Contemplating on if you should spend 2 days in Bern? Then keep on reading because the capital of Switzerland and a wonderful place to visit.
Unlike the more popular Swiss destinations of Geneva and Zurich, it has a relatively laid-back atmosphere. Yet it is still incredibly rich in culture and history – indeed, from the minute you arrive, you will feel as if you’ve stepped back hundreds of years in time.
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The reasons for the city’s UNESCO World Heritage status become immediately obvious, from the ancient buildings and narrow cobblestoned streets to the covered arcades, impressive clock towers, and elegant fountains.
Warm and sunny in the summer – cold and often snowy in the winter – Bern has many attractions at almost any time of year.
If you’re visiting the city for the first time, you may be wondering what to do in Bern in 2 days. This guide is designed to help!
We’ve put together a list of the top things to see and do each morning and afternoon of your stay. We’ve also recommended some great places to eat and our favorite places to stay.
This allows you to travel on public transport for free in Bern and nearby areas, with all streetcar and bus journeys in zones 100/101 operated by the LIBERO Association included.
On the first of your 2 days in Bern, you’ll be seeing the sights in its beautiful old town before visiting the city’s legendary bears, and admiring the art and architecture at Paul Klee Zentrum.
The natural starting point for your exploration of Bern is its historic Old Town, filled with fountains and lined with 15th-century arcades.
Go to see Bern Cathedral first – one of the city’s most iconic attractions. Originally built as a Catholic church in 1421, the 16th century saw it converted into a Swiss Reformed church.
Its tower wasn’t completed until 1893 and is so high that the cathedral now holds the honor of being the tallest in the country.
Its combination of Gothic architecture, awesome stained glass windows, and sculptures is magnificent to see. There are other interesting features, too, including a Gothic font in the apse, a Baroque organ, and exquisitely carved choir stalls.
The chief highlight of your visit, though, is the 254-step climb to the top of the 328 feet (100 meters) tower (you’ll need to buy tickets for this). On a clear day, you’ll get amazing views from the top and may even be able to make out the Alps’ snowy peaks on the horizon.
You can also see the bell inside the tower. It weighs 10.5 tons and is the largest in the country.
From the cathedral, it’s just a short walk to the Zytglogge. This clock tower was the city’s western gate from the 12th century, although the astronomical clock was a later addition in 1530.
It strikes hourly and is a sight to behold, with a circus of mechanical creatures performing a show. Make sure you arrive a few minutes before the hour so you don’t miss it!
You might want to consider booking a tour of the clock tower to make the most of your visit. It’s very interesting and goes behind the scenes, showing you the mechanisms that control the clock and the figures.
Stroll to take a look at the nearby Käfigturm tower next. It was constructed early in the 13th century as a defense tower but was later converted to a prison.
Although it is now used for political purposes you can request a free guided tour and see marks scribbled by prisoners on the dungeon walls.
Your final stop of the morning is at the Bundeshaus, Switzerland’s Federal Palace. It has a beautiful facade and stunning interior, with wonderful sculptures, elegantly carved wood, and dazzling stained glass.
The domed block at its center is home to the two chambers of the Swiss Parliament, whilst the outer wings house the library and various federal agencies. You can book a free guided tour of the building but make sure you do so well in advance – they get booked up quickly.
If you don’t get to see the interior be sure not to miss the incredible fountain on the Bundesplatz outside, with 26 jets symbolizing the 26 cantons of Switzerland. Locals come here to hang out and it’s a great place to people-watch.
Begin your afternoon with lunch on the sun terrace at the Restaurant Rosengarten. The food is good and reasonably priced, while the views are wonderful!
Then take a walk through the Rosengarten (Rose Garden Park) itself. Tranquil and scenic, it is high on a hill and provides lovely views across the old town and the Alps.
Its very first roses were planted early in the 20th century and it now has over 200 different varieties, plus hundreds of rhododendrons, azaleas, and irises. You can also see a pretty pond, pavilion, fountains, and sculptures.
Now it’s time to see the iconic Bear Pit, located right beside the park. Bears are an emblem of the city and the four bears kept here are a ‘must visit’ when seeing Bern in 2 days.
Free to enter, the huge site has two enclosures connected by a tunnel. One is the basic, original pit and the other is the larger, newer pit, which gives the bears a much more comfortable environment in which to live.
If the bears are in hibernation when you visit, you can see them via a webcam instead.
