16 Springtime Tips in Bern
#1 Cherry Blossoms in the Rose Garden
Around the end of March and the beginning of April, the Japanese ornamental cherry trees in the Rose Garden all burst into full bloom within just a few days of each other. Combined with the fantastic view over Bern’s Old Town – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – the cherry blossoms are a dream photo opportunity for visitors and locals alike. Bern owes these enchanting blossoms to the Japanese Yoshiyuki Urata. As an admirer of Bern, Mr. Urata gave the city 110 ornamental cherry trees as a gift back in 1975. Our tip: Do it like the locals. Sit on the garden wall with your feet dangling over the edge and watch the sun set behind the cherry trees while enjoying a picnic or an ice cream cone from Restaurant Rosengarten. To not miss the cherry blossoms, check out the webcam of the Rose Garden.
To the webcam
#2 The Great Bear Awakening
Two-legged Bernese aren’t the only ones with spring fever. The brown bears Finn and Björk, along with their daughter, Ursina, come out of hibernation as soon as the temperatures begin to rise. Sleepy-eyed and still a bit unsteady on their feet, they venture out into the warm spring air to explore their green domain at the Bern Animal Park, BearPark. Since 2008, these bears have been living a real bear’s life– with its small patches of woodland, plentiful bushes, caves, and a spacious pool all spread over 6,000 square meters. If you’re in the right place at the right time, you may even spot papa bear Finn taking a refreshing dip in the pool. Our tip: Enjoy a home-brewed beer, fresh from the tap, on the sunny terrace of the Altes Tramdepot restaurant after visiting the Bern Animal Park, BearPark.
#3 Botanic Gardens
Bask in the sun, breathe deeply and just let everything else go. Anyone looking for a tranquil oasis in the heart of the capital will find it at the Botanic Gardens, only ten minutes from Bern’s main station. Stroll through a variety of landscapes and admire plants from different continents, all within a few steps of each other. The cozy Café Fleuri, situated in front of the succulent greenhouse, is the perfect place to pass some time while enjoying a delicious bite to eat. A bowl of lovingly prepared Bircher muesli and syrup from an organic farm taste even better in this lush green setting. Kick off your shoes and lie in the grass surrounded by a sea of crocuses, and gaze into the sky while being soothed by the wonderful sounds of spring! And anyone who absolutely can’t wait for summer to finally arrive should head to the conservatories, where temperatures stay around 25°C – ALL year round.
#4 Experience Living Traditions
With the traditional “Frühlingserwachen Huttwil” (“Welcoming Spring in Huttwil”), from 5 to 7 April 2019, snow and the winter season are given an “official” farewell party. This year, the unique event in the charming small town in Oberaargau is celebrating its tenth anniversary. Craftspeople and artisans present their beautiful and impressive handiwork during the three-day Easter Egg Market. In addition, an Easter workshop, a presentation of small animals, and art exhibitions are held on the grounds of the Hotel “Kleiner Prinz”. It’s the perfect setting for a weekend outing to the countryside.
#5 Open-Air Catwalk
Every spring, Bern’s fashion designers present their latest collections during the unique open-air fashion show, “Loufmeter – Modeschau uf dr Gass”. On 25 May 2019, a 60-meter red carpet will be rolled out in the Old Town of Bern. Accompanied by a marching band, numerous models make their way from Kornhausplatz (Granary Square) through the streets of the Old Town, and back to the Kornhaus for the grand finale. The sidewalk cafes under the iconic arcades offer guests a front-row seat alongside the catwalk’s route. From 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. the designers will be present at the Kornhausforum, where the fashion collections can be purchased directly from the designers.
