Solo Travel in Bern
Types of Girl about the Globe – Cultural GatG, Old Town GatG, Sightseeing GatG
Switzerland is such a wonderful country to explore as a solo. It has stunning scenery, epic train rides and so many beautiful lakes. Plus the locals are helpful and most people speak English so you don't need to worry if you get lost and need directions. I spent time solo in Bern and enjoyed this Swiss capital. I've put together a guide of all my favourite things to do in Bern Switzerland, as well as places to visit in Bern. Just read the relevant section or the whole article for your Bern trip.
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- About Bern
- 48 Hours in Bern
- Sightseeing in Bern
- Things To Do in Bern
- Bern Activities
- Bern Tours
- Accommodation in Bern
- What To Do in Bern at Night
- Where To Eat in Bern
- Where To Drink
- Getting Around Bern
- From Bern Airport
- Travelling Onwards
With many flights into Zurich, you may not get a chance to visit the country’s capital – Bern (not Zurich as you may have thought). This medieval city has a cultural charm and plenty of museums to keep you entertained.
Take your pick from the Art Museum, History Museum, and many more or take a peek inside Albert Einstein’s old residence at Einstein House. The city is really picturesque and sits on a peninsular surrounded by the River Aare with beautiful views of the Alps.
It’s quieter than the bigger cities and more compact with most of the attractions in the historical old town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with history dating back to the 12th century. Here you’ll find pretty water fountains, churches and sandstone buildings, amongst its cobbled streets.
Admire the Bern Münster, the city’s main cathedral in all its Gothic glory before watching puppets dancing to chimes at the Zytglogge, the city’s unique clock tower. Then stroll through the Rose Garden for views of the city. Marktgasse is a street which simply oozes elegance with 17th and 18th century architecture and flower stalls.
Spend an evening at a jazz club or just walk along the promenade which stretches for miles. The whole town has a Swiss elegance which makes history come alive.
Stay for – 1/2 nights. One whole day is more than enough for Bern sightseeing.
Language Spoken – Bernese German, German.
Did you Know? Bern is the de facto capital in Switzerland, not Zurich or Geneva as you may think.
Local's Tip – “If you have spare time, you can also go to a nearby city called Thun. It is about 30 minutes ride by train from Bern, near the Interlaken region.”
Solo's Tip – “If the weather is nice, go up to the Rosengarten for a small picnic, to read a book or simply to enjoy the view.”
24 Hours in Bern
With the Old Town of Bern being listed as one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites in 1983, you can easily spend a day meandering around its arcades. Framed by the Aare River its Old Town dates back to the early 12th century.
If you only have 48 hours in this capital, start day one by exploring the Old Town. You’ll find medieval arcades stretching for 6 km, perfect for a morning walk browsing as you go. If you are here on a Tuesday or Saturday browse the markets at Bundesplatz and Münsterplatz. Adriano’s Bar & Cafe is a good spot to stop and have a coffee or cold drink.
The Clock Tower is one of its most famous landmarks but you’ll also pass the Prison Tower and Renaissance fountains as well as the Münster (the cathedral). Make sure you visit the Clock Tower on the hour to watch the clockwork figures on their hourly performance. These little figures date back to the 16th century and are a big tourist draw. If you are ready for a challenge climb the 100m cathedral to get a good view of the Alps.
Stop at the legendary house of Albert Einstein where it is said that he developed his Theory of Relativity here. The famous physicist and scientist lived here between 1903 and 1905 and the apartment is furnished just as it would have been back then.
From history to nature, walk to the Rose Garden to immerse yourself within one of the capital’s most beautiful parks. Open to the public for over a century there aren’t only roses here as the park is home to blooming irises and a pond with water lilies. Once you’ve strolled through the garden admiring the views of Bern, take advantage of a lunch stop in the garden’s restaurant.
Choose from one of the recommended restaurants for lunch and dinner and an evening suggestion.
48 Hours in Bern
It’s time to learn more about the arty and cultural scene of Bern (that’s if you are an arty and museum GatG). Start at the Zentrum Paul Klee which displays a collection of works by the man the museum is named after – Paul Klee. This Swiss-born painter challenged traditional boundaries and his works reflect his philosophical nature. Even the building of the museum is impressive with its wavy architecture, designed by an Italian architect.
Complement your visit here with one to the Museum of The Fine Arts known as the Kunstmuseum Bern. This is the oldest art museum in the country and has a collection over 3 floors beginning with the Middle Ages to the present.
Once you have seen enough museums, you can head to the mountain for some more nature. The Gurten stands at 860 metres and you can either hike or take the train here. It’s definitely worth visiting to get some shots of the city with fantastic views across Bern. You’ll find a park here to sit and contemplate your solo journey so far.
