13 Recommendations for a Wonderful Autumn in Bern
The leaves are changing colours, the Aare river becomes too cold for swimming – time to discover Bern in autumn! Here are our 13 seasonal recommendations for autumn in Switzerland’s capital.
#1 Stroll through Bern’s Farmer’s Markets
Freshly baked bread, delicious cheese, specialties from in and around Bern, colourful cut flowers: Bern’s farmer’s markets are not only a treat for the eyes and stomach, they also show a very personal side of the capital. The markets in Bern’s Old City take place on Tuesdays and Fridays and have been part of Bernese everyday life for over 100 years. What makes a visit so special? There’s always time for a chat with a farmer or a market-woman – after all, Bern is the capital of relaxedness. While shopping, recipes are exchanged and there’s some shoptalk about gardening. You might even be handed a slice of cheese to snack on or an extra flower for your bouquet. Whether you’re from Bern or just visiting – going to the farmer’s market is a must-do!
Visit Bern’s farmer’s market
#2 I Smell Onions
Bernese autumns smell of onions and mulled wine! Every year on the fourth Monday in November, 25 November 2019 this year, the traditional Zibelemärit (Onion Market) turns the streets and alleys of the Old City into one great marketplace. Farmers from the area bring over 50 tons of skillfully braided onions and garlic to the city and present them at their market stalls. Visitors who want to experience Zibelemärit like the locals better get up early: the pilgrimage to the Old City begins at 4:00 a.m. and is accompanied by mulled wine and a slice of onion tart to start off the day. In the early morning hours, before the sun goes up behind the Parliament Building, visitors have time and space to stroll through the market, looking for the prettiest braided onions. Fun fact: the Onion Market is on the “List of Living Traditions in Switzerland” and therefore one of the most important national traditions, amongst yodeling and Schwingen (Swiss wrestling). By the way: for everyone who doesn’t live in Bern, there are additional trains between Bern and all the major Swiss cities.
10 Things You Should Know about the Zibelemärit
#3 Magical Moments
Colourful, inspiring, creative: “Rendez-vous Bundesplatz” (Rendezvous Parliament Square) fascinates and amazes over 500,000 people each year. Every autumn, the breathtaking light and sound spectacular turns the Swiss Parliament Building into a unique screen. This year’s theme is the 50-year anniversary of the Moon landing, which was also celebrated in the summer with a large science festival at the University of Bern. The show “First Step” is a story about space visions, years of preparation, first steps and the astronauts’ first contact with the surface of the Moon. Shows are every evening at 7:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. from 19 October to 23 November 2019 (except 20 October). On Fridays and Saturdays, there is an additional show at 9:30 p.m. The spectacle lasts about half an hour and is free.
#4 Along the Banks of the Aare River
The Aare – the locals’ favourite river – is perfect for swimming and floating (sitting in a rubber boat and letting the current carry you away) in the summer. In the other seasons, there’s plenty to do along its banks. Be it a relaxing stroll, visiting the flea market at Dampfzentrale, going to the movies, seeing a play or enjoying a delicious meal – there’s something for everyone. When the weather is nice, we pack a picnic blanket, get cozy on the meadow at Eichholz and get a fire started at one of the many fire pits to roast sausages and marshmallows. When it’s rainy, we take a look at Cinématte’s programme and look forward to seeing a movie at the iconic movie theatre. Our tip: on the first Sunday of the month, Cinématte always smells of fresh croissants and coffee. The large brunch buffet makes sure you start your day off right, sets the mood for a good movie – and brunch guests only pay 10 francs to see the movie. All that’s left to say is: “Action!”
12 Recommendations along the Aare for Aquaphobics
#5 Visit Bern’s Local Mountain
The perfect place to run around in the leaves, fly a kite or be a kid (again)? Easy: Bern’s local mountain, the Gurten. Be it with a stroller, a dog or a loved one: on sunny days, everyone loves to relax high above the city’s rooftops. In the summer, some 80,000 music lovers party at the legendary Gurtenfestival, in the fall, it’s perfect for enjoying nature. The Gurten is a garden Eden for little (and big) children: underneath the colourful trees, a thousand rustling leaves await. For visitors with a need for speed, there’s a tobogganing run and many other attractions – most of them free – at the playground, waiting for them to explore and have fun after the autumn stroll. The famous ball path, a kind of Tinguely-like machine, is a special highlight: you can turn the cranks, shake it, turn knobs. The Gurten, 860 metres above sea level, can be reached in around 20 minutes from Bern’s main station (train S3/31 to Wabern or tram 9 to Gurtenbahn, then by funicular – or on foot – to the top)
Off to Bern's Local Mountain
#6 Movies for Days
Get your popcorn! In October, shnit Worldwide Shortfilmfestival brings small movies to the big screen. For eleven days and nights, from 17 to 27 October 2019, Switzerland’s capital turns into a jungle of short film entertainment – including roaring parties and culinary pit stops. shnit offers a large selection of movies and a varied programme, showing over 200 current national and international movies – from visionary and astonishing to light and fun. And the venues are just as creative and iconic as the movies: some cinematic gems are shown in the solemn halls of the Heiliggeistkirche (Church of the Holy Spirit). In the last 17 years, “shnit pink” has become the festival’s trademark: if there’s something pink somewhere in Bern, it’s automatically associated with short films – be it pink beer or the already iconic pink shnit bikes that let people know that the festival is in town.
