15 Free Experiences in Bern
Good does not have to mean expensive – and there is plenty on offer in Bern that costs absolutely nothing. We will show you what you can experience in Bern without having to get out your wallet, as everything below is available in the Swiss capital free of charge.
#1 Public Transport
Book one or more nights’ accommodation in the city of Bern and receive a Bern Ticket for your whole stay. With a Bern Ticket, you can enjoy free travel with the trams, buses and trains in zones 100 and 101 of the LIBERO fare network. The famous Gurten funicular, the Marzilibahn, the elevator to the Minster terrace, and your travel to and from BERN Airport are also included.
Visitors to Bern can see brown bears right in the middle of the Swiss capital. The BearPark, part of Berne Animal Park, has been home to Finn, Björk, and their daughter Ursina since 2006. Small patches of woodland, plentiful bushes, caves, and a spacious pool all spread over around 6,000 square meters lets these bears live a real bear’s life. If you’re in the right place at the right time, you may even see Papa Bear Finn go for a swim. Entry to the BearPark is free of charge.
Wildly good fun! For 365 days a year, explorers big and small can discover Berne Animal Park, home to over 200 different animal species. A grill area, petting zoo and a large play area make this a perfect low-cost family day out. Visiting the zoo is free of charge, with the exception of the Vivarium and the outdoor area.
#4 Bern’s Open-Air Pools & Swimming in the Aare
Splash about for free: Bern’s five open-air pools offer some cool refreshment and, with the exception of KaWeDe, they are all free. The most well-known open-air pool is the Marzili pool, nestled at the foot of the Parliament Building and at the edge of the Aare river. In the summer, allowing yourself to float downriver in the cool water is one of the most unforgettable highlights of a stay in the Swiss capital.
#5 Guided Tour of the Parliament Building
Immerse yourself in the world of Swiss politics! Free guided tours of the Parliament Building, the seat of the Swiss government, take place several times throughout the day. Whether in the domed hall, the council chambers or the lobby (Wandelhalle), interesting anecdotes about the parliament’s work and the history of the Parliament Building await you in Bern.
#6 Rendez-vous Bundesplatz
Spotlights on! For six weeks in October and November, Rendez-vous Bundesplatz will be showing the Parliament Building in a truly special light. The spectacular interplay between light and sound enchants more than 600,000 people every year. Just stop by. You don’t need a ticket!
#7 Ice Rink on Bundesplatz (Parliament Square)
Get the feeling of the Big Apple right here in Bern. Bern offers the same attraction that draws tens of thousands to New York every year: an ice rink in the middle of the city! You can practice your ice skating in front of the impressive Swiss Parliament Building from mid-December through mid-February. Entry is free, and ice skates are available to rent at the rink.
#8 Churches in Bern
You can visit all of the churches in the city of Bern free of charge. Particularly impressive is Bern Minster, the most important late medieval church and the largest sacred building in Switzerland. You can discover its breath-taking interior for free. For those interested in climbing the 312 steps up the Minster tower and enjoying the view over the UNESCO World Heritage Site, it will cost 5 francs for adults and 2 francs for children.
#9 House of Religions
Unique worldwide: All eight world religions meet under one roof at the House of Religions on Europaplatz. Visitors can learn about Bar Mitzvahs through recordings made by young people and learn more about Sikhs through information provided in display cases. Entry is free.
#10 Playground on the Gurten
Perfect for little adventurers: Around 22 attractions – 20 of which are free – invite children to explore, play and run wild on Bern’s local mountain, the Gurten. A highlight is the legendary ball run, a type of oversized Tinguely machine with almost 300 meters of track. For guests staying in a hotel in the city of Bern, even the journey up the mountain using the Gurten funicular is free of charge (see #1).
#11 Botanic Gardens
From Switzerland’s native flora to bananas and sugar cane: In the Botanic Gardens, a ten-minute walk from Bern main station and situated right next to the Aare river, there is a whole world of native and exotic plants to discover. The numerous benches invite visitors to stop and relax awhile. This is the perfect spot for nature lovers, amateur biologists, and anyone who is looking for a tranquil oasis in the middle of the city.
#12 The Rose Garden
The Rose Garden is one of the most beautiful parks in Switzerland. Enjoy a picnic in the open air or watch the sunset with a beer you’ve brought along with you while surrounded by 223 species of rose, 200 species of iris and 28 species of rhododendrons. The panoramic view over the UNESCO World Heritage Site and the Aare loop from the Rose Garden is truly unique!
#14 The Emmental Show Dairy
Ever wondered how the most famous Swiss cheese gets its holes? Now you can find out! Visit the Emmental Show Dairy and watch the professional cheesemakers at work. You will see both the modern production technique used to make the famous Emmentaler AOP and the traditional production technique in the Stöckli (a Swiss farmyard building) dating back to 1741.
#15 The Kambly Experience
Take flour, butter, and a generous pinch of love. Kambly is probably the most well-known and most popular cookie manufacturer in Switzerland, and you can watch the Kambly Master Confectioners at work. Learn about the origins of Kambly and the Kambly Experience, and you can try over 100 types of cookie to your heart’s content!