Europe has so much to offer and one of those countries has to be Switzerland. You may have seen some New Zealand lookalike photo’s, well, that’s Switzerland for ya. Green hills, snowy mountains, waterfalls and wonderful towns. I had to go there! In my previous blogpost (where I slept in a Wine Barrel) I mentioned I was driving through Germany and made a few stops along the way. My sister lives just off the border of Basel so after a nice family visit it was time to see if those Instagram images would live up to my expectations. First stop Bern!
For this roadtrip I needed a car that would have enough power to drive through a landscape full of hills and yet, feel comfortable at the same time. I took the Peugeot 308GT and boy did I make a good decision there! This baby was perfect for the German highway (no lazy speed limits like in the Netherlands) and I felt pretty cool too 😉 Tip » If you want to see more (and save some cash) then try to avoid the Swiss Toll roads where you need to buy a vignette for. This normally cost you 40 euro’s and it’s valid for one year. We took the small roads and drove through a beautiful landscape. Careful, the navigation will try to get you on the highway again so use your google maps as navigation on the small roads.
Going from A to B in style
My first stop was at a rather special one. A big landhouse called Schloss Hünigen. The property is run by a gentleman with the same family name as me! This was such a coincidence! (we later discovered that we come from the same tree of life) I was warmly welcomed and given a spacious room overlooking the garden. The hotel currently has 49 rooms and the Schloss dates back from 1555. All guests have free entry to the nice spa which features a steam room, 2 sauna’s and a bubble bath. The city Bern is only a 30 min drive and you can also take the train which is only a short walk away from Schloss Hünigen.
The food which is served in restaurant, Rosarium, is very very tasty. You can enjoy typical Swiss and international cuisine with good wine. (believe me, I tried) In the restaurant or on the terrace, everything is themed around roses. The outside garden and terras is surrounded by 3500 roses and wedding guests can plant their own rose branch with their names on it. Golf and hiking are popular activities nearby but I enjoyed the garden and my room for as long as I could. It was just what I needed after a few hours in the car. For a peaceful and romantic stopover near Bern, this is the perfect place to stay. Book your stay here.
The impressive Schloss Hünigen
My spacious bedroom
Fresh salad from local produce
I didn’t know much about Bern, only that the bear is their national symbol and it’s a city surrounded by fresh mountain water. From Schloss Huningen I drove to Bern in about 30 minutes and had a guided tour booked. I did this because I only had one day in Bern so I needed to make the most of it. The tour lasted 1,5 hours which is enough to learn about the history and Bern’s most famous marks. We started the tour with the story how Bern got his name. (well, at least so legend says). Berchtold V, Duke of Zähringen, (names back in the days were so much cooler) the founder of the City of Bern, vowed to name the city after the first animal he met on the hunt; as this turned out to be a bear, the city had both its name and its heraldic beast. You will find bears everywhere. On the flags, souvenirshops, cups and it’s the only city that owns 3 real bears in the city center.
Things to do in Bern
Bern is a quiet city but don’t be fooled! There are lot’s of things to do, especially during summer. Here are a few examples:
» Visit a market. Food Markets are on Tuesday and Saturdays right in front of the Parliaments House
» City tour “Follow your nose in Bern” Let you be seduced by the world of fragrances and the historic centre of Bern. Just literally follow your nose on a guided tour and learn more about the history and the smells of the City. From sandstone to liquorice up to cocoa flavour – Bern can offer many unique scents with a thrilling past. After the tour you will create your own Bern-perfume in the Shop “Art of scent” managed by the perfume specialist Brigitte Witschi.Website
» Urban Swimming If you ever come to visit Bern in summer don’t miss to jump into the refreshingly cold and clean water of the Aare river. It is indeed one of the best experience during hot summer days and typically Bern! An activity which fascinates young and old alike. It’s a local thing so if you want to blend in, take a leap in the refreshing water. During summer, locals walk up the hill and take their rubber boats into the water and let the current take them down the river which takes about 2 hours. There is also a swimming pool which is free for everyone! There’s also a new trend, Urban Surfing coming up. A young and motivated surf teacher gives surf lessons to everyone interested. http://bungeesurfen.ch/pages/home
Tip! » Get yourself a Bern ticket. This ticket let’s you use the public transport for free, even the the elevator to the Cathedral Platform, and travels to and from Bern Airport. Every guest automatically receives a “Bern Ticket” when staying overnight in Bern. www.bern.com/en/bernticket
Dates not to miss
Buskers Bern Street Festival / 11-13 August / Street musicians all over Bern! www.buskersbern.ch
Gurten Festival Bern / 14-17 July / The program includes more than 60 live acts and 60 DJs representing the pop, rock, punk, elektro, funk, soul, R&B, hip hop, country, singer-songwriter and blues genres. All on top of the mountain overlooking Bern. www.gurtenfestival.ch
Overlooking the River with Restaurant Schwellenmaeatteli across the water
Where to eat?
