BERN FAQ`S

How do I get from the airport to my hotel?

Bern Airport is just over 6 miles from the city center. The small airport connects Bern with European cities such as London, Berlin and Munich.

The city can be reached by public transport. The airport bus takes passengers to Belp train station. From there, you can take an S-Bahn to Bern main station, it costs about 6CHF one-way. For visitors staying in Bern overnight, the journey by public transport from the airport to the city is included in the Bern Ticket.

A taxi from the airport to the city center costs about 35CHF to 50CHF.

Zurich Airport:
Zurich Airport is Switzerland’s largest airport. You can reach Bern main station from Zurich Airport train station in an hour and 15 mins by train. Trains with direct connections from the airport to the capital depart every 30 minutes.

EuroAirport Basel Mulhouse Freiburg:
EuroAirport is located near the borders of Switzerland, France and Germany. Bern can be reached via Basel SBB train station in around 1 hour. Trains from Basel SBB to Bern depart every 30 mins.

Geneva Airport is also well connected to the Swiss rail network. Geneva Airport train station can be reached directly from the arrivals hall. Direct trains to Bern depart every 30 mins. The journey takes just under two hours.

How do I get from the train station to my hotel?

Bern is at the hub of the Swiss Federal Railway network. Express (InterCity) trains connect twice per hour to Geneva, Basel and Zurich as well as Zürich and Geneva airports. Hourly express trains connect to most other cities, including Interlaken, Brig, and Lucerne.

The Bahnhof Railway Station, on Bahnhofplatz, is in a mall surrounded by cafes and other shops and located right in the center of town. If your luggage is light, you can walk to your hotel; otherwise, take one of the taxis waiting outside the station.

How do I get to Bern by bus?

Eurolines and Flixbus connect Bern to several European cities by bus.

How do I get around Bern using Public Transportation? Is the public transportation system safe?

Bern has an excellent public transportation system, with frequent local city services provided by trams, trolleybuses and buses, together with an S-Bahn rail system for longer journeys into the surrounding suburbs. Tickets are valid for all modes of transport within a given zone and time. The suburbs of Bern, Biel and Solothurn form a common public transport network named `Libero-Tarifverbund`. Tickets can be purchased as single ticket, saver ticket with six rides, day pass as well as weekly, monthly or yearly passes.

Tickets can be bought at vending machines at most stops, or with a smartphone using the SBB mobile app. They are valid for all modes of public transport within the zones they encompass.

If you are staying in a hotel in Bern you will receive a `Bern-Ticket`, which allows the free use of public transport within the city (zones 100 and 101) for the duration of the stay, including the Gurten funicular and transfer from and to the airport.

How do I get around by Trams and buses?

The bus and tram lines operated by Bernmobil are complemented with yellow Postauto bus lines connecting to the suburbs. Almost all lines are linked together at the main train station, and operate at intervals between 5 to 30 minutes. Bernmobil, (Tel. +41 31 321 88 88) operate the local tram and bus services, and provides timetables and other information on its web site or by telephone. Bern`s S-Bahn rail system will take you to many places in the suburbs and to nearby cities like Biel, Thun, Fribourg or Solothurn. S-Bahn (Tel. +41 31 327 27 27).

Is Bern a walking city?

The city center of Bern is easily accessible by foot, which is actually the most practical means of exploring the Old Town and its many attractions. You can probably tour the old town and its attractions in about 2.5 hours on foot.

There are also some great walks in Greater Bern, including Bern`s own mountain, Gurten, a popular day-trip destination reached in 25 minutes by tram no. 9 and rack railway. Once here, you`ll find walks in many directions and can enjoy a panorama over the Alps.

If I have a car in Bern, where can I park?

Bern is connected with all major cities in Switzerland and neighboring countries by a dense network of well-developed highways and main roads.

There are around 3,500 short-term parking spaces in multistory parking garages in Bern. As you approach the city from the motorway, you will see signs indicating which parking garages still have spaces available.

Once you`ve arrived in Bern, we recommend leaving your car in one of the multistory parking garages and exploring the city center on foot. The old town is a car-free zone.

In addition to the multistory parking garages, there are also signed parking zones in Bern where you are required to display a parking disc. Parking tickets for 4 or 24 hours can be bought at Bernmobil ticket machines, as well as at other locations. The time starts as soon as the ticket is bought. You can buy additional parking tickets, which start from a certain time, from the city police.

