – it is here you’ll find the most unusual galleries, boutiques, wine dealers, and theatres.
If around on Tuesday or Saturday, head to the huge outdoor market at Bundesplatz, Bärenplatz and Münstergasse. This is just the ticket for fresh produce, cheese, meat, olives, and bread. There is also a great range of street food options if it’s not picnic weather! If in town in November, check out the Onion Market, a traditional event on the Bern calendar, which brings the whole city out in celebration.
This is a fantastic city for lovers of vintage clothing and second-hand items. Arguably the best Brokenstube is HIOB International in Bern’s Brietenrain neighbourhood.
Paint the town
Many of Bern’s hippest bars are found in the Mattenhof Quarter, including Zar Bar, where you’ll find regional beers, live music, and a hip crowd.
For sundowner drinks and a mezze-style nibble or two head to Sky Terrace at the top of Hotel Schweizerhof for excellent views of Bern. If a beer garden is more up your street, Kleine Schanze is a fun hangout offering cocktails, and a great range of wines and beers. Tredicipercento is a cosy wine bar located in a former coal cellar. This is just the place for wine aficionados keen to sample tipples from the small vineyards the bar has hand picked to champion. Some are locally-sourced, others hail from the French Jura, and Italy. There is also a lovely menu, which has been carefully paired with their wines.
Should you fancy some post-dinner jazz, head to Marian’s Jazzroom at the Hotel Innere Enge. This is one of Europe’s most esteemed jazz clubs and attracts international performers of R&B, soul, gospel, blues, and jazz.
By day Kapitel is a popular spot with the who’s who of Bern’s business world. Come nightfall, the award-winning venue transforms into a bar, known around town for the talents of its team of savvy bartenders, and their incomparable cocktail list. Expect international DJs to hit the decks around 11pm. Another option for those in search of a night on the tiles is Wasserwerk Club, which has hosted the likes of Faithless, and The Prodigy.
A bit of fun…
Bern’s Museum of Communication may seem an unusual choice given the fact you’ve probably spent the entire weekend urging the kids to put their phones away, but trust us – you will have fun! The museum details the history of communication between humans, and is modern, interactive, and has a great range of fun workshops to participate in.
Often proclaimed the most charming town in Switzerland, Thun is just 30 kilometres south of Bern, and makes for a wonderful day trip. An impressive castle dominates the town, but it’s the flower-lined walkways that make Thun stick in the minds of all who visit. The surrounding countryside is home to a wealth of opportunities for outdoor recreation.
Another great option is Biel, the epicentre of Swiss watchmaking. This charming town is located at the end of long Lake Biel, at the foot of the Jura Mountains, and its streets are lined with great museums, restaurants, and cafes.
Did you know?
You’ll notice that the street signs in the Old Town are colour-coded. This dates back to when Napoleon had control of the city back in the 18th century. As his troops were largely illiterate, the coloured signs were used to help them find their quarters.