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Winterthur | Covid-19 Travel Restrictions | Lockdown | Coronavirus Outbreak

Wolfgang Holzem

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Winterthur

Winterthur is a small city near Zurich in Switzerland and is about the 6th largest city in all of the country.  With around 100,000 people, it is small enough to have a town- like feel where the locals affectionately call it Winti.  Since Zurich is just about 30 km away, most people will stay out of that center to avoid the crowds.

Swiss Coronavirus since Reopening
644,396
Confirmed
10,555
Deaths
0
Deaths (24h)
1.6%
Deaths (%)
575,624
Recovered
0
Recovered (24h)
89.3%
Recovered (%)
58,217
Active
9.0%
Active (%)

In the late 19th and early 20th century, local companies such as Rieter and Sulzer turned the formally quiet little town into a booming industrial city with an incredible wealth and ever-growing workforce. Diesel engines built in Winterthur powered large ships on all seven seas, while Winterthur-built textile appliances were in service worldwide.

Swiss Coronavirus since Reopening
644,396
Confirmed
10,555
Deaths
0
Deaths (24h)
1.6%
Deaths (%)
575,624
Recovered
0
Recovered (24h)
89.3%
Recovered (%)
58,217
Active
9.0%
Active (%)

Starting in the 1970s and 80s, blue collar jobs started to be outsourced to countries with lower wages and unemployment rose in Winterthur. Factories were standing still and entire neighborhoods turned into “ghost towns”.

However, the IT and Telco boom as well as smart decisions by the local authorities have helped to redevelop those areas into new economy and urban lifestyle areas with many offices, restaurants, schools and even a go-kart racing track.

Winterthur has also positioned itself as a cultural city with many different museums, among them the Oskar Reinhart Museum am Römerholz exhibitioning modern art, the Technorama science center and the Fotostiftung Schweiz showing Swiss and European photography.

History and Geography

Winterthur has a strong Roman history that dates back to the 1st century.  It wasn’t until five hundred years later that modern buildings went up which in turn became the old city of Winti.  In 1,000 AD walls and a moat was built around the town with towers at the corners.  The Habsburg family aka Hapsburg, and one of the most influential European dynasties, came into power after the Kyburg counts ancestral lines died out.  By 1467 the Habsburgs, in need of cash, sold the entire city of Winterthur to Zurich. The country was ravaged by wars during the French Revolution but the tenacity of the Austrians meant that the French were defeated and kicked out.

In the 1930s, when the Great Depression really took hold, Winterthur suffered very badly since it had become an industrialized nation.  As with most industrial nations, it was the Second World War that put things to rights as the armed forces needed machines etc to fight the war.

Winterthur is around 440 meters above sea level in a sort of basin south east of the River Töss.  Another small river runs into the center of town which gives it its nickname ‘Eulach-City’.  It is surrounded by glaciers and mountains with more rivers nearby.

Best time to go to Winterthur

May to September is quite warm in Winterthur with temperatures in July touching 25°C (77°F) or more.  January and December are the coldest months in this part of the world with temperatures dropping to around 2°C (35°F). Wet days are quite likely, as it rains between twelve and fourteen days in each month throughout the year.

Getting Around in Winterthur

Getting around this city is very easy as the transport system is extremely well run.  It is only 18 minutes by train to Zurich so the attractions of the great city are well within reach.  The Swiss Rail Network carries more than 120,000 passengers per day so there are plenty of trains to access.  The regional train service is also efficient and well run so tourists can visit Konstanz, Romanshorn and other interesting places. With 9 stations around the city, visitors don’t have to look far to access the trains.  There are buses and trolley buses to choose from, including five regional bus lines.

Car hire is available but can be quite expensive plus, if the family is not going far, it is a much better deal to use public transport.  Taxis are also quite pricey but bicycles are quite popular in this part of the world.  Many companies around Winterthur will have them for hire.

By train

There are direct trains to Winterthur train station – from Zurich, Zurich AirportBerneGenevaSaint GallenSchaffhausenBasel and Munich. Winterthur is only 20 minutes away from Zurich or 15 minutes from the Zurich Airport.

Timetables

  • Swiss Federal Railway for national and international trains.
  • Public transportation company of the Canton Zurich (local buses, boats on the lake of Zurich, trains)

By car

Use the highway from Zurich, St.Gallen, Kreuzlingen or Schaffhausen.

Public Transport

On Public Transport in the canton of Zurich is useful information on getting around and what to do in the canton of Zurich. Use the Swiss Federal Railway Site for Public transport and its fares in Switzerland.

Local car rentals

  • There is Mietauto AG in Töss, take Bus 5 to the station “Schwimmbad”. The car rental is on the other side of the bridge.
  • Künzli Autovermietung AG at the railway station in Oberwinterthur
  • Hertz is right in the city centre at the Kasernengarage.
  • Miet-Transporter in Winterthur Hegi next by the MediaMarkt Shop (Hintermühlenstrasse 4, 8409 Winterthur)

Major Attractions and Sights in Winterthur

The Kunstmuseum – A great place for rainy days in the city, it houses a modern art collection that is renowned throughout Switzerland.  Find examples of cubism, contemporary art and retrospectives along with themed exhibitions at different times of the year.

Eulach Tunnels – Try a visit to the Eulach through the many tunnels which carries the river through the center of the city.  It is possible to travel through the city in the tunnels but those who are claustrophobic should avoid it for sure.

Rosengarten Park – A lovely place to just hang out for the day, it is full of roses and high above the city to give some wonderful views.  The Red Tower in the city is clearly visible from here so this is great for photographers.

The Red Tower – The tallest building in Winterthur, obviously named for the color of its construction materials. There’s a restaurant at the top offering fabulous views.

Fotomuseum Winterthur – This is an interesting place to visit for enthusiastic amateur photographers.  Try to get on the guided tour since this place is the center of excellence for Photography in Europe.  Visitors drop in here from all over the world which gives some indication of its importance.

On the Water – For quite cheap excursions, try jumping on a river bus or lake steamer just for the fun of it.  Although they are meant for commuters really, tourists can get a quick look at the waterfront along the Limmat River or out into the Zürichsee to Tiefenbrunnen.  Tourists can stop off at several points along the route.

The Lake Promenade – Popular with locals and visitors alike, this is a wonderful place for a love walk or picnic in the summer months.  There is a boardwalk which runs from three km towards Tiefenbrunnen.  Halfway along this boardwalk, there is a beautiful valley and meadow where people gather to have fun.

Polybahn Rail – This is a lovely old funicular railway up the steep hill called the Polybahn.  Start out from the tram station and go to ETH.  Or, if this is winter, try going for a ski by buying a combination snow and rail ticket or skipass to Flumserberg which is the largest ski resort in this area.

Street Entertainers – Wandering around the streets is an absolute dream in Winterthur in summer as they have lots of street singers and entertainers.  Look out for the Russians who can make more in one day here than they make in a whole month in their homeland.

Museum Pass – For museum addicts, there is a ticket which allows people to visit many museums on just one ticket.  The special pass also allows the visitor to use the museum bus as well to make it easy to get around a selection of museums in one day or spread over a longer period if necessary.  There is something for everyone in the museums of Winterthur and the different venues offer nature, art, technology and history in its wealth of exhibits.  Art lovers will have a great time as will those who are into science and all its wonders.  Indeed, the Winterthur Science Museum is the only one in Switzerland so it is very popular.  Called the Technorama, people get to play and touch the exhibits and interact with whatever is going on. Also look for the Münzkabinett which houses a beautiful collection of coins and medals from through the ages.

Alpamare Water Park – For kids who need to let off steam, and adults as well if the fancy takes them, then a trip to this water park in Zurich is a must.  Less than twenty minutes on the train will give the family a whole wealth of fun.  There are pools, an almost five thousand feet slide and a rather breathtaking tubular ride called the Balla Balla.  For the adults, find a sauna and spa where they can relax while the kids are having fun.

Zurich Zoo – A great place for a day out and it is open every single day of the year.  There are many rare animals in the zoo and some of them are the only ones in Europe.  Staff members here are only too willing to talk about the animals and give out information and this could make it more interesting for the children.

Rheinfalls – A 45 minute train ride will take visitors to the beautiful Rhine Falls, one of the largest waterfalls in all of Europe.

There are 17 museums in Winterthur.

  • Technorama – Swiss Science Centre10AM-5PMA good place to spend a rainy day with kids. Lots of hands-on experiments. It offers an experimental environment to improve visitors’ knowledge about natural phenomena in a self-directed way. There are over 500 exhibits respectively “experiment stations” and wide-ranging “laboratory facilities”. Technorama claims to be “one of the largest – and on account of its quality and its exemplary informal educational function – most renowned science centres in the world”.
  • The Oskar Reinhart Collection (Am Römerholz). Comprises around 200 works by European artists spanning the period from late Gothic to the threshold of modern art, with particular emphasis on 19th century French painting.
  • Castle KyburgA castle first mentioned in 1024 now showing how people lived there around said epoch.

What to do

  • Lake ZurichBoat trips on this nearby lake are enjoyable.
  • CityStroll3English speaking tour through Winterthur including two bar stops. 25.
  • If you like football, go visit a home game of FC Winterthur at Schützenwiese, they have an nice stadium with still hand-operated result display.

Learn

The most famous school of Winterthur is the ZHAW – Zürcher Hochschule für Angewandte Wissenschaften, which offers mostly technical courses. They also offer some limited language courses. Contact them on their website, if you’re interested in studying in Winterthur.

Shopping in Winterthur

Winterthur is not really a tourist like destination so whatever is on offer in the way of shops is more to serve the community than visitors but in the Old Town, you’ll find the largest pedestrian precinct in the entire country.  There are many designer shops intermingled with small specialist style shops which makes just hanging around window shopping a delight.

It would seem a shame to come to Switzerland and pass up on an opportunity to shop in a city like Zurich.  Not quite up to London or Paris standards, it is still a bustling city that has much to offer the visitor.  Bahnhofstrasse is probably one of the most expensive streets to shop on in the entire world so those who want to splash the cash should come here. Jewelry and watches are always a good buy in Switzerland as are designer clothes and chocolate.  Here too, find shops that sell tourist souvenirs and postcards to post home.  Look in the Meng Cutlery store for Swiss army knives as souvenirs or Teddy’s Souvenirs for the ubiquitous cow bells, music boxes and clocks for something that is quintessentially Swiss.

Eating Out in Winterthur

There is a small restaurant behind the station which serves up a Sri Lankan buffer every night.  During the day, find excellent value foods with ‘all you can eat’ offers available too.  Called the Vegi zur Waage, it only opens Monday to Friday.

For something typically Swiss, try the Walliser Kanne on Steinberggasse 25.  It has a lovely subdued style with classic furnishings and a cool atmosphere.  This restaurant closes on Sundays.

