A photograph looking down a street in the Old Town of Bern, Switzerland.

Bern, Switzerland in a day

Bern in 24 hours (Well, I did it in 17 Hours, but who’s counting?)

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Traveling in Switzerland or nearby and want to pack in a day of lifelong memories?  I’ve got just the tip for you!  Seriously… Zürich is awesome and everything, but if you’re able to make it to Bern (a little over an hour train ride, easy peasy), it is so worth it.  Where else can you grab a gelato, watch bears frolic and float down an aquamarine river? 

I was recently in Valencia, Spain for the weekend with a good friend from Switzerland.  I was a traveling magician and was able to create a trip back to my home city of Tampa from Valencia that included a long layover in Switzerland (because, why not?!?).  Here’s how it played out, complete with my recommendations for a fairytale afternoon in one of the most beautiful places on Earth.

Photograph of the landscape in Bern, Switzerland
Photograph of Bern, Switzerland with a view of the Alps in the distance.

Hour by Hour itinerary

  • 15:15 – Arrive Zürich Airport
  • 15:40 – Board train to Bern – the trains in Switzerland run as efficiently as… well, a Swiss watch!  And, they are comfortable, clean and equipped with wifi and outlets.  Don’t forget your universal adapter – I use mine to charge while I’m headed to the next adventure.
  • 16:55 – Arrive Bern and walk to friend’s house; change into swimsuit and grab a waterproof bag Pro Tip: Get a waterproof bag, or “Dry Bag” ahead of time as everything costs a small fortune in Switzerland.  I like this bag because it also comes with a waterproof phone bag, which you are going to want so you can document your river swim experience!
  • 17:30 – Head to the Aare River – panic a little when you first get in, then go with the flow, literally, as you float down the river… just don’t miss the turn-off to the pool where you can get out!  It’s hard to miss, as it’s right by the line of lifeguards watching for stray floaters.  Pro tip: Consider getting a travel towel to have with you like this one.  It’s great, not only for your Aare River adventure, but for all swim opportunities as you travel.
  • 18:10 – Head to any one of the many pop-up bars for a refreshment with a view of the Alps.  This is a MUST!  Dry off, toast your accomplishment and enjoy the view.
  • 19:00 – Return to flat, change for dinner
  • 19:30 – Eat a hearty, cheese laden meal featuring traditional favorites like spätzli or rösti (YUM!).  We had an excellent meal at a little restaurant called Lotschberg.  The service was great and the food was incredible.  We had a salad (had to get something a little healthy) and the Spätzli with Raclette cheese as well as the  Rösti, an incredible fried potato dish, also topped with cheese.
  • 20:50 – Help your food digest by taking a lovely walk around the city – check out the place where Einstein came up with the theory of relativity, watch out for cuteness overload at the bear park, and admire all the glorious architecture with mountain backdrops and a blue-green river gliding by. (The sun doesn’t go down until about 10 PM, depending on when you go – I was there in mid-June and it was lovely!)
  • 22:00 – Grab a gelato if you need one more delicious morsel before heading back.  Gelateria di Berna is a local treasure, but be prepared to wait as lines wrap around the block!
  • 23:00 – Tucked in for a sleep before tomorrow’s day of travel
  • 06:30 – Back on the train to Zurich airport
  • 08:15 – Headed to security to board my flight
Photograph of the River Aarne in Bern, Switzerland
White bowl of Swiss Spatzli (spaetzle) in a creamy sauce, topped with a sprinkle of paprika, parsley and a small tomato.
Graphic of Bern, Switzerland in a Day schedule.

Links to all the Cool Stuff

Swiss Inspired Keto “Spätzli” Recipe

Floating the Aare River – 3 Routes: https://www.bern.com/en/aare-river/floating-favorite-routes 

Old Town Spots:

Lotschberg Restaurant: https://www.lotschbergbern.com/ 

Bear Park Information: https://tierpark-bern.ch/en/bearpark/ 

Gelato Stop – Gelateria di Berna:  https://gelateriadiberna.ch/laboratori/laboratorio-breitenrain/ 

Zytglogge Clock Tower Information: https://www.bern.com/en/detail/clock-tower-zytglogge

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