10 Springtime Walks in and Around Bern
#1 For small explorers
Would you like to take a literally legendary springtime walk with the family? Then a trip into the fairyland of the Schwarzsee is just right for you! During the “Witch’s Trail” (Häxewääg), a two-hour adventure tour round the lake with a detour to a waterfall, stories of dragons and witches will fascinate young eyes. Grown-ups can enjoy the gorgeous surroundings while the youngsters amuse themselves. “I have seen and visited many beautiful places on this planet but for me the Schwarzsee is next to Hanalei Bay on Kauai in Hawaii the most beautiful place on earth” was how one Tripadvisor user raved about the Schwarzsee. The adventure locations are not in place until May, but guests are still welcome to take a little stroll year-round.
Type Loop trail around the lake Duration 2 h (excluding breaks) Distance 4.4 km Difference in altitu-de about 50 m Opening hours The “Häxewääg” is open 24/7 from May–October Difficulty Very easy
*The path is stroller and wheelchair accessible (gravel and forest track)
Starting point / end The starting point can be chosen freely. Access point at Hotel Bad or the restaurant Gypsera Refreshments Several restaurants around the lake, fire pits (free firewood available)
#2 For lovers and amateur photographers
The snow is melting, nature is awakening. The spring sunshine entices us out of our bed and invites us to drive to Lake Burgäschi, just 40 minutes outside of Bern. This moraine lake bordering the cantons of Bern and Solothurn was formed during the last ice age and, thanks to the “Burgäschi East” pile dwellings, was awarded with an UNESCO World Heritage status in 2011. It’s a wonderful place to walk hand in hand. A sea of crocuses sprouts from the ground to the right and left of the woodchip path around the lake and the Restaurant Seeblick tempts us with its culinary delights. Our tip for all amateur photographers – the reflections in the water are particularly picturesque in the hour before sundown.
Type Loop trail around the lake Duration 40 min Distance 2.3 km Difference in altitu-de about 25 m Difficulty Very easy
*The path is stroller and wheelchair accessible (gravel and forest track)
Starting point / end The starting point can be chosen freely. Suitable access points are “Burgäschi” or by the restaurant Seeblick. Refreshments Restaurant Seeblick
#3 For families
Bern’s inhabitants love the Gurten, their very own “mountain”. Whether it’s pushing a baby stroller, walking the dog on a leash or enjoying quality-time hand in hand with their sweetheart. When the springtime sunshine draws people from their houses, this hill above the city becomes alive. The Gurten is a real paradise for children as well. About 22 attractions, of which 20 are free, invite all crowds to seek them out and let off some steam. One highlight is the legendary marble run, a type of large-scale, Tinguely machine almost 300-meter-long. The Gurten (860 meters above sea level) can be reached from Bern Main Station is just under 20 minutes (S-bahn 3/31 to Wabern or by the number 9 tram to the Gurten funicular which will then take you to the top of the mountain).
More about Bern’s local mountain
Type Up the Gurten Duration 50 min Distance 1.65 km Difference in altitu-de 268-m ascent Difficulty Medium Starting point / end Wabern (Gurtenbahn / Gurten funicular) – Gurten Kulm Refreshments Restaurant Gurtners
Restaurant Tapis Rouge
Public fire pits (firewood not provided)
Other walks Once you reach the top of the Gurten, there are several other walks (wheelchair and stroller accessible).
#4 For the sociable
The sociability and relaxed attitude which typifies Bern can best be celebrated along the River Aare. Our springtime tip: A walk of about 5 kilometers to Elfenau. We start from the Bern Animal Park, BearPark and stroll through the magnificent trees of the Englische Anlagen (English Park), past the thundering water of the Schwellenmätteli until we reach the Bern Animal Park, Dählhölzli. If you feel like it, you can say “Hi!” to the flamingos soaking up the spring sunshine here. You now take the riverside path through a wonderful river wetland until you reach the scenic water-meadows and nature reserve of Elfenau Park. This is just the place to while away time on a bench between a series of small pools, expanses of reeds and ancient gnarled trees while you enjoy the view across the garden and the River Aare. And if you don’t want to walk back you can hop on the number 19 bus heading towards Bern main station which will take you there in 15 minutes. To complete the perfect stroll, stop for a snack at the Fähribeizli restaurant.
More things to do on the banks of our favourite river
Type Stroll along the Aare river Duration 1 h 15 mins Distance 4.85 km Difference in altitu-de 75-m ascent
Difficulty Easy Starting point / end Bern Animal Park, BearPark – Bus stop Elfenau Refreshments Restaurant Altes Tramdepot
Several fire pits along the river (firewood not provided)
#5 For peace-seekers
Need to escape from the stresses of everyday life and the city? Then off you go to the Zehendermätteli! This idyllic natural oasis is located in one of the River Aare’s most attractive loops in Bern. You can walk across the peninsula in about 30 minutes. If you are looking for absolute peace and quiet, you will find it in the neighboring Reichenbachwald (Reichenbach Forest) or on the banks of the quietly flowing Aare. This oasis of calm reaches perfection when listening to the chirping birds while you enjoy a cup of coffee and a delicious cake under the shady trees of the Restaurant Zahndermätteli. There are several ways to reach the Zehendermätteli from Bern. Those looking for an unforgettable experience travel by river: Take the number 21 bus towards Bremgarten as far as Bremgarten Schloss. Stroll down the Aare and cross the river to the peninsula by ferry (only possible if there is enough water in the river).