» Restaurant Lötschberg Original Swissdom does hype. Centrally located in the upper Old Town. With youthful open-mindedness, Lötschberg will treat you to Swiss specialities in their light, urban and trendy restaurant. www.loetschberg-aoc.ch
» Klösterli Weincafé Small yet classy – Bern’s first address for all wine and coffee aficionados. Premium Italian coffee and a carefully selected range of around 100 wines await you in a stylish setting. A small yet delicious selection of dishes are offered. Specialty cheeses and dry-cured meats served on a slate platter. Or a tender piece of “Café de Klösterli” entrecôte. www.kloesterlibern.ch
» Tibits Tibits, derived from the word “titbits,” stands for delicious and fresh food and drink. As speedy as a fast food restaurant, but as comfortable as a top-quality café: tibits in a nutshell. The vegetarian (and partly vegan) buffet offers more than 40 different salads and a selection of warm dishes which changes daily. Alongside fresh juices, tea and coffee, wine, and cocktails, you can also enjoy sandwiches and fine pastries. Everything is also available to take away. www.tibits.ch
» Restaurant Gärtnerei This trendy self-service restaurant offers daily homemade salads and soups as well as other delicacies, some even vegan, sugar- or wheat-free. Healthy, sustainable and tasty! www.gartnerei.ch
» Schwellenmaeatteli by the river. The interplay of architecture and nature makes spending time in the sunny outdoor seating area of the pavilion a real experience. Guests can even watch the movements of the water through an opening in the wooden floor. Great for those summer nights. www.schwellenmaetteli.ch
» Restaurant Rosengarten, for stunning views of Bern and seasonal dishes. It’s a steep walk up for about 5-10 minutes but it’s worth it. You can also visit the Rose Garden while you’re there www.rosengarten.be
The healthy and sustainable Gartnerei. Source
Coffee & More
» Effinger Kaffeebar & Coworking Space Effinger Kaffeebar & Coworking Space opened in March 2016 and is the ideal place for a beer with your friends after work. It also offers coworking spaces for young and creative freelancers. www.effinger.ch
» Kaffee Montag Every day fresh and surprisingly different. At Kaffee Montag you get seasonal and fresh products from the region. It’s a great place to sit and chat with your friends while enjoying a cup of coffee and a slice of cake. And why is it called Montag (Monday)? Because Monday is their favourite day of the week! www.kaffeemontag.ch
» Adrianos This bar located just opposite the Clock Tower (Zytglogge) has a Mediterranean feel, offers a good atmosphere and serves excellent coffee, thanks to its in-house roasting plant. www.adrianos.ch
» Volver BarTapasCafé ‘Volver’ is Spanish and means ‘to come back’. To ensure that visitors to Volver do just that willingly and often, they are continually delighted with gastronomic gems from Spain and Switzerland: a morning cappuccino, a pasta lunch, chocolate cake in the afternoon, or beer, wine & tapas in the evening. Volver is small and cosy with a great atmosphere! www.barvolver.ch
Kaffee Montag, underground cellars and risotto at the Rosengarten
Where to sleep?
» Hotel Landhaus A young hotel in a more than 100-year-old listed building. Situated at the heart of the Bern Old Town, right on the Aare river and next to the BearPark, the hotel is the perfect location for all lovers of the special and unconventional. The renovated rooms offer globetrotters, families, artists, businesspeople, backpackers, individualists, and even groups and school classes a home away from home. www.landhausbern.ch
One day Bern wasn’t enough to visit all these hotspots but hopefully YOU can.