Practical Information

Practical Information

What are the opening hours for Bernese shops?

Stores in Bern generally have the following opening hours:

Mon–Wed 9:00 a.m.–7:00 p.m.
Thu 9:00 a.m.–9:00 p.m.
Fri 9:00 a.m.–7:00 p.m.
Sat 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
Sun closed

Stores are open on a few Sundays during Advent season.

Some shops may have differing opening hours. Some shops in the lower part of the Old Town, from Zytglogge (Clock Tower) downward, don’t open until 10:00 a.m. If there’s a specific shop you’d like to visit, we recommend checking the opening hours beforehand.

Which days are public holidays in Bern?

The following days are official public holidays in Bern:

  • 1 January, New Year’s Day
  • 2 January, St. Berchtold
  • Good Friday
  • Easter including Easter Monday
  • Ascension Day
  • Whit Monday
  • 1 August, National Holiday
  • 25 December, Christmas Day
  • 26 December, St. Stephen / Boxing Day
  • Tipp

    In Bern’s main station, there are over 80 shops, open 365 days a year. On weekdays, most of them are open until 9:00 p.m., on weekends and public holidays, until 8:00 p.m.

Where...

... are the Emergency Medical Services and the pharmacies?

  • Emergency Medical Services in the city of Bern

    City Emergency at PostParc

    4a Schanzenstrasse, Bern
    Opening hours:
    daily 7:00 a.m.–10:00 p.m.
    phone +41 31 326 20 00 (walk-ins welcome)

    Praxiszentrum am Bahnhof (medical centre at the main station)

    10 Parkterrasse, Bern
    Opening hours:
    Mon–Fri 7:00 a.m.–9:00 p.m.,
    Sat–Sun 9:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m.
    phone +41 31 335 50 00 (walk-ins welcome)

    There are numerous pharmacies in the city, two of which are located inside the main station. Here are the locations of all Bernese pharmacies.

  • Emergency phone numbers
    Police 117
    Firefighters 118
    Ambulance / first responders 144
    Rescue helicopter (REGA) 1414
    European
    emergency number
    112
    Poisoning 145
    MEDPHONE
    (medical call center for
    emergency medical services)
    +41 900 57 67 47
    (CHF 1.98/min)
    Information hotline
    for general inquiries
    (e.g. doctors, theatres etc.)
    1811
    Breakdown service / towing 162
    Road report 163

... is the Lost and Found?

... is the currency exchange?

You can exchange your currency at any bank or post office or at the SBB counters at the main station. 

... can I deposit my luggage?

You have the possibility to deposit your baggage in the lockers at Bern’s main station. Prices vary depending on how big the locker you choose is and how long you occupy it.

If your luggage is too valuable or doesn’t fit in the lockers, you can also deposit it at the SBB Travel Centre. Attention: the luggage can only be brought and picked up within the opening hours. Cost is 12 Swiss francs per day and piece.

... can I find (free) toilets?

Various restaurants, bars and hotels let you use their bathrooms for free. See where they are here (in German). There are toilets and showers at Bern’s main station that can be used for a fee.

... can I get (free) Wi-Fi?

Many hotels, restaurants and stores have free Wi-Fi. Bern’s main station also offers free internet to travellers: simply connect to the network “SBB-Free” and enjoy one hour of free surfing.

... can I buy a SIM card?

SIM cards are sold at the shops of the telecom providers, at post offices, supermarkets (Migros and Coop) and kiosks (k kiosk)

... can I buy stamps?

Stamps can be bought at post offices and kiosks.

... can I find a computer with internet connection? 

You can find them at Copy Quick inside Bern’s main station, at the internet café Weblane at 47 Kramgasse and at the internet café Power-Point at 16 Monbijoustrasse.

... can I get a passport picture taken?

There are several photo booths at Bern’s main station and at Welle 7. The photo store Zumstein at 8 Casinoplatz also offers a passport photo service.

... are the embassies in Bern?

You can find an overview of all embassies and consulates in Bern here.

What should I keep in mind regarding electricity and plugs?

The voltage in Switzerland is 230V/50 Hz. Switzerland uses type C (Europlug, 2-pin) and type J (3-pin) plugs. Attention: the type F plug (“Schuko plug”), which is widely used in Europe, can not be used without an adapter.

What do I need to keep in mind regarding alcohol and tobacco?

Since 1 May 2010 smoking has been prohibited in closed public spaces as well as the entire Swiss public transport system. It is still allowed in separate, designated smoking rooms, outdoors and in private homes.

Alcohol is sold in supermarkets (with the exception of Migros).

