Bern is the capital of Switzerland, but with a population of only about 130,000 it’s not one of the country’s top attractions. This isn’t to say that Bern is not a gorgeous and tourist-friendly destination though. Having been founded in the late 12th Century A.D. as part of the Holy Roman Empire, Bern has more than its fair share of historic architecture combined with the general Swiss knack for organization.

What To Do

The old town itself is so impressive it earned itself a UNESCO World Heritage Site designation. There are four miles of arcaded walkways in the center. The clock tower in the center is one of the top attractions in this area. It begins a whole animated scene a few minutes before the top of each hour and is especially interesting for children. Guided tours are available of the clocks inner workings as well.

You can take a guided tour of the parliament buildings when they are not officially in session. Einsteinhaus is another interesting attraction in the old town. This is the small flat Einstein lived in with his wife while he was working for the Swiss Patent Office. There is an excellent museum of fine arts in Bern that is noted for its Klee collection.

Getting There

Bern does have a small international airport (code: BRN) so you can book a flight from several European capitals and nearby cities, but the majority of people will arrive by train. It’s usually cheaper to book a flight into Zurich and then take the 80-minute journey by train into Bern itself.

Where To Stay

There are a variety of hostels in Bern, which is a good thing because this, being Switzerland, is not a cheap city. There are of course plenty of hotels in Bern as well. As with anywhere, during peak seasons the better and cheaper places fill up far in advance so plan ahead.