How do I get around Bern by bike?

Bern is a bike-friendly city, and most thoroughfares include dedicated bike lanes. There are a few challenging spots where bike traffic interweaves with motor traffic, but motorists are used to sharing the road with bikers and will normally pay attention. Because of the city`s hilly landscape, some stamina may be required, or an electric bike.

The local branch of the Swiss-wide bike sharing Publibike charges around 3CHF for the first 30 minutes.

How do I get around by taxi?

Several taxi companies operate in Bern, including Nova Taxi (+41 31 331 33 13), Bären Taxi (+41 31 371 11 11) and Taxi Bern (+41 31 333 88 88). Taxis can be booked by phone, or at the main train station.

Is Bern a dangerous city? Are there certain areas I should avoid?

Bern is a very safe place with nearly no violent crime, in fact, it is Europe`s safest capital. However, as it is the capital of Switzerland, it sees political demonstrations every few weeks on a variety of subjects, occasionally leading to police intervention.

While police officers in Berne will happily help you out if you are in trouble or need information, they are also known for approaching `suspicious` persons in order to check their papers. This procedure is annoying, but legal as you will probably have a hard time proving you were not acting suspicious. Carry a photocopy of your passport and your onward ticket with you, stay calm and polite and you won't have much trouble.

You should always take the usual precautions and protect your valuables.

Can I pay/tip in US dollars? What is the currency in Bern?

The currency of Switzerland is the Swiss franc, usually indicated as CHF or SFr. While Switzerland is not part of the European Union and thus is not obliged to convert to the Euro, many prices are nonetheless indicated in euros so that visitors may compare prices. Most of the restaurants, bars, cafes and clubs accept euro, but expect to pay a premium rate.

The Swiss Franc (CHF or SFr) is divided into 100 centimes (known as Rappen in German speaking Switzerland). Bills come in 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 and 10000SFr and coins are divided into 5, 10, 20 and 50 centimes and 1, 2 and 5SFr.

US dollars are not accepted. Please be sure to have the correct currency on hand or be prepared to exchange your dollars for Swiss Francs upon arrival. Currency exchange desks can be found at the airport, train station and many bank locations throughout the city. ATMs are also widespread throughout the city accepting bank cards and credit cards.

Switzerland has a reputation for being an expensive destination. Those amazing transportation options, meals, hotels and attractions come at a cost. Once you get there, expect your hotel to cost you an average of $200 USD per night and that cheap pizza at a restaurant will cost you around $30 USD.

What is the weather like in Bern? When is the best time to visit?

April through September is the best time to go to Bern. Late spring is recommended for long days and good weather. Summer is also a good time to visit Bern, the August temperatures are typically beautiful. July through mid-August is vacation season, so some restaurants may close down for times during the period.

Summer weather in Bern is known to be rather changeable, so be prepared. Rain is frequent June-August, but if you wait it out, it typically changes relatively quickly.

I don`t speak German. Will many people speak English?

Though Switzerland is not really a big country, be prepared to encounter citizens who speak different languages depending on the city you are visiting. German is widely spoken in the north, central, and eastern regions, French in the west and Italian in the south. Most Swiss speak English, so you can absolutely get by without speaking French, Italian or German language.

The main language spoken in Bern is (Bernese-) Swiss-German, a Swiss dialect of the Alemannic language. Swiss-German is mostly a spoken language, but also used in text messages, etc. In official publications and announcements, Standard German is used.

English seems to be replacing French as the favorite second language of the Bernese, even though the region in and around Bern is a bilingual German and French speaking region.

Most of the employees working for hotels, restaurants, and shops that are aimed at tourists can speak the English language at a competent level. We suggest you get a good English-German guidebook and familiarize yourself with common phrases such as hello, goodbye, excuse me and numbers 1-10.

What is the food like?

Eating in Bern (or almost anywhere in Switzerland for that matter) can be an expensive. Be sure to `shop around` before deciding on a restaurant as many of them cater to foreign tourists (especially those serving traditional Swiss food) and have inflated their prices accordingly. Most Bernese natives prefer Italian, Asian, or other non-local cuisine so finding a traditional Swiss restaurant with acceptable prices can sometimes be difficult.