Spend an evening at Marians Jazzroom, enjoy a cocktail at the Matte Brennerei Bar or just relax after a day of sightseeing and hiking.
Sightseeing in Bern
Bern Old Town
Start at the Bern clock tower to listen to the chimes of the Zytglogge before exploring the rest of the cobbles streets and arcade walkways. This medieval tower is one of the oldest clocks in Switzerland and is famous for its astronomical calendar. Make sure that you’re here on the hour to watch the mechanical figures come to life. The Bern Münster is the other main attraction here. Built in a Gothic style it has a basilica and three naves. Although work began in 1421 the 100 metre high spire wasn’t completed until the late 19th century. You can climb up the 344 steps to enjoy the views. It’s free to wander around this medieval old town and through the narrows streets to the riverbank. (TIME 2-3 hours).
The Bern Bundeshaus is a symbol of Bern and the seat of the Swiss Government. Even if you don’t have a particular interest in politics, the beautiful architecture with stained glass is definitely worth seeing. But people don’t just come here for the architecture. They also come for the beautiful fountains, terrace and views of the Marzili public baths. Just behind the building is a stunning view of the city. Visit Bern in the winter for the ice rink or in the summer for typical Bernese markets. It’s an easy walk from the train station too. (TIME 1-2 hours).
This is one of the city’s most beautiful parks. Named so because it is home to over 200 roses. You’ll also find a pond with water lilies and a pavilion. There is also a reading garden for those who want to relax amongst the blooming flowers. The view from here is pretty spectacular and you can see the old town but it can be a bit steep uphill. Don't take your heels as the path is made from cobblestones. (TIME 1-2 hours).
N.b. Bärengraben is one of the most popular Bern attractions. This bear enclosure is where you can see bears in Bern. Girl about the Globe has a policy of not endorsing zoos.
Things To Do in Bern
Escape the crowds
Bern is not really a crowded city, unless there’s a special event happening that day. So you’ll never have to wait for hours to get into a given place.
At the Weiddenstein. Take a day trip to the 1284m peak with panoramic views of the Jura Mountains, Bern, and surrounding lakes.
Get a great view
• The Rosengarten or behind the Parliament “Bundeshaus” or on top of the Gurten. The latter is a great place to catch a sunset.
• Climb the steps inside the Bern Münster for beautiful panoramic views of the city and the mountains.
Interact with the locals
At Turnhalle. The name literally means “gym” and it’s actually an old high school gym that has been turned into a bar/club. The atmosphere is very relaxed and people often go there after work to grab a drink or two. No need to get all dressed up, converses are more than welcome there. Check out their website to see if there’s anything interesting that night.
Places to enjoy the sun
There are so many places to go when the sun shines. Chill in the Rosengarten or the botanical garden, a 5 acre area of oasis. During the summer you’ll find the locals swimming in the Aare river. A place in Bern where they like to go for a swim or just sunbathe in Marzili but it can get more crowded than the river.
If you are in the old town on Tuesday and Saturday mornings, you’ll find markets at the Bärenplatz, Bundesplatz and Münstergasse.
Bern Activities For All Solos
If you are need somewhere to run, jog along the Aare and the Monbijou area or bike it instead. The area is well sign-posted and you’ll find directions to surrounding towns and also a time estimation so you’ll know how long it will take to get there.
If you are feeling adventurous rent an inflatable boat in Thun and let the currents of River Aare take you along the river. Some of the areas can be a bit tricky.
If you fancy flying through the sky on a zip-line head to Seilpark. There’s also a fox trail to explore the city.
Arty & Museum GatG
If you are interested in Albert Einstein, visit the Einstein Museum Bern where Albert Einstein once resided. It is thought that he came up with his theory of relativity during his time in Bern. You may even find yourself getting inspired over a coffee and pastry within the Einstein cafe.
If you have time the Bern Historical Museum is one of the country’s most important museums and has half a million artefacts from the Stone Age to the present time.
If you like fine art, the Kunstmuseum is the oldest museum in Switzerland. The museum has a good collection of Swiss art and displays artwork from the Middle Ages to the present day.
Even if you don’t go inside it’s worth paying a trip to see Zentrum Paul Klee just for the beautiful, wavy architecture. Designed by an Italian architect and dedicated to Paul Klee, a Swiss-German artist who was also a philosopher and poet. Entrance is covered by the Swiss travel card and your ticket may also give you access to the Kunstmuseum too. Take bus number 12 to reach here.
If you like swimming and are in Bern in the summer, the outdoor pools are open and free.
During March to October at Bern Rollt stations you can rent a bike for free for 4 hours. You just pay a deposit of 20 CHF and can explore the neighbouring towns and scenery.
