Bern, Switzerland - Wontra Travels

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Welcome to Bern

Bern

Bern (German – Berne; Italian - Berna; French – Berne; Romansh - Berna; Bernese German: Bärn)

  • Area: 51.62 km2 (19.93 sq mi)
  • Dialing Code: +41 31
  • Canton: Bern
  • District: Bern-Mittelland administrative district
  • Driving Side: Right Side
  • Language: Bernese German
  • Population: 131,554  (2015)
  • Time Zone: CET - UTC +1 / CEST - UTC +2

The city of Bern, the federal capital and political centre of Switzerland, is a beautiful and tranquil city full of museums, churches and historic buildings. It is the capital of the Cantn of Bern and second largest state in the country behind Zurich. The city is also home to international organisations and enterprises.

Set on the peninsula formed by the meandering turns of the river Aare, the romantic Swiss capital owes its appeal to the unity of its urban landscape created by its sandstone buildings, countless cobbled alleyways and ancient towers and turrets from the Middle-Ages and the Renaissance.

The old town of Bern is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the 6km of arcades make for one of the longest weather-sheltered shopping promenades in Europe. The Houses of Parliament (Bundeshaus) rise above the city just a stone's throw away from the railway station. 

Information & Facts

Climate

Bern has a marine west coast climate that is mild with no dry season, warm summers. Heavy precipitation occurs during mild winters which are dominated by mid-latitude cyclones. Seasonality is moderate (Köppen-Geiger classification: Cfb).

Getting Around

In the Canton of Bern like in Switzerland as a whole, public transport and the road network are both extensive. This provides easy access to most places in the canton. Connections with the national highway and rail system are also excellent.

Facts and figures

  • 28 transport companies operate 65 railways, 233 bus/tram lines and eight funiculars and cable cars in Bern Canton.
  • In all, public transport lines serve 300 railway stations and 2900 bus and tram stops.
  • 85 per cent of all inhabitants in the canton are within easy reach of public transport.

Language

The official language in Bern is (the Swiss variety of Standard) German, but the most-spoken language is an Alemannic Swiss German dialect, Bernese German.

Money

The Swiss Francs (CHF) or 'Schweizerfranken' is the currency and official legal tender of Switzerland and Liechtenstein; it is also legal tender in the Italian exclave Campione d'Italia. One hundred "Rappen" make up one Swiss Franc. Coins are available in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50 Cents and 1, 2, 5 Francs while Bank notes are available in 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 1000 Francs.

Negatives

Bern has very little violent crime. However, as it is the capital, political demonstrations occur every few weeks on a variety of subjects, occasionally leading to police intervention.

Police officers in Bern happily help out visitors who need information or are in trouble, however, they are also known for approaching "suspicious" persons to check their papers. When in this situation, stay calm and polite and present a photocopy of your passport and onward ticket.

Night Life

Bern offers a multi-faceted and exciting nightlife. Behind historical façades you often find a modern atmosphere and trendy clubs. Whoever prefers a quieter evening, can choose a bar in the Old Town. In any case: Bern offers an amazing variety of bars, clubs, wine bars and pubs.

Shopping

From high street brands to exclusive speciality boutiques, Swiss shopping has something for everyone. There is a wide range of shopping opportunities in large shopping centres and smaller shops in Bern. The old town arcades, or Lauben, are a popular place, especially when they can provide shelter from the rain. There are also bustling markets held each week in Bern’s city squares.

Sightseeing

No other city in Switzerland offers such a wonderful wealth of culture, leisure and entertainment like Bern. Hurry and hectic are foreign words to the Bernese. In their city, people enjoy life and take time for what is really important. It's entirely easy to relax and enjoy oneself in the unique Old Town atmosphere.

Old Town: Thanks to its well-preserved medieval townscape, the Old Town of Bern was entered onto UNESCO’s listing of World Heritage Sites in 1983.

Clock Tower: The Clock Tower (Zytglogge) was Bern's first western city gate (1191 - 1256) and is now one of Bern's most important sights.

Rose Garden: The Rose Garden is a mecca for flower lovers and a great place to unwind. It features a restaurant in a prime location and a wonderful view of Bern!

House of Parliament: The Parliament Building is the seat of the Swiss government and the parliament.

Parliament Square: Vibrant gathering place in the heart of the capital city.

The Cathedral of Bern: The Cathedral (Münster) is Bern's most impressive example of Late Gothic architecture. The basilica with its three naves rises above Bern's Old Town.

Einstein House: Albert Einstein lived in Bern from 1903 to 1905 and developed his Theory of Relativity here. The Einstein House gives visitors a chance to see where the great physicist completely revolutionized our understanding of space and time.

Botanic garden: The Botanic Gardens are located right in the heart of the city. They cover a 5-acre area featuring around 6, 000 plant species growing outdoors and in seven greenhouses.

City of Fountains: Today Bern is characterized by its numerous fountains that lend a certain sparkle to the city's image. They call to mind the heroes and past historical events of Bern.

Time

Bern Time is in the Central European Time (CET) zone, which is 1 hour ahead of the Coordinated Universal Time (UTC +1). Like most states in Europe, ‎the time is shifted forward by an extra hour (CEST - UTC +2) from Spring to Summer months (Daylight Saving). ‎After Summer, the time is shifted back to CET. Central European Time (CET) = UTC +1 ‎Central European Summer Time (CEST) = UTC +2

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