Flights to Bern
Spelt either Bern or Berne, this beautiful city is the capital of Switzerland, and the fourth largest city in the country. Its old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Bern’s top attractions, featuring many landmarks.
Bern’s airport is outside the city near the town of Belp, and is called the Bern-Belp Airport (airport code: BRN) or sometimes just the Belp Airport. Most flights to Bern from South Africa have 2 stops, though there are a few 1-stop options. Lufthansa and South African Airways both connect just once in Munich. Otherwise, you can get a flight to Bern with KLM for a stop-over in Amsterdam as well as Paris. Iberia also has flights to Bern, through Madrid and Paris.
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The Tourist Attractions of Bern:
The historic centre of Bern is the city’s main attraction and it has many buildings dating from medieval times. Because this part of Bern has remained so well preserved it’s been recognised as a World Heritage Site since 1983. There are numerous landmarks to see here, among them the following:
The most famous landmark in Bern is the Zytglogge. Meaning ‘time bell’ this is a beautiful astronomical clock set within a tower. The tower itself was built in the early 13th century and through its hundreds of years of existence it has undergone many changes of use. It’s been used as a guard tower and also a prison, but today it’s best known as a clock tower.
The Zytglogge was first built to serve as a guard tower as part of Bern’s fortifications and was made of wood, but it burnt down in a city fire of 1405. It was rebuilt in stone almost immediately after, and the hour bell that chimes inside the clock is the original from this time. It’s struck every hour by a gilded figure with a hammer.
The Munster of Bern
Bern’s beautiful cathedral (or minster) is another major landmark of the old city with a tower that stands at just over 100 metres, making this the tallest cathedral in Switzerland. Construction on Bern Munster was started in 1421 but not completely finished until 1893. Today the stained glass windows are one of the highlights and they are considered to be the most valuable in Switzerland. Another highlight is the bell tower, which for a small fee can be climbed by visitors. From here you’ll enjoy spectacular views over Bern.
The former residence of Albert Einstein is one of Bern’s popular museums. Einstein lived in the second floor apartment of this building and it’s set up as it would have been when he lived here between 1903 and 1905. On the third floor of the building is an exhibition detailing his biography and work.
If you’re interested in Einstein there’s also a large, permanent exhibition on display at the Historical Museum of Bern, called the Einstein Museum. The historical museum focuses o the history of Bern from prehistory to present day.
The Federal Palace of Switzerland, named Bundeshaus, is home to the Swiss parliament and the building dates from the 19th century. When parliament isn’t in session you can enjoy a free guided tour.
When Should You Visit?:
The warmest time to visit Bern is during the summer months, though unfortunately it’s between May and August that the days are wettest. Average highs range from 17 to 23.5C at this time. There’s still a good deal of rainfall the rest of the year, but with warm temperatures September is a nice time to visit. Winters are fairly cold and wet, so not ideal.