From Christmas markets to the Bern Carnival, you’ll find plenty of cultural festivals in this Swiss capital which are on year-round. If you like jazz you’ll love the Bern International Jazz Festival. They even have their own Grand Prix! Find out more about the events in Bern.
Take a free Bern walking tour of the old town to find out more about the history of this Swiss capital which dates back 800 years. If you like the walking tour Bern, you just leave a tip at the end.
Bern is surrounded by nature. Follow the River Aare for a nice walk whichever direction you take. There’s also the Bremgarten forest, the Gurten or the botanical garden for some instant nature.
Most shops are located in the old town, particularly Marktgasse which is the main street and where you’ll find stores like H&M, Mango etc… If you are a mall goer there’s the Westside mall which is not in the city centre and easily accessible via public transport. Take tram number 8 from the main station and get off at the last stop. If you’re in Bern at Christmas time, take advantage of the shopping at the Christmas markets.
Inside the Westside mall you’ll find the Bernaqua Erlebnisbad & Spa. But if you want to experience a hamman, head to the Okotogon Hamman where you can experience a whole body soak and other treatments. Just 30 minutes outside of Bern is Solbad Schönbuhl, the largest natural brine spa with salt pools and a herbal steam bath. Enjoy being pampered with bubble jets and outdoor and indoor baths.
Order fine wine or a glass of champers from the Allegro Bar where you won’t look out of place on an early evening. You can enjoy a glass of vino listening to the live music too.
Have a tourist moment
Staring at the astronomical clock at the Zytglogge in the Old town whilst waiting for the chimes. As one of the Bern tourist attractions, you don't need to worry about missing it either as the right time is indicated by all the other tourists waiting.
Don’t have much time?
You really don’t need a lot of time in Bern; one afternoon is enough to visit the old town.
Where to wear your heels
At the Sky Terrace. If you like to enjoy a smoothie or cocktail with a good view, you’ll find this swanky place at the top of Schweizerhof Hotel Berne.
Where to meet others
It’s easy to meet others on Meet Up which holds language events every Thursday. Just turn up at the bar and pay your 5 CHF and strike up a conversation with new people.
Get Your Guide – Get Your Guide helps you to discover the Bern Switzerland attractions. Choose from a Bern city tour through the medieval centre, a 90 minute tour around the Old Town, a Ztyglogge tour through the Clock Tower, or an audio guide tour. If you're unsure what to do in Bern, there are several to choose from and it’s really simple to use. Just check the reviews, price and availability then book online. Read my review or click the link below.
Viator – Viator are similar to Get Your Guide. They are an American company and a tour platform with more than 345,000 tours and worldwide activities including Bern sights. Some of the tours have a minimum of 2 people but there are plenty of tours in Bern to book as one person including day trips from Bern to Zermatt Village or on the Glacier Express. Read my Viator review or click the link for all their tours.
Accommodation in Bern Switzerland
Where To Stay in Bern
The heart of the old town is a good place to stay if you are short on time as it is more touristy and easy to see everything from here. Other good areas to stay are Monbijou, Breitenrain, Länggasse. You'll find all types of hotels in Bern Switzerland from 3 star cheap hotels in Bern to 5 star hotels with a spa, apartments, B&Bs and hostels.
There's also Airbnb which offers rental accommodation on a short-term basis and rooms with a local. You can stay in a private room in a local's house or rent their whole apartment. Save $20 off your first stay with this Airbnb link.
All of the accommodation below have been recommended by solo female travellers from our Girls about the Globe community and come with a Solo Female Friendly endorsement.
If you are looking for somewhere to stay in the centre of the city, this backpackers hotel is in a great location. The staff are really friendly and they have female-only dorms. There is a nightclub downstairs so be prepared to party if you stay here.
- Prices from €34 for a bed in a 6-bed dorm room
- Check prices, dates and availability: Bern Backpackers
Hotel Marthahaus is one of the popular hotels in Bern with solos. They offer rooms with private or shared bathrooms and is popular with solos. There is free tea and coffee and a complimentary breakfast. Plus you also get a ticket for the bus and tram so you can get around the city but it’s only a 10 minute walk to the old town from here.
- Prices from €80 p/n for a standard single room with shared bathroom
- Check prices, dates and availability: Hotel Marthahaus
If you need somewhere quiet these apartment are perfect. They are near the tram and there is a large garden to chill out in. The beds are comfy and the rooms are super clean, plus you can enjoy a view of either the garden or mountains. You may even get a cuddly bear in your room!
