Skip to main content.
The photo shows a street in Bern that leads to the Zytglogge, the famous clock tower. The street is lined with traditional buildings with balconies and flags, including the Swiss flag.

The Bucket List for History

Published: 14.05.2024

Time’s ticking. In the context of the universe, a human life is over in the bat of an eye. It's nothing. But is nothing really nothing? The following places and experiences invite you to ponder the history of our time, to reflect and go new ways.

Tour of the Zytglogge (Clock Tower)

How does the intricate clock mechanism of Bern’s most famous landmark work? What does the tower have to do with Albert Einstein? Who makes sure that the Zytglogge rooster crows on time? What stories are hidden inside the tower’s thick walls? The Zytglogge (Clock Tower) is perfect for fans of technical masterpieces, history buffs, and panorama lovers alike. And from inside the tower, visitors enjoy a wonderful and surprising view of the alleys and rooftops of Bern's UNESCO-listed Old City.

Bernisches Historisches Museum

One could easily mistake the Bernisches Historisches Museum for a castle. However, the impressive building on Helvetiaplatz (Helvetia Square) with its ornate oriels doesn’t house princes and princesses, but rather one of Switzerland’s most important museums of cultural history. In addition to its permanent exhibitions, the museum focuses on historical and societal issues that are still relevant to the world today in different temporary exhibitions. The museum’s history goes back to the year 1882, and the imposing building on the Helvetiaplatz has stood there since 1894. The building is divided into three parts, showcasing archeological, culture-historical, and ethnographic collections. The Einstein Museum, which sheds light on the life story of the world-famous physicist, is also a part of the permanent exhibitions.

Want more of Albert Einstein? The genius physicist was living in Bern while he was working on his theory of relativity. His former home is now open to the public.

Museum of Communication

Communication is a bit like love. It is a lifelong preoccupation of ours, yet no one ever really knows how it works. That is why communication in all its shapes and forms is the focus of the Museum of Communication. Have you ever seen the original getaway car from a historic heist, for example? And visitors won’t find any “Please don’t touch” signs here. There are interactive stations, large screens, and people (the communicators) who uncover and explain connections. And in the museum’s future-oriented special exhibitions, visitors are always inspired to think about current societal issues and ask questions.

For its complete overall new concept and design, the Museum of Communication was awarded the “Council of Europe Museum Prize”, which is considered one of the most important museum awards on the continent, by the Council’s president in April 2019.

Berner Generationenhaus (Bern House of Generations)

A grand sandstone building next to Bern’s main station is home to the Berner Generationenhaus (Bern House of Generations). Its name says it all: today, the Generationenhaus includes a retirement home, a day-care centre, a public playground, and the parent counselling centre of the canton of Bern. Participatory plays or music projects, exhibitions and events on future-oriented and societal topics take place in this meeting place and cultural microcosm that inspires generations. The Berner Generationenhaus is open to everybody, for a coffee or a delicious lunch. By the way: You can also bring your own food and enjoy it here, no obligation to buy anything.

Vreneli-Museum in Guggisberg

“‘S isch äben e Mönsch uf Ärde…” – the first line of the Guggisberg-Lied, probably Switzerland’s most well-known folk song. It was first mentioned in 1741, the oldest preserved lyrics are from 1764. And there have been countless new interpretations over the years: Swiss stars such as Stephan Eicher, Steff la Cheffe and Christine Lauterburg have added the song to their repertoire. It is about “Vreneli” (nickname for Verena) from Guggisberg who longs for her beloved “Simes Hans-Joggeli” (Hans-Jakob Simon) and finds consolation in the image of the ever-turning mill wheel. The tragic story behind the song is brought to life at the Vreneli-Museum in Guggisberg, a town in the Gantrisch Nature Park.

For Companies: Zunfttisch at Casino Bern

Hungry for culinary time travel? At the Zunfttisch (Guild Table), the Casino Bern serves gourmets and history fans a menu that perfectly combines infotainment and culinary delights: traditional Bernese dishes from past decades are re-interpreted and spiced up with short documentation, stories and anecdotes. There’s also an audiovisual component in the form of fun animations relating Bern’s history. A unique, multi-sensory journey through time with your employees or customers. If you can’t quite imagine what to expect, take a look at the explanatory video on the website.

Restaurant Recommendation: Zum Äusseren Stand

Rütli who? On 12 September 1848, Switzerland’s federal constitution was signed in the Empire Hall of the Äusseren Stand. To this day, the Empire Hall with its turquoise-coloured wallpaper and intricate patterns remains a popular gathering place for political groups and corporate events of all kinds. Just recently, aarestadt gastro took over the lease of the business at 17 Zeughausgasse and implemented a brand-new brasserie concept. Chef Paul Jurt’s creations are fresh, high-quality and modern, yet still approachable. The menu offers a fine selection of Swiss specialities as well as daily lunch options.

Hotel Recommendation: Burgdorf Castle Youth Hostel

This monument of national importance has been towering on a hill above the Emme river in Burgdorf for some 900 years and underwent a magnificent expansion by the Zähringen people around the year 1200. And it is still being expanded to this day: for three years now, Burgdorf Castle has been housing a modern youth hostel, a restaurant with a beautiful view of the Emmental hills and a selected wine menu, a museum, and a room used for wedding ceremonies – a place for dreaming (perhaps of a romantic love story between a noblewoman and a knight?), eating, enjoying, learning, getting married, celebrating, and discovering.