Berne Travel Guide


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Bern, Switzerland

 

Bern is the capital of Switzerland and seat of the Swiss government (French: Berne).  Bern is situated to the west of the centre of the country between the Jura mountain range and the Alps.  With its medieval architecture, covered arcades, cobbled streets, fountains and many historic buildings, Bern’s historic Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The river Aare surrounds part of the Old Town.  As with many cities in Switzerland, Bern is renowned for its high quality of life.

 

Attractions in Bern include the twelfth century medieval clock tower with astronomical clock, Federal Palace and fountains (government and parliament), Gothic cathedral, town hall, its many museums, Garden of Roses, concert hall, theatres, botanical gardens and Albert Einstein House.  Chocoholics will be interested to know it is also the birthplace of the Toblerone chocolate bar.  The bear is the heraldic symbol on the Bern flag and coat-of-arms, stemming from Bern’s ancient association with bears and its Bear Pit – which is no longer occupied.

 

Bern hosts film festivals and many music festivals throughout the year, as well as a carnival and market. There is plenty to delight shoppers in Bern, with many large and unique vaulted arcades and shops.  The city’s streets have a variety of restaurants, bars and cafes to watch the world go by and a market, which is held twice weekly. 

German is the official language of Bern, although the spoken language is mainly a dialect known as Bernese German, and French and English are also widely spoken. Currency is the Swiss franc. 

 

Parking in Bern can be expensive and hard to find but park-and-ride facilities are available.  Bicycle rentals are also available, which provide a relaxing way to see the city.

The Swiss are renowned for having everything work like clockwork, and the public transport system is very good.  There are trams, buses, trains and a funicular.  The Old Town is connected to the newer districts via several bridges.  Bern also has a small international airport, known as Bern-Belp, which is situated on the outskirts of the city

Travelling and staying in Switzerland is not inexpensive so those on a budget may need to shop around for affordable eateries.  There is a smoking ban in most public places in Switzerland, including bars and restaurants – unless otherwise posted.  Many ski resorts and beautiful places are within a day trip of Bern, such as Gstaad, Interlaken, and Grindelwald.

 

Before travelling to Switzerland, visitors are urged to visit the website of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) for updated travel advice and information as part of their ‘Know Before You Go’ campaign.   

Although Switzerland is not a member of the European Union, the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is valid.  However, the EHIC should not be used as a substitute for comprehensive travel insurance. 

Visitors should be aware that even though the EHIC is valid it is normally required in Switzerland for payment to be made upfront for emergency medical treatment, and this can be claimed back upon your return. See the FCO website for further details and a link to the Department of Health website.  It is also required that visitors pay half of the cost for ambulance transport, including air ambulance.
  
The EHIC does not cover ongoing medical treatment or non-urgent treatment, air ambulance or repatriation costs.  It is therefore wise for visitors to obtain travel insurance, which also provides cover for many other common travel mishaps such as lost luggage, cancellation and curtailment, liability and legal expenses. 

 

 

European Health Insurance Card

 

Visitors with a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) are entitled to free emergency medical care, but this should never be used in place of comprehensive travel insurance.  For example, the EHIC does not cover travel problems such as lost or stolen luggage or property, cancellation and curtailment, and expensive matters like personal liability, legal costs, ongoing or non-urgent medical care, air ambulance and medical repatriation.

 

 

 

 

 



 

Disclaimer: While we have tried to ensure the information in this Travel Guide is correct we do not accept responsibility for any inaccuracy or the content of external links.

Inclusion in this Travel Guide does not guarantee travel insurance is available in any country at any given time. Travel Insurance is not available in countries where the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has issued an advisory against travel.

We strongly advise a visit to the FCO website for updated travel information and general travel advice before you book and pay for any travel.