Christmas Shopping under the Arcades
When looking for gifts, don’t forget to stop by the shops in Bern’s Old City after browsing the Christmas markets. The six kilometres of arcades and characteristic vaulted cellars make Christmas shopping here extra special. We especially recommend the lower part of the Old City – from the Zytglogge (Clock Tower) downwards – with its many charming boutiques, ateliers, and local shops. By the way: on 3 December 2023, the shops in the lower part of the Old City are open from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. in the context of the 1st of Advent event, with many festive surprises in store (no pun intended).
Shopping tips for Bern
How about gifting a shopping experience beneath Bern’s famous arcades? From movie theatres to cafés to the fan shop of the local soccer team: you can use the BernCity gift card to pay in over 200 places. It is available at the Tourist Information in Bern’s main station.
Gin fondue from the Matte district
It belongs to the Advent season like the Aare to Bern: fondue fun with your loved ones. Fancy spicing up the traditional fondue mix a little? We suggest a gin fondue. The gin comes directly from the infamous Matte district, while the cheese blend is from the Chäsbueb ripening cellar. Before the fondue fun begins, you will be taken on a tour of the Matte Brennerei (distillery) and enjoy an exclusive introduction to the art of gin and absinthe production – with a tasting included, of course. The evening ends on a perfect note with an enjoyable gin fondue at the Chäsbueb in the Lower Old Town. Our advice is "always be open for something new!"
Discover Creative Winter Pop Ups
Christmas in Bern is not just a time of reflection, but also one of colour, creativity, and lightheartedness, with all kinds of inviting winter pop ups. Be it in the lovingly styled courtyard of the Berner Generationenhaus (Bern House of Generations), at Øscår Elch in Ringgenpark, or with a dash of alpine romance at Chalet Alpenland on Kornhausplatz (Granary Square): you can go by on any day of the week to find hot mules, mulled beer, punch, raclette, and many other winter treats. Enjoy!
Bernese Winter Pop ups
Øscår Elch 18 November to 23 December 2023
Winter in the Bern House of Generations 1 December 2023 to 29 February 2024
At the Station Square
Chalet Alpenland 10 November to 10 December 2023
Kornhausplatz (Granary Square)
Platzhirsch 1 December to 23 December 2023
Waisenhausplatz (Orphanage Square)
Bim Portier November 2023 to February 2024
Outdoor area Freibank im Wankdorf
Bern’s Christmas Markets and more highlightsReady, set, Christmas markets – you can find all relevant information on Bern’s Christmas markets here. Let’s enjoy this magical run-up to Christmas.Bern’s Christmas Markets and more highlightsMore
Fondue Fun in Bern: Tips for the city and the regionIn a gondola high above a sea of fog or very traditional in a restaurant – we’ll tell you where you can have the best fondue experiences in the city and region of Bern.Fondue Fun in Bern: Tips for the city and the regionMore
NICHTS («NOTHING») at the Museum of Communication
A business lunch here, a chat over mulled wine there, baking some biscuits in between, wrapping presents etc. – the run-up to Christmas is magical, but it can be a bit much sometimes. So, it’s very fitting that the Museum of Communication looks into NICHTS («NOTHING») in their current exhibition and presents seemingly nothing in an unusual way. Nothingness accompanies us in all facets of our everyday lives. On a small scale in the form of a placebo effect, an empty space, a castle built of dreams or the almost nothingness of dust. On a larger scale you see people on the run or battling with depression, all of them literally faced with nothingness. We especially recommend visiting the exhibition during a time of reflection.
Nothing, for once
Christmas all around the World: Provence
With its annual exhibition series «Christmas all around the World», the Bern Historical Museum shines a light on international Christmas traditions. This year it takes a look at the Provence. Lilac lavender fields as far as the eye can see probably come to mind when thinking of the southern French province. However, during Christmas season, the region is characterised by something completely different: the so-called Santons. These hand-painted terracotta figurines are part of a long-standing tradition. And: there is a special exhibition with figurines decorated by Marcel Carbonel, a famous santonniers (which is what they call these special painters) from Marseille.
Christmas in the South
Take a Break
It’s just so pretty! The London Evening Standard gave Bern the title of “Most Instagrammable Winter City” – and rightfully so! One of the best places from which to enjoy the beauty of the UNESCO-listed Old City is the Rosengarten: sit on the wall, let your feet dangle and take in the breathtaking view of the cobblestone alleys and the medieval houses around the Bern Minster – perfect for escaping the stress of Christmas preparations for a moment. If you prefer a heated place to sit or a more extensive meal than a bag of freshly roasted chestnuts, we recommend the Rosengarten restaurant’s heated fondue veranda, where they combine the wonderful view with an equally wonderful fondue.
Kunsteisbahn BundesplatzFrom 16 December 2023 to 10 February 2024, current and aspiring ice princesses and princes meet in front of the majestic Parliament Building for some ice skating.Winter Activities, Why Bern?Skating Rink on Parliament SquareKunsteisbahn BundesplatzMore
Langnau Skating RinkFor Langnau’s locals, their ice rink is the highlight of the season, as well as a relaxed place to meet with relatives or friends and spend a fun afternoon on the ice. The rink is cleaned and maintained several times a day so that you can skate to your heart’s content.Winter Activities, Why Bern?Langnau Skating RinkLangnau Skating RinkMore
Ochlenberg Christmas Trail
If you’re in the mood for a Christmas stroll away from the holiday hustle and bustle, visit the Ochlenberg Christmas Trail: Over the course of eight stations and about one hour, this 1.5-kilometre loop tells the Christmas story, captivating visitors with the lovingly designed stations and figurines made of wool. This Christmas experience is particularly splendid in the evening, when the little houses are lit up. Make sure you stop by the “Hof-Beizli” bistro on the Jordihof farm, which is the starting and finishing point of this Christmas experience, to warm your feet and fill your stomach with festive treats.
The Largest Nativity Scene on the Central Plateau
Every year, the facade of the Berchtoldhof in the village Bätterkinden is turned into a 16-metre nativity scene. The figurines, décor and props are all hand-made! Visitors of all ages flock to Bätterkinden from far and wide to see the installation, which tells the Christmas story from a different perspective each year. It can be visited for free every day from 1 December 2023 to 6 January 2024 from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Tip: the nativity scene sits 50 centimetres above ground, so it is also suited for children and people in wheelchairs.
Let there be light! For Caritas’ “Eine Million Sterne” (One Million Stars) campaign, a sea of candles will illuminate Parliament Square on 9 December 2023 as a sign of solidarity. Light a candle and donate a “Füfliber” (five-franc coin) to help people affected by poverty and those in need. If you want to do even more good – after all, Christmas is a time of giving –, take part in the “Café Surprise” project. The idea is simple: when visiting one of the participating Bernese cafés, you pay for a second cup of coffee in addition to your own. People in need will be able to enjoy a hot beverage for free.