15 Tips for Fall in Bern
Fall in Bern is brightly colored, cozy, and enjoyable. From shopping under the arcades to the famous Zibelemärit, we offer 15 tips for experiencing a fantastic fall.
#1 Admire Bern’s Bright Colors
Fall is fantastic! And our favorite place to spend the most colorful season of the year is the Rose Garden. From here you can enjoy what is likely the most classical “Indian summer” view anywhere in Bern. Sit on the wall and dangle your feet as you take in a breathtaking panorama of the UNESCO World Heritage Site that is Bern’s Old Town, surrounded by wonderfully colorful leaves. A tip for amateur photographers and romantics: The view is particularly beautiful an hour before sunset when the medieval rooftops and chimneys around the Bern Minster are bathed in golden light. If you haven’t got your fall sweaters out of storage yet and are getting cold, head to the Rosengarten Restaurant for a warming cappuccino (or a Baileys coffee with whipped cream – delicious). The huge panoramic windows mean that the cold-blooded can still enjoy the fall views from indoors.
#2 Follow the Smell of Onions
Fall in Bern smells of onions and mulled wine! From four in the morning (!) on the fourth Monday in November, the famous Zibelemärit (Onion Market) transforms the alleyways of the upper Old Town into a giant marketplace. Local farmers bring over 50 tons of skillfully braided onions and garlic to the capital and sell them at hundreds of stalls alongside products such as ceramic dishes, “Magenbrot” cookies, and vegetables. Our insider’s tip: Start the day early in the morning with a mulled wine and a piece of onion tart. Before the sun rises over the Parliament Building, you can hunt down the best braided bunch of onions at a leisurely pace and chat with local farmers before the hordes of visitors descend on the market stalls. Some trivia for small talk: The Zibelemärit is on the list of Swiss traditions that are still followed today, officially making it (like yodeling and Swiss wrestling) one of the country’s most important customs.
10 things you should know about the Zibelemärit
#3 Down the Stairs
Fall is cellar time! When a chillier wind starts blowing through the streets and only the boldest brave a dip in the Aare, many Bernese head underground. The vaulted cellars where grain was stored in the Middle Ages are now home to countless cafés, restaurants, boutiques, and workshops. Many visitors are astounded when they descend through the initially inconspicuous-looking wooden hatch and down the stairs into a whole new world. Some examples definitely worth a look and a trip downstairs are Café Marta (the best hot chocolate in the city), Eva’s Apple (a shopping paradise for vegans), cultural hotspot ONO (concerts, lectures, and more), the Craft Beer Gallery (over 100 different craft beers), and Serge and Peppers Records (vinyl records for the nostalgic). Another particularly impressive destination is the Kornhauskeller, the city’s most magnificent vaulted cellar and, according to TripAdvisor, “one of the most beautiful bars in the world.” Whether a single malt whiskey in the gallery bar (there are 80 different types on the shelf!) or an elegant dinner in the restaurant, an evening within the picturesque Kornhauskeller’s walls is definitely one for the fall bucket list.
#4 Be Enchanted
Brightly colored, inspiring, creative, breathtaking: the Rendez-vous Bundesplatz captivates over 500,000 people every fall. From October 19 to November 24, 2018, this spectacular sound and light show is returning to show the Parliament Building in a truly special light. This year’s theme promises emotions and bittersweet quotes that make you think: it will stage the world-famous philosophical tale “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. The 25 minute show is free and performed several times a day. Our tip: Before the colorful show, take a look inside the Parliament Building and immerse yourself in the world of politics beneath the impressive gold and green dome. Free guided tours of the seat of the Swiss government take place regularly.
Book a tour of the Parliament Building
#5 Stroll under the Arcades
A relaxed shopping spree on a rainy fall day? In Bern you don’t even need an umbrella. With six kilometers of arcades, the Swiss capital offers one of the longest and most charming covered shopping streets in Europe. Especially in the lower Old Town – that is, the streets below the Zytglogge (Clock Tower) – there are countless local boutiques and studios offering local design, culinary delights, and hidden gems that you won’t find in other cities. In some places here there are still sewing machines rattling away in back rooms, and the shop owner often personally welcomes visitors with a friendly “Grüessech.” Anyone wanting to discover the most beautiful gems off the beaten path can browse our shopping tips in advance online or book a “Lädeli” shopping tour with a knowledgeable local. Join Beatrice Lang – Old Town inhabitant, jewelry designer, longtime Bern city tour guide, and blogger – to discover the Old Town’s unique stores and hear personal stories from shop owners.