- Prices from €85 p/n for a queen room with a shared bathroom
- Check prices, dates and availability: Max Aviation Apartments
What To Do in Bern At Night
Wile away an evening at the oldest music club in town. Listen to funk, soul, jazz or the blues. The club was founded in 1968 and is popular with performing artists. You can get a good view of the the old town from the terrace too.
Experience some decadence at Marians Jazzroom. Sit at the bar solo and listen to one of the two concerts which are performed daily. If your time here is limited then reserve before you go.
For Bern nightlife, if you like cocktails and Cuban music head to the Cuba Bar for a touch of the Caribbean in Switzerland. If the weather is nice you can sit outside and enjoy a Summer’s evening.
Where To Eat in Bern
Being in the Swiss German part of Switzerland, the food here is very similar to that found in Germany and Austria. In winter you’ll find raclette or cheese fondue. During the summer months the typical food tends to be barbecued meat and grilled sausages. All year round you’ll find spätzli (short egg noodles), cordon bleu and schnitzels.
Most Bern restaurants offer vegetarian dishes and even vegan ones. It’s always an idea to book if your time is limited here to ensure you get to try your favourite cuisine.
Restaurants in Bern Switzerland
$$ – Way to India. Located in the middle of the Old Town this restaurant serves authentic Indian tastes. The staff are friendly and you’ll find the portions quite big. Find at Baerenplatz 3.
$$ – Brasserie Chez Edy. If you like seafood this brasserie is famous for its moules. Located in the middle of the Old Town it serves good seafood and French and European dishes in a friendly atmosphere. Find at Barenplatz 21.
$$ – Fugu-Nydegg. This Thai restaurant in the old town offers good Thai food in generous portions. It’s a great place to get a pad thai or green curry with friendly staff if you are dining alone. Find at Gerechtigkeitsgasse 16.
Restaurants for typical cuisine
$$ – Suder. For Swiss and European food, this restaurant Bern offers excellent food with a fast, friendly service. It is a bit expensive but they use local ingredients and the sorbet is delicious. Find at Weissensteinstrasse 61.
$$ – Klosterli Weincafe. Dine al fresco in style. Serving European and Swiss food, this cafe is also a wine bar with a relaxed atmosphere. Find at Kloesterlistutz 16.
$$ – Volkshaus Bern. You’ll find Swiss and European food in this friendly restaurant. They offer a menu of the day which includes a soup and salad and a main dish. Enjoy wine of the month or a Swiss beer with your Swiss food. Find at Zeughausgasse 9.
$$ – Arirang Restaurant. You may not have expected a South Korean restaurant in Bern but this one offers vegetarian dishes. It can get crowded at lunchtimes and don’t expect big portions. Find at Hirschengraben 11.
$$ – Tibits. Has a good choice of vegetarian and vegan options. You pay by the weight of the food and the food is labeled. You can take out too. Find at Bahnhofplatz 10
Enjoy a Coffee and a Cake
Confiserie Eichenberger – It may look as though it needs refurbishing inside but this tea shop is one of the city’s best bakeries. You should definitely try one of the chocolates of which there is a huge variety of different chocolates. Find at Bahnhofplatz 5.
Street Food – Street food isn’t common here but Bern does hold street food festivals a few times each year. Check out Bärenplatz for a few stands such as Jamaican and Mexican cuisine.
Where to Drink
Bars in Bern
If you like beer then you’ll probably love Altes Tramdepot, an integral part of the Bernese gastronomic scene. You can enjoy a home-brewed beer whilst admiring a view of the old town and the atmosphere is friendly too.
Hang out in style at the Sky Terrace at the top of Schweizerhof Hotel Berne. You’ll find smoothies amongst the cocktail list as well as snacks and it’s open all day.
Lounge the night away at the Galerie Bar and Lounge where you can mix with a sophisticated crowd and enjoy an aperitif or two. There’s also an impressive range of many whiskies or cocktails.
Getting Around Bern
Bern isn’t that large so you can cover the whole city within 3-4 hours. There is a good network of public transport such as trains, buses and trams and your tourist accommodation may give you a Bern Ticket which allows you to travel for free within certain zones.
You can catch a train to Bern directly under the airport; just follow the arrows. There is an airport bus which takes approx 20 minutes. You can purchase your ticket over the counter at the airport. A single ticket costs approx 8 CHF. Taxis cost approx 65 CHF.
There are many possible destinations by train. You can head down to Lausanne or Geneva or to the Swiss Italian region instead. The Swiss train system is excellent. There are also regular direct trains to main cities in Italy, Germany and France. You can reach Milan in just 3 hours. If you are planning on seeing more of Switzerland look at a Swiss Pass.
* Use Rome2Rio for your onward journeys
Have you been to Bern? I'd love to hear your favourite places to see in the comments.