The enchanting Swiss city of Bern offers plenty of family activities. Just take a look at these 10 best things to do with kids in Bern for some inspiration.
When it comes to choosing where to live in Switzerland, many expats opt for the charming city of Bern, which is home to the country’s parliament and other governmental institutions. However, if you’re moving to Switzerland with kids, then you’re probably more interested in Bern’s more entertaining attractions. To give you and your little ones some inspiration for your next day out, here are the top 10 things to do with kids in Bern.
1. Get talking at the Museum of Communication
Have you got some little chatterboxes on your hands? Or maybe a teenager who’s glued to their phone? Whatever your family’s communication styles, you won’t want to miss a visit to Bern’s Museum of Communication. Located in the Kirchenfeld district’s clutch of museums, this is the perfect place to while away a chilly afternoon in the city.
The impressive museum spans three floors of exhibitions that celebrate the past, present, and future of all things communication-related. There are plenty of interactive things for kids to get stuck into, ranging from designing postage stamps to taking selfies. Needless to say, they definitely won’t be left with idle thumbs. Make sure to check ahead for the latest exhibitions, too.
Museum of Communication, Helvetiastrasse 16, 3000 Bern
2. Take a dip in the riverside pools
When it comes to iconic Bernese experiences, there are few that compare to taking a dip in the cool alpine waters of the River Aare. During the summer, the river is the place to be for Bern locals of all ages, in particular kids. Whether they love tubing, rafting, or simply swimming, there’s an activity to keep everyone happy and entertained.
That said, due to safety concerns, young children aren’t allowed in the river unattended. Because of this, many local families prefer to visit one of the city’s four riverside pools instead. The most famous of these is Marzili, which lies beneath the Swiss parliament. Meanwhile, over at Aarebad Muri, families will discover everything they need for the perfect day out, including refreshments, table tennis, and more.
Aarebad Muri, Kriegliweg, 3074 Muri bei Bern
3. See the bears at the Bärenpark
Another attraction you’ll probably want to visit during your time in Bern is the city’s famous Bärenpark (bear park). You might not expect to find these giant creatures living in the city, but they have long been a symbol of it. In fact, Bern is named after the German word for bear (bär), and you’ll see the majestic animals on the coat of arms for both Bern city and canton.
The bears have been a Bernese tourist attraction since 1857. However, until 2009, they were kept in the city’s controversial Bärengraben (bear pit), a location far too small for the animals. These days, however, you and your own cubs can find Bern’s three resident bears roaming around the spacious and leafy Bärenpark, down by the river.
Bärenpark, Grosser Muristalden 6, 3006 Bern
4. Check the time at Zytglogge
Let’s make it a hat-trick of iconic Bernese must-sees by mentioning the city’s world-famous Zytglogge. One of the city’s most recognizable landmarks, this astronomical clock dates all the way back to 1530 – and, of course, being a Swiss-made timepiece, it still works!
The clock chimes every fifteen minutes, but your little ones will want to see the performance on the hour. This is when the jester rings his bell and a carousel of mini bear figurines make their long-anticipated appearance. The clock is located right in the center of the city, meaning you’ll be able to watch the little show over and over again.
Zytglogge, Bim Zytglogge 1, 3011 Bern
5. Make a splash at Bernaqua
If you’re in Bern with kids, then there are plenty of opportunities for them to make a splash. When the sun is shining, the riverside parks are a great spot to cool down in. If the weather isn’t great, however, you can always head inside to the popular Bernaqua water park. Here, you’ll find some of Switzerland’s best water slides, including a sensory slide and the popular white water canyon slide.
The park is also home to a number of swimming pools, including kids pools, hot-tubs, and unique freshwater and saltwater pools. There are kids clubs to entertain the little ones, too, while adults can enjoy dry-side activities including massages, a sauna, and the ever-popular Roman-Irish bath.
Bernaqua, Riedbachstrasse 98, 3027 Bern
6. Have a picnic in the Rose Garden
Despite being a European capital, Bern definitely retains a small-town feel that makes it so enduringly popular with locals, expats, and visitors, alike. One of the best things about being in Bern with kids is the quick access to green spaces. Among these are the leafy banks of the River Aare, the city’s beautiful Botanical Gardens, and even the famous Bärenpark.
For many locals, however, the most beautiful park in Bern is the Rose Garden. Located high above the city center’s UNESCO World Heritage Site, this boasts amazing views across the enchanting rooftops of Bern. Here, you’ll find cherry blossoms in spring, much-needed shade in summer, and a restaurant serving fondue in winter, making it perfect for all seasons!
Rosengarten, Alter Aargauerstalden 32, 3006 Bern
7. Discover the world at the Natural History Museum
If you’re visiting Bern with the kids, then you’ll want to visit the local natural history museum, Naturhistorisches Museum Bern. This is one of Switzerland’s best-known institutions, thanks to its long history of colorful, artistically-designed dioramas and exhibits. It is also home to the city’s most famous resident, Barry, a St. Bernard rescue dog who lived more than 200 years ago.
As well as exploring the museum’s many exhibitions, your little ones will have plenty of other things to do during their visit. The Discovery Corner and GeoLab, for instance, offer older kids the chance to get hands-on, while the many workshops and activities will keep younger children busy. Be sure to check ahead to find out what’s on to avoid any disappointment, too.
Naturhistorisches Museum Bern, Bernastrasse 15, 3005 Bern
8. Rise above it all at Gurten
It wouldn’t be Switzerland without a mountain nearby, and in Bern that means Gurten. Rising over 800 meters above sea level, this towering giant is one of Bern’s best places to visit with kids. And with tobogganing and open-air concerts on offer in summer and a mini ski resort open in winter, it’s perfect for all seasons, too.
Better still, Gurten is easily accessible from the city center. You can simply hop on a tram from the main station and then swap on to the mountain’s famous red funicular railway. If you’re feeling active, though, you can hike or bike up to the peak. There, you’ll see some of the best views across Bern and the majestic snow-capped mountains beyond.
Gurten, Gurtenkulm, 3084 Köniz
9. Explore the wilds of Dählhölzli Zoo
As well as the city’s iconic bears, Bern is also home to the cozy Dählhölzli Zoo. Located across the River Aare from the old town, it’s a great place to spend a day out with kids in Bern. The zoo is more laidback than you might expect, with enclosures cleverly blended with the beautiful parkland.
There is plenty for little ones to do, too. From pony rides and a petting zoo to adventure playgrounds and simply running around the beautiful parkland, the zoo has it all. On rainier days, kids will also love the mesmerizing aquarium, which has regular “thunderstorms” to recreate natural weather conditions.
Dählhölzli Zoo, Tierparkweg 1, 3005 Bern
10. Dive into the past at Ballenberg Open-Air Museum
If you’re looking to spend a day in the beautiful countryside surrounding Bern, then why not head to Ballenberg’s Open-Air Museum. Celebrating centuries of rustic Swiss living, the museum brings the past to life for adults and kids to enjoy. It features more than 100 old farm buildings from across the country, recreating traditional Swiss life for visitors.
Little ones can also get up close with farm animals at the petting enclosure or learn a brand new skill by trying out an age-old craft. This rural spot is also the perfect place to enjoy a barbecue or picnic, so make sure you come prepared!
Ballenberg Swiss Open-Air Museum, Museumsstrasse 100, 3858 Hofstetten bei Brienz