Bern is the capital of Switzerland and, handily for me, also where two of my friends live. After spending a few days skiing in Engelberg, I couldn’t miss the opportunity to take the take the short train journey to explore Bern and catch up with my friends.
As an added bonus, my friend Miles wasn’t working whilst I was visiting, so I had my own personal city guide for the day.
Built in 1530, Bern’s clock tower is probably it’s most famous attraction. It sits on the first western gate of the city, and isn’t just a regular clock that will tell you the time. It is an astronomical calendar clock, and while I admit to having no idea how to read most of the information on the clock the detail of the design is incredible.
If you’re feeling energetic, a walk up the hill to the Rose Gardens rewards you with incredible views over the city. What struck me most is the mixture of the very old with the very new in Bern. Traditional Swiss buildings with uneven, sagging roofs and not-quite square windows sit in front of large office blocks while bright red trains shuttle back and forth. In the city centre, high end retail brands are housed above creaky, wooden cellar doors that open to underground stores.
Thankfully, the torrential rain we experienced in Engelberg did not follow me to Bern and I had a clear day to explore the city. A word of warning, though, don’t attempt to tour Bern on foot unless you are feeling active. There are a lot, and I mean a lot, of stairs. While they add to the charm of the city, you do a get a good cardio workout with your tour. No need to worry, though, there are lots of cafes to stop at for a break and a cup of coffee or a glass of beer.