Again for something typically Swiss, try the Widder in Old Town since it serves up huge portions for good prices.  Décor is long tables with very loud music but it is a great place to meet the locals.

For a quick lunch, try the Obergass on the corner of Schulgasse.  Here people gather to chill out and eat, drink or just sit in the quiet atmosphere to read a book.  Vegetarians are catered for as well as meat eaters.

Take away food is available at Migros with cheap alternatives like noodles and salads etc.  Pizzas, sandwiches and the famous Swiss Wahe (pie) is available here which has an unusual sweet and salty taste or spicy touch.  There are other quick food joints like McDonalds etc here too so the kids will be well catered for.

Budget

Try the Migros Restaurant (nice Wintergarden) at the Neuwiesencenter or the Coop Restaurant in the Manor Shopping Center on the 2nd floor. Both are self-service and close to the railway station.

For Take-Away food, you can also go for Migros (same place as Restaurant) and have some salad or noodles, usually around Fr. 6. They have a small coffee there, in which you’re welcome to enjoy the food. They also offer Pizza, Sandwiches and other Food, like the famous Swiss “Wähe” (pie) with all kinds of taste, from sweet over salty to spicy. Give it a try, if you like some Swiss food, and not international fast-food. McDonalds, on the other side of the bus station right at the train station, offers you the usual food you’re used to everywhere. Keep in mind that a menu costs you somewhere between Fr. 11 to 14, so a visit in Migros Restaurant is usually cheaper. Different kebab take-away places, giving you a large variety of mostly Turkish specialities. For a regular “Döner Kebap”, you will pay somewhere between Fr. 7 and 8. If you like hot sandwiches, consider Papaya and Sandwiches Kandil, where you get a big, hand crafted one with your chosen ingredients for Fr. 10.

Mid-range

In the ancient part of the city, there are several good restaurants: TrübliRössliAkazieNationalStrauss (all with international kitchen). Swiss specialities are available in Walliser Kanne (Fondue, Raclette) and Sonne (Roesti).

  • Restaurant TandoorSchützenstrasse 43Best Indian food at very affordable price. Don’t forget to order Tandoori chicken.

Splurge

Schloss Wülflingen, Taggenberg

Nightlife in Winterthur

There are plenty of places for eating and drinking in Winterthur.  Even those who are on a tight budget will find somewhere to eat etc.  Around the main railway station there are plenty of bars which open all through the night with live music being played at some.  There are some less than savory bars too and these should be avoided if possible.

The Albani on Steinberggasse 16 is in the Old Town and has guest DJs with live music on occasions.  Some of the headliners that have appeared here are Sheryl Crow and Pearl Jam so look out for the program.

Also try the Gotthard opposite the station for a 24 hour bar full of young and friendly people during the day and a much darker crowd at night!  Although not typically the place for wild happenings it is a place to have fun with the locals.

Just five minutes from the station is Paddy O’Brien’s, a good Irish pub with a minimum of twelve different keg beers on offer.  The Dubliners have appeared here so it is quite a lively place to spend the evening.

For those who like artists and all that come with them, try the Kraftfeld in the industrial section of the city.  This is an artist’s kind of community that has good DJ nights with experimental music plus concerts, poetry readings and films etc.

Lastly, for some extremely tasty cocktails, try out Fahrenheit on Steinberggasse 65.  They serve up food during the day, including veggie meals, but it does tend to get crowded at weekends.

  • plan bZuercherstrasse 7, 8400 Winterthur.  Stylish bar close to the mainstation.
  • FahrenheitSteinberggasse 65, 8400 Winterthur.  Modern bar. Best cocktails in town. Try their whisky sour! Food at lunchtime, good vegetarian meals. Very good tea. Come early at weekends.
  • Archbar (Archstrasse 2 8400 Winterthur).

Of local interest

In summer there is a chance to see various artists performing on the Summer Stage.  There will be theater shows or, when there is nothing booked, a chance to buy fresh flowers and other knick knacks from this same venue.

One of the largest open air concerts playing techno style music in Europe happens with the Streetparade.  Always on the second Saturday in August, trucks park up around the lake and line up their sound systems to have a blast.  Expect to mingle with around 1 million people though as they come to dance and listen to the music festival of the year.  Although the official event comes to an end, those who want to carry on go right through the night and on through the next day.

Telecommunications in Winterthur

  • Stadtbibliothek am Kirchplatz (City Library), Obere Kirchgasse 6. Some PC’s with free access to the Internet. Lots of magazines and newspapers.

Go next

  • Rhine FallsEurope’s largest waterfall. Take train S33 (Winterthur-Schaffhausen), it takes about 30 minutes. From Easter to end of October get off the train at ‘Schloss Laufen’ otherwise leave the train at ‘Neuhausen’. 

Hotels Reopening after the Lockdown in Winterthur

Hotels Winterthur: Popularity

Hotel Stars Discount Price before and discount Select dates
Sorell Hotel Krone ★★★ View Isaan Hotel Deals
Hotel Wartmann am Bahnhof ★★★ View Isaan Hotel Deals
Park Hotel Winterthur ★★★★ View Isaan Hotel Deals
Depot 195 - Hostel Winterthur View Isaan Hotel Deals
Plaza Hotel Winterthur ★★★ View Isaan Hotel Deals
Work Life Residence by Primestay ★★★ View Isaan Hotel Deals
Banana City ★★★★ View Isaan Hotel Deals
ibis Winterthur City ★★ View Isaan Hotel Deals
Hotel Sternen ★★★ View Isaan Hotel Deals
Gästehaus am Lagerplatz View Isaan Hotel Deals

Flights from Zurich after the Reopening of Airports

The Cheapest Round-trip Tickets from Zurich to Frankfurt

Departure at Return at Stops Airline Find tickets
01.06.2021 24.06.2021 Direct Tickets from 294
02.06.2021 11.06.2021 1 Stop Tickets from 108
02.06.2021 11.06.2021 1 Stop Tickets from 163
02.06.2021 12.06.2021 2 Stops Tickets from 156

deDeutsch

Former founder of Asiarooms.com and now reporting mainly on the Asia Pacific region and the global Coronavirus crises in countries such as Thailand, Germany & Switzerland. Born near Cologne but lived in Berlin during my early teenage years. A longterm resident of Bangkok, Udon Thani, Sakon Nakhon and Phuket. A great fan of Bali, Rhodes & Corfu. Now based on Mallorca, Spain.

Switzerland

Bern | Covid-19 Travel Restrictions | Lockdown | Coronavirus Outbreak

Wolfgang Holzem

Published

on

bern1000x600

Although Berne (German: Bern) is the seat of most of the institutions of the Swiss confederation, this is only a small to medium sized city with a population of about 130,000 in the city proper and roughly 350,000 in the urban agglomeration. It sits on a peninsula formed by the meandering turns of the river Aare. The remarkable design coherence of Berne’s old town has earned it a place on the UNESCO World Heritage List. It has 6.4 km (4 miles) of arcaded walkways along streets decked out with fountains and clock-towers.

Swiss Coronavirus since Reopening
644,396
Confirmed
10,555
Deaths
0
Deaths (24h)
1.6%
Deaths (%)
575,624
Recovered
0
Recovered (24h)
89.3%
Recovered (%)
58,217
Active
9.0%
Active (%)

There are Tourist Information Centres outside the main railway station, and in the Old Tram Depot next to the Bear Pit.

Bern is the capital of Switzerland. It was founded by Duke Berthold V von Zähringen in 1191, and formed part of the Holy Roman Empire. It later became the largest independent city state north of the Alps. It joined the Swiss Confederation in 1353, and in 1848, it became the capital of Switzerland.

It has managed to successfully retain a lot of its historic features, and its Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  The Swiss government sits here, and the Houses of Parliament are open to visitors the majority of the time.

The town grew up around the Aare River on hilly ground, and so the city areas are on low ground along the river, and it spreads out onto higher ground. Bridges have been built across the river over the years to allow for expansion of the city.

[coronavirus-region-dashboard height_px=”540px” region=”switzerland”]

The city center has a unique mediaeval atmosphere and contains old fountains, narrow streets, and sandstone facades. The ancient bastions and entrenchments drop steeply down to the river.

The central location of Bern offers easy access to trips throughout Switzerland; but Bern itself offers more than enough to keep a holidaymaker busy.

Bern was founded in 1191 by Duke Berthold V von Zähringen and was part of the Holy Roman Empire. It was made a free imperial city by the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II in 1218 after Berthold died without an heir.

In 1353 Berne joined the Swiss confederation. After conquering several rivals, Berne became the largest independent city state north of the Alps. It was occupied by French troops in 1798 during the French Revolutionary Wars, and was stripped of a large part of its territory. The city became the Swiss capital in 1848.

Bern was one of the eight host cities in the 2008 European Football Championships.

Best time to go

The best weather in Bern is between April and September. Late spring brings long days and good weather. The summer temperatures in August are pleasing. The summer weather is unpredictable though, so take your warm clothes. As the temperature peaks, so does the rainfall, so be prepared. But the rain is short-lived, and you can go about your visit after a short period. From July to mid-August are their holiday periods, so some of the smaller restaurants may be closed.

Getting Around in Bern

Get in

Situated in the middle of Switzerland, Berne is easy to reach from all parts of the country.

Fly to Berne

  • Bern-Belp Airport (10 km south of the city, off Hwy 8 west of river Aare). This airport is a small affair. Skywork used to be the main operator, with twin-prop flights to London City, Amsterdam, Hamburg, Berlin-Tegel, Munich and Vienna, plus summer holiday destinations around the Med; however, it declared bankruptcy in August 2018. 

To reach the city take Bus 334 or 160 to Belp railway station (10 mins). Frequent S-bahn local trains connect Belp to Bern’s main station, 40 min altogether. The bus runs every 30 minutes between 05:10 and 23:10, with the first and last buses of the day running directly to Bern railway station. The transfer is free if you have booked accommodation in Bern, just show your confirmation letter; otherwise Fr. 7 each way.

A taxi to the city is about 40 Fr and takes 20 mins.

For better choice of flights, fly into Geneva , Zurich or Basel then take the train to Bern.

Travel by train to Bern

Berne is at the hub of the Swiss Federal Railway network. Express (InterCity) trains connect twice per hour to Geneva, Basel and Zurich as well as Zürich and Geneva airports. Hourly express trains connect to most other cities, including Interlaken, Brig, and Lucerne.

Bern Railway StationIn a mall surrounded by cafes and other shops. The info kiosk and main bank of ticket machines are at the back, beneath the big departures board.

For timetables and connections see Swiss Federal Railway. For best travel deals see the Swiss Travel Planner – walk-up full fare tickets are expensive.

Travel to Bern by car

Bern is easily reachable with the national motorway network from all directions and has several exits from motorways A1, A12 and A6.