Type Stroll to Restaurant Zehendermätteli Duration 45 mins (there and back) Distance 2.6 km Difference in altitu-de 84-m ascent and descent Difficulty Easy Starting point / end Bus stop Tiefenau Refreshments Restaurant Zehendermätteli Other walks There are several other paths along the peninsula and the Aare river, should you wish to prolong your walk.
#6 For the sporty types
Those who scorn walking as too boring and want to increase their pulse rate put on their jogging shoes. Whether through the Bremgartenwald, on the Gurten, Bern’s own mountain, along the green banks of the Aare or through Bern’s Old Town (a UNESCO world heritage site), jogging enthusiasts get their money’s worth in Switzerland’s capital. Our tip: Gaze in wonder at Bern’s sights as you run the “10 most beautiful miles in the world” which form the Bern Grand Prix. Anyone not able to compete in the legendary “Bern GP” or who wants to train for this event can, of course, follow the route at any time.
More Jogging Routes (German)
#7 For those wanting to recharge their batteries
The trees of the Bremgartenwald, one of Bern’s most popular recreational areas, sway in the wind just outside the gates of Switzerland’s capital city. A perfect place to recharge your batteries. The route from Neufeld (number 11 bus and get off at the Neufeld P+R stop) is the most popular way to reach the Bremgartenwald. Then follow the signposts to the mysterious Glassbrunnen (Glass Spring) said to have restorative powers. This reputed area of natural energy attracts travelers from across the whole of Switzerland as well as locals to fill their bottles with the energizing spring water or to drink the mythical liquid direct from the spring. According to a legend going back to the Middle Ages, the ghost of a beautiful woman who died leaving over a hundred children behind is said to appear from time to time at the spring. And if we are to believe another legend, the souls of all past, present and future inhabitants of Bern are immured in the water deep under the spring. But whether you believe these stories of not, the walk through the woods to the spring provides a great way to recover from the stresses of everyday life. Our tip: Leave your cell phone at home. A digital detox will do you good!
Type Stroll to the glass fountain Duration 55 mins (there and back) Distance 3.46 km Difference in altitu-de 45-m ascent and descent Difficulty Easy Starting point / end Bus stop Neufeld P+R Refreshments Several fire pits in Bremgarten forest (firewood not provided) Other walks There are several other paths in Bremgarten forest, should you wish to prolong your walk.
#8 For puzzle lovers
Do your children turn up their nose when they hear “Let’s go for a walk”? Would grandpa prefer to spend hours indoors with his Sudoku than get a breath of fresh air? Foxtrail is the perfect solution for a different type of family outing. Intricate puzzles are solved by teamwork, secret messages deciphered, and the tracks of a sly old fox are sought after in Switzerland’s most exciting treasure hunt. Different routes varying between 2 and 4.5 hours lead you to Bern’s most attractive locations and involve the whole family in a light-hearted treasure hunt.
Type Scavenger hunt Availability Daily, starting time anytime between 8:00 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. Duration 2–2.5 hours* / 4–4.5 hours** Price Adults CHF 32.00* / 42.00**
Children (age 8–16) CHF 17.00* / 23.00**
Languages German, English, French Meeting point Bern main station Remarks For 2 to 200 participants
Suitable for children aged 6 or over
Event management flat rate (mandatory for groups of 19 people or more): adults CHF 12.00 (per person) / children CHF 7.00 (per person)
#9 For those feeling tired or hung over
Aching muscles? Or has last night’s party left you hung over? We recommend a mini-walk in the Rosengarten (Rose Garden) for anyone in need of some fresh spring air with the minimum of effort. The number 10 bus will take you there. A stroll through 223 species of roses, 200 iris species and 28 rhododendron species will lift even the most tired of spirits. If you are lucky you will witness the highlight event of the Bern spring – between the middle and end of March the Japanese cherry trees in the Rosengarten are in full bloom for just a few days. Our tip: Take your picnic blanket with you, buy a crispy “Loubebrot” at the Bread à porter bakery in Bern’s Old Town and enjoy a picnic in the open air.
MORE about the rose garden
Type Stroll in the park Starting point / end Bus stop Rosengarten (Rose Garden) Refreshments Restaurant Rosengarten Remarks The Rosengarten (Rose Garden) is stroller and wheelchair accessible.
#10 For the brainy ones
Did you know that Bern is the home of the three-time world orienteering champion Judith Wyder? Thus, the perfect city for a different sort of walk. November 2017 saw the opening of the first Bern leg of the Swiss-O-Finder with three courses in the regions of the Bern Animal Park, Dählhölzli and Elfenau. You use a map to complete a specified route and pass various checkpoints, either walking or running. The Swiss-O-Finder is open at any time, accessible to all and free. The starting point and finish of the three routes can be easily reached with the number 19 bus going towards Elfenau (the Ka-We-De stop and Elfenau terminus).
Type Orientieering Availability Daily, starting time anytime Price Free Languages German / English / French / Italian Track 1: Forest and Animals Duration 50 mins Distance 2.8 km Difference in altitude 50 m Number of control points 9 Starting point / end Ka-We-De Bern Track 2: In Duchess Feodorownas Tracks Duration 1 h 20 mins Distance 4.5 km Difference in altitude 80 m Number of control points 12 Starting point / end Bus stop Elfenau Track 3: Forest, Park and Neighbourhood Duration 1 h Distance 6.6 km Difference in altitude 120 m Number of control points 14 Starting point / end Ka-We-De Bern