Got to love a city named after a bear. Lucky it wasn’t a rat…when Berthold V founded the city in 1191 he vowed to name it after the first animal he saw. It’s now the defacto capital of Switzerland. There is no official one, but this is where the Federal Parliament sits. It is also where every single Toblerone has been made since their invention in 1908 and where Einstein was living in a second story walk up when he came up with E=mc² and the Theory of Relativity changing the way we think.
STAY: The Hotel Schweizerhof ,classic on the outside, boutique on the inside, this steps-from-the-train station retreat has been around since 1857. But thanks to a 2011 no expense spared renovation there is nothing old fashioned about it. The rooms are gorgeous, practical and comfortably modern. The spa is heaven, the only one in the city centre. The roof top bar has killer cocktails and views. https://www.schweizerhof-bern.ch/en
Other places to stay:
The Bellevue Palace (https://www.bellevue-palace.ch/en) … the grand government owned classic
The Belle Epoque (https://belle-epoque.ch) …charming 4 star in 500 year old building
EAT: Markus Arnold, the Swiss wunderkind’s Steinhalle is a different kind of dining. A place to eat every day. Casual yet sophisticated. And fun. Lunches are quick, healthy and available for take away. Dinner is a 4, 5 or 6 course meal, locally sourced, Japanese influenced, always creative without being too out there. If you book online you save 10ch. Totally deserves it’s Michelin star. Rumour has it a second may be its way soon.
Other places to eat:
The Vue (https://www.bellevue-palace.ch/en/restaurants-bars/brasserie-vue) …amazing views, delicious class food with a twist
Jack’s Brasserie (https://www.schweizerhof-bern.ch/en/eat/jacks-brasserie) … a landmark voted to have the best schnitzel in Switzerland
See: The Old Town the perfect place to wander during Covid times, part museum, part food court, part shopping mall yet all medieval. In 1405 a fire ravaged the original town, it was rebuilt, pretty much exactly the same but in sandstone instead of wood. The arcades were added during the rest of the century as houses expanded above them. Now they are the perfect place to stroll, safe from the elements, loaded with shops and eateries. Try and find all 11 of the remaining 16th century fountains built to show off the cities wealth and provide clean water. They still do, feel free to fill your water bottle.
Other things to see:
The Paul Klee Museum (https://www.zpk.org/en/startseite-245.html)… His daughter in law donated her inheritance, Renzo Piano designed the building, the rest of the family added to the collection… outstanding
The Rosengarten… grab a picnic, hang out amongst the flowers and look out over the city… gorgeous
PS… Bern is a great base for exploring nearby places like Emmental, Gruyere and Jungfrau