Denise, the big-hearted owner of this vintage fashion store that opened in 2013, literally lays the world at her customers’ feet. The vaulted cellar at Kramgasse 21 is full of lovingly selected finds that she has brought back from her travels. These treasures from times long gone may be from America, the south of France or Rome, for example, and are all unique pieces that tell their very own story. “Mid-century” design classics and softly falling silk foulards harmonise with clothing in mint condition and colourful Murano glass art in antique display cabinets, and everything is surrounded by creative floral arrangements. Her exquisite jewellery collection is a special highlight, crafted personally by her from genuine freshwater pearls, among other things.
For globetrotters and world travellers
You can also find a multitude of cafés “underground” in Bern. The charming Café Marta is housed in an Old Town cellar at Kramgasse 8 and serves fine coffee from an Emmental coffee roastery and a wide assortment of scones. This place is also supposed to have the best chai latte in town. So, let’s snuggle down among the huge pillows and enjoy a little soul soothing. It’s the perfect stopover during a day of shopping under the arcades on the famous Kramgasse!
For cosy souls
The Kornhauskeller at Kornhausplatz 18 is the most magnificent vaulted cellar in Bern and, according to TripAdvisor, “one of the most beautiful bars in the world”. Its dimensions are impressive. The nave and the two side aisles remind you of church architecture and lend the Kornhauskeller a sacred air. Whether it’s a single malt whiskey in the Kornhauskeller Bar (80 different varieties are on the shelf!) or an elegant dinner at the Kornhauskeller Restaurant – an evening spent within the picturesque Kornhauskeller walls definitely belongs on your bucket list.
Got a craving? You’re in the right place! At “Eva’s Apples” cellar shop located at Kramgasse 63, you won’t find any actual apples but you will find a large assortment of food that doesn’t contain any animal products. There’s hazelnut butter next to coconut oil, smoked tofu next to vegan cheeses, and bulgur next to chickpeas. Vegan pet food for your dog or little kitty, as well as shoes made of vegan leather and bamboo toothbrushes are also available. A particularly practical option: If you bring your own jar, you can fill it with rice or pasta on site and avoid any packaging.
Fancy a beer? Anyone who descends the steps at Rathausgasse 53 and enters the “OnTap” beer bar is immediately immersed in the world of craft beer. There are always 12 beers on tap in the vaulted cellar, and as soon as one keg is empty, a new one is ready to be tapped. From Belgian blondes and an IPA with lactose and vanilla extract, to sour ale with mango and passion fruit, beer fantasies know no bounds here. And if your favourite brew is not on tap at the moment, you can definitely find it among the 60 bottled beers. Interesting fact: The impressive range is also available as takeaway. Cheers!
For beer lovers
A romantic ambience and a good dose of Italianità can be found in the stunning vaulted cellar of the Tredici restaurant at Rathausgasse 25. Once you descend the steps, you’ll almost feel like you’re on holiday in Piedmont. In true Italian fashion, you don’t order à la carte from the menu here; instead, you will be served an entire meal with antipasti, primo and secondo piatto, formaggio and dolce. The evening is rounded off with a sophisticated glass of wine from the affiliated Tredicipercento wine shop, which is located one floor above the sidewalk arcade.
Serge and Peppers Records
Anyone who loves rummaging through CD and record collections should head down these steps. In the dim vaulted cellar of Serge Berthoud at Rathausgasse 25, there’s music – but only good music personally selected by the boss. New releases in a wide range of styles – from indie and pop to country, electro, hip-hop and metal – are on display at Serge & Peppers Records, and everything is restocked weekly.
You seldom see so much cultural diversity in such a small space as at the ONO cultural venue. Bern’s cultural scene sings, laughs, makes music, philosophises, discusses and experiments on 30 square metres. In 1954, the play “Desire Caught by the Tail” by Pablo Picasso had its German-language première within the light-coloured sandstone walls of this vaulted cellar – then known as “kleintheater kramgasse 6”. Today, ONO serves up a colourful and rich cultural menu, from jazz concerts, photo exhibitions and improv theatre to PowerPoint karaoke and the well-established “Lesesessel” literary evenings.
