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World Travel Guide > Guides > Europe > Switzerland > Bern

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Local time Bern

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Things to do in Bern

Get a look at the Kindlifresser

In the fountain at the Kornhausplatz you will notice one of Europe's darker statues. Kindlifresser translates to 'Child Eater', and the monument depicts a man with multiple babies in arms as he chows down on the head of another. Stories abound of the meaning and significance of the statue, but seeing as it was built in 1546, we're unlikely to ever really know what it's about. Maybe it's for the best.

Go on a hike

Around the city there’s boundless hiking trails to suit walkers of all abilities and fitness levels. One of the most accessible is the Trans-Swiss trail (https://www.schweizmobil.ch/en/hiking-in-switzerland/route-02.html). It kicks off from the historic little town of Laupen, along the river Sense, and takes in a plethora of life-affirming Alps views before finishing in the UNESCO World Heritage site of Bern Old Town.

Go rafting on the River Aare

In the summer, adrenalin junkies can raft the river Aare with the appropriately-named Aare Bootsvermietung (tel: +41 763 1537 37; www.aarebootsvermietung.ch). The trip lasts two to three hours, is suitable for all skill levels and finishes within walking distance of the city, so no need for a taxi back.

Spend some time with the bears

Bern has played home to bears since 1513, and there are currently five brown bears living in the BearPark (tel: +41 31 357 15 15; www.tierpark-bern.ch). They’re mostly hibernating for three to four months in winter, but once they’re through that, you’ll find Björk, Finn and Ursina full of beans.

Zentrum Paul Klee

In 1997, Livia Klee-Meyer, daughter-in-law of Swiss-German artist Paul Klee, donated 690 artistic works to the city of Bern: a large portion of which were those of her father-in-law. These reside in the Zentrum Paul Klee (tel: +41 31 359 01 01; www.zpk.org) amongst approximately 3,500 other works that are spiritually or theoretically attached to his. The building is worth viewing for its Renzo Piano-designed, three-waved roof alone.

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Featured Hotels

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Nydeck

This friendly 2-star bed and breakfast hotel boasts a central yet quiet location at the heart of old Bern, near the BearPark, the river and the clock tower. The 12 simple rooms are basic but comfortable. There is also a popular café bar and summer pavement terrace.

Hotel National Bern

Hotel National Bern is a family-run hotel built in 1908 and continues to offer bags of character, from its exposed room beams to its original fin-de-siècle lift. The location’s good too, with the central train station just five minutes away. There’s a free welcome drink and 10% discount voucher for the restaurant for all weekday guests.

Hotel Continental

The Continental is an Oslo institution that has been run by the same family for four generations and is more than a century old. Situated in the heart of Oslo, next to the National Theatre, the hotel is known both for outstanding service and restaurants as well as its links with the Oslo arts scene.

Unique Hotel Innere Enge Bern

Located in a park overlooking central Bern, this luxury hotel oozes personality and style. Home to one of the country's best jazz clubs, Marians Jazzroom, it also has two excellent restaurants. All 26 rooms are individually decorated (some with a jazz theme) and each has Wi-Fi access. The hotel also has conference rooms.

Hotel Schweizerhof

Boasting more than 150 years of history – not to mention a guest book that features the likes of Elizabeth Taylor and Grace Kelly – the high-end Hotel Schweizerhof remains one of Bern's go-to luxury properties. It benefited from a two-year renovation in 2009. As well as some great restaurants and bars, it also has a spa, cigar lounge and conference rooms.

Best Western Hotelbern

A solid bet for a mid-range stay, with an Old Town location five minutes' walk from the train station. Its impressive art nouveau exterior hides a more modern interior, and there's a good restaurant on site – the Volkshaus 1914. The property sits adjacent to the medieval Zytglogge Tower.