The minimum required age for buying wine and beer is 16, 18 for hard liquor.
There’s no national regulation regarding tobacco. In the canton of Bern, the minimum required age for purchasing tobacco is 18.

Is the tap water drinkable?

The water from the tap is perfectly clean drinking water which complies with the purity specifications for mineral water. The same goes for the water of Bern’s fountains, unless there’s a sign that says “kein Trinkwasser” (“no drinking water”).

Public Transit and Transportation

Train, Bus, Streetcar and Taxi

Where can I buy international train tickets?

International train tickets can be purchased at the SBB (Swiss railway) counters at Bern’s main station or online on the websites of the respective railway companies.

Where can I book seats for panorama trains?

Tickets for panorama trains can be purchased online or at the SBB (Swiss railway) counter. A reservation is required for seats in the panorama waggon.

Are there special offers for public transport?

  • If you’re staying at a hotel in Bern, you can profit from the Bern Ticket and use public transport for free in zones 100 and 101.
  • Check the SBB’s online timetable to find tickets at a reduced price (supersaver tickets) for certain connections. 
  • Municipalities offer 1-day travel passes for 51 francs, with which you can use public transport as often as you want for one day. In Bern, the municipalities’ day passes are sold by the neighbourhood centres in Bern’s neighbourhoods. Find more information here (in German).

Does Bern have a subway?

No. But the network of busses, streetcars and S-Bahn (suburban railway) is extensive and everything is well connected.

  • Tipp

    The Tourist Information at Bern’s main station is easy to find with our map.

Where are the taxis?

You can find an overview of the taxi ranks in Bern here.

Coaches and Rental Cars

Where are busses and coaches allowed to stop to let passengers get on and off?

Coaches and busses are allowed to stop on Casinoplatz, on Schützenmatte, at BärenPark and at Hodlerstrasse in order to let passengers get on and off.

Where can I rent a car?

There are various rental car companies in and around Bern:

Where can I park my car and how much does it cost?

  • In the city centre, you are only allowed to park your car in parking garages / car parks (for a fee). Find an overview here.
  • In the neighbourhoods, you are usually allowed to park your car for 1-3 hours on above-ground parking spaces for CHF 1.00 to 2.00 per hour.
  • In the blue parking zones, there’s a time limit:
    • Mon–Sat 8:00 a.m.–7:00 p.m. 1–1.5 hours
      No time limit from 6:00 p.m.–9:00 a.m. and on Sundays and public holidays.
    • You need to place a parking disc in your front window when parked in the blue zone.
    • Parking discs for 4 hours (9 francs) or 24 hours (16 francs) can be purchased at the Tourist Information at Bern main station or at the Bernmobil ticket machines.

Subject to change.

Where can I buy a highway toll sticker (“Autobahnvignette”)?

In order to be allowed to use the Swiss highways, all motor vehicles must have a toll sticker (“Vignette”). They are sold at the border, in post offices, at gas stations and online. They cost CHF 40.00 and are valid for 13 months (starting on 1 december). They must be stuck to the inside of the front window.

Overnight Stays in Bern

Where can I get an overview of accommodations in Bern?

Bern offers a large variety of hotels, hostels and bed & breakfasts – there’s something for every taste and every budget. You can find an overview here.

Where can I stay if I’m on a budget?

The following accommodations won’t strain your budget:

Which hotels have family rooms?

Rooms for families are available at the following accommodations:

Where are the campgrounds in Bern?

The campgrounds in and around Bern offer nature and relaxation. The campgrounds Eichholz and Eymatt are near the city.

Eating and Drinking

Which restaurants serve typical Swiss food?

Rösti, Fondue or a “Bärner Platte” (“Bernese platter”) – these restaurants have traditional Swiss food on their menus:

Where can I find cheap eats?

Good and reasonably priced – these restaurants serve tasty food for foodies on a budget.
If you’re looking for a low-priced breakfast, you can go to the Coop Restaurant inside Ryfflihof, the Manora Restaurant or Ässbar, amongst others.   

Where can I find the best ice cream?

When everyone screams for ice cream, head to Gelateria di Berna, Eiswerkstatt or La Golosa Gelato for some delicious gelato.

Shopping

Where’s the high street?

The known fashion chains and stores are on Spitalgasse and Marktgasse. In the lower part of the Old Town (after Zytglogge, the Clock Tower) in the direction of Nydeggbrücke (Nydegg Bridge), many treasures await, as this is where the boutiques and studios of numerous local designers and fashion labels are located.

When and where are Bern’s weekly farmer’s markets?