Shopping gems in the Old Town
#6 Enjoy a Cozy Brunch
The clocks tick slower in Bern than elsewhere. Being in a hurry or having a hectic lifestyle are foreign concepts to the Bernese. But they are not slow, as other Swiss people may tell you with a wink; they simply know how to embrace the art of living and take the time to enjoy, feast, and chat. For many people, this includes starting the weekend with an extensive brunch. While the colorful leaves fall outside, you can breakfast like a king indoors with delights such as delicious smoothie bowls, freshly baked croissants, pancakes (yum!), scrambled eggs, antipasti, and cheese from local organic farms. There is a huge range of brunch destinations to choose from, meaning that anyone (whether lovestruck, vegan, or hungover) can find the right restaurant or café for their taste. An insider’s tip: At Kaffee Montag on Gerechtigkeitsgasse you can also eat your fill during the week. The route to the restrooms here is a real experience: from what is possibly the coolest toilet in the city, you can see right down into the canal through a glass floor.
Bern's best brunch spots
#7 Explore Bern’s Museums
Bern’s fantastic selection of museums and galleries are almost a reason to secretly hope for a rainy day in the fall. A popular destination for art enthusiasts is the Zentrum Paul Klee, with the world’s greatest collection of Paul Klee’s works. The bold steel and glass silhouette, designed by star Italian architect Renzo Piano, is reason enough for a visit. Particularly popular with families is the Natural History Museum, which welcomes explorers young and old with a huge dinosaur skeleton, as well as the Museum of Communication with 2000 m2 of space housing what Blick.ch describes as “Switzerland’s most innovative museum concept” – including video karaoke! If you stroll across the Kornhaus bridge to the museum district, don’t be surprised if you come across people walking through the museum barefoot and in gym shorts. Every Tuesday morning, Bern Historical Museum hosts an hour-long yoga class, set among Buddha figures, armor, and silver bowls reminiscent of the Arabian Nights.
#8 See and Marvel
It is the landmark of the city of Bern: the Clock Tower (Zytglogge). Built in 1530, this intricate astronomic calendar clock and action mechanism are one of the oldest tower clocks in Switzerland. It is also one of the most spectacular: on the hour, many people gather on Kramgasse to watch the clock mechanism from the 16th century perform its unique spectacle. The mechanical figures with the golden hammer striking the hour, the cock, and Chronos the god of time, will delight young and old alike. What many people don’t know is that you can also enjoy this show from the inside! There are Clock Tower tours several times a day. From inside the Clock Tower, you can follow the clock’s movements step by step, from its mechanical figures to the cock’s famous third crow. On top of all that, you can enjoy the wonderful view over the capital’s streets and rooftops. In our view, it’s the perfect experience for a rainy fall day!
Book a Zytglogge tour
#9 Spend Some Days at the Cinema
Spotlights on! Once a year, Bern is bathed in pink. The shnit Worldwide Shortfilmfestival from October 18 to 28 brings short films to the big screen. The 16th year of Switzerland’s largest short film festival takes the slogan “GOING WILD,” and for eleven days and nights will transform the capital into a vibrant jungle of enthralling short film entertainment – including parties and a food truck festival on Waisenhausplatz (Orphanage Square). There will be showings of more than 200 exceptional contemporary films made by national and global filmmakers – from the visionary and astonishing to the hysterically funny. The venues are particularly creative and iconic; for example, movie gems will be screened in the majestic atmosphere of the Heiliggeistkirche (Church of the Holy Ghost). Shnit’s very own pink is a common thread running through the entire festival – from pink beer to the now legendary pink “shnit” bicycles, which can be seen all over the city during the event.
