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Bern, Switzerland’s capital city, is quiet and not overly touristy. Its historic centre is rather grand, always feels overcast and moody (even on a sunny day), and has a variety of dining and shopping options. The bear pit (the Bärengraben), run by the city’s Dählhölzli Zoo, has been much improved – the animals have a much larger area in which to roam since 2009 when the pit was supplemented by Bären park.

There are good art museums, but the main draw is the river! For the full experience start at the Uttigen train station near Thun. You can rent a boat (try https://www.aareschlauchboot.ch/english), or grab a floaty/small boat at a store nearby. About 2.5 hours, more with stops along the way.

I’ve also toured the Parliament Building, though it’s been at least 15 years since that visit. I remember it as very fancy, well decorated, and fun because they let you sit in the seats of the parliamentarians.

Sites:

  • We like ***Jack’s Brasserie, a classic Schnitzel place near the train station.
  • **Einsteinhaus (exactly what the name implies is kind of interesting, a minor stop but gives you a good sense of what his life was like in that period.
  • **Restaurant Landhaus Liebefeld is on the outskirts of the city, in an area that was likely originally farms and now is fairly industrial. It’s a lovely historic building with a few guest rooms and quite good food – Swiss classics, as well as creative and well-executed seasonal food.
  • Definitely make a point to visit ***Zentrum Paul Klee. We loved this. Beautiful building and his art is weird and lovely. Exhibitions rotate every 3-4 months.

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