We recommend you try the local specialties of the area. Bernese Rosti, skilleted hash brown potatoes flavored with bacon or cheese, it is as popular as is Valaisian Raclette. This is prepared by melting cheese over a fire, scraping it onto a baked potato and garnishing it with meat and vegetables of your choice. And no trip to Switzerland is complete without trying a `fondue`. This is a communal dish served in a pot over a small burner. There are different types of fondue, the most popular being cheese. Those eating the fondue, dip different things (on most occasions bread) into the pot. Simple!

What is the nightlife like?

Many Bernese will tell you that nightlife in Bern is not exactly what you might call spectacular, but they`re probably comparing it to Zurich or Paris. There are quite a few good spots to hang out.

For a drink or two, there`s a wide choice of bars all over town. However, you might be disappointed with most central options as they tend to be very conventional. You`ll will also discover several late-night clubs, with dancing and cabaret.

Bern also offers Performing Arts if you are looking for something a bit more refined. The Bern Symphony Orchestra is one of the finest orchestras in Switzerland. Concerts by the orchestra are usually performed at the concert facilities in the Bern Kursaal, Herrengasse 25 (www.kursaal-bern.ch). Except for a summer vacation, usually lasting from July until mid-August, the box office is open Monday to Friday noon to 6:30 pm, Saturday 10 am to 2 pm. Tickets range from 20CHF to 60CHF.

What are the best areas for shopping?

With a few exceptions, stores in the city center are open on Monday 9 am to 7 pm; on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday 8:15 am to 6:30 pm; on Thursday 8:15 am to 9 pm; and on Saturday 9 am to 5 pm.

Stores of all types are located throughout Bern. The main shopping streets are Spitalgasse, Kramgasse, Postgasse, Marktgasse, and Gerechtigkeitsgasse. You can begin your shopping excursion at Globus, Spitalgasse 17 (www.globus.ch), a major department store comparable to Bloomingdale`s, with departments for just about everything.

Note: Value-added tax (VAT) rate is 8% in Switzerland which applies to supplies of goods or services registered in Switzerland, including hotel and restaurant bills. There are no other special taxes.

What should I do if I need medical assistance or need to go to the hospital?

Police Emergency Number - 117
Ambulance / Medical Emergency - 144
Fire Department - 118
Call tel. 0900 - 576-747 for a referral to an English-speaking doctor.

Hospital: Insel Hospital, Freiburgstrasse (tel. 031 - 632-21-11)

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BERN FAQ`S

How do I get from the airport to my hotel?

Bern Airport is just over 6 miles from the city center. The small airport connects Bern with European cities such as London, Berlin and Munich.

The city can be reached by public transport. The airport bus takes passengers to Belp train station. From there, you can take an S-Bahn to Bern main station, it costs about 6CHF one-way. For visitors staying in Bern overnight, the journey by public transport from the airport to the city is included in the Bern Ticket.

A taxi from the airport to the city center costs about 35CHF to 50CHF.

Zurich Airport:
Zurich Airport is Switzerland’s largest airport. You can reach Bern main station from Zurich Airport train station in an hour and 15 mins by train. Trains with direct connections from the airport to the capital depart every 30 minutes.

EuroAirport Basel Mulhouse Freiburg:
EuroAirport is located near the borders of Switzerland, France and Germany. Bern can be reached via Basel SBB train station in around 1 hour. Trains from Basel SBB to Bern depart every 30 mins.

Geneva Airport is also well connected to the Swiss rail network. Geneva Airport train station can be reached directly from the arrivals hall. Direct trains to Bern depart every 30 mins. The journey takes just under two hours.

How do I get from the train station to my hotel?

Bern is at the hub of the Swiss Federal Railway network. Express (InterCity) trains connect twice per hour to Geneva, Basel and Zurich as well as Zürich and Geneva airports. Hourly express trains connect to most other cities, including Interlaken, Brig, and Lucerne.

The Bahnhof Railway Station, on Bahnhofplatz, is in a mall surrounded by cafes and other shops and located right in the center of town. If your luggage is light, you can walk to your hotel; otherwise, take one of the taxis waiting outside the station.

How do I get to Bern by bus?

Eurolines and Flixbus connect Bern to several European cities by bus.

How do I get around Bern using Public Transportation? Is the public transportation system safe?

Bern has an excellent public transportation system, with frequent local city services provided by trams, trolleybuses and buses, together with an S-Bahn rail system for longer journeys into the surrounding suburbs. Tickets are valid for all modes of transport within a given zone and time. The suburbs of Bern, Biel and Solothurn form a common public transport network named `Libero-Tarifverbund`. Tickets can be purchased as single ticket, saver ticket with six rides, day pass as well as weekly, monthly or yearly passes.