Eurolines and Flixbus connect Bern to several European cities by bus.

Bern has a world-class public transportation system, with a choice of buses, trolleybuses, trams, and trains.

In the city center, on foot is the best way to see the sights close up, and for shopping and eating at the restaurants. Outside of the city center the tram is the best.

You can hire a bike for 4 hours for free, and thereafter pay a small fee per hour, from the main train station, or Zeughausgasse or Hirschengraben. You’ll need your passport or ID.

By train you can travel to the suburbs, and to other cities such as Fribourg or Biel, should you want to explore a little further.

If you have a car, be aware that free parking in the city centre is rare to find, and that the paid parking is quite expensive. If you’re visiting the city centre, it’s best to park at a ‘park and ride’ and take public transport into the centre, and walk to wherever you like from there.

If you prefer to take taxis, there are stands at the main train station, and some stands in the city centre.

Berne has an excellent public transportation system, with frequent local city services provided by trams, trolleybuses and buses, together with an S-Bahn rail system for longer journeys into the surrounding suburbs. Tickets are valid for all modes of transport within a given zone and time. The suburbs of Berne, Biel and Solothurn form a common public transport network named “Libero-Tarifverbund”. Tickets can be purchased as single ticket, saver ticket with six rides, day pass as well as weekly, monthly or yearly passes.

Tickets can be bought at vending machines at most stops, or with a smartphone using the SBB mobile app. They are valid for all modes of public transport within the zones they encompass. A ticket valid in the central urban zones (101, 102) for 60 minutes costs Fr. 4.60 (May 2016).

Since June 2014, all hotel accommodations in Bern include the “Bern-Ticket”, which allows the free use of public transport within the city (zones 100 and 101) for the duration of the stay, including the Gurten funicular and transfer from and to the airport.

By foot

The city centre of Berne is easily accessible by foot. The relatively small old town and the area around the main train station is best explored by walking.

By tram and bus

The bus and tram lines operated by Bernmobil are complemented with yellow Postauto bus lines connecting to the suburbs. Almost all lines are linked together at the main train station, and operate at intervals between 5 to 30 minutes.

  • Bernmobil.  Operator of the local tram and bus services, and provides timetables and other information on its web site or by telephone.

By rail

Berne’s S-Bahn rail system will take you to many places in the suburbs and to nearby cities like Biel, Thun, Fribourg or Solothurn.

  • S-Bahn Bern.  Web site in German only.

By car or motorbike

Like in most Swiss cities, parking space is rare and expensive. There are several paid parking stations, including at the main train station. As the city centre is quite small and all of the major attractions are within walking distance, it’s a good choice to park in a “park and ride” and take public transport to the centre of town. Using the car in the old town is very difficult and not recommended.

Motorbikers will find free dedicated parking spaces in several places around the perimeter of the old town, including near Waisenhausplatz and at the main train station.

By bike

Berne is a bike-friendly city, and most thoroughfares include dedicated bike lanes. There are a few challenging spots where bike traffic interweaves with motor traffic, but motorists are used to sharing the road with bikers and will normally pay attention. Because of the city’s topography, some stamina may be required, or an electric bike.

The local branch of the Swiss-wide bike sharing Publibike charges CHF 3 for the first 30 minutes. The formerly free local bike-share “Bern Rollt” has been terminated.

By taxi

Several taxi companies operate in Berne, including Nova Taxi (+41 31 331 33 13), Bären Taxi (+41 31 371 11 11) and Taxi Bern (+41 31 333 88 88). Taxis can be booked by phone, or at the main train station.

Major Attractions and Sights

There are 114 Swiss heritage sites of national significance in Bern, so it’s hard to miss a couple of them. The Old Town in its entirety is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A few outside Old Town include: the Eidgenössisches Archiv für Denkmalpflege, the Kirchenfeld mansion district, the Swiss National Library, and the Historical Museum.

While strolling around, you’ll find eleven 16th century fountains. They are charming, and their colorful sculpted figures that adorn them are proof of the prosperity of the town in the Middle Ages. As recently as a hundred years ago, people gathered at them to gossip; today their crystal-clear water offers welcome refreshment to locals and visitors alike.

Be sure to visit the Zytglogge, or Clock Tower. Built around the turn of the 13th century, the animatronic technology is astounding for those times. Every hour on the hour, is displayed what the locals proudly tell you is the longest running act in show business. A few minutes before the hour, a song plays, accompanied by a jester drumming. On top of the hour, an old bearded king and some bears join in. The clock is so detailed that it also tells the day, the month, the phase of the moon, and the sign of the zodiac! You can take a free guided tour inside the tower to look at the mechanisms working from the inside. Book the tour at the tourist office.

Still in Old Town, the cathedral was begun in 1421 and is the tallest in Switzerland. The Holy Ghost Church is one of the largest Swiss Reformed churches in Switzerland.

In 2008, Old Town was given a new entrance, called the Baldachin. Reminiscent of the glass pyramid at the Louvre, the Baldachin is a steel and glass construction, featuring an undulating glass roof, through which the Holy Ghost Church and the Citizens’ Hospital can be viewed whilst keeping the aesthetics.

The Rosengarten (rose garden) is a park that offers a great view over Old Town, and is a popular place for locals to go at lunchtime.

The bear is Bern’s heraldic animal, and legend goes that von Zähringen named the town for the first bear caught there. They take pride in the bear pit (Bärengraben), which has been there since the 16th century. There are currently four bears in an open-air enclosure. The facilities have recently been upgraded, and the bears can even swim in a section of the river. In summer the opening hours are 8am to 5.30pm, and 9am to 4pm in winter.

The Gurten Hill is just outside the city. It has a park, from where you can view both the city, and the Bernese Alps. It’s popular with the locals who like to play football, do a spot of sun tanning, or barbeque. It has hiking paths, a playground, and a restaurant. Entrance is free.

Swimming in the River Aare on a hot summer day is great recreation. There are public pools along the river which are free, so you can ‘land’ at one of them to have a shower afterwards.

If you’re into gambling the Grand Casino Bern offers black jack, poker, roulette and over 300 slot machines.

  • Berne Historical MuseumHelvetiaplatz 5.  Tu-Su 10:00-17:00Large historic museum, combining under one roof one of the country’s most important ethnographic collections together with the Bernese historical collections from prehistory to the present day. Adult Fr. 13; Fr. 18 including Einsteinhaus.
  • Bundeshaus (Federal Palace of Switzerland; Curia Confoederationis Helveticae), Bundesplatz 3Inaugurated in 1902, the Swiss Parliament building is a great dome separating the two chambers: the National Council and the Council of States. Free guided tour when Parliament is not in session (German Tu-Sa, English only Sa 14:00, book online). In session there are 25 spaces in the spectators’ gallery, no advance booking. For either, you need your passport. Free.
  • ZytgloggeIt has been a guard tower, and a prison for women convicted of having sex with priests, but since the 15th century, it’s been a clock tower with an elaborate astronomical clock. Hourly throughout the day, it puts on a great display of early animatronics. The show starts a few minutes before the hour with a little song and some drumming by a jester on top. On the hour, bears and an old bearded king get into the act. As well as the time, the clock shows the month, day, sign of the zodiac and phase of the moon. There are guided tours inside the tower that will let you have a look at the clockwork while the show is displayed outside. It can be booked at the tourist office and is definitely worth it if you love mechanics. Free.
  • EinsteinhausKramgasse 49 ,   Feb-Dec 10:00–17:00, closed JanSuppose a Bern Tram passed you at the speed of light, with Einstein peering out the window. While your own watch ticked on, his would appear stationary, and the tram’s mass and dimensions would distort. Most of us would just shrug at this and await the next tram. But Einstein realised that the same occurred if you were aboard the tram looking back at the tourist standing at the tram-stop. There could be no absolute reference point: all was relative. He also inferred an equivalence of acceleration and gravity, and of mass and energy, that totally rewrote the laws of what till then was a Newtonian universe.
    Einstein rented this flat 1903-05 with his first wife Mileva, during his years working at the Swiss patent office. (The day job helped, as many inventors were exploring telecomms, and the problem of synchronising processes many miles apart.) Their son Hans Albert was born here in 1904; their illegitimate daughter Lieserl (b. 1902) was given up for adoption and her fate is unknown. But above all Einstein’s special and general theories of relativity were born in this flat, which now displays photos and original documents from his life, work, and speeches. His writing desk overlooks the bustling street: trams rumble by, and the clock-tower tick-tocks, with a Swiss regularity that we now know to be deceptive.
     Adult Fr. 6, concessions Fr. 4.50.
  • Invasion of Berne – successful!As you explore, you may notice these small graffiti mosaics, in the style of Taito’s “Space Invaders”. There are some 29 in Bern, the work of an “Unidentified Free Artist”. They’ve appeared on the walls, bridges and roofs of many cities around the world, including Basel, Geneva and Lausanne. And still they come: “Game Not Over”. Consider buying a map and doing the space invader tour – though in midsummer 2018 the Invader’s online shop is closed.
  • Kunstmuseum (Museum of Fine Arts), Hodlerstrasse 12.  Tu 10:00-21:00, W-Su 10:00-17:00, closed MHuge collection including Pablo Picasso, Ferdinand Hodler and Meret Oppenheim, and all the big names over eight centuries. Adult Fr. 10 permanent collection.
  • Swiss Alpine Museum (Alpines Museum), Helvetiaplatz 4.  Tu-Su 10:00-17:00A museum describing all aspects of the Swiss mountains: geology & tectonics, glaciers, weather, wildlife, agriculture & settlement, and alpinism and winter sports. With a large collection of artwork, e.g. paintings by Ferdinand Hodler. Adult Fr. 16.
  • Zentrum Paul KleeMonument im Fruchtland 3 (Trolleybus 12 to the end of the line).  Tu-Su 10:00–17:00The Centre is a modern building formed of three waves. The ground floor is a rotating exhibition drawn from some of Klee’s 4000 works – to Oct 2018 this is “Cosmos Klee”. Downstairs are other artists – to Oct 2018 this is Etal Adnam. Klee was celebrated for his “child’s view” of the world and his work is so accessible and fun, eg his wacky glove-puppets. A short walk across the adjacent park brings you to his grave. The Centre is included on the “Berne card” so you’ll recoup the Fr. 20 straight away. Adult Fr. 20, students Fr. 10, children 6-16 Fr. 7, families (1 adult + children 6-16) Fr. 27, families (2 adults + children 6-16) Fr. 40.