#6 Ice Cream Indulgences
Salted caramel, Amarena cherry or chili-chocolate? Such are the pressing decisions faced by the Bernese once the snow has melted away! In Bern, known as Switzerland’s leisure capital, ice cream culture is celebrated in a big way. According to the SonntagsZeitung, a renowned Swiss newspaper, the “Gelateria di Berna” serves “Switzerland’s best ice cream” – and the locals take just as much pride in their sweet treat as in their iconic Parliament Building. The owners learned their trade in Italy – and the proof is in the eating! The “Eiswerkstatt”, which serves its delicious home-made ice cream varieties right next to the Bern Animal Park, BearPark, is a shooting star on Bern’s gourmet horizon. And if you’re interested in savoring the world-famous Toblerone in the form of ice cream, you’ll find it at the “gut gelaunt” restaubistrobar on Schauplatzgasse.
#7 Getaway in the Gantrisch region
Why not take a daytrip and discover the marvelous Gantrisch region? Apart from hiking and biking, there are numerous other adventures awaiting. For families and adrenaline junkies alike, we highly recommend the Gantrisch Rope Park in the Längeney Forest – just 30 minutes by car from Bern. Its facilities have been redesigned and updated, and the grand reopening takes place on 7 April 2019. Various rope routes, Tyrolean traverses, numerous play areas and inviting spots for grilling and picnics guarantee a perfect family outing.
More about the Ropepark Gantrisch
#8 Minster Terrace
As soon as the spring sunshine coaxes people out of their homes, life in Bern moves outdoors for the season. And the Minster Terrace is a particularly popular spot. Affectionately known as the “Pläfe” by Bernese locals, the historic platform-shaped terrace next to the Bern Minster is a meeting place for young and old alike. It is full of families with children having picnics, elderly men playing boules, young people laughing by the ping-pong tables, and couples enjoying the breathtaking view over the turquoise waters of the Aare river and the Schwellenmätteli. Thanks to the large chestnut trees, you can always find yourself a shady spot. Our tip: You can order fresh tapas and home-made lemongrass iced tea on the pavilion of Café Einstein au Jardin, named after Bern’s famous former resident Albert Einstein, all the while enjoying the panoramic view in front of you!
#9 Bern Grand Prix
If you stroll along the Aare river in spring, you will likely be passed by a great number of joggers. There’s a good reason why so many locals have their running shoes on. They’re getting ready for the Bern Grand Prix, Switzerland’s second-largest fun run – and an unparalleled sporting event. On 11 May 2019, approximately 35,000 running enthusiasts from around the globe will be racing along “the ten most beautiful miles in the world”, past Bern’s key attractions – the Bern Animal Park, BearPark, the Nydegg Bridge, Clock Tower (Zytglogge), Town Hall (Rathaus), Aare river, Dählhölzli Woods, Parliament Building and Minster – and, of course, through the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Bern’s Old Town. Our insider’s tip: Join the many fans, friends and relatives in cheering on the runners along the route.
#10 Bern – The City of Jazz
Jazz has a long history in Bern. This year, the International Jazz Festival is taking place for the 44th time. However, these ten weeks in spring (11 March to 18 May 2019) are only a part of the impressive Bern jazz scene. All year long, a vast number of concerts and events are held at various locations in and around the capital city. For the first time this year, six of these popular jazz organizers will share the stage during the newly created “JazzWeekBern”. This special week takes place from 29 April until 5 May 2019 and showcases the incredible diversity of jazz. Daily concerts by artists from different jazz genres will turn the city into a true mecca for all lovers of jazz.
#11 A Walk Along the Aare
Bern thrives on a slower pace of life. Its relaxed atmosphere is best enjoyed with a springtime stroll along the Aare river. One of our favorite routes? Make your way from the Bern Animal Park, BearPark through the picturesque Matte district – did you know that this is the oldest part of Bern? – and on to the grounds of the Marzili. From there, follow the riverbank path to Schönausteg and continue to the Bern Animal Park, Dählhölzli. If you’d like, you can stop and say hello to the ibex, wild boars and over 220 other species of animals living there. The walking route continues past beautiful riverside landscapes, all the way to Elfenau Park – a nature reserve of meadows. Little ponds, extensive reeds and knobby old trees provide the perfect setting for relaxing on a park bench and taking in the view of the Gurten and the Aare. And if you’d rather not walk all the way back, just take bus nr. 19 leading to Bern’s main station (a 15 minute ride). Length: approx. 5 km.