Tickets can be bought at vending machines at most stops, or with a smartphone using the SBB mobile app. They are valid for all modes of public transport within the zones they encompass.

If you are staying in a hotel in Bern you will receive a `Bern-Ticket`, which allows the free use of public transport within the city (zones 100 and 101) for the duration of the stay, including the Gurten funicular and transfer from and to the airport.

How do I get around by Trams and buses?

The bus and tram lines operated by Bernmobil are complemented with yellow Postauto bus lines connecting to the suburbs. Almost all lines are linked together at the main train station, and operate at intervals between 5 to 30 minutes. Bernmobil, (Tel. +41 31 321 88 88) operate the local tram and bus services, and provides timetables and other information on its web site or by telephone. Bern`s S-Bahn rail system will take you to many places in the suburbs and to nearby cities like Biel, Thun, Fribourg or Solothurn. S-Bahn (Tel. +41 31 327 27 27).

Is Bern a walking city?

The city center of Bern is easily accessible by foot, which is actually the most practical means of exploring the Old Town and its many attractions. You can probably tour the old town and its attractions in about 2.5 hours on foot.

There are also some great walks in Greater Bern, including Bern`s own mountain, Gurten, a popular day-trip destination reached in 25 minutes by tram no. 9 and rack railway. Once here, you`ll find walks in many directions and can enjoy a panorama over the Alps.

If I have a car in Bern, where can I park?

Bern is connected with all major cities in Switzerland and neighboring countries by a dense network of well-developed highways and main roads.

There are around 3,500 short-term parking spaces in multistory parking garages in Bern. As you approach the city from the motorway, you will see signs indicating which parking garages still have spaces available.

Once you`ve arrived in Bern, we recommend leaving your car in one of the multistory parking garages and exploring the city center on foot. The old town is a car-free zone.

In addition to the multistory parking garages, there are also signed parking zones in Bern where you are required to display a parking disc. Parking tickets for 4 or 24 hours can be bought at Bernmobil ticket machines, as well as at other locations. The time starts as soon as the ticket is bought. You can buy additional parking tickets, which start from a certain time, from the city police.

How do I get around Bern by bike?

Bern is a bike-friendly city, and most thoroughfares include dedicated bike lanes. There are a few challenging spots where bike traffic interweaves with motor traffic, but motorists are used to sharing the road with bikers and will normally pay attention. Because of the city`s hilly landscape, some stamina may be required, or an electric bike.

The local branch of the Swiss-wide bike sharing Publibike charges around 3CHF for the first 30 minutes.

How do I get around by taxi?

Several taxi companies operate in Bern, including Nova Taxi (+41 31 331 33 13), Bären Taxi (+41 31 371 11 11) and Taxi Bern (+41 31 333 88 88). Taxis can be booked by phone, or at the main train station.

Is Bern a dangerous city? Are there certain areas I should avoid?

Bern is a very safe place with nearly no violent crime, in fact, it is Europe`s safest capital. However, as it is the capital of Switzerland, it sees political demonstrations every few weeks on a variety of subjects, occasionally leading to police intervention.

While police officers in Berne will happily help you out if you are in trouble or need information, they are also known for approaching `suspicious` persons in order to check their papers. This procedure is annoying, but legal as you will probably have a hard time proving you were not acting suspicious. Carry a photocopy of your passport and your onward ticket with you, stay calm and polite and you won't have much trouble.

You should always take the usual precautions and protect your valuables.

Can I pay/tip in US dollars? What is the currency in Bern?

The currency of Switzerland is the Swiss franc, usually indicated as CHF or SFr. While Switzerland is not part of the European Union and thus is not obliged to convert to the Euro, many prices are nonetheless indicated in euros so that visitors may compare prices. Most of the restaurants, bars, cafes and clubs accept euro, but expect to pay a premium rate.

The Swiss Franc (CHF or SFr) is divided into 100 centimes (known as Rappen in German speaking Switzerland). Bills come in 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 and 10000SFr and coins are divided into 5, 10, 20 and 50 centimes and 1, 2 and 5SFr.

US dollars are not accepted. Please be sure to have the correct currency on hand or be prepared to exchange your dollars for Swiss Francs upon arrival. Currency exchange desks can be found at the airport, train station and many bank locations throughout the city. ATMs are also widespread throughout the city accepting bank cards and credit cards.