To the Short Film Festival
#7 Excitement around the “Weyerli”
Crazy about cyclocross: since it was such a huge success last year, the prestigious cyclocross world cup will be held at the “Weyerli” (Weyermannshaus) again this year. The green carpet will be rolled out around Europe’s largest artificial swimming pool, which is often overshadowed by the famous Marzili pool. On 19 and 20 October 2019, the world’s best cyclocross athletes will be competing against each other – and impressing the spectators with their spectacular (overtaking) maneuvers. We are looking forward to a weekend filled with action and biking skills – not only from the pros: amateur bikers can take their bikes for a spin at the “Gravel Ride” and test ride their dream bike, and kids can participate in the “Kids Cross” – who knows, it might just be the beginning of a great career in cyclocross!
To the Cyclocross World Cup
#8 Go hiking
When the leaves on the trees start changing colours, it’s time to get out those hiking boots! There are countless paths, trails and routes just beyond the city borders, waiting to be explored. Be it in the mountainous terrain of Naturpark Gantrisch, the hilly Emmental or the Bernese Oberland – the canton of Bern is a hiker’s paradise. One of our favourite routes leads from the Napf, the highest point of the Emmental region at 1,406 metres above sea level, to Lüderenalp. The 12-kilometre, easy (to medium) hike along the ridge takes about four hours and leads hikers past traditional farms and through shady forests in the middle of the typical Emmental hills. If you’re feeling peckish, we suggest you go to Restaurant Bärnsicht for Vermicelles (chestnut puree) with Emmental meringue and a beautiful view of the Alps.
Discover the Napf Region
#9 Discover Bern’s Museums
The variety of museums and galleries in Bern might actually make you hope for bad fall weather. A popular museum for art fans and architecture lovers alike is the Zentrum Paul Klee, built by star architect Renzo Piano and home to the world’s most important collection of Klee works. Starting on 20 September 2019, it will host the exhibition “bauhaus imaginista” to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the Bauhaus movement. For families, we suggest the Natural History Museum: from 14 September 2019 on, it will impress its visitors with a real-life Tyrannosaurus rex. The special exhibition “T.rex – Do we know each other?” takes families back to the Mesozoic era and lets them experience the world of the dinosaurs up close. If you like it (even more) interactive, we suggest visiting the Museum of Communication, which was awarded the 2019 Council of Europe Museum Prize. The new temporary exhibition on inhibitions, “Killjoys and Weaker Selves”, sounds very promising and will be open to the public starting 15 November 2019. With this many choices, we’re almost hoping for an entire week of rain!
Browse through the Museums in Bern
#10 Cultural Activities
“Culture” is far more than “just” museums. Bern has an impressive selection of cultural institutions for art, theatre and music fans, and they are as multifaceted as the things going on inside them. For some grandeur, visit the newly renovated Casino Bern, the home of Bern’s symphonic orchestra, or find out which play is on at the renowned Stadttheater Bern (Bern Theatre). If you’re feeling creative, go visit the studios and rehearsal rooms at Dampfzentrale in the Marzili neighbourhood or PROGR in the Old City. Our tip: every second Wednesday of the month, there’s an open-mic evening at Mahogany Hall, the city’s oldest music club, where you can sip some wine, discover musical talents, enjoy the unique atmosphere and meet new people – sounds like a perfect Wednesday evening!
To Our Culture Tips
#11 A Relaxing Cup of Coffee
A rainy fall day in Bern, you’ve visited all the museums and it’s still too early for the evening show at the theatre? Time for “Käfele”! (That’s what the Bernese call relaxing and enjoying a cup of coffee). In Bern, you’ve got plenty of locations to choose from: perhaps a café beneath the arcades, protected from the rain? Or in one of the characteristic cellars with the vaulted ceilings? We love following the steps down into Café Alpin or having some homemade scones with our coffee at Café Marta. Or maybe you’d rather go to Adrianos to drink locally roasted coffee and watch the hustle and bustle around Zytglogge (Clock Tower)? We think that “café crawls” are the new pub crawls, so we’re stopping by all of them!
To the Coziest Cafés in the Old City
#12 Gantrisch Adventures
How about a day trip to Naturpark Gantrisch? There are many exciting activities to choose from, including mountain biking and hiking. One of our favourites is the rope park at Längeneywald (Längeney forest, only 30 minutes by car from Bern). The park was damaged by a storm in 2018 and rebuilt this year. Now, there are even more adventurous rope slides, tricky routes in the treetops and even Switzerland’s highest rope park platforms! Good to know for all the parents and grandparents (who are preferably not afraid of heights): the rope park also has children’s routes, a fun playground with a jungle gym and a small shallow pool, a garden restaurant, barbecue pits and a picnic site. Our tip: bring a picnic blanket and sausages and end the day gathered around the campfire. That’s all you need for an unforgettable family adventure!
To the Rope Park
#13 Which Cheese Tastes Best?
A weekend filled with traditions – and looots of cheese. On 5 and 6 October 2019, the air of the charming town of Huttwil is filled with the smells of aromatic Emmental, aged cheese with mountain herbs and mild Camembert. At Switzerland’s biggest cheese market, some 25 cheese producers from all over the country invite visitors to taste and purchase their delicacies. Which cheese is the best? Everyone has to decide that for themselves – or they can use our tactics and take home one of each. And there’s more: fans of local artisanry and vintage objects will enjoy perusing the antiques and the suitcase market. And there’s not just cheese, but also many other specialties for visitors to “schnouse” (Bernese word for nibbling). Traditional music sets the tone and a Wheel of Fortune invites young and old to try their luck. It’s time to take a trip to the countryside and get to know Bernese traditions!