Complete your afternoon at Paul Klee Zentrum, located on Bern’s eastern outskirts. Here you can see a huge collection of works by the German-Swiss painter Paul Klee, considered to be one of the most influential artists of the early 20th century.
The building itself is as captivating as the artwork it houses. Designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano, it is light, airy, and looks like a rolling landscape.
For a fantastic view of Bern at night, spend the evening at the rooftop bar at the Schweizerhof Hotel. In warm weather, you can enjoy summer drinks and snacks, whilst fondue and hot drinks are served in the winter months.
During the second of your two days in Bern you’ll be visiting its fascinating museums before indulging in a little retail therapy at some of the best shops in the world!
You will spend your morning at the Bern Historical Museum, the second largest museum in the country and one of its most important.
The Neo-Renaissance architecture of the building is quite beautiful, while inside you’ll find historic exhibits from the Stone Age right up to the present day. There is so much to see that you could easily spend an entire day here!
Part of this museum is the Einstein Museum. Here you can learn all about one of Bern’s most famous residents – the physicist Albert Einstein.
He lived here for 7 years at the start of the 20th century and published many of his important papers. He also lectured at the city’s university.
The focus of the exhibition is on Einstein’s development of the Theory of Relativity while living in Bern. You can see a range of letters, photos, footage, and items connected to his life and his work.
An animated film explains the Theory of Relativity in layman’s terms, and there are some notable items, including a letter from Einstein to President Roosevelt warning him of Germany’s nuclear capabilities. You can also see Einstein’s Nobel Prize certificate from 1921.
After lunch, visit Einstein house, which is particularly interesting to see after the Einstein Museum.
This is the third-floor flat where he lived from 1903 to 1905 with his wife and son. Here he wrote the Annus Mirabilis papers that changed the way the scientific community viewed the universe.
Located over two floors, the attraction gives a greater understanding of Einstein’s scientific work but also an insight into his personal life, with one floor decorated to look just as it would have when he and his family lived there.
Now it’s time to head to the 3.7 mi (6 km) of covered arcades in Bern’s old town for some serious shopping! These arcades protect you from the weather while you browse the goods in the exclusive boutiques housed within.
If you want some luxury items to take home, shop at Spitalgasse and Marktgasse. While on Marktgasse check out Läderach which sells some of the finest Swiss chocolate you’ll ever experience.
The perfect end to your 2 days in Bern is with an evening cruise on one of its lakes. These are offered by BLS – the country’s largest transportation service – at certain times of the year.
Are 2 Days In Bern Enough?
As this itinerary shows, you can easily see the best of Bern in 2 days. It is a compact city that you can comfortably explore on foot, with excellent public transport links should you need them.
Do remember that this itinerary is for two full days in the city. Consider adding an extra night if you arrive late in the day or have an early departure time.
Where To Stay In Bern
Here are some of our favorite accommodation options in Bern to suit every budget.
Best Budget Accommodation
Enjoying a perfect location in the Old Town just 300 feet (100 yards) from the famous Zytglogge Tower, the spotlessly clean Bern Backpackers Hotel Glocke has a fully equipped kitchen, laundry facilities, and free wifi in all public areas and rooms.
You can choose between a single bed in a dormitory, a room with a shared bathroom, or an en-suite room. Tea is available free of charge, and there is a large common room, where films in English are shown nightly.
Best Mid-Range Accommodation
The Akomo Bern is located just 1,350 feet (450 yards) from the Parliament building.
With a variety of rooms on offer – including family rooms – it has free wifi throughout. Each room has a desk, a flat-screen TV, a private bathroom, bed linen, towels, and a kettle, while some also feature a kitchen with a microwave, a fridge, and a stovetop.
Best Luxury Accommodation
If you want to feel pampered during your two days in Bern, book a stay at the Hotel Schweizerhof Bern & Spa. This 5-star hotel has a convenient location and beautiful rooms equipped with state-of-the-art facilities.
All rooms have minibars, large bathrooms with rain showers, Nespresso coffee machines, and excellent entertainment facilities, including an IP phone. There is also a wellness center and on-site restaurant.
Final Thoughts On This Itinerary For Two Days In Bern
A weekend in Bern is just the right amount of time to discover its historic and cultural gems, admire its architecture, and get an insight into local life.
We hope this guide has helped you plan your visit and that you have an enjoyable, memorable stay.
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