Switzerland has a reputation for being an expensive destination. Those amazing transportation options, meals, hotels and attractions come at a cost. Once you get there, expect your hotel to cost you an average of $200 USD per night and that cheap pizza at a restaurant will cost you around $30 USD.

What is the weather like in Bern? When is the best time to visit?

April through September is the best time to go to Bern. Late spring is recommended for long days and good weather. Summer is also a good time to visit Bern, the August temperatures are typically beautiful. July through mid-August is vacation season, so some restaurants may close down for times during the period.

Summer weather in Bern is known to be rather changeable, so be prepared. Rain is frequent June-August, but if you wait it out, it typically changes relatively quickly.

I don`t speak German. Will many people speak English?

Though Switzerland is not really a big country, be prepared to encounter citizens who speak different languages depending on the city you are visiting. German is widely spoken in the north, central, and eastern regions, French in the west and Italian in the south. Most Swiss speak English, so you can absolutely get by without speaking French, Italian or German language.

The main language spoken in Bern is (Bernese-) Swiss-German, a Swiss dialect of the Alemannic language. Swiss-German is mostly a spoken language, but also used in text messages, etc. In official publications and announcements, Standard German is used.

English seems to be replacing French as the favorite second language of the Bernese, even though the region in and around Bern is a bilingual German and French speaking region.

Most of the employees working for hotels, restaurants, and shops that are aimed at tourists can speak the English language at a competent level. We suggest you get a good English-German guidebook and familiarize yourself with common phrases such as hello, goodbye, excuse me and numbers 1-10.

What is the food like?

Eating in Bern (or almost anywhere in Switzerland for that matter) can be an expensive. Be sure to `shop around` before deciding on a restaurant as many of them cater to foreign tourists (especially those serving traditional Swiss food) and have inflated their prices accordingly. Most Bernese natives prefer Italian, Asian, or other non-local cuisine so finding a traditional Swiss restaurant with acceptable prices can sometimes be difficult.

We recommend you try the local specialties of the area. Bernese Rosti, skilleted hash brown potatoes flavored with bacon or cheese, it is as popular as is Valaisian Raclette. This is prepared by melting cheese over a fire, scraping it onto a baked potato and garnishing it with meat and vegetables of your choice. And no trip to Switzerland is complete without trying a `fondue`. This is a communal dish served in a pot over a small burner. There are different types of fondue, the most popular being cheese. Those eating the fondue, dip different things (on most occasions bread) into the pot. Simple!

What is the nightlife like?

Many Bernese will tell you that nightlife in Bern is not exactly what you might call spectacular, but they`re probably comparing it to Zurich or Paris. There are quite a few good spots to hang out.

For a drink or two, there`s a wide choice of bars all over town. However, you might be disappointed with most central options as they tend to be very conventional. You`ll will also discover several late-night clubs, with dancing and cabaret.

Bern also offers Performing Arts if you are looking for something a bit more refined. The Bern Symphony Orchestra is one of the finest orchestras in Switzerland. Concerts by the orchestra are usually performed at the concert facilities in the Bern Kursaal, Herrengasse 25 (www.kursaal-bern.ch). Except for a summer vacation, usually lasting from July until mid-August, the box office is open Monday to Friday noon to 6:30 pm, Saturday 10 am to 2 pm. Tickets range from 20CHF to 60CHF.

What are the best areas for shopping?

With a few exceptions, stores in the city center are open on Monday 9 am to 7 pm; on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday 8:15 am to 6:30 pm; on Thursday 8:15 am to 9 pm; and on Saturday 9 am to 5 pm.

Stores of all types are located throughout Bern. The main shopping streets are Spitalgasse, Kramgasse, Postgasse, Marktgasse, and Gerechtigkeitsgasse. You can begin your shopping excursion at Globus, Spitalgasse 17 (www.globus.ch), a major department store comparable to Bloomingdale`s, with departments for just about everything.

Note: Value-added tax (VAT) rate is 8% in Switzerland which applies to supplies of goods or services registered in Switzerland, including hotel and restaurant bills. There are no other special taxes.

What should I do if I need medical assistance or need to go to the hospital?

Police Emergency Number - 117
Ambulance / Medical Emergency - 144
Fire Department - 118
Call tel. 0900 - 576-747 for a referral to an English-speaking doctor.

Hospital: Insel Hospital, Freiburgstrasse (tel. 031 - 632-21-11)