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Bern Walking Tour

Published: 21.06.2024

What's so special about Bern? We hardly know where to begin, but one of its best highlights is certainly the fact that the Old City is ideal for exploring on foot. We recommend the following route for your walking tour of the city:

Start: Heiliggeistkirche (Church of the Holy Spirit)

If you start your tour from Bern's Bahnhofplatz (Station Square), you will see the Heiliggeistkirche even from a distance. No wonder, since it is an unmistakable part of Bern’s cityscape. In addition to holding religious services, this Protestant-Reformed church also serves as a space for concerts, diverse events and exhibitions.

By the way, it’s located directly opposite the famous “Loebegge” – a popular meeting place for Bern locals out on dates.

1. Käfigturm (Prison Tower)

After passing the Heiliggeistkirche, turn into Spitalgasse. This is the start of Bern's shopping street, which runs all the way to the Nydeggbrücke bridge, so be sure to plan some time for a few stops and don't forget to explore the shops just off the "high street" as well. You will spot the next sight looming about 250 metres ahead. The Käfigturm first served as a defence bulwark and later as a prison tower, state archive and information centre. Today it houses the Polit-Forum Bern with exhibitions and events on political topics.

2. Zytglogge (Clock Tower)

To reach the Zytglogge, continue walking along Marktgasse, about the same distance as from the Heiliggeistkirche to the Käfigturm. The Zytglogge has been standing in the heart of Bern's Old City since the 13th century. You'll soon see that there's almost always a crowd of people in front of the Zytglogge. It's no wonder because there is so much to marvel at, from the impressive clock face to the moving figures.

3. Einstein House

Kramgasse begins some 150 metres after the Zytglogge. If you follow this lane straight ahead you will find, in an inconspicuous corner on the right-hand side, the former flat of Albert Einstein. The Einstein House gives visitors a more personal glimpse into Einstein's life. Those who want to learn even more about Einstein's life and theories will find a larger and more detailed exhibition at the Bern Historical Museum, or they can take one of the city tours dedicated to the genius.

4. Rathaus (Town Hall)

Walk straight on for the next 200 metres after the Einstein House and then turn right into Kreuzgasse, where the Rathaus is located. To this day, it has remained the political centre of the city and canton of Bern.

5. BearPark

Walk back along Kreuzgasse and turn left to continue walking back through the Old City to the large bridge (Nydeggbrücke). Turn left before the bridge and head down the little lane to the smaller bridge. It's worth the walk, as the Untertorbrücke is the oldest bridge in the city. Once you have crossed the Untertorbrücke, you can walk up the small slope on the right. When you reach the top, the old bear pit will be directly opposite you. However, Bern's three resident bears, Ursina, Björk and Finn, have been enjoying their new home in the spacious BearPark, right next to the pit, since autumn 2015. These days, the three bears are only fed in the bear pit.

6. Rosengarten (Rose Garden)

A ten-minute walk from the BearPark brings you to THE spot for photos in Bern: the Rosengarten. To get there, take the small path on the left and follow the "Rosengarten" signs. The short climb is worth it when you take in the impressive view over the rooftops of Bern all the ways to the Gurten – we promise! The large grassy area, playground and restaurant offer lots of opportunities for all ages to relax, play and eat. The garden gets its name from the more than 250 types of roses that bloom today in what was the former cemetery of the lower Old City.

Still haven't had enough of the lovely view?

7. Grosser Muristalden

Walk the same way back and return to the BearPark. Still haven't had enough of the lovely view? Then take the uphill path on the right-hand side towards Schosshalde. Various benches await you along the route, where you can lean back and enjoy the view of the turquoise-blue Aare river and the stunning outline of the Old City.

8. Nydeggbrücke und -kirche (Nydegg Bridge and Church)

Once you arrive back at the BearPark, you can cross the Nydeggbrücke (the large bridge) and make your way to the church of the same name, which symbolises the official start of Bern's Old City.

9. Münsterplattform (Minster Terrace)

When you reach the Nydeggkirche church, you can turn left into narrow Junkerngasse. As you walk along it, you will see from afar the monument that occupies such an important place in Bern's skyline: the Bern Minster. Instead of walking right into the cathedral, however, we recommend a short detour. As soon as you reach the building, turn left and walk along the outside wall to the small park, the Münsterplattform (Minster Terrace). It’s a popular meeting place for lunch, picnics, boccia (also known as boules or pétanque) and other leisure activities. It also boasts a stunning view of the Kirchenfeldbrücke bridge and Bern's local mountain, the Gurten.

Bernese people affectionately call them “Pläfe”.

10. Berner Minster

By now, you're probably impatient to see the Bern Minster from the front as well! To do so, walk along the Minster Terrace to the small passage on the other side and you will arrive directly at Münsterplatz (Minster Square). Interesting fact: The cathedral's 100-metre-high spire is the highest in Switzerland. And be sure to keep you eyes open because directly above the main entrance you'll see an impressive piece of art depicting the Last Judgement. The detailed image catches everyone's attention.

End: Parliament Building, Parliament Square, Parliament Terrace

Continue along Münstergasse in the direction of the train station and turn left towards the Kirchenfeldbrücke bridge. Just before the bridge, head to the right along the path to the Bundesterrasse (Parliament Terrace). From there you can enjoy the view of the sparkling Aare river, the Gurten and the Marzili swimming pool.

Speaking of good weather, this stopover is also perfect for a relaxed picnic on sunny days. And don't let the amazing view distract you from looking behind you to the Federal Palace as well. The spectacular building with its green dome is over 300 metres long and one of the most significant buildings in Switzerland. In the centre stand the Parliament Building, where sessions of the Federal Council, National Council and Council of States are held. Would you also like to admire the imposing building to the Bundesplatz (Parliament Square). To get back to the train station, turn left – with the Parliament Building behind you – and walk to the end of Schauplatzgasse.

When the weather is clear, the view even reaches as far as the world-famous trio of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau peaks.