The view from Gurten Hill

  • Bear Pit (Bärengraben & BärenPark), Grosser Murisalder 6 (Foot of old town at Nydeggasse Bridge; trolleybus #12 towards Zentrum Paul Klee). Always open, but the bears hibernate Nov-MarRun as an outstation of the city’s Dählhölzli Zoo, the bear pit has a tunnel through to a bosky enclosure along the steep river bank, around which the bears can roam and swim. There are three: Finn (b 2020) is Daddy Bear, Björk (b 2020) is Mummy Bear, and Ursina (b 2020) is their daughter. Björk has been sterilised so there will be no more cubs: “More space for fewer animals” is the zoo’s motto. These are Eurasian brown bears, Ursus arctos arctos, with a round head and yellow-brown fur; they remain common in the wild in Central & East Europe.
    A second smaller pit is bare of bears but describes the history of the pits. Next to this is the Old Tram Depot, see “Eat”.
     Free.
  • Tierpark Dählhölzli (Zoo)Tierparkweg 1 (Bus 19 from main station to Tierpark).  Mar-Oct 08:30–19:00, Nov-Feb 09:00–17:00Berne’s zoo is along the Aare river, with many outdoor enclosures that incorporate the river. Adult Fr. 10, child 6-15 Fr. 6.
  • GurtenThe Gurten is a lovely hill just outside the city. It features a park and great view over the city on one side and a nice panorama of the Bernese alps on the other. The park is visited heavily by locals to play ball, to barbecue or to just lie in the sun. Tourists are not an unusual sight, though this little attraction is missed by most of the many that visit the city. Hiking paths lead in all directions and you will almost certainly stumble across some cows when walking around. A wooden look-out tower allows an even better panorama than that you would already have. If you get hungry or thirsty, a good budget restaurant service and self-service provides you with all you need. Families with children should not miss the cool playground. The Gurten can be easily reached with tram number 9 from the railway station in Berne in direction Wabern. Exit the tram at station Gurtenbahn and walk a few steps up the hill. Then take the Gurtenbahn, a panorama train that will bring you on top in just 5 minutes, round-trip tickets are Fr. 9 for adults or Fr. 4.50 for children (BernCard is valid), departure usually every 20 minutes depending on daytime. A club called up-town features various cultural events on weekends and once a year in summer national, European and a few international music stars (among others Alanis Morissette, Skin, Moloko and Jimmy Cliff in 2020) visit it for the Gurtenfestival, an open-air music festival. Gurten is a must see for everybody visiting the city for longer than a day. Free.
  • RosengartenLittle park with a splendid view over the old town. Situated close to the bear pits (follow the path that goes up the hill opposite the bear-pit-roundabout. Quite popular (and populated) during lunchtime. The Rosengarten can be easily reached by bus number 12 from the railway station in Berne in direction Zentrum Paul Klee.
  • Watch football soccer at BSC Young Boys, who play in the Swiss Super League, the top tier of Swiss football. They play at Stade de Suisse, capacity 32,000, 1 km north of city centre.
  • SC BernThe SCB is Berne’s ice-hockey team. The stadium is the second largest in Europe and is regularly sold out, producing an impressive atmosphere in the arena. It is also mentionable that the SC Bern boasts the highest average attendance outside the NHL. To get there, just take Tram Nr. 9 towards Guisanplatz and get off at the terminal stop.
  • Swimming in the river AareOn hot summer days, let yourself drift for a few kilometres in the river Aare. Good (and safe) stretches are between the Kornhausbridge and the public pool of the Lorraine (old fashioned swimming pool just next to the river) and between the Eichholz and the public pool of the Marzili. Other stretches such as swimming the bend around the old town (starting at the “Englische Anlagen” to the Lorraine) or the “Bremgartenschlaufe” are only to be done by good swimmers accompanied by experienced locals. Entrance to public pools is free of charge. This makes it a good idea to choose a swim that ends at a public pool so you can have a shower afterwards.

Events

  • GurtenfestivalIn July the Gurten hill is host for an open air festival with many national and international music acts. During these four days you will find a party crowd of up to 25,000 people on the hill day and night. 1-day pass: Fr. 75, 2 days: Fr. 115, 3 days: Fr. 155, 4 days: Fr. 195.
  • International Jazzfestival BernA jazz festival with international reputation is held in Berne every year since 1976.
  • Buskers BernSince a few years the annual street musician festival is taking place in the picturesque old town streets. You don’t need to buy a ticket but are encouraged to buy a festival pin or give donations to the musicians which come from all around the world.

Learn

Berne is home to the prestigious University of Berne which enrolls 17,431 students (2020). In addition, the city has the University of Applied Science also known as Berner Fachhochschule. There are also many vocational schools and offices of the Goethe Institute and the Alliance-Francaise (German and French cultural institutes).

Shopping in Bern

Bern boasts six kilometres of arcades, which represent the longest weather-sheltered shopping promenade in Europe. Westside shopping centre has 55 shops, restaurants, a cinema and a spa. There are other malls too, for all the regular merchandise.

At Beck Glatz Confiseur you can buy the Mandelbärli, or almond bear, which is a great Bern souvenir, and a speciality of the confectioner.
Bucherer is a world renowned jeweller founded in 1888. This traditional company specialises in the finest watches, clocks and jewellery.

On the Bundesplatz you’ll find the vegetable, fruit and flower markets, on Tuesdays and Saturdays, and daily in summer. On the first Saturday of the month there is a craft market in front of the cathedral.

As with most other cities in Switzerland, store opening and closing hours in Berne are strictly regulated. All stores, including grocers, close by 18:30 or 19:00 from Monday to Friday, except on Thursdays when they remain open until 21:00. Aldi supermarkets are an exception, closing at 20:00 during the week. On Saturdays everything must close by 17:00. On Sundays, all stores are closed, except for those in the main railway station, which are open 7 days a week until about 22:00, and which include Migros and Coop supermarkets.

Rathausgasse and the streets parallel to it have any number of cute shops with an amazing range of handicraft and luxury goods. This is not the normal range of Swiss souvenir stuff, but really interesting things. There are a couple of worthy examples below, but the real pleasure is in spending a few hours (or days) exploring the arcades and vitrines.

  • YamatutiAarbergergasse 16-18.  M-W F 10:00–18:30, Th 10:00–21:00, Sa 10:00–17:00Unique toys and kitsch collectibles pack the walls of this cramped space.
  • Krompholz MusicEffingerstrasse 51, 3008 Bern (Visit website for which tram lines to take and the stops.) ,    Monday – Saturday 10:00–17:00The thing that makes this shop special is its huge collection of sheet music and English language music instruction materials. Pretty good CD section with lots of Swiss artists, both pop and folk.

There are several used book stores that carry cheap books in German, English and French:

  • Bücherbergwerk MonbijouMonbijoustrasse 16 (on the street through which tram line 9 descends from Hirschengraben near the main station, in the basement of the building marked SWICA).  Tu-F 10:00–17:00 and Sa 11:00–15:00The used bookstore of the Swiss Workers’ Aid Society.
  • Bücher-Brockenhaus BernRathausgasse 34 (in the old city between the Zytglogge and the Rathaus).  Tu-F 14:00–18:30, Sa 09:00–12:00, 14:00–16:00.

Eating Out in Bern

If you’re on a budget, the Beaulieu on Erlachstrasse is recommended; it’s a traditional restaurant that offers classic Bernese and Swiss cuisine at great prices. Its proximity to the university means it’s popular with the students, and is also popular with the local working population. If you prefer local to a tourist trap, this is the place to go and rub shoulders with the Bernese.

Equally good value is to be found at Suan Long, underneath the main train station. With fast service and a big variety of Chinese dishes, together with a wide vegetarian selection, this is the ideal eatery; especially if you’re waiting for a train.

For middle-of-the-road costs, try the Kornhaus, on the Kornhausplatz. This beautiful restaurant, as you can probably deduce, is in an old granary. It serves mostly Italian food, and your eyes will be wandering all around the restaurant, as it is covered with frescos of traditional Swiss scenes and historical events.

Also in the medium range is the Restaurant Muesmatt, on Freiestrasse. It was built in 1891 to service the steel workers at the Von Roll steelworks in Bern. The Von Roll buildings were converted into university lecture halls, and the brownstone houses around it now house students. This eatery offers fresh local organic produce, and has an outside terrace you can sit on, with great old oak trees offering shade. They serve the local Burgdorfer beer, and wifi is available.

If you prefer a scenic meal, try the Casino Restaurant on Herrengasse. It’s on the Aare River, and offers great views of the river and the mountains. The recommended dish is the pasta with mushrooms, and there’s a range of meat and fish dishes too.

If you’re in the mood to splurge, the place to be seen at is the Bellevue Palace, on the Kochergasse. It’s pricey, but if you go whilst parliament is in session, you might just come across the Swiss president eating his lunch there.

Also in the high price range is the Restaurant Rosengarten, which offers great views of the city.

Eating in Berne (or almost anywhere in Switzerland for that matter) can be an expensive proposition for foreign tourists. Be sure to “shop around” before deciding on a restaurant as many of them cater to foreign tourists (especially those serving traditional Swiss food) and have inflated their prices accordingly. Most Bernese natives prefer Italian, Asian, or other non-local cuisine so finding a traditional Swiss restaurant with acceptable prices can often be a daunting experience. Be patient and you will persevere without breaking the bank.

Budget

  • Suan LongRail City, underneath main station, Bern.  Low-priced Chinese meals, wide variety of dishes, including good vegetarian selection. Quick service and ideal if you’re waiting for a train. Especially recommended if you enjoy spicy food! Fr. 17-25.
  • BeaulieuErlachstrasse 3 ,  fax+41 31 305 86 55M-Th 08:00–11:30, F 08:00–00:30, Sa 10:00–22:00Old-fashioned restaurant serving traditional Swiss and Bernese cuisine at very affordable prices. Popular among students due to its situation close to the university; equally popular among the local workers. Definitely not a tourist restaurant—go here if you want to meet the Bernese among themselves.
  • Sous le Pont ,   Tu-F 11:30–14:30 and 18:00–00:00, Sa 19:00–00:00, Su 10:00–16:00A nice restaurant in the Reitschule complex which serves excellent dishes.
  • WäbereGerechtigkeitsgasse 68 ,  fax+41 31 312 20 67 Monday – Saturday 11:00–23:00Excellent soups, a good rendering of Swiss standards, such as cheese fondue, and an decent number of veggie choices. Many items available in half portions. Fr. 14-24.