Bern’s farmer’s markets take place every Tuesday and Saturday, year-round, on Bundesplatz, Bärenplatz and Waisenhausplatz Squares as well as in Gurtengasse, Bundesgasse, Schauplatzgasse and Münstergasse alleys. More information on the locations and the opening hours can be found here.

Yearly market highlights are the ‟Zibelemärit” (Onion Market) on the fourth Monday in November and the ‟Geranium-Märit” (Geranium Market) in April. 

Are there edible souvenirs, too?

Of course! We’re sure that your family and friends at home would enjoy a delicious Bernese treat. For example:

Activities in Bern

In the City Centre

Where can I book city tours?

Bern’s city tours are interesting, exciting, fun, surprising, educational and as diverse as the city itself. Find an overview of the various tours here.

Are there any city tours on busses?

No, there are no hop-on, hop-off busses in Bern, and they’re not necessary: Bern’s many beautiful sights can be reached by foot. In about 1.5 hours, you can stroll from the main station all the way to the Rosengarten (Rose Garden) and back.

Are there free walking tours?

Yes. You can find more information at www.freewalkingtoursbern.ch.

Are there Segway tours in Bern?

Yes, the city can be explored by Segway on a guided tour. There are leaflets available at the Tourist Information in the main station, and the tour can be booked online.

What can I do in Bern if I’ve only got a few hours?

There are many things you can do, even if you’re only spending little time in the federal city. How about climbing the steps to the viewing platform of the Bern Minster, from which you have a spectacular view? Or visiting one of the many museums? Find more inspiration here.

Which activities are suited for (small) children?

There are all kinds of Bernese adventures for kids. You can visit Bern Animal Park, Dählhölzli or go tobogganing on the Gurten, for example. More inspiration for fun family days can be found here.

Which public indoor swimming pools are there?

Outdoors – Summer

Where can I swim in the Aare river?

In the summertime (when the weather is fine), going for a refreshing dip in the Aare river is a must for the locals. But beware, it is quite a turbulent river, so only join them if you’re an experienced swimmer, and make sure to comply with the SLRG River Safety Rules!
Here are the locals’ favourite routes for swimming.

Where can I purchase the waterproof swimming bags?

The Aare bag ‟Bärnhard” is the perfect companion for a swim in the Aare river and will keep all its contents dry. You can buy it at the Tourist Information inside the main station. Attention: the Aare bag is not a swimming aid!

Are motorboats allowed on the Aare river?

Motorboats are forbidden between Bern and Thun. Non-motorised rubber dinghies are allowed – the so-called “Aareböötle” (boating on the Aare) is very popular with the natives.

Where can I rent a rubber dinghy?

At Aareschlauchboot.ch (includes guide), Siesta Oppi (website only in German) and Aaretubing.ch.

Are there organised boat tours in Bern?

Yes, Outdoor Interlaken and Aarebootsfahrten.ch offer boat trips that are accompanied by a professional guide.

Which routes are suitable for a bike tour?

Whether you want to go for a short or an extensive tour, on a mountain bike or an e-bike – there’s a Bernese bike route for everyone.

Where are the firepits?

There are several firepits near the city:

All barbecuing spots in Switzerland can be found at Grillstelle.ch.

Outdoors – Winter

What can I do in Bern in the wintertime?

There are all kinds of things you can do. Find our winter inspiration and recommendations here.  

Which ski resorts are there near Bern?

The closest ski resorts are in the Bernese Oberland – the larger ones are Adelboden-Lenk, Grindelwald and Gstaad. You can easily get there by public transport.

If you want to stay in the city, you can head to the Gurten – when there’s enough snow, Bern’s local mountain turns into a mini skiing and sledding paradise for families.

Where can I rent skiing equipment?

Sporting goods stores such as Ochsner Sport, SportXX or the Ski+Velocenter let ski and snowboard equipment. You can also rent it at the ski resorts.

Culture

Which museums are there in Bern?

Internationally renowned special exhibitions, private collections and interactive events – when looking for the right museum in Bern, you’ll be spoilt for choice:

The 2020 special exhibitions can be found here.

The Museum Card will give you access to all museums during a period of 24 or 48 hours.

More Tips

16 Free Activities in Bern

Explore

Events

Where can I find an overview of events in Bern?

Be it concerts, special exhibitions or festivals – in our event calendar, you will find everything that is going on in Bern and the surrounding regions. Bernese events can also be found on the “I love Bern” facebook page. Bern’s top events of the year can be found here.

Where do locals go to party?

Dive into the nightlife of the federal city: night owls and party animals will find everything they could wish for at Bern’s bars and clubs.

Who is responsible for permits for events?

The city of Bern is responsible for all permits. Find more information here (in German).

What to expect

Bern’s Top Events of the Year

Discover now