As an introduction, Bern’s Old Town and the Brenese Alps are listed as Unesco World Heritage sites. Bern is also the capital of Switzerland and where the Bundeshaus (the White House of Switzerland) resides.
The Old City of Bern is built on a narrow hill bordered on three sides by the river Aare. Just over an hour and a half by car from Zurich, it’s a city with lots of stories to tell and great things to see and do.
This post gives you a little insight of the top ten things to see and do whilst in Bern. Including an insight to the Bellevue Palace. A hotel which I promise will leave a lasting impression on anyone that visits.
Keep reading for more about “The Bellevue Palace and Top Ten Things To Do in Bern “.
The Bellevue Palace and Top Ten Things To Do in Bern
and 2. Stay at the Bellevue Palace or Dine at the Nouni (voted the number 1 place to be in Bern by Tripadvisor)
Of course like any major city Bern too has an abundance of beautiful hotels to stay at. However non can possibly be as special as the Bellevue Palace. For a start it belongs to the Swiss Government which essentially means every person with a Swiss passport actually owns a little piece of it. (I have been trying to figure out if at least a door knob could be mine or only half of one – haha!)
Situated right next to the Bundeshaus (Swiss equivalent of the White House), you can imagine you see lots of interesting people come in and out of the hotel each day.
I was lucky enough to spend two nights there last week.
A little history / Fun facts:
The hotel was built before the war and used as the Swiss Army Head Quarters during the first World War. Bern was one of the famous spy cities during World War II and the Bellevue Palace is where the British/Irish author John Le Carré wrote his famous espionage novels.
After World War II the Swiss Government had no money and almost sold the Bellevue Palace to the Russians. Luckily the Swiss National Bank stepped in. It bought the property and sold it back to the Swiss Government for CHF 1!.
Throughout the hotel there are over 400 silver frames with pictures of famous people that have stayed in the Bellevue Palace. Guests include Queen Elizabeth II, Grace Kelly, Bruce Springsteen, Sophia Loren, Nelson Mandela, to name a few.
Rooms / Suites
The Bellevue Palace has 126 rooms, 25 suites and 1 real President suite.
My room was a beautiful corner suite with a view over the Aare at the front and onto the Bundeshaus off to the side. There was something super cosy about the room making me feel at home straight away. The bed was one of the most comfy hotel beds ever…
I loved the fact we had two wardrobe areas in the suite – plenty of space for everyone. Pretty orchids were placed in each room.
Beautiful marble bathroom with separate bath and shower. I was so happy to find my favourite Molten Brown amenities dotted throughout.
The President suite
You’ll have to excuse me but the first thing I had to do once entering the President suite was put on my pyjamas (available in store at Marina Anouilh).
Imagine each window of the suite weighs 600 kg. There are many more security features which I won’t give away here – but this surely has to be one of the safest President suites in the world!
Restaurants and Bars
Where we ate the first night. Vue is a brasserie offering all-day dining both indoors and out on the beautiful terrace overlooking the Aare. Each dish bears the signature of Gregor Zimmermann, and this is where you will find the most instagramable shrimp cocktail ever!
The BELLEVUE Bar
The «BELLEVUE Bar» is a living legend. This is the place politicians an important business people will sit the night before the elections to discuss who they will vote for.
Don’t you just love the Lady Rolls Royce on the corner of the bar.
Quite simply the perfect place for a spot of afternoon tea. Not to forget the Gin bar tucked in the corner with its 99 different types of Gin.
Afternoon Tea or Gin, which will it be?
Noumi Grill & Bar
Woop woop, Noumi is voted the number 1 place to be in Bern according to Trip Advisor just last month. The outdoor terrace is open on lovely sunny days, otherwise enjoy the atmosphere indoors with books and interesting objects dotted all around.
In fact looking at my photos I’ve decided I’m going to sneak in here alone one Winter’s day and simply spend a few hours reading whilst sipping slowly through one of the exclusive in-house cocktails… Speaking of which note the Horny Rabbit is not for the faint hearted – smile!
The open kitchen celebrates world food ideal for combining and sharing. Delicious flavours that take you to places far away… The perfect place to chill after work or go to for date night or even escape during lunch!
There’s a great DJ at night so be ready for a great evening if you come at night.
+41 31 320 45 45
Now for no’s 3 – 10 of the top 10 things to do in Bern.
To see all of these I was lucky enough to get my dear friend Fatima Soleil to take me on an e-bike tour of Bern for the day. The bikes were generously leant to us by the Bellevue Palace.
3. The Bundeshaus
The Swiss Parliament building. Built between 1894 and 1902 according to plans drawn up by the architect Hans Wilhelm Auer. 95% of the materials used to construct this building were sourced from Switzerland.
See here for information about tours and what to expect inside the building.
4. The Zytglogge
The Zytglogge is a landmark medieval tower in Bern. Built in the early 13th century, it has served the city as guard tower, prison, clock tower, centre of urban life and civic memorial.
Every hour, on the hour, medieval figurines appear from the Zytglogge (Clock Tower). The dancing bears, the cheeky fool and the crowing rooster have been amusing the public every day for centuries.
To find out more about the secrets of the clock tower book a tour here.
5. Berner Münster (Cathedral of Bern)
This year is the 600th Birthday of the Cathedral of Bern. It is the largest and most important late medieval church in Switzerland.
Be sure to walk around off to the right side through the pretty park overlooking the Aare. This is where the Noble people of Bern would walk after Church on Sunday and discuss appropriate marriages to ensure the money stayed within the family… You can imagine these arrangements were not always met with joy.
6. The Bärengraben
The bears of Bern have been a city highlight for over 500 years. For many years they were seriously kept in a round pit across from the old town, along the river Aare. By the year 2000 the bear pit, and the mangy, bored bears were becoming an embarrassment for the wealthy and progressive Bern.
Then in October 2009 the renamed Bärenpark opened. Bears of Bern now live in a 6000-square-meter park along the banks of the River Aare.
7. The Rosengarten (Bern’s Rose Garden)
Famous for its fabulous views over Bern. It is the ideal spot for a stroll amongst the roses, a picnic or simply lunch at the restaurant. You can see the food was good by how energised we are in the picture above – smile!
8. Paul Klee Museum
The Paul Klee Museum has been on my bucket list for some time so I was ever so excited to finally get there – although I will have to come again in Winter to have a better look at the exhibitions inside.
This is where you will find the largest Paul Klee (Swiss born, German artist 1879 – 1940), exhibition World wide – but not only that there are other exhibitions too and loads of activities/ workshops for the whole family. You might like to go on a museum night tour for a start.
9. Swimming in the Aare
According to CNN in 2020, the Aare is one of the 20 top rivers to bathe in the World. Fatima was not going to let me leave Bern without a quick dip in its refreshing waters. She even supplied bathing caps – haha!
10. The Best Ice Cream parlour in Bern
The perfect end to the perfect day – an ice cream from the Gelateria Di Berna.
The good news for those of you that are getting truly envious, is that the Gelateria Di Berna has a few locations in Bern, Basel and Zurich. Time to grab your ice-cream now!
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