Mid-range

  • Old Tram Depot (Altes Tramdepot), Grosser Muristalden (across bridge at east side of city centre, next to bear pit).  11:00-23:00The trams used to terminate here: nowadays it’s a trolleybus route. Good, hearty Swiss food. Range of dishes from budget price rösti to higher-priced meat specialities. On-site brewery with traditional beers available. Bench seating with great atmosphere. Fr. 20-40.
  • Café FédéralBärenplatz 31.  Stylish, modern atmosphere and international cuisine. Situated in front of the Bundeshaus, its popularity among politicians during the “Session” is legendary. Specializes in entrecôtes (a kind of steak), but has other dishes, including vegetarian ones.
  • Casino RestaurantHerrengasse 25 ,   At the shore of Aare river, with a view over the river and mountains on the South. Dishes include excellent pasta with mushrooms, fish, and meats, served throughout the day. . Fr. 25-45 a main dish.
  • KornhausKornhausplatz 18 ,  fax+41 31 327 72 71The room alone is worth a stop at this fabulously appointed mostly Italian restaurant. As one might guess from the name, the building was built for grain storage, but now features fresco paintings of traditional Swiss scenes, events from local history, and related characters. Fr. 26-45 for the main dish. Fr. 9-14 for appetizers..
  • SchmiedstubeSchmiedenplatz 5.   Monday – Saturday 08:30–23:30German, French, Italian, English and Spanish spoken. This traditional Swiss restaurant is well known for its typical dishes, such as Röschti, Cordon Bleu, Älplermakkaronen. It’s 90 m (300 ft) from the clock tower “Zytglogge”.
  • SchwellenmätteliDalmaziquai 11 ,   Terrace open M-Su 08:00–00:00A very nice restaurant at the side of the river Aare with a nice view on the Cathedral. Fr. 20-40 for a main dish.

Splurge

  • Bellevue PalaceKochergasse 3-5 ,  fax+41 31 47 43Stylish hotel and restaurant; has its price. Go there when the Parliament is in session, and you may very well see the president of Switzerland having lunch.
  • Restaurant RosengartenAlter Aargauerstalden 31b.  Upscale Swiss restaurant with amazing view over the city
  • Kursaal-Bern (Meridiano), Kornhausstrasse 3.  Tu-F 11:30–14:00, 18:00–00:00. Sa 18:00–24:00. Sunday & Monday closedThe Meridiano is famous far beyond the borders of Bern for its welcoming hospitality. And for its innovative cuisine – prepared to perfection by Chef de Cuisine Markus Arnold and his team. The restaurant has been awarded 16 Gault-millau points and one Michelin star. Guests are offered fine views extending over Bern and the surrounding scenic countryside. Fr. 20-76.

Nightlife in Bern

You absolutely have to try the Bern Pub Crawl! It happens on the first Friday of the month, and it’s free. Well, except for your drinks. Bern has a vibrant bar scene, and there’s no better way to get around to seeing the local bars, and making friends in fun places. Every hour, the group moves on to a new bar. You’ll meet both locals, and international travelers like yourself, and have a ball. Google them for details.

The Liquid Club is a high-tech venue. From where you’re sitting in the lounge, you look down through the glass floor onto the dance floor, which has a revolving stage in the centre of it. The club is used alternately as a disco, a reading room, a concert hall, and a theatre. Its clientele is trendy and chic.

Le ciel opened its doors in 2010, with Bob Sinclair as the DJ. DJs from the VIP ROOM Paris and Mansion Miami have also played there. The 250 square meter dance floor hosts mainly house and RnB, with a mix of party hits thrown in. A great place for partying.

Next to the clock tower you’ll find Du Théâtre, nicknamed the DüDü by the locals, is a trendy club that has both a bar and a lounge. The lounge has comfortable leather chairs and sofas, a fireplace and a glass roof. Famous DJs offer the latest in music; whether you’re sipping cocktails in the lounge or partying to the music, a good time can be had by all.

The Bern Theatre, known as Stadttheater Bern, is an opera house and theatre that has seen many great performances. If you would enjoy an evening of high European culture, check their itinerary to see what is on while you’re in the city.

Many Bernese will tell you that nightlife in Berne is not exactly what you might call stunning, but they’re probably comparing it to Zurich or Paris. There are quite a few good spots to hang out.

For a drink or two, there’s a wide choice of bars all over town. However, you might be disappointed with most central options as they tend to be annoyingly conventional, though there are an ample number of exceptions:

  • Du NordLorrainestrasse 2 (across Lorraine Bridge from the city centre).
  • Café KairoDammweg 43, 3013 BernAnother nice choice in the same area as Du Nord.
  • CubaKornhausplatz 14.  With Latin-influenced Cuba Bar next door.

Most of the towns cooler bars are around the main clubbing venues though. In the ancient Matte neighborhood, which is well worth a daytime visit too, you’ll find nightlife options for almost every taste.

  • DampfzentraleMarzilistrasse 47.  In this former electricity facility you’ll find an excellent restaurant and bar, along with lots of cultural pearls. They specialize in urban, jazzy, electronic music and dance performances. Definitely a gem!
  • PROGR_centre for cultural productionWaisenhausplatz 30/ Speichergasse 4.  Close to the Reithalle and even closer to the city centre, you will find the PROGR. More than 100 artists, dancers, actors and musician have their studios here. It’s large courtyard with the CaféBar Turnhalle is a real oasis. From September to June, they offer a cultural program with exhibitions of experimental and contemporary art, theatre, performance, lectures and regular concerts on Sunday nights (jazz- connected, world women voices).
  • ReitschuleNeubrückstrasse 8.  Next to the central train station is Berne’s most important centre for alternative culture. The huge brick building is visible from far, easy to recognize by its abundant graffiti art on the façade and roof. Reitschule has the status of an autonomous cultural centre, which means in firm language that it’s a no-police zone. This of course gives it a bit of an anarchist touch, a touch of “anything goes”. And indeed, anything does go: Reitschule features a theatre, a cinema, a women’s room and two concert/dancing venues, all dedicated entirely to alternative culture. Concerts included rjd2, Metalheadz and DJ Babu. The centre as a whole is a unique experience and a must-see for anyone who has an interest in contemporary urban culture.
  • Wasserwerk ClubThis is one of Berne’s traditional clubbing and concert venues for urban music. It actually features two parts: Sportwerk The very welcoming, smaller “Sportwerk”, which is open all week and free of charge, offers drinks, music, pool, snooker, darts, table soccer and flipper games as well as sport events on TV in a laid back, greenish atmosphere. The bigger part of the club, the actual “Wasserwerk” is open on weekends and features excellent djs and live concerts.

Of Local Interest

March sees Museums Night, which heralds the coming of spring. Bern’s museum’s doors stay open until the early hours of the morning and thousands stream through the doors. It’s a novel experience.

From March to May is the Bern Jazz Festival – drawing visitors from all over Switzerland as well as abroad, to the capital. It’s one of the most important traditional jazz events, and has been running since 1976.

May sees the Grand Prix – Switzerland’s largest racing event, and a top-notch spectacle with this historic town as a picturesque backdrop.

In June, you can enjoy the Bern Dance Festival; devoted to all types of dance. There are workshops, discussions, performances and exhibitions.

July hosts the Gurtenfestival, which is held on top of Gurten Hill. It goes on for four days, and features artists from the international music scene; tens of thousands attend, so it’s quite a party, both day and night.

In August is the Buskers Bern Street Festival. It is held on the streets of the Old Town at around 20 stops. The street musicians play mostly cabaret. It’s free, but you are encouraged to give donations to the musicians from all over the world; or at least to buy a festival pin.

In the second week of November the Queersicht is held, which is a gay and lesbian film festival.

The 4th Monday in November brings the Onion Market to the squares of the city centre. People start pouring in in the early morning hours, and by the end of it the squares are strewn with confetti. The stall holders display their wares, which include onion tarts, and onions plaited together. It’s a colorful celebration, and worth going to see.

Stay safe in Bern

Bern is a very safe place with nearly no violent crime. However, as it is the capital of Switzerland, it sees political demonstrations every few weeks on a variety of subjects, occasionally leading to police intervention.

The central railway station often hosts drunks and vagrants at night, which is a nuisance but in general not dangerous.

There has been a slight increase in violence from young people. Try to avoid groups of drunk teenagers that look suspicious and you should be fine.

While police officers in Bern will happily help you out if you are in trouble or need information, they are also known for approaching “suspicious” persons in order to check their papers. This procedure is annoying, but legal as you will probably have a hard time proving you were not acting suspicious. Carry a photocopy of your passport and your onward ticket with you, stay calm and polite and you won’t have much trouble.

Cope

Embassies & Consulates in Bern

  • FinlandWeltpoststrasse 4, 3015 Bern ,  fax+41 31 350 41 07 Monday to Friday 09:00–12:00.
  • The NetherlandsSeftigenstrasse 7 ,   Mo-Fr 8.30AM-12.30AM/1.30PM-5PM.

Go next

Berne is an ideal gateway to the Bernese Highlands. You can make day trips to beautiful locations like Spiez, Thun, Interlaken, Grindelwald and all the way up the Jungfrau to Jungfraujoch. Other pleasant day trips are to Biel, Fribourg and Gstaad.

Geneva, Basel and Zurich can easily be done as day-trips but deserve a longer stay.

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Switzerland

Lucerne | Covid-19 Travel Restrictions | Lockdown | Coronavirus Outbreak

Wolfgang Holzem

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Lucerne1000x600

Lucerne (Luzern in German, Lozärn in Swiss-German) is a beautiful small city in the heartland of Switzerland, across the lake from Altdorf, where legend has it William Tell shot an apple off of his son’s head. Lucerne is a fine city to visit, and is a great base from which to explore famous Swiss sites such as the mountains Rigi, Pilatus, Titlis and the Rütli meadow.

With panoramic views of the glorious rugged peaks of the snow-capped Alps the breathtaking central Swiss city of Lucerne is the picturesque gateway to the popular tourist destinations Mount Rigi and the Rütli Meadow. Located in a German speaking area of Switzerland, the city hugs the shores of gorgeous Lake Lucerne which adds further to the charms and delights of what is truly a glorious destination. Basking in a glory of a booming tourism industry, the city has a magical charm, whisking visitors right back to a fairy tale era, some thousands of years ago – to the 13th Century.

Starting out life as a humble yet integral trading point for travelers and merchants making their way across the Swiss Alps, Lucerne’s vast wealth has antique roots. With a charismatic and glamorous history, the city of Lucerne is steeped in myths and legend including being the epic site where Swiss folk hero William Tell was to have shot an apple off of his son’s head.

Diverse and spectacular, Lucerne is a city that offers something special for every visitor. And whether you have come for the mountains, the city, the lake, the history, the festivals or the culture – you will not be disappointed. This incredible medieval city centre is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Switzerland and has grown in leaps and bounds from its origins as a small lakeside fishing village. Breathtaking sights, historical attractions and the staging point for outdoor pursuits in wonderful countryside, Lucerne is fabulous any time of year.

Swiss Coronavirus since Reopening
644,396
Confirmed
10,555
Deaths
0
Deaths (24h)
1.6%
Deaths (%)
575,624
Recovered
0
Recovered (24h)
89.3%
Recovered (%)
58,217
Active
9.0%
Active (%)

The first city to join the Swiss Confederation, today Lucerne is a lovely small city with a thriving tourism industry, owing mainly to its status as a gateway to Central Switzerland. The city is a centre of Swiss history and legend.