For culture enthusiasts
Take off and dive in! If you descend the steps at Gerechtigkeitsgasse 50, you’ll land right in the Abflugbar. The arrangement of the seating area, bar and counter in this vaulted cellar makes you feel like you’re in an airport lounge. However, “just” ordering a Campari soda or a glass of tomato juice would almost be a shame here, because the Abflugbar serves the tastiest and most creative cocktails in town – and many Bern locals would agree.
This cellar at Rathausgasse 82 houses a very special trove of fragrant treasure. Huge wheels of cheese are nurtured for years until they mature and acquire a delicate blend of flavours. They are then sold in the shop on the ground floor. The Chäshütte is an institution in Bern’s Old Town. It has been run by four generations of the Heugel family since 1894, and as of 2014 it has been managed by the Bärfuss brothers with their boundless passion for cheese. In addition to the large selection of cheeses (the Belper Knolle is a sales hit!), other local farm products can be found in the traditional shop, such as syrup from the Sirupier de Berne, Bern liqueurs like Ingwerer and Chilli Schnouz, and homemade antipasti. The cheese cellar of the Chäshütte is not open to the public, but if you are lucky enough to start chatting with the owners, you might be allowed to take a peek.
A paradise for furniture lovers, design enthusiasts and architecture fans! Anyone who steps over the threshold of Bern’s “intraform” multi-storey furniture shop on the corner of Brunngasse and Rathausgasse won’t find their way out again so quickly. This could be due to the wonderfully winding labyrinth of small galleries, staircases, rooms and mezzanines where it is all too easy to get lost. Or, you may simply want to linger here for hours looking at the high-quality design classics and choosing your favourite piece for your own home. Our tip: A visit to the vaulted cellar on the lowest floor is particularly worthwhile.
For design enthusiasts
The entrance to the Zytglogge Theatre is usually hidden under an inconspicuous trapdoor during the day. But as twilight approaches, it’s “Curtain up and clear the stage!” There are just 46 seats in the charming little cellar theatre, meaning the stage and the actors from the “chäller-kumedi” Bernese dialect theatre association are just an arm’s length away. The Zytglogge Theatre is located at Kornhausplatz 10, only a few steps from the Chindlifrässer fountain and directly in front of the “Leichtsinn” bar.
For theatre fans
Stage lights on, let the film begin! In Bern’s Kellerkino at Kramgasse 26, you can enjoy cinematic gems in a particularly beautiful ambience on any given evening. The Kellerkino is small (not for the claustrophobic!), homely, unique and simply captivating. And measured in years of cinema productions, it’s already middle-aged! Founded in 1970, it is the first and oldest independent cinema in Switzerland. Films find their way onto the screen here that would otherwise not be seen – with a special focus on Swiss productions. There is seating for 36 people, and the cinema is open every day.
For cinema buffs
Zigerli + Iff
Our tip for anyone in love: The Zigerli + Iff elegant vaulted cellar at Spitalgasse 14 offers an unparalleled setting for choosing engagement and wedding rings. Many happy love stories can trace their origins back to this shop. The Bern family business is now in its fourth generation and has been at the same address since 1911. You can select jewellery from world-famous brands as well as individual creations from the shop’s own goldsmith’s studio.
For lovestruck sweethearts
There are countless other wonderful vaulted cellars to explore in Bern, so here’s our final tip. Stroll along the six kilometres of sidewalk arcades and don’t hesitate to duck down the steps for a peek whenever it suits your fancy. If you walk through Bern’s Old Town with your eyes open and a healthy dose of curiosity, you often come across beautiful gems quite unexpectedly. Have fun exploring!
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