More about the event
#11 Warm Your Body and Soul
Is the cold weather getting you down? A few enjoyable hours in a spa will drive away the fall blues! One particularly unique option at the heart of the capital is the Hammam & Spa Oktogon Bern. The spa delights with its wonderful oriental architecture in an eight-story building, which housed the city of Bern’s first gas boiler in the 19th century. Its relaxed Arabian Nights-style atmosphere warms both body and soul. Top of the wish list (take note, men of the world!): the luxurious “Queen of the Night” package including rasul treatment, sultan bath, and Cleopatra massage. Other wonderful tips (from the majestic spa in the palace to the rustic “Emmental distiller sauna”) can be found in our Wellness & Spa overview.
Wellness & Spas in Bern
#12 Meet Albert Einstein
Like the idea of sitting on a bench with Albert Einstein and reading a book in the golden light of the fall sun or taking a selfie with the genius of the century? Well, now you can! For the past year you’ve been able to find Bern’s most famous resident on benches in four different locations in the city. The figure depicting Einstein in his earlier years can be found in the Rose Garden, at the BearPark, at the University of Bern, and in front of the Bern Historical Museum. The physicist was living here with his wife Mileva when he discovered his famous formula E=mc² in 1905, turning our notion of time and space on its head. Anyone wanting to follow in Einstein’s footsteps can visit the unique Einstein Museum with the world’s largest Einstein collection, and step into the historic Einstein House at Kramgasse 49 to see his original home from 1905 with lots of notes, photos, and historic documents from the era.
Follow Einstein's Footsteps in Bern
#13 Discover Bern on Two Wheels
A cool breeze ruffling your hair, the countryside speeding past, and nothing but quiet around you – that’s what freedom feels like! If you like being out in nature, you can explore the most beautiful corners of the Bern Region best by bike. Our fall tip: A bicycle trip to the Emmental. The valley’s gentle hills, lush meadows, beautiful forests, and wonderful view of the Alps are a little piece of paradise. The Herzroute by e-bike is perfect for pleasure cyclists seeking a peaceful setting with beautiful scenery, far from traffic noise and the hustle and bustle. Cheese lovers should consider a ride along the Emmental Cheese Route. The Cheese Route app helps you find your way, and also provides fascinating stories and insights into the centuries-old tradition of the famous Emmental cheese. A highlight of the route is a visit to the Emmentaler Show Dairy in Affoltern.
The most beautiful cycling routes
#14 Discover Local Design
From November 2 to 4, Langenthal – a small city near Bern – becomes an international meeting point for design and architecture fans. More than 70 national and international brands and reputable universities and design studios invite visitors to join in, touch, test, and be amazed. Designers’ Saturday is not a mere product show held in an anonymous exhibition center; the six local design industry workshops where the design takes place offer wonderful installations and amazing products to around 15,000 visitors. This design fair takes place in Langenthal for a good reason: just a 30-minute train ride from Bern, it is home to numerous innovative and world-renowned design companies, such as Création Baumann, Hector Egger Holzbau, Ruckstuhl, Girsberger, and Glas Trösch. If you miss Designers’ Saturday, there are other opportunities to take a look behind the scenes. The “Langenthal Design Tour,” which can be booked all year round, visits showrooms and production areas and sheds light on the path from idea to finished design product.
#15 Take a Stroll on the Gurten
What’s the perfect place to start a leaf fight, fly a kite, or just be a kid (again)? Bern’s local mountain, the Gurten. Whether you’re out with the baby stroller, walking your dog, or wandering hand-in-hand with that special someone – plenty of relaxing activities await you high above the city on sunny Sundays. The Gurten – where around 80,000 music fans gather each summer for the Gurtenfestival – also offers a wonderful way to enjoy the outdoors on fall days. The Gurten makes a perfect day out for the young (and young at heart). Beneath the colorful trees, thousands of rustling leaves await being blown about. There is also a toboggan run, and around 22 attractions – 20 of which are free – invite children to explore and run wild after a nice fall walk. A highlight is the famous ball run, a type of oversized Tinguely machine with almost 300 meters of track. The Gurten, standing at 860 meters above sea level, can be reached within 20 minutes from Bern main station (take the S3/31 to Wabern or tram 9 to the Gurtenbahn station, and then take the funicular up the mountain).