Tourism in Lucerne has a distinguished history dating from the mid-19th century, with Mark Twain among them. In A Tramp Abroad he recalls the nascent souvenir business, and other budding examples of the tourism trade.

“The commerce of Lucerne consists mainly in gimcrackery of the souvenir sort; the shops are packed with Alpine crystals, photographs of scenery, and wooden and ivory carvings. I will not conceal the fact that miniature figures of the Lion of Lucerne are to be had in them. Millions of them.” — Mark Twain

The Best Time to Go

The best time to go and visit Lucerne depends only on your budget, your seasonal and climate preference and whether or not you like crowds. Summer runs from June through to September and is the most popular season for visitors as the weather isn’t so cold and you can expect daytime averages reaching about 23°C (73°F). However, being the high peak tourist season, everything from flights to accommodation to meals will be expensive and accommodation is virtually impossible to get if not booked well ahead of time.

In addition there are queues to get into all of the attractions and sites and the entire city will be heaving with holiday makers. So the best time to go if you want to visit when there are no crowds will be April or May and around the end of September and October. Spring and Fall, the crowds have dispersed, the high season prices have dropped – although the day time temperatures are not as high.

But if you are visiting the city with your skis and or snowboard, then the best time for you to visit would be any time during winter. The snow fields around Lucerne offer sporting facililites and good snow from November right through to April.  December is a much favored month in Lucerne and the city is busy not only with winter sports enthusiasts but also visitors flock into the city for the Christmas markets and a super special Swiss white Christmas.

Lucerne has cold, dry winters and warm/hot summers.

Getting Around in Lucerne

With a major slice of tourist action going on all year round, there is a good visitor infrastructure and Lucerne is easily accessible to all travelers. Navigating the city on foot is one of the most sensible ways to get around. The most popular historic sights and the Old Town are all about 20 minutes or so away from each other on foot. With plenty to see on the way, a journey on foot is favored, especially when the weather is nice.

There is also a fantastic city bus system that will assist less mobile and disabled visitors getting around to see the city. If you plan to go out of the city and explore the rest of Central Switzerland then the Swiss Federal Railway has lines that will take you where you want to go.

Cycling is another popular way to see the sights of the city and bike rentals, pick up and drop off is available at the central rail station and throughout the city. You can also rent electric bicycles and other bikes with baggage clamps that will take you zipping around the streets of Lucerne. The city is well planned, organized and easy to navigate and you can tour around at your own leisurely pace.

By train

Thanks to its central location Lucerne railway station (Bahnhof Luzern) can be reached easily from nearly every other city in Switzerland using the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB CFF FFS)). There are hourly trains from Olten and Zürich Airport and half-hourly trains from Zurich, and a direct train every hour from Bern. There is an hourly service from Bellinzona in Ticino, and Pfäffikon and St. Gallen in the North East.

The “Zentralbahn” branch of the Swiss Federal Railways provides also hourly trains between Interlaken and Lucerne during daytime.

By bus

There are no intercity buses in Switzerland as the train system provides ample connections to many destinations in Switzerland. To make trips to the countryside in the mountains where there are no trains, refer to postauto.ch buses are available from some nearby places, such as Rotkreuz.

By boat

Lucerne sits at the northwest end of the Vierwaldstättersee, one of the most beautiful waterways in Switzerland, for travel information from Schwyz, Flüelen, Weggis, and outbound points see the schedule at the Schifffahrtsgesellschaft Vierwaldstättersee.

Able-bodied travellers will find Lucerne a complete joy to get around in on foot. The Old-Town is rather small, and most other interesting sites are within 20 minutes or so walk, there is also a city bus system, as well as assistance for disabled visitors on request from Mobility International Switzerland. The Lido beach and the Swiss Transport Museum are a bit further out and can be reached by bus or by one of several boats per hour from just in front of the central railway station.

Lucerne also makes a very good base for discovering the rest of Central Switzerland, using the Swiss Federal Railway, the Schifffahrtsgesellschaft Vierwaldstättersee, or any one of several private rail or boat companies.

Bicycles are available for rent at the central railway station, at ticket window 21 on the lower level. For Fr. 31 per day, you can rent a 24-speed, sturdily-built bike with a baggage clamp. Electric bikes are also available. Bike pick-up and drop-off are around the left side of the train station, at a kiosk across the street from the Swiss Post building. Bike lanes are present on most secondary streets, and Lucerne drivers are generally aware of and polite towards bicyclists.

By bus

Lucerne has an efficient bus network: Verkehrsbetriebe Luzern (VBL) (German only). It covers the city and its suburbs.

What to see and do

The Lion Monument of Lucerne is always busy with tourists – no matter the weather or time of year.

  • The Chapel Bridge (Kapellbrücke). The Chapel Bridge, a landmark of Lucerne, is said to be the oldest wooden bridge of all Europe, built in 14th century as a protection for the city. It’s amusing walking over it as you can see about 100 pictures of 12th-century city life and Swiss history. Join one of the walking tours going around! Parts of the bridge burned down on 18 August 1993, but within a few months it was rebuilt. The tower used as oubliette is still in original condition.
  • Lucerne Culture and Congress Centre (Kultur- und Kongresszentrum Luzern). The KKL is a spectacular building that contains several concert halls and the Lucerne Art Museum. It was designed by Jean Nouvel. Its major concert hall (“La salle blanche”) is famous for its acoustics, and world class orchestras can be heard regularly. It hosts the Lucerne Festival (classical music).
  • The Lion Monument (Löwendenkmal), Denkmalstrasse 4Also known as the Lion of Lucerne, it is a sculpture in Lucerne, Switzerland, designed by Bertel Thorvaldsen. It commemorates the Swiss Guards who were massacred in 1792 during the French Revolution, when revolutionaries stormed the Tuileries Palace in Paris, France. The American writer Mark Twain (1835–1910) praised the sculpture of a mortally-wounded lion as “the most mournful and moving piece of stone in the world.”
  • AlpineumA museum and diorama dedicated to the Alps.
  • Bourbaki PanoramaLöwenplatz 11Nov-Mar 10:00–17:00; Apr-Oct 09:00–18:00A circular panoramic painting. Fr. 12.
  • The Glacier Garden (Gletschergarten).
  • Swiss Museum of Transport (Verkehrshaus der Schweiz), Lidostrasse 5 (Lido beach, the first stop for boats leaving from the central train station, preferably reached by bus). Summer 10:00–18:00; Winter 10:00–17:00With its large collection of trains, planes, automobiles, and motorcycles, this museum of means of transport is a great place to spend an afternoon. If you get tired of the real train engines you can check out the model railroad or the miniature working steam train. The air section also features several space travel exhibits, including an unused project Mercury capsule. Fr. 32 for adults, Fr. 21 for children 6-16, and free for younger kids.
  • The old city wall (Museggmauer). A part of the rampart walls built in 1386; the wall is still almost entirely intact. Four towers are open to the public: Schirmer, Zyt, Wacht and Männli.
  • Lucerne Art Museum (Kunstmuseum Luzern).
  • The Rosengart Collection (Sammlung Rosengart), Pilatusstrasse 10 ,   April–October: daily 10:00–18:00; November–March: daily 11:00–17:00Well over 200 works by 23 artists of early modernism, including 125 works of Paul Klee and about 50 by Pablo Picasso. Also works by Cézanne, Chagall, Miró, Pissarro, among others. The collection also houses 200 photographs — previously housed in the Am-Rhyn-Haus — by David Duncan Douglas, Life Magazine’s World War II photo correspondent who arrived with his camera uninvited at Picasso’s villa “California”, was welcomed by Picasso and his family, and over the years produced an intimate portrait of the artist’s day-to-day life. Picasso’s living room was his studio, and domestic scenes — a ballet lesson, Picasso drawing with his children, or wrapping himself in the cape and hat of his native Spain — play out within the backdrop of some of his most famous works. Admission Fr. 15 (Fr. 8 for students, children 7-16 years).
  • The Richard Wagner Museum.
  • Weekly MarketEvery Thursday and Saturday from 06:00 to 13:00 along the Reuss river. The market has many local products and specialities.

Major Attractions and Sights

The Chapel Bridge

The oldest wooden bridge in all of Europe as well as an iconic Lucerne landmark has been standing for nearly 700 years. Made entirely of timber and built in 1333, the Chapel Bridge unfortunately was badly burnt in a fire in 1993 but was rebuilt a few months later.

The Lion Monument

Also known as the Lion of Lucerne, the Lion Monument is a sculpture commemorating the Swiss Guards who were massacred in the French Revolution in the 18th Century.

The Rosengart Collection

With more than 200 displayed artworks from more than 23 modern artists as well has some 200 photos from David Duncan Douglas who was a WWII photographic correspondent, this is one exhibit that should not be missed. Look out for works of art by Miro, Picasso, Klee and Cezanne. The Douglas collection showcases an intimate portrait of Picasso and his family throughout the years.

The Swiss Transport Museum

This is a fantastic place to spend the afternoon if you are into trains, planes and automobiles as well as motorcycles. There are also some exhibitions of space, a model railroad and a miniature steam train.

The Picasso Museum

With its famous location being in the Am-Rhyn Haus, this inspiring museum showcases a vivid collection of paintings, drawings, ceramics and sculptures all done by Pablo Picasso. The museum is entirely dedicated to this art legend and most of the work is from the last 20 years of his life.

The Glacier Garden

This garden has got to be one of the most unique sites in the city. The Gletshergaten is a massive piece of land with unusual pits which are actually holes of erosion created during the Iron Age when Lake Lucerne was entirely covered by ice. There is a museum here, maps and a delightful showcase of animals and prehistoric plants.

The Old Town

This is one of the most popular sections of the city. Every antique city and town in Europe worth its salt has a medieval old town and Lucerne’s is a fine example. Beautifully preserved, it sweeps you back in time as you meander through the winding cobbled streets and narrow passages exploring tucked away buildings and squares.

Lake Lucerne

Vast and breathtaking, Lake Lucerne is a sensational Swiss panorama. Glittery breeze-ruffled waters lap the shores of the rugged Alpine forests, giving way to meadows and valleys. Enjoy a resplendent tour on the lake aboard a vintage paddle steamer or join in with a variety of water sports during the summer months on the water’s edge.

The Richard Wagner Museum

Find here a stunning showcase of historic musical instruments including portable and regal organs; a wonderful tribute to the legendary composer who had his home here in Lucerne.

