This prehistoric capital (known as ‘Berne’ by Switzerland’s French-speaking citizens) provides opportunities for sightseeing and shopping in the 11th century arcade streets. The scenery is provided by the Jura in the northwest and the south is dominated by the Alps and their foothills.
The medieval city centre is located on the Aare River between the 13th century clock tower (Zeitglockenturm) and the remarkable copper spire of the Nydegg church (Nydeggkirche). Across the Nyddegg bridge are the ancient medieval bear pits (Bärengraben), a reminder of the city’s ursine symbol seen throughout the town in the form of statues, flags, stained-glass windows and souvenirs. There are daily flower and vegetable markets here in summer and a celebrated onion market on the fourth Monday of November.