As the nation’s capital, this is the center of all the action. It’s a vibrant city that sometimes lacks the touch of Zurich or Geneva. However, whether you’re a chocolate lover (the city is also home to Toblerone Chocolates), a shopping fiend, or an art buff, you can usually find something for you.
- Hostel Prices: Dorm rooms begin at $33 USD per night while private rooms start at $88 USD per night.
- Budget Hotel Prices: Most budget hotels are under $120 USD per night for a double room.
- Average Cost of Food: Eating in Bern can be an expensive. For a budget meal, expect to spend between $11-22 USD per meal, including a drink. All other restaurants will cost between $28-55 USD for a meal.
- Transportation Costs: A single journey ticket on the metro/bus is $4 USD and a daily pass is $13 USD. This ticket is valid for both the bus or the train during that time period.
Top Things to Do
- Visit Einstein’s home – This was Einstein’s apartment while he came up with the Theory of Relativity. While it has a museum-type feel, you can learn about Einstein, his life, and about his time in this city. It provides an interesting look at the man who changed science.
- Bern Cathedral – Take the tram and admire its Gothic architecture at night along the skyline. This is one of the best Gothic cathedrals in Europe and is very detailed.
- Visit the Old Town – Go antique shopping, dine at their variety of restaurants (and there are plenty of cheap eats as well) and bask in this unique neighborhood’s bars and taverns. This was the historic area of the city and you’ll be able to walk down tiny cobble stone streets and see houses hundreds of years old. It’s a good place to see history.
- Take a walking tour of Bern – Although many activities in Bern are expensive, taking a self-guided tour won’t be. In Old Town you will find some wonderful bakeries and markets where you can cheaply taste the local cuisine. Take your picnic to Gerechtigkeitsgasse and see the Bear Park – a little bit of history while you eat and if you hit the right time of year stroll through one of many free concerts, parades and festivals.
- Bern Historical Museum – Switzerland’s second largest historic museum, combining under one roof one of the country’s most important ethnographic collections together with the Bernese historical collections from prehistory to the present day. It’s closed on Mondays.
- Zytglogge – The Clock Tower near the center of the old town, built around the turn of the 13th century, is a great thing to see. On the hour, every hour throughout the day, there is a stunning display of early animatronic technology. The clock tells time as well as the month, day, sign of the zodiac and phase of the moon. There are guided tours inside the tower that will let you have a look at the clockwork.
- Hike Gurten - The Gurten is a lovely hill just outside the city. It features a park and great view over the city on one side and a nice panorama of the Bernese alps on the other. The park is visited heavily by locals to play ball, to barbecue or to just lie in the sun. Tourists are not an unusual sight, though this little attraction is missed by most of the many that visit the city. Hiking paths lead in all directions and you will almost certainly stumble across some cows when walking around.
- Eat café food – Café and street food are the cheapest ways to go if you’re not going to cook. Restaurants are really expensive in the city so you’ll want to avoid as many of them as you can.
- Couchsurf – Accommodation is very expensive throughout the country. Use the website Courchsurfing (or any other hospitality site) to connect with locals who will give you a free place to stay. I use this method a lot and there’s no better way to meet locals and save money!