  • Explore the Old TownOne of the main reasons that Lucerne attracts so many travelers is its small but remarkably preserved old town. You can get lost (for a few minutes anyhow) in its maze of streets, passages, and squares, admiring the many and varied murals painted on what seems like every other building. A nice short walk on the Museggmauer starts at the Schirmer-Turm, walk up the road near Jazzkantine, open only at daytime.
  • Watch football ie soccer at FC Luzen, who play in the Super League, the top tier of Swiss football. Their home ground is Swissporarena, capacity 17,000, at 91 Horwerstrasse, 1 km south of city centre next to the Trade Centre.
  • Ascend Mount PilatusA famous mountain overlooking the city of Lucerne. Its peak can be reached by the world’s steepest cogwheel railway from Alpnachstad (not operating in wintertime) and all-year-round by cable-car in three sections from Kriens (10 minutes by trolley bus no. 1 from Lucerne as far as ‘Linde’). This trip is definitely a must and gives you a good impression of a wild and rocky peak with a marvelous view to the “real” Alps. Of course you can walk to the top on foot, which takes at least 4 hours from Kriens. A pleasant alternative is to walk down to Kriens from the bottom of the middle cable-car section. In addition to hiking, there are several other activities, including a suspension rope park and a 1,350 m long toboggan (both at the second stop of the cable-car from Kriens). Even if you don’t plan to hike, allow for at least three hours to spend on Pilatus.
  • Ascend Mount RigiA famous mountain overlooking the city of Lucerne. Its peak can be reached by a cogwheel railway from Vitznau and Arth-Goldau and by cable-car from Weggis. Vitznau and Weggis can easily be reached by boat. The peak can be reached by foot from everywhere in around 4-5 hours.
  • Mount TitlisThe mountain Engelberg has a glacier on the top and a splendid view.
  • Take a boat tourTake a boat tour on the lake Lucerne with the traditional steamboats
  • Take a guided tour.
  • Paraglide from Pilatus and RigiParagliding down from the majestic mountains surrounding Lake Lucerne is a unique experience. Tandem paragliding is possible all year round with pilots certified by the Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA) of Switzerland.
  • Rent a bicycleLucerne has an excellent bicycle Network. Rent a bicycle at the train station in lucerne and explore the city and the suburbs or make a day trip on the national bicycle network.
  • Go Trekking or Mountain Biking around Engelberg.
  • Felsenweg BuergerstockGet a beautiful view over the Mittelland and its lakes on this 2-hour walk. Go there by boat (Lucerne-Kehrsiten) and funiculaire or by train and bus (Lucerne-Stansstad-Bürgenstock). There are some luxury resorts at Buergerstock. It’s also possible to go by mountain bike to the top.

Shopping in Lucerne

The retail experience in Lucerne is typically Swiss – a good mixture of high street style brand names and exclusive boutiques and shops. Wander the small hops in the old town or head for the brighter lights of the main drag. Good buys are to be found in fashion and accessories and of course, prestigious watches and fine jewelry are a major player. Casagrande is a favorite among tourists as there are typical Swiss souvenirs and handicrafts to be found at reasonable prices. Markets are colorful and lively and are held in various locations in the city throughout the week.

The shopping in Lucerne has improved somewhat since Mark Twain’s visit. You’ll find several good department stores with acceptable prices for most items, as well as pricey speciality shops.

  • Lucerne’s old town is full of shops – especially clothing
  • Lucerne’s station hosts several stores which have longer opening hours than most other shops.
  • BuchererSchwanenplatz 5, toll-free: +41 41 369 77 00  Monday – Saturday 09:00-18:30, Su 15:00-18:30The flagship store of Switzerland’s best-known watch and high-end jewellery dealer.

Eating Out in Lucerne

Lucerne offers a true authentic Swiss cuisine experience and is renowned for having some of the best food in the country. Fish is a popular choice on any menu with the daily fresh catch straight from the lake made available all throughout the city. Two of the most delightful things that you must try while visiting the city are the Kaffee Fertig – coffee laced with schnapps; a true Swiss pick-meup in every sense of the word. And the Luzerner Kugelipastete, which is a delicious puff pastry dish filled with veal and mushrooms in a sauce. The markets, sidewalk cafes and finest restaurants offer up a feast of pastries, cheese, chocolates, fondue and rostii –  practically one of the national dishes of Switzerland – a fried pancake of grated potato.

GartenHaus 1313 is a relaxed and friendly restaurant offering the best Swiss comfort food in a laid back atmosphere. Longing for a mouth-watering home cooked meal? Then this is the place to go, where there’s good value for money by Swiss standards and unpretentious, with a new menu prepared every day.

The Old Swiss House is an elegant and super popular traditional Swiss Restaurant. A bit on the pricey side but worth every cent for its excellent service and mouth-watering menu – come hungry book ahead and leave your diet at home.

  • Treibhaus LuzernThey have fine food. 2 menus each day (menu Fr. 13, students Fr. 7), snacks, donuts and very fine coffee. There are concerts at night.
  • Erdem KebapSaid to serve the best kepabs in town. Cheap.
  • ParterreGood, friendly atmosphere. They have different menus every day.
  • Migros or Coop. Huge supermarket chains with a lot of budget products. There is a small Migros and a bigger Coop at the train station, near the tourist office. There are other Migros around, ask the people. Farther there are Migros and Coop Restaurants self-service restaurants.

Mid-range

  • Mövenpick RestaurantGrendelstr. 19 ,  fax+41 41 410 44 37International dishes and English menu on request.

Splurge

  • Restaurant Schwan.
  • Brasserie BoduKornmarkt 5.  Exquisite French cuisine.
  • Restaurant Old Swiss HouseFamous for their Schnitzel which they prepare directly next to the table.

Night Life in Lucerne

The night life in Lucerne is buzzing, and there is something to keep you up until the wee hours, every night of the week. There is a huge cultural sector in the city and the Congress Centre is the place to be if you are after opera, ballet, theatre, arts and music. The Kultur Kalender will provide a comprehensive listing of what is on while you are visiting Lucerne.

There are many music festivals held throughout every season, bringing in big name artists from around the world. Chances are that no matter what time of the year you are here, you are bound to be able to get tickets for some of the best live performances held in all of Switzerland.

As far as the ultimate party is concerned you have definitely come to the right place – everyone is satisfied with the range of dance clubs, bars, pubs, discos and nightclubs. Schuur is one of the biggest nightclubs in Lucerne, with a fantastic outdoor area, a party room with international live bands and music themed nights perfect for rocking the night away.

The Loft is one of the trendiest nightlife hangouts in the city, and attracts a younger, hip crowd who sip on expensive cocktails and boogie the night away. The atmosphere is classy, yet laid back and they have a great selection of music.

  • JazzkantineQuite small but comfortable bar. They have a stage in the basement. Sometimes there are jazzists playing (4 to 8 times a month). In the same building is the local jazz school, so it’s a kind of student bar.
  • MetzgerhalleBaselstrasse 1Old Swiss restaurant made into a cool bar, usually full on weekends.
  • Mr. Pickwick’s PubUsual Irish pub.
  • Shamrock Irish Pub (formerly Gracie Kelly’s) (in the old-town, 5 minutes walk from the train station). A great selection of Irish and Swiss drinks, home-made food, sports on display.
  • Treibhaus LuzernSmall but cool alternative club, sometimes concerts, cheap food with 2 menus each day.
  • SchüürPopular concert place with an outdoor bar in summer.
  • SedelThe place where punk rock goes on. In the 1980s it was the place for the youth rebellion. Unfortunately it has lost a bit of its idealism, nevertheless it’s still the club mothers don’t want to let their kids go to. Today there are a lot of concerts from Ska to Britpop to Postrock to Gothic. The building was a jail for women and was converted to music practice rooms for bands in the 1980s. There are about 60 bands rocking and practising their sets. So, if you hear some noise somewhere in the building, just knock at the door and come for a jam session. There’s a shuttle running from central Lucerne up to the club. Look it up on their website.
  • RathausBeer brewed in this small restaurant/brewery. Get the speciality beer.
  • Bar 58Nice neighbourhood bar on Klosterstrasse.
  • Bar 59Opened by the former owners of Bar 58, larger and has live music venues as well but still has a neighborhood bar feel – on Industriestrasse, hidden in the basement of a warehouse looking building.
  • Bar BerlinLädelistrasse 6 (on a small sidestreet from Baselstrasse),  F Sa 18:00–03:30Small bar with good sound and good drinks, nice and cozy.

Clubs

Lucerne has lots of clubs for lots of different tastes. Baselstrasse is a nightlife strip emerging out of a redlight district. There are also raves in industrial buildings that require you to join their “club” as they’re not legally allowed to sell alcohol to the public.

  • Casineum (Grand Casino Luzern)Haldenstrasse 6Fancy club in a casino, mainstream music
  • RoadhousePilatusstrasse 1 ,  fax+41 41 220 27 28Bar and disco that is always packed, lots of people go there for their afterwork beers because it’s beside the train station next to McDonald’s.
  • Das Schwarze SchafFrankenstrasse 2 (behind McDonalds at the train station).  Mainstream bar/club.
  • Das Weisse SchafFrankenstrasse 2 (behind McDonald’s at the train station).
  • The LoftHaldenstrasse 21 (at the Casino) ,  fax+41 41 410 27 28 price=From RnB to Reggaeton to Urban, gay-friendly, and hosts monthly Frigay nights.
  • PenthousePilatusstrasse 29 ,   17:00 to late nightFancy rooftop bar.
  • ROKSeidenhofstrasse 5 ,   House, electro, minimal, mash-up, tech-house, dub.
  • MadeleineBaselstrasse 15 (at the beginning of Baselstrasse). Concerts, open mics, chillout, soul, funk, disco, alternative crowd.
  • GewerbehalleBaselstrasse 46Cool bar to hang out with a nice downstairs club.
  • Klub KegelbahnBaselstrasse 24 F Sa from 23:00A small basement club with good electronic music, from techno to more experimental stuff, check their website.

Cafés

The three bakery chains, HugHeini and Bachmann, have several good cafés spread all over the city.

Local Interest

Lucerne is famous for having an exciting line up of events all throughout the year, and there are many cultural, musical and traditional folklore festivals and events held in the medieval city. Christmas is a special time and people come from all over the world to brave the cold and snow and head out to the Christmas markets sampling local fare, delicious pastries and hot mulled wine. Being such a popular tourist town, you can be sure that if you are here to be entertained you won’t go home disappointed.

Internationale Musikfestwochen Luzern

Lucerne was the home of the famous composer Richard Wagner who wrote some of his finest pieces of music here. The International Music Festival of Lucerne is considered to be the finest in Europe and is a tribute to this music legend. It is held over a month from the middle of August ending in the middle of September every year.

Carnival

Held every year at the end of winter on the Thursday before Ash Wednesday, Lucerne Carnival kicks off the spring season with a blast of parties and outdoor entertainment. Chaos, revelry and lively people, music and characters hit the streets and thousands of people head to Lucerne to join in on the fun. Lots of very strange looking people, all dressed up dancing the day and night away carry on wildly until the festival ends with Fat Tuesday complete with bands, candles, lanterns and a parade of lights.

Lucerne Fasnacht

There are so many music festivals held here throughout the year, but the biggest classical music festival takes place during summer. The Lucerne Festival Orchestra is made up from some of the most talented and distinguished musicians from around the world, and this is without a doubt one of the single biggest cultural events on the Lucerne calendar every year.

A Swiss Folklore Show

A very touristy thing to do, but it is absolutely magical to experience. Unique to this glorious Alpine region, you start off the evening by feasting on a traditional menu consisting of rostii and fondue, accompanied by the best Swiss wines before the show begins. The Stadtkeller, located in the Old Town is one of the best places to experience these shows.  Sit back and relax and enjoy an evening of flag throwing, yodelling and alpine horn blowing.

Stay safe

Lucerne is a heavily touristed destination, and where there are tourists there are pickpockets, con artists, and other sorts of folks up to no good. As with everyplace else keep your passport and other valuables where people can’t get to them. However, Lucerne is a friendly and safe city. Women can move safely almost anywhere also at night. There are few areas that should be avoided, including the area around the Basel street, where you will find a colourful and exciting cultural mix is relatively harmless. According to the police it can be dangerous at night in the neighbourhood “Tribschen” (Inseli-Ufschötti-Weinbergli-Tribschenstrasse). Most violent crimes and robberies happen in this neighborhood. But compared with other cities in Europe it’s a safe area.

Hotels Reopening after the Lockdown in Lucerne

Hotels Lucerne: Popularity

HotelStarsDiscountPrice before and discountSelect dates
AMERON Luzern Hotel Flora★★★★View Isaan Hotel Deals
Hotel des Balances★★★★View Isaan Hotel Deals
Hotel Central Luzern★★★View Isaan Hotel Deals
Cascada Boutique Hotel★★★★View Isaan Hotel Deals
Hotel Schweizerhof Luzern★★★★★View Isaan Hotel Deals
Hotel Des Alpes★★★View Isaan Hotel Deals
Château Gütsch★★★★View Isaan Hotel Deals
The Tourist City & River Hotel Luzern★★★View Isaan Hotel Deals
Art Deco Hotel Montana★★★★View Isaan Hotel Deals
Waldstätterhof Swiss Quality Hotel★★★View Isaan Hotel Deals

Flights from Lucerne after the Reopening of Airports

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St. Moritz | Covid-19 Travel Restrictions | Lockdown | Coronavirus Outbreak

Wolfgang Holzem

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St. Moritz1000x600

St. Moritz is located in the Upper Engadin in the canton of Graubünden in Switzerland. It is one of the best-known vacation spots in Europe. It is chic and famous for its ambiance, and is situated next to Engadine’s lakescape at 1,856 metres above sea level. The bubbly “champagne atmosphere” is as legendary as the St. Moritz sun, which shines on an average 322 days a year!

Get in

You can get to St.Moritz by train, bus, car, or air.

By train

If you arrive at the International Airport Zurich take the SBB train to Chur and from there the Rhb train over the famous Albulapass to  St. Moritz train station. Trains from Chur to St. Moritz run hourly. The last train from St. Moritz to Chur departs at 21:00.

Furthermore, St. Moritz is the starting point for the famous Glacier Express and the Palm Express.

By car

If you are coming by car from Switzerland the only pass which is open in winter is the Julierpass. If you come from Davos or Klosters you can take the cartrain from Klosters through the Fluelapass. From Italy you drive over the Bernina or the Maloja.

By plane

There is a small airport in Samedan (www.engadin-airport.ch), which is around 5 kilometres/20 minutes away from St. Moritz. It provides flights to the international airports of ZurichGenevaBaselMilan, and Munich.

By bus

St. Moritz is served by the Post Bus, departing from right next to the train station. Buses depart towards Chur and Lugano (and back). Reservations may be necessary. The last Post Bus from St. Moritz to Chur leaves at 23:00. Later there are not any bus or train connections from St. Moritz to Chur. On the way, you can admire a lot of Swiss villages and spectacular mountain views.

Get around

Image of Destination GuideSt.Moritz has a good public transport network. Biking is also very good around St.Moritz, however it is sometimes a bit steep. There are very few parking places in wintertime.

What to see and do

  • Berry MuseumVia Arona 32, 7500 St. Moritz ,   10:00–13:00/16:00–19:00The Berry Museum, which is housed in the 100-year old Villa Arona in the heart of St. Moritz, is dedicated to the spa physician and painter, Peter Robert Berry (1864–1942). The majority of his oil paintings, pastels and drawings produced over a period of forty years are still in family ownership. Fr. 15/10.
  • Chesa FuturaDesigned by the English star architect, Lord Norman Foster, Chesa Futura houses ten private apartments with a beautiful view of the St. Moritz lake. Its façade is made of local larch clapboards.
  • Chesa VegliaDating from 1658, it is one of the oldest farmhouses in St. Moritz. Now it houses three restaurants and two bars. The grill Chadafö provides the perfect setting for elegant dining with classic French cuisine. The two bars – the Polo Bar and Carigiet – are the perfect places to enjoy pre- and after-dinner drinks and are ideally suited for a get-together.
  • Cresta RunCresta run is the only natural skeleton downhill course. The first race was held in 1884/85. Spectacular races or training runs take place every day from the end of December to the beginning of March.
  • Heidi hutThe well-known story of the Swiss Heidi was filmed in the Engadin. The Heidi hut is located above St. Moritz and is among the most famous sightseeing attractions.
  • Leaning towerIt is the symbol of St. Moritz. It dates back to the 12th century. It is opposite the Kulm Hotel.
  • St. Moritz 5-star hotelsSt. Moritz is very well-known also because of its “Big 5”. The “Big 5” are the 5-star hotels including Badrutt’s Palace, Kempinski Grand Hotel des Bains, Carlton, Kulm and Suvretta House.
  • Segantini MuseumBuilt in 1908 by the architect Nicolaus Hartmann, the museum displays works by the painter Giovanni Segantini.
  • The St. Moritz “Trambänkli”The St. Moritz tram was one of the first electric trams in Switzerland. The “Trambänkli” is a waiting station for passengers. In the 19th century, it was a tram station. Now, it is a bus station.

What to do

There are a lot of events in St. Moritz such as operas in all seasons, the British Classic Car Meeting, the surf marathon, the city race, the gourmet festival, etc. For an overview of the upcoming events, take a look at the event calendar of the Engadin .

  • Mountain bikingA true bikers’ paradise exists between the highest peaks of the eastern Alps. There are 400 km of pure riding pleasure with routes for all levels of difficulty.
  • Skiing and snowboardingThere are four ski regions in and around St. Moritz. They offer 350 kilometres of prepared slopes and 34 cosy restaurants. Moreover, there are a number of snowsports schools in St. Moritz.
  • Corviglia.
  • Corvatsch.
  • Diavolezza.
  • Zuoz. 
  • Ice-skating in summerThere is an artificial ice-rink that is open from mid-July to mid-April. The following activities and services are available: ice skating for everyone, curling, ice rental, and special events on request.
  • Walking and hikingIn St. Moritz walking/hiking is always a spectacular experience. There are over 580 km of hiking trails. Visitors in a wheelchair do not fall short since there are 9 wheelchair-accessible hikes. The best about hiking in St. Moritz is that the cable cars are included if staying at a hotel for two nights or longer. Good starting points is e.g. Corviglia or one of the following:
  • Muottas Muragl.
  • Schellen-Ursli weg1.5 km long trail named after a children’s character, suitable for pushchairs too.
  • Windsurfing at SilvanplanaThe lake is well known for its predictable winds and is therefore a popular venue for water-sailsports including particularly windsurfing, kitesurfing and dinghy-sailing. There is a major watersports centre on the SW shore.

Buy

  • Via SerlasIt is one of the most exclusive shopping streets in the world. Glamour, luxury, and large retail chains door to door.

Eat

  • Restaurant EngiadinaVia Dimlej 1 (50 metres behind the railway station.) ,   .

Where to stay in St. Moritz

People in St. Moritz are very hospitable and its hotels brought St. Moritz to the top of the world. Here, you can find all types of accommodation from luxurious hotels over holiday apartments, mountain lodges, a youth hostel, to a camping place. The best-known hotels are the Kempinski Grand Hotel des Bains, Badrutt’s Palace, and the Kulm Hotel.

Budget

  • Youth Hostel St. MoritzVia Surpunt 60.
  • Casa FrancoVia Sela 11 ,   Cheap hotel (for Saint Moritz standards). Simple and clean rooms with a good breakfast included. This hotel is quite far from the city centre, around 10 minutes by bus and 30 minutes by foot. Double room Fr. 120, triple room Fr. 165.

Mid-range

  • Chesa RosatschCelerinafax+41 81 837-0100 Member of Swiss Quality Hotels International. Located 3.4km from the centre of Saint Moritz and 1km from the train station Celerina. Single room from Fr. 122, double room from Fr. 193 (low season 2020).
  • HauserVia Traunter plazzas 7fax+41 81 837-5055 Member of Swiss Quality Hotels International. Located 500m from the train station directly in the city centre. Single room from Fr. 143, double room from Fr. 285 (May 2020).
  • Maloja PalaceMaloja ,   Located 15 km from the centre of Saint Moritz. Opened in 1884, it was the biggest and most modern hotel in the Alps and the first hotel to bear the name “Palace”. Every winter, on the second Sunday of March, the Engadin Skimarathon competition, the biggest skiing event in the Alps, attracts between 11,000 and 13,000 cross-country skier participants. The competition starts at the entrance of the hotel, which offers direct access to the cross-country skiing tracks starting from its doorstop. Ski slopes of Piz Aela are within walking distance. €110-150/night.
  • La MargnaVia Serlas 5fax+41 81 836-6601 Member of Swiss Quality Hotels International. Located 200 m from the train station and the city centre. Parking available. Single room from Fr. 230, double room from Fr. 420 (May 2020)
  • QuadratschaSamedanfax+41 81 851-1516 Member of Swiss Quality Hotels International. Located 7km from the centre of Saint Moritz and 250 m from the train station Samedan. Single room from Fr. 175, double room from Fr. 218 (low season 2020).

Splurge

  • Badrutt’s PalaceVia Serlas 27.
  • Kempinski Grand Hotel des BainsVia Mezdi 27.
  • Kulm HotelVia Veglia 18.

Camping

  • Camping SilvaplanaA huge camping with all needed facilities, used as base for the watersport activities on the lake.

Go next

Livigno is just behind the borders, accessible via Bernina Pass.

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