Discover other springtime strolls
#12 Gurten Park
The Bernese have a special affection for their 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 activities await you high above the city when the spring sunshine beckons you outdoors. On the Gurten – where around 80,000 music fans gather each summer for the Gurtenfestival – you’ll have no other choice than to enjoy the gorgeous view. The Gurten is also an unbeatable destination for a day out with the kids. A toboggan run and around 22 attractions – 20 of which are free – invite children to explore and run wild after a relaxing springtime walk. A highlight is the legendary ball run, a type of oversized “Tinguely machine” with almost 300 meters of track. If you are planning a romantic getaway, we recommend you indulge in a candlelit dinner at Restaurant Gurtners with its breathtaking panoramic view over the illuminated skyscape of the capital. The Gurten, standing at 860 meters above sea level, can be reached in just 20 minutes from Bern’s main station (take the S3/31 to Wabern or tram 9 to Gurtenbahn station, and then board the funicular up the mountain).
#13 Bern Museum Night
Would you like to spend a night at the museum? You can on 22 March, when Museum Night takes place and the facades of Bern’s Old Town are bathed in magical, colorful light. Around 40 museums and cultural institutions open their doors to 30,000 visitors from Bern and all over Switzerland and offer new perspectives and an unforgettable glimpse behind the scenes. The Oldtimer rides through the UNESCO World Heritage Site are particularly popular – the tours begin in front of Hotel Bellevue Palace and are free for all visitors. Tickets for the Museum Night are available at the Tourist Information at Bern’s main train station or at the participating institutions. And by the way, why not spend the rest of the night in a comfy hotel bed? Several hotels offer 50% rate discounts on Museum Night.
#14 “Eiertütschete” at Kornhausplatz – A True Bernese Tradition
Every Easter Sunday, starting at 10 a.m., the traditional “Eiertütschete” is held at the Kornhausplatz (Granary Square), in the center of Bern’s Old Town. In accordance with the centuries-old custom, participants bring their own colored eggs and challenge their opponents to a duel. The goal of the “egg tapping” is to crack your rival’s eggshell, and whoever winds up with an intact egg is the winner – and gets their opponent’s (cracked) egg as a prize. No registration required, just join the egg-fight and enjoy this extraordinary tradition!
#15 An Excursion on Two Wheels
A cool breeze ruffling your hair, the countryside gliding past and nothing but peace and quiet around you – that’s what freedom feels like! If you love being out in nature, you can explore the most beautiful hidden corners and rural regions of Bern best by bike. Our springtime tip: An e-bike excursion to the Emmental valley. The valley’s gently rolling hills, lush meadows, beautiful forests and wonderful view of the Alps are a little slice of paradise. The “Herzroute” is perfect for recreational cyclists seeking a peaceful setting with lovely scenery, far removed from the noise of traffic and the hustle and bustle of the city. Cheese lovers should consider a ride along the Emmental Cheese Route. The Cheese Route app helps you find your way and provides fascinating insights into the centuries-old tradition of the famous Emmentaler cheese.
Discover more by bike
#16 All You Ever Wanted to Know About Cheese
Talking about cheese… How do those holes actually get into the cheese? Find out at the Emmentaler Show Dairy in beautiful Affoltern, a traditional village set in the midst of the rolling hills of the Emmental valley. Whether you arrive by bike (see #15), take a panoramic train and bus ride, or drive here along scenic routes by car (40 minutes from Bern), this is the place to discover the home of Switzerland’s most exported cheese, Emmentaler AOP. The newest attraction of the show dairy is the “Königsweg” (King’s Way), a self-guided tour where you learn about the history of the brand and how the famous cheese is produced. The interactive tour will show you what it takes to turn high-quality raw milk into delicious cheese. The tour’s highlight is a special tasting of the original Emmentaler AOP and takes place in the very heart of the production facility.