Things to do in Bern if you have a Bern Belp Airport Layover or Extended Bern Belp Airport Stopover
If you have a layover at the Bern Airport, consider taking the opportunity to get out and about to see the local sights. Switzerland's capital city has an excellent public transportation system, with frequent local city services provided by trams, trolleybuses and buses, together with an S-Bahn rail system for longer journeys into the surrounding suburbs. There's plenty to to see and experience in Bern, so take advantage of any extra time to see what you can.
The centre of Switerzerland's capital city is easily accessible by foot. You can get around the main shopping area and restaurants simply by walking. The remarkable design coherence of the Berne's old town has earned it a place on the UNESCO World Heritage List. It features 4 miles of arcaded walkways along streets decked out with fountains and clock-towers.
Tick Tock, Check out the Clock
Zytglogge, the Clock Tower near the centre of the old town, was built around the turn of the 13th century, and is a great thing to see. On the hour, every hour throughout the day, there is a stunning display of early animatronic technology. A few minutes before the hour, it begins with a little song and some drumming by a jester on top. On the hour, bears and an old bearded king get into the act. It's great for kids to see. The clock tells time too, as well as the month, day, sign of the zodiac and phase of the moon. There are guided tours inside the tower that will let you have a look at the clockwork while the show is displayed outside. It can be booked at the tourist office and is definitely worth it if you love mechanics.
Albert Einstein rented this small flat with his wife during his years working at the Swiss patent office. Their first child, Hans Albert, and the special and general theories of relativity were born here, where Einstein's writing desk overlooked the busy street and its lovely clock-tower. There are numerous photos and original documents from Einstein's life, work, and speeches. Closed January. Closed on Sundays in March and February.
Berne Historical Museum
The Berne Historical Museu, is Switzerland's second largest historic museum, combining under one roof one of the country's most important ethnographic collections together with the Bernese historical collections from prehistory to the present day. Closed Monday.
Zentrum Paul Klee
The Paul Klee centre (Zentrum Paul Klee) which is in a modern wave-shaped building presents the world's most important collection of works by Paul Klee (rotating exhibition drawn from 4000 works, or 40% of his oeuvre). Closed Monday.
Catch the View from Gurten
The Gurten is a lovely hill just outside the city offering a great view over the city on one side and a nice panorama of the Bernese alps on the other. The park is visited heavily by locals to play ball, to barbecue or to just lie in the sun. Hiking paths lead in all directions and you will almost certainly stumble across some cows when walking around. A wooden look-out tower allows an even better panorama than that you would already have. If you get hungry or thirsty, a good budget restaurant service and self-service provides you with all you need. Families with children should not miss the cool playground. The Gurten can be easily reached with tram number 9 from the railway station in Berne in direction Wabern. Exit the tram at station Gurtenbahn and walk a few steps up the hill. Then take the Gurtenbahn, a panorama train that will bring you on top in just 5 minutes.
Go Swimming in the River Aare
On hot summer days, let yourself drift for some kilometers in the river Aare. Good (and safe) stretches are between the Kornhausbridge and the public pool of the Lorraine (old fashioned swimming pool just next to the river) and between the Eichholz and the public pool of the Marzili. Other stretches such as swimming the bend around the old town (starting at the "Englische Anlagen" to the Lorraine) or the "Bremgartenschlaufe" are only to be done by good swimmers accompanied by experienced locals.
Tip: Entrance to public pools is free of charge. This makes it a good idea to choose a swim that ends at a public pool so you can have a shower afterwards.
As always, make sure you leave plenty of time to get back to the Bern Airport and clear security in time for your connecting flight. Enjoy your transit city rather than whiling away the time leaning up against your